Earlier this year, I penned a break-up letter on behalf of CMOs to the marketing funnel. Though some chief marketers initially were a little reluctant to follow through, in new research published today, we see that the vast majority of marketers recognize that the customer life cycle (CLC) is their partner of the future. In "The State Of Customer Life Cycle Marketing, 2013," (subscription required), we share the results from our July 2013 North American Customer Life-Cycle Marketing Online Survey of 80 senior marketers, a highlight of which is that marketers are overwhelmingly picking the CLC for all their customer-obsessed marketing activities (see figure).

In addition to getting a pulse on where companies are in their transition to a customer-first approach to marketing, we also used our assessment (subscription required) to benchmark performance on the five key dimensions of customer life-cycle marketing: strategy, organization, data and analytics, measurement, and technology. We find that:

  • Very few marketers can be considered leaders today. Only 13% of respondents can be considered leaders, and they have aligned strategy, organization, and data to drive their success. Laggards, those with the most to work on, make up 41% of the respondents, while aspirers were the vast majority, with 46% of respondents moving actively toward customer obsession.
  • Technology is a challenge for all three groups. Even for the leaders, marketers are having difficulty using technology to drive their customer life-cycle strategy, and as a result, data and measurement suffer for lack of a holistic view into their customers' behavior. Better use of technology — which vendors in this space should consider a top priority to help achieve — will make engaging across the customer life cycle more effective and scalable for marketing teams.
  • Data sophistication and organizational commitment set apart the top customer life-cycle marketers. The companies that are making the most progress toward true customer obsession using the life cycle outstripped their peers on using data and analytics to drive marketing decisions and aligning the organization behind the customer. For example, leaders are using centralized governance groups with leadership from specific customer segments to ensure that they are delivering on those customers' needs and expectations. 

Where are you at in this journey? Use the interactive tool found in the assessment chapter of the customer life-cycle marketing playbook, and then learn more about where you stand with this new report, the benchmarks chapter of the playbook. And if you'd like to talk further about where you are and where you need to go next, send me an email or set up an inquiry.