• April 27, 2006
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Marketers Still Fail to Connect with Customers

Marketers are increasingly out of touch with customers, lack adequate analytics, and rely upon the sales department to drive customer interaction, according to a new study by the CMO Council. "Select and Connect: Strategies for Targeted Acquisition and Retention" reveals that two-thirds of the 550 marketing professionals surveyed have no formal system for tracking marketing's role in getting, growing, and keeping customers. According to the survey, many of the problems in marketing organizations stem from overly complex data and system integration requirements; competing departmental goals; and underappreciation of the importance of customer intimacy. This is despite the prevalence of and reliance on CRM as a customer information source. While one-third of respondents cite the CRM system as the primary source-internal marketing databases trail this by 17 percent-about 40 percent feel these systems are weak or very weak. "CRM is definitely top of mind with marketers today. Even so, it doesn't seem to be resonating within the organization," says Scott Van Camp, editorial director for the CMO Council. Over one-third of respondents said they have no formal system for lead qualification or contact grading, and nearly half do not monitor churn and retention. As such, many marketers still don't have an adequate measure of the ROI they bring to the business. "This shows there is a high priority for marketing performance management. [These problems] prevent companies from taking CRM data and making it meaningful." Lack of direct interaction with customers and business processes are largely to blame for the marketing dilemma. The CEO or other business unit management was the primary influence on segmentation and targeting strategy for 27 percent of respondents, while 21 percent said the CMO or vice president of marketing had that responsibility. "The CMO must be in a strong position in order to be strategic within the company," Van Camp says. About 75 percent of respondents have no customer advisory board, or a formal community of users or buyers. Less than one third had a customer word-of-mouth program in place. "Sales says, 'Marketing doesn't know our customers like we do,' and this study shows they're right," Van Camp says. More intimacy and closer interaction with the customer are the important goals for marketers. He notes that marketers who felt they were on the right track with their marketing programs placed significantly more value on customer satisfaction and experience than on measures of account profitability, when compared to the rest of the survey group. A combination of data and customer touch is necessary for marketing success. "Given the awesome power that today's customer wields, it's critical that marketers raise their level of customer knowledge, insight, and reach," CMO Council executive director Donovan Neale-May said in a written statement. "The results of this study show that marketers have a long way to go in improving strategies, processes, and methodologies to achieve maximum customer acquisition, retention, and profitability." Related articles: Embracing SMS for Customer Service
A New Marketing Medium Most Marketing Firms Miss MPM Systems Companies recognize the importance of metrics, but continue to fear their perceived complexity; lack of vendor awareness is also a factor.
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