Now Intersecting: Corporate Customer-Centricity, The Explosion of Marketing Channels and Message Fragmentation, Big Data, and The Role of The Chief Customer Officer


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My colleague Heather Fletcher, who is the Senior Editor of Target Marketing magazine, has been writing a series of articles, addressing the aspects of how direct marketing has changed over the past decade. In multiple ways, what Heather has determined on this journey of discovery is that many of the trends, both well-covered and emerging, impact all marketers and their initiatives with customers.

What is principally happening now is a period of convergence, or intersection. During this time, we are witnessing significant multi-channel media usage, along with more effective and pervasive customer data gathering, analysis and application, a stronger enterprise-wide focus on customers, and recognition by senior executives that a dedicated high level function, supported by a team and sufficient resources, is needed to lead and manage the customer experience.

Quoting some of what Heather has been covering in her review of what has happened between 2003 and 2013, just in the action arenas of marketing channels, message fragmentation, data generation, and inclusion and emotional connections with customers:

Marketing Channels

“Consumers use a lot of channels now, and sometimes use them interchangeably, during just one transaction.”

“The number of apps and marketing automation options for this space alone are …. awfully high.”

“….direct marketing still uses basic channels. It’s just the investment in them and the options available within them that’s changing. For instance, just within social media, forums went out of favor and branded networks came into vogue. Here are some of the networks that are household names: Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Vine. A few former household names are now has-beens, such as Friendster and Myspace.”

“…a marketer can take out a display ad on Skype. The ad is classified as Web marketing, but it will probably click through to a landing page, which is ecommerce. If there’s also a trackable phone number that leads to the call center, that’s telemarketing. If it opens a chat window, that’s still Web marketing. Skype is video calling, so is that video marketing or telemarketing? Or Web marketing? Or mobile? Or social?”

“In today’s ideal scenario, what direct marketers are doing is optimizing each aspect of the channels that are new to them, integrating them to get the message across and making those channels convenient for consumers to use.”

Enablers of Message Fragmentation

“A decade ago, a news consumer likely watched television, read the newspaper for a more detailed account of the story, called relatives to ensure they were OK, left voice mail messages, and wrote emails to the people they couldn’t reach, listened to the radio for updates, mailed greeting cards, and wired money. That’s a lot of channels, and marketers were already using and benefitting from them.”

“Technology changed telecommunications from a channel that was mainly used for voice communications 10 years ago into a multidimensional channel that now includes mobile devices, landlines and desktop computers capable of video calls, texts and a whole lot more.”

“The kind of interconnection between messages that was possible 10 years ago is still possible. But direct marketers and their vendors and agencies are the first to admit there are some hurdles left to jump for many organizations.”

“….not everything will be in all channels all the time. But marketers need to pick out the important information and make sure consumers get the message.”

Data Gathering and Analysis

“As much as modern marketers like to think they invented direct and all its current terms, plenty were around before they got on the scene. ‘Big Data’ is new, you say? Check out the feature, starting on page 87 in the October, 2003 issue of our magazine. That’s right, it’s “Can You Predict the Future? When to use regression and neural networks in models””

Inclusion, Emotional Relationships, Customization and Personalization

“…consumers aren’t thinking about you at all – ever. They’re looking for themselves in you, if they notice you at all. How do you make them look? How do you make them feel? Which of their problems do you solve? What does spending time and money with you get them? Noticed? Affirmed? Appreciated?”

Heather and I have been examining many of these changes, and how they contribute to enterprise performance effectiveness, via a series of podcasts we recently recorded. Some of our topics and perspectives can be seen in this short video, with others to come:

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


  1. Do you know what’s funny, Michael? Talking to you about all these ideals, then going about your everyday life and finding out how few marketers integrate across channels, optimize for mobile and even bother to have direct lines of contact with their customers! I think you’ve spoiled me. I now expect all these things to be reality. 🙂

  2. ….and the internal (enterprise level and outbound messages, and outreach, through multiple media) and external (informal influence and marketplace behavior) generation of customer loyalty. Statistics from multiple studies indicate upwards of 90% of c-suite execs consider these as primary business objectives, but only about 10% think they have actually reached these goals. The reason we can single out exemplar companies is because their stories of success are so well-chronicled. Companies like Amazon, Wegman’s, Southwest Airlines, Umpqua Bank, Zappos, USAA, and Ritz Carlton are leaders, and every other company can learn from them.


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