Companies Are Moving Toward Customer-Centricity, Speaker Says

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CARMEL, CA -- Many companies believe they are customer-centric, but it might be wishful thinking, said Elana Anderson, vice president and research director, Forrester Research.

Ms. Anderson spoke at Epsilon's Integrated Marketing Symposium, 2006 at the Quail Lodge.

She offered insights from various Forrester studies, including the 2005 Database Marketing Panel Benchmark Survey.

The study examined what makes a company mature in terms of customer-centric modeling and found that many are almost at a highly mature level.

For example, 44 percent "consider their database marketing department is one that directs customer segmentation approaches," Ms. Anderson said. "So, they are customer-focused. But there is a little bit of wishful thinking here, we've found. Many are moving in that direction but they are not really there yet."

Of the companies that are mature database marketing firms, "52 percent report directly to a marketing executive and 64 percent to a CMO," Ms. Anderson said.

She also discussed how in terms of database marketing, companies are either tactical, responsive, consultative or strategic. While the goal is to be strategic, where they understand the voice of the customer "most companies are between consultative and strategic," she said.

In general, industries that are strategic database marketing companies are gaming and casino companies and retail banks. Consultative companies are generally travel and catalog companies, consumer credit and insurance industries generally fall into the responsive category, and tactical companies are generally consumer product goods companies and pharmaceutical companies.

While the goal of all business is to be strategic, Ms. Anderson said, "business to consumer firms with multiple lines of business should aggressively move toward a strategic role."

To build a strategic database marketing company, four skill sets are required, she said: Marketing, operational, analytical and technical.

More and more companies are becoming strategic database marketing companies, she said, where they understand the voice of the customer across the enterprise.

For example, "43 percent of respondents said that customer data informs their corporate strategy," she said.

Ms. Anderson also discussed e-mail marketing. She said while many companies have integrated their e-mail databases with their traditional databases "when it comes to test and measurement and analytics, there is not a lot of discipline applied to the e-mail channel. These things need to be brought to bear as the e-mail channel grows."

Finally, Ms. Anderson said that while most companies today employ multi-channel or coordinated marketing, less use integrated marketers.

"Being consistent with our messaging and creative isn't enough," she said. "Real integrated marketing weaves together the different elements and really focuses on utilizing the strengths [of the] different elements."

Melissa Campanelli attended the Integrated Marketing Symposium 2006 as a guest of Epsilon.

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