John Lovett [Posted by John Lovett]

Wikipedia defines Customer Intelligence as the process of gathering and analyzing information regarding customers; their details and their activities; in order to build deeper and more effective customer relationships and improve strategic decision making. 

Here at Forrester, we take customer intelligence very seriously – so much so that we’ve refocused our team to help marketing professionals navigate the art and science of knowing your customers. This task is becoming increasingly important as more consumers flock to the Web for research, information, shopping and entertainment. By analyzing the digital footprints these consumers leave behind, we can learn a great deal not only about their behavior, but also how they are best served from your marketing efforts. Further, customer intelligence affords you as marketers the opportunity to anticipate a propensity for action given any number of variable circumstances. Never before have marketer’s had access to the immense wealth of data that digital channels provide in combination with advanced technologies delivering insight and automation to improve marketing initiatives. This seismic shift of customer behavior and the technologies that measure activity have enabled new and exciting marketing opportunities that we’re eagerly driving forward. Our team aspires to make professionals who labor in the discipline of customer intelligence successful through our syndicated research, our thought leadership and our custom consulting.

I am particularly ecstatic about our re-defined role of Customer Intelligence as I spend my time focusing on Web analytics, multivariable testing and Web site targeting technologies that are inherently geared towards learning from customers and optimizing experiences based on this knowledge. My recently published report, Sharpening Web Site Relevance (July 1, 2009), reveals how customer intelligence professionals use data and insight to deliver highly effective marketing. Major online brands like StubHub and Office Depot are reaping the benefits of their customer intelligence by delivering targeted messages to their customers, rather than deploying shotgun marketing tactics. My upcoming research will illuminate testing methods that allow customers to vote with their actions to determine marketing messages, web site designs and methods of online interaction that are most effective. These learnings showcase the power of customer intelligence by identifying the implicit likes and dislikes of customers based on their actions. Additionally, the pending July publication of our Forrester Wave: Web Analytics, will aid Customer Intelligence professionals in selecting the vendor and tool which is best suited for their online marketing measurement and analytical needs.

Hopefully my enthusiasm for conducting research to support customer intelligence professionals is shining through here. While studying the technologies and science that make all of the digital marketing innovations a possibility, I am keenly aware that each of these tools requires an operator to apply the art to the science. That operator, my dear reader is you. Whether as a director, strategist, or practitioner, no one knows your customers better than you do. I view our stature as analysts as a supporting role for your internal teams. We can weed out the bleeding edge technologies, identify best practices and spend the time discerning differentiating details between seemingly comparable technologies. Yet, as researchers we tend to live in the hypothetical. Your stories, case studies and marketing successes bring the art and creativity to the process. After understanding the nuances and possibilities of marketing technologies, then it’s up to you to apply that intelligence with the wisdom of your expertise to distance yourselves from mediocrity. While not every organization can be extraordinary, Forrester clients tend to end up that way. Here on the customer intelligence team, we strive to help Customer Intelligence professionals rise above by fully understanding the science behind the marketing and providing the license for you to create the art. 

I hope you’ll visit this blog often to read our musings, share your thoughts and add a voice to our research.