Increasingly, brands are placing greater importance on providing relevant and personalized experiences to consumers as a point of differentiation. They are demanding that agencies step up to help them do it, by expanding their capabilities to provide experience design, content marketing and data management across channels.
That’s according to a new pair of studies by Forrester Research--commissioned by Adobe--highlighting data-driven and customer-experience marketing efforts by brands, with a focus on how agencies must help lead those initiatives.
Forrester found that brands plan to invest more, with 57% of marketers saying they base every major marketing decision on customer insight. Over half say they rely on their agencies to use a data management platform on their behalf.
In addition, 45% or more brands plan to increase spending with agencies in the next two years in areas such as technology integration and content marketing.
Forrester also found that brands want agencies to embrace technology (57%) and data (55%) as core competencies, not just as tools. Marketers indicated that depth of specialization (71%) and data-driven marketing across channels (71%) will be the most important agency qualities to them in the next three years.
“Agencies must embrace marketing technology and data to survive,” Forrester concluded in its report entitled “The future of Agencies: A Spotlight On Customer Experience.”
Keeping pace with technology is not enough, per the report. “Building core competencies in marketing technology and embedding these into service offerings are seen as key to marketers.”
Today, 73% of marketers take a scattered approach, with a mix of agencies that provide end-to-end services and those that specialize in certain customer journey phases (e.g., acquisition or loyalty). But the study notes that approach is changing; marketers are shifting from a somewhat “haphazard mix” of agency relationships to more strategic agency alliances across the customer journey.
“Agencies will need to credibly position themselves as either full-service partners or specialists,” Forrester concludes.
As marketers increasingly rely on data and insights to attract and engage customers, agencies have to boost their capabilities in those areas, Forrester surmised in a second report, “The Future of Agencies: A Spotlight On Data-Driven Marketing.”
Marketers today are “less than fully satisfied” with agencies’ abilities in the data and analytic space. “Agencies’ contributions to data-driven marketing today are more tactical than transformative,” the researcher found.
Gaps in agency skill sets have contributed to the haphazard approach by brands.
Just as brands believe customer experience marketing and data-driven efforts will help them carve out unique competitive positions, agencies will also need to hone their data and technology offerings to compete successfully going forward, Forrester notes.
“The most successful agencies will be cross-channel data experts who create new sources of value for clients through strategic technology partnerships.
Both reports are based on research conducted last fall that surveyed 518 respondents in 11 countries across North and South America, Europe and Asia.
The participants included marketing and advertising decision-makers at manager-level positions or higher who regularly work with agency counterparts and manage agency relationships. Forrester also interviewed two Adobe customers in brand-side marketing roles to gain a qualitative perspectives on the issues addressed in the research.
The studies can be accessed here.