Small Percentage of Companies Committed to Customer Relationship Marketing Strategies

Despite a common belief among marketers that building long-term customer loyalty is critical to a brand’s success, only 30% of companies are truly committed to relationship marketing strategies, according to the second annual Cross-Channel Marketing Report conducted by Econsultancy and Responsys.

The report, which was compiled in April and May 2013, is based on a survey of 890 digital marketers at agencies and companies globally.

Many businesses are failing to move beyond a campaign-centric marketing mindset rooted in acquisition, the report says. According to the report only 30% of respondents said their organizations were “very committed” to relationship marketing, and 22% indicated they conducted no relationship marketing at all. article is copyright 2013

Despite the fact that more than two thirds of respondents (70%) agree with the statement that “it is cheaper to retain than acquire a customer”, 44% of companies listed acquisition as their primary focus, compared to just 16% who say they focus mainly on retention.

The most commonly cited barriers preventing companies from committing to relationship marketing are a lack of resources (22%) and no clearly defined strategy (19%).

Simon Robinson, senior director of marketing and alliances for Responsys, told Loyalty 360 that companies in all sectors should be using marketing technology to build individual relationships with customers across digital channels.

“Companies are focused on acquisition,” Robinson said. “There is this struggle between trying to attain new customers and retaining current customers. The challenge with retention is developing a relationship in a personalized fashion.”

While companies are struggling with relationship marketing, the research found that they are at least becoming more integrated in their approach to cross-channel marketing. As part of the survey, companies were asked to indicate the level of integration between specific digital and offline marketing disciplines and their wider marketing programs.

Across every single digital channel and discipline that was queried, a larger proportion than last year said that their channels are “very integrated” with their larger marketing efforts. Over the previous 12 months, the largest total changes were seen for online display advertising (+9%) and social media marketing (+9%).

As was the case one year before, the most commonly cited factor enabling effective coordination of cross-channel marketing campaigns was a “clearly defined strategy”, with 37% of companies now identifying this as such in 2013 (up from 28% in 2012).

More than half of the surveyed companies (54%) said that less than 20% of their time is spent on strategy and planning. What’s more, 40% of companies have no strategy for integrating mobile into their broader marketing campaigns.

Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy, told Loyalty 360 that while there is more integration of digital channels with wider marketing efforts, there is still a failure to really embrace relationship marketing and the importance of customer retention.

“Not enough time is spent on the initial marketing strategy,” Gregoriadis said. “And a lot of the digital channels are developed in very much a silo. Companies need to join up these activities and make them customer-centric rather than channel-centric.”

Robinson believes the integration of mobile is holding brands back from completing a cross-channel strategy.

“Here (in the U.K.), mobile is absolutely critical,” he said. 

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