Corporate Eye

The Gap Between Brand Marketers, Agencies, and Customer Lifetime Value

mind-the-gapWhat tactics are most effective to improve customer lifetime value for brands? That’s one of the questions Econsultancy and Sitecore aimed to answer in their recent research study, Customer Lifetime Value: Building Loyalty and Driving Revenue in the Digital Age.

In a study of both brand marketers and agencies, primarily from the United Kingdom (45%) and in other parts of Europe (22%), it was revealed that while there is consensus on the importance of building customer lifetime value, there is great disparity in how that customer lifetime value should be developed.

The biggest gap was found in how brand marketers and agencies valued the effectiveness of loyalty programs for building customer lifetime value. 31% of agency respondents to the study survey ranked loyalty programs as one of the top three most effective tactics to building customer lifetime value while just 18% of brand marketers ranked loyalty programs in the top three. On the other hand, 42% of brand marketers ranked the effectiveness of improvements to customer services in the top three while just 34% of agencies did the same.

Let’s take a closer look at how tactics stacked up in the minds of brand marketers versus agencies.

Tactics Ranked as Most Effective by More Agencies than Brand Marketers

  • Loyalty program: Agencies = 31% vs. Brand Marketers = 18%
  • Customer segmentation/personas: Agencies = 32% vs. Brand Marketers = 24%
  • Multichannel/omnichannel marketing: Agencies = 21% vs. Brand Marketers = 13%
  • Focus on online experience: Agencies = 27% vs. Brand Marketers = 22%
  • More effective use of data: Agencies = 30% vs. Brand Marketers = 26%

Tactics Ranked as Most Effective by More Brand Marketers than Agencies

  • Improvements to customer services: Brand Marketers = 42% vs. Agencies = 34%
  • Cross-selling/upselling: Brand Marketers = 29% vs. Agencies = 22%
  • Better advertising and flow of messaging: Brand Marketers = 12% vs. Agencies = 9%
  • Improved pricing for repeat purchases: Brand Marketers = 15% vs. Agencies = 13%
  • Subscription models: Brand Marketers = 12% vs. Agencies = 11%
  • Increased investment in marketing technologies: Brand Marketers = 10% vs. Agencies = 9%

Interestingly, 34% of brand marketers and 34% of agencies rated personalized interactions (via email or online) as one of the top three most effective tactics for improving customer lifetime value.

The gap between how brand marketers and agencies view the effectiveness of tactics used to build customer lifetime value is concerning because the misalignment in thinking can lead to miscommunications, frustration, increased time required to implement programs, and decreased results. Brand marketers must ensure the agency they work with isn’t pushing their own agenda but rather supporting the brand’s goals in the most effective ways possible. At the same time, brand marketers need to stay open to new ideas, new tactics, and the evolving world of marketing and consumer behaviors.

Bottom-line, there has never been a more critical time for brand marketers to build open, agile, and honest relationships with agencies. Take the time to determine if gaps exist between the way you and your agency think—not just about building customer lifetime value, but about all aspects of your marketing strategy and opportunities. Navigate through those gaps with your agency, and your short-term and long-term results should improve. As a result, customer lifetime value should improve, too.

What do you think?

Image: Philip Jackson

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.