Last week, we talked about how customer-focused companies increasingly rely on marketing to improve customer experiences and build strategies around customer insight. And even though we established that we’ve been living in the age of the customer for over six years, our research with Forrester surprised us by showing that less than half (43 percent) of respondents fit the build of “customer focused.”

As we mentioned, trying to play catch-up on becoming customer focused now is a lot like trying to hop onto a fast-moving train. Well, this week we’re going to share why that train is a train worth boarding.

To date, the research has been interesting but a little self-serving for us marketers in the room. Of course an agency is going to highlight the importance of marketing and marketers to driving more successful client experiences. And while I’m completely willing to own up to my own personal biases related to the impact of marketing, the truth is that the data proves that marketing-led companies deliver exceptional business results.

Just to recap, the top takeaways from our Forrester research are:

  1. Marketing-led companies are more likely to outperform others on key metrics.
  2. Empowered customers make customer obsession essential.
  3. Customer obsession requires a reliance on marketing.

Comparing the roughly 34 percent of companies that are both customer-obsessed and marketing-led to those who are not revealed the following:

  • Marketing-led companies are more likely to outperform others on key business metrics.Companies that rely on influence and insight from marketing, and that ask their marketers to do more than they’ve done historically were 45 percent more likely to grow faster than their industry overall. Within these firms, the marketing department was 42 percent more likely to meet or exceed the company’s goals for value contribution.

    And perhaps most important in this age of the customer – 91 percent of the customers of marketing-led firms regularly served as advocates to their peers and colleagues.

  • By focusing more on performance metrics, marketing-led firms better demonstrate their effectiveness.Our friends at Sirius Decisions have classified Marketing Measurement Units in four classes: Readiness, Activity, Output and Impact. While all of these measurements have their place, what our research showed is that marketing-led companies consistently outperform other companies on the measurements that matter most.

    The figure below shows a significantly increased focus on Impact metrics like ROI, market share and wallet share, and a corresponding level of effectiveness on important Output metrics to deliver those results.

  • Modern marketing approaches set marketing-led firms apart.In response to ten statements reflecting modern marketing maturity across the customer life cycle, our respondents showed stark differences in the level of personalization, sophisticated customer segmentation and targeting they were using.

    Marketing-led companies were 2x more likely to:

    • Create highly personalized experiences to foster engagement and affinity among existing customers
    • Use combinations of profiling data, readiness criteria, express preferences and use behavioral analysis to segment and target
    • Leverage analytics and marketing automation technologies to communicate regularly for cross-sell/upsell purposes
    • Integrate inbound and outbound techniques to reach specific audiences with thought-provoking ideas

Overall, the message is clear here: do the right things, measure the right things and drive the right results. While this has always been true to some extent, it is showing to be truer and more important in the age of the customer.

Next week, we’ll wrap up this series by turning the numbers into action items as we offer up the key recommendations that came from our study. Stay tuned…