Customers for Life?

As much as marketers may affirm the importance of customer loyalty, their focus more often lies on new customer acquisition. In fact, although 94% of the senior executives surveyed for the “Customers for Life” study by Forbes Insights and Sitecore say that retaining customers for life is prioritized as some level within their organization, only 38% are primarily focused on repeat customers for revenue growth.

“Attracting new customers is by far the number one priority,” Bruce Rogers, chief insights officer and head of the CMO practice at Forbes, said during a session at Sitecore’s Symposium 2014. He shared several other key findings during his conference presentation. They include:

The top three priorities for marketing organizations today are:
58% Attracting new customers
40% Turning current customers into customers for life
25% Developing a single view of each customer

Businesses are currently most focused on the following in terms of revenue growth:
49% Acquiring new customers
38% Loyal, regular customers who purchase frequently
12% Current, recently acquired customers
2% Other

More than three quarters (77%) of respondents say that average customer lifetime value (CLTV) is a highly or extremely valuable indicator of marketing performance

But…

58% Regularly calculate CLTV
18% Have plans to do so
24% Have no plans to do so or just don’t know its potential

When asked how integrated the various customer communications and data gathering systems are in their organization, respondents said:
27% Fully integrated
58% Partially integrated
11% Not integrated

Not surprisingly, the greater the C-level involvement in strategy setting for that integration, the higher the likelihood of it happening:
Full integration – 63% of CMOs and 60% of CIOs are involved
Partial integration – 28% CMOs and 34% CIOs are involved
No integration – 5% CMOs and 2% CIOs are involved

Siloes and a lack of integration among teams pose challenges to the delivery of seamless, personalized customer interactions, Rogers said. But developing a single view of the customer is a priority for just over half of the executives surveyed:
53% Priority
31% Neutral
16% Not a priority

Technology can be an inhibitor when it company to developing that single view of the customer. The top three technology challenges are:
41% Multiple/duplicate records
38% Too many systems/difficulty keeping track of where data is stored
37% Siloed data

Data analytics, in fact, is an essential component of respondents’ ability to personalize their customer communications.
56% of all respondents say their marketing organization excels at ensuring that customer communications make sense for each customer personally
76% of respondents who rate their company’s ability to use analytics as high say the same

And,
51% of all respondents say their marketing organization excels at anticipating customer needs reather than sending mass communications
72% of respondents who rate their company’s ability to use analytics as high say the same

So, which is more important?
66% Personalized, relevant communication
34%: Staying in regular communications with customers regardless of personalization

Based on these findings, Rogers offered several recommendations:

Prioritize your customer-for-life goals: Increase the prominence of customer loyalty as part of your revenue-growth strategies, and implement technologies that help support retention.

Reconnect intention with action and make regular use of CLTV metrics: Simply put, start calculating customer lifetime value and use it to assist in measuring marketing effectiveness, setting priorities, and directing spending.

Simplify the multiplicity of platforms and programs used to house customer information: It’s impossible to provide seamless customer interactions without seamless data access. Integrate the technologies needed to enable that data access, and foster cross-team collaboration.

Implement a single, centralize platform for managing data and communications: Data fragmentation inhibits not just seamless interactions, but also personalization. Use technology to help break down silos.

Enact systems that allow communicationss to be personalized on content and frequency: Anticipating customers’ needs and sending relevant, timely communications in response to those needs is an essential element of personalization—and customer experience excellence. So is sending the right content in those communications.

Focus on a whole-organization approach to strategy setting: Include C-level executives and cross-functional stakeholders when setting marketing and technology integration strategies.

“Marketing too important to be left to just marketers,” Rogers said. “The whole organization need to be engaged.”

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