Forrester’s Top ‘Engagement’ Agencies

Data and analytics are fundamentally changing the ways businesses operate, and how they interact and communicate with consumers and their customers. According to Forrester, that trend has given rise to a new breed of data-savvy customer experience specialists, or “customer engagement agencies,” and WPP’s OgilvyOne is currently leading the pack.

A new “Wave” report published by the research firm this week acknowledged that the “CEA” landscape remains nascent, but continues to expand as digital, direct and database marketing companies adapt their offerings to focus more broadly on the ways data and analytics can be applied to all of a client company’s interactions with consumers.

That means moving beyond just marketing and into areas such as operations and product development, according to report author Fatemeh Khatibloo. A CEA must have the ability to measure and optimize every customer’s value to the organization and help inform broad business strategies using customer intelligence and insights, she wrote.

Behind OgilvyOne, which it deemed the category’s current leader, Forrester also called out Rosetta, Wunderman, Havas Digital, True Action and The Agency Inside for their strong offerings in this field.

OgilvyOne nabbed the top spot because it was closest to Forrester’s vision of a fully developed CEA, the report said, but 11 of the 13 agencies it evaluated were awarded with a “strong performer” commendation. Only Quaero and Meredith Xcelerated Marketing were placed in the third-place “contender” bucket, largely because of their focus on specific verticals.

The report implied that a key role of the CEA remit could evolve to include streamlining clients’ agency relationships. This could see these entities playing the role of a “hub,” effectively managing and leading clients’ relationships with other agencies and third parties, including functions such as PR and SEO.

In addition, CEAs promise to help break down silos within organizations to better provide a “single view” of their customers. Centralizing customer data in this manner promises to expose new business opportunities and strategies, or so the theory goes. Instead of just informing marketing strategy, it could be used to drive new product and service development, as well as to optimize internal business structures and operations.

That’s probably a long way off, though, Khatibloo warned, since the CEA model is far from a mature one. “The agencies we evaluated are taking various approaches to acquiring the people, processes and technology required to become leaders in the CEA landscape. However, finding the right talent and restructuring agency compensation, growth and KPI models are proving especially challenging. As a result, these firms face a long road to maturity.”

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