October 31, 2013, 8:47 AM

Online marketers are missing the boat on customer-centric marketing

Many value long-term relationships, but don’t follow through.

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When asked to name their top marketing goals, online retailers and other marketers cited their top two as “growing long-term relationships” with customers and enhancing “customer experience across channels,” Forrester Consulting reports in a study released this month.

But though the consulting firm advises that marketers should coordinate marketing campaigns that reach individual customers across multiple channels, including mobile marketing, social media and e-mail, it finds that marketers are still concentrating too much on online marketing campaigns that try to reach a broad audience without interacting with individuals directly. Despite the growth of marketing tools for reaching consumers with personalized offers, through targeted marketing, “most companies are stuck in an old campaign mindset” without taking efforts to coordinate targeted campaigns across channels, the firm says.

Forrester Consulting, a division of Forrester Research Inc., conducted the study of 200 marketers in the United States and the United Kingdom in January and February on behalf of Responsys, a provider of e-mail marketing services. Forrester Consulting conducted additional follow-up interviews with marketers in early October.

The study lists the percentages of marketers who say the following marketing goals are among their top three:

● Grow long-term customer relationships, 48%;

● Enhance customer experience across channels, 45%;

● Increase number of new customers, 42%;

● Improve cross-sell or upsell sales volumes to existing customers, 42%;

● Increase customer lifetime value, 36%;

● Improve marketing return on investment, 34%;

● Reduce customer attrition rates, 30%;

● Reduce expenses/improve efficiency, 29%.

But when Forrester asked marketers which marketing channels they plan to spend more on in 2014, it found a stronger focus on untargeted, mass marketing compared with targeted marketing. The study lists the percentages of marketers who say they plan to increase investment in the following marketing strategies:

● Paid search advertising, 61%;

● E-mail marketing (batched and untargeted), 59%;

● E-mail marketing (targeted), 58%;

● Display ads (untargeted), 58%;

● Mobile marketing (push notifications, text messages), 52%;

● Retargeted display ads, 50%

● Social media ads (untargeted), 39%;

● Mobile ads (untargeted), 38%;

● Social marketing (individually addressable based on customer’s social ID), 37%

● Web site targeted ads (behavioral or targeted on customer relationship management data), 29%.

One retailer that is beginning to push further into targeted, cross-channel marketing is Kirkland’s Inc., a retail home décor chain that sells on the web at Kirklands.com, operates a mobile site and has more than 320 stores across 35 states. Megan Casey, Kirkland’s senior marketing manager, says the retailer is in the beginning stages of orchestrating targeted marketing across channels.

Although it’s too soon to comment on results, she says, Kirkland’s sees “tremendous value in breaking down campaign silos so that we can focus on the consumer and let her behaviors, signals and preferences dictate the experience she receives. Particularly during the holidays, when we are heavily competing for shoppers’ attentions, it is important that we have the tools, technology and processes in place that helps us stand out from the noise and show our customers that we know who they are and what they like.”

Kirkland’s, which is an e-mail marketing services client of Responsys, was not a participant in the Forrester study.

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