Changing customer behavior has put the onus on marketers to rethink the way they drive growth, build brands, and interact and engage with consumers.
Two studies by Forrester Consulting, in partnership with Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company), reveal some important implications for agencies that want to survive in the new, customer-led digital era. The gist: Agencies must embrace marketing and advertising technologies as core competencies and embed them into their service offerings.
“Our research looks at how agencies are adapting to this new world order, where customer experience, technology, and data-driven marketing are so core to what marketers need to do,” said Sarah Sikowitz, principal analyst at Forrester, in an exclusive interview with CMO.com. “These are the things that marketers need to become excellent at in order to remain competitive and drive growth. We’ve looked at how agencies are supporting marketers in these endeavors.”
According to the research, data and technology are extremely important in how marketing organizations engage with their customers. In fact, 57% said data guides the marketing strategy, 58% of marketers said they have increased spend on technology to fuel data-driven marketing, and 45% have increased their spend on personalization and analytics.
“What we’re seeing is that agencies are offering services to help clients execute on data-driven marketing initiatives to build and deliver better experiences for their customers,” Sikowitz said. “However, right now those services are more tactical rather than strategic or transformative.”
According to Sikowitz, marketers aren’t looking to their agencies as partners to drive this transformation. “They are looking to their agencies to execute on strategies that already exist, not to drive the strategy. This could be because execution is what brands believe their agencies are capable of delivering at this moment.”
The research suggests that the most successful agencies will be cross-channel data experts that create new sources of value for clients through strategic technology partnerships. Of course, services such as web development will always be key drivers of revenue for agencies. However, the studies point to areas such as experience design, integration across marketing and advertising technologies, and content marketing as additional agency opportunities.
The reason is simple: Two out of three marketers see customer experience as a way to differentiate, according to the research.
“Agencies must deepen their capabilities in data and CX,” Sikowitz said. “There are opportunities in CX design, digital experience development, and personalization. Agencies can be a key partner and help marketers figure out how to take the data they have about their customers and drive better experiences across every channel and touch point.”
To deepen their capabilities, agencies must be proactive in seeking out technology partnerships, Sikowitz said. It also means hiring the right people who understand how to leverage these platforms and can help integrate and implement it with brands’ existing infrastructure.