Marketers Need to Rethink Agency Relationships

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Study highlights need for marketers and agencies to transform roles and responsibilities to improve collaboration and business results.

To help marketers and their agencies execute campaigns that deliver the best possible customer experience, Forbes Insights, in association with Oracle Marketing Cloud, conducted a global study of brand and agency executives. Published last month, “The Age of Brand, Agency & Customer Collaboration: 4 Keys to Success in Translating Marketing Visions Into More Engaged Customers,” highlights the need for marketers and their agencies to transform roles and responsibilities to improve collaboration and business results.

“As the nature of marketing continues to change, closer collaboration between brands and agencies is becoming more important than ever,” said Bruce Rogers, chief insights officer and head of the CMO Practice at Forbes Media. “Progressive marketing leaders within brands across the world have identified this change and are embracing new and closer working relationships. At the heart of these efforts is a drive to effectively gather and mine rich sources of customer data.”

The study surveyed 255 brand and agency executives across a range of industries and functions in North America, Europe, APAC and LATAM, and found that evolving brand and agency roles – 60 percent of respondents said their roles and responsibilities had changed significantly over the past two years – are negatively impacting the customer experience and business results by creating a series of important challenges in the following areas:

  • Brand and agency collaboration: Almost half of marketing executives (48 percent) said that evolving brand and agency roles are making successful collaboration more difficult.
  • Delivering a consistent customer experience: More than a third of respondents (36 percent) said their organizations aren’t highly effective when it comes to collaborating with brand/agency counterparts to translate a marketing vision into a targeted, cross-channel program.
  • Personalizing content: 38 percent of respondents said they are not able to effectively create and deliver timely content tailored to specific customer personas.
  • Maximizing data: More than three-quarters of respondents (81 percent) are unable to maximize customer data to create new and impactful marketing programs.
  • Utilizing marketing technology: Only 19 percent of stakeholders are very satisfied with current marketing technology.

These challenges come against the backdrop of the most fundamental need of all: increasing sales and attracting new customers, goals that more than 80 percent of respondents ranked at the top of the list of strategic goals for marketing programs in the year ahead. Enhancing customer loyalty (79 percent) and expanding brand awareness (78 percent) were also identified as key strategic goals for the next 12 months.

To reach these goals and address the challenges presented by evolving brand and agency roles, 60 percent of respondents stated that closer brand and agency collaboration would become even more important in the coming year. When asked what areas will have the greatest impact on more effective collaboration between brand and agency peers, respondents identified being able to capitalize on customer data/analytics as the top priority.

“As marketers we have access to more customer data and marketing technology than at any point in history, but as this study shows, fully capitalizing on that data and the promise of technology is still a challenge for many brands and agencies,” said Andrea Ward, vice president of marketing, Oracle Marketing Cloud. “To unlock this potential, brands and agencies need to rethink existing roles, responsibilities and processes in order to successfully mine all of today’s rich data sources, capitalize on the latest marketing technologies, enhance professional and personal skills, and balance local and global imperatives.”

The data in this report is derived from a global survey of 255 executives across a range of industries and functions, conducted by Forbes Insights in the fourth quarter of 2015. Seventy-five percent of respondents were involved in providing internal brand support for their companies; 12 percent were from agencies; 13 percent were from technology vendors that support marketing programs. Sixty-five percent had C-level titles; the rest were VP/Director or above. Forty-nine percent of respondents were based in North America; 24 percent in Europe; 18 percent in Asia-Pacific; and 9 percent in Latin America.