Forrester Report: 6 Steps for B2C Marketers Seeking Wins in 2023

Olivier Le

Two types of technological change are causing the proverbial sleepless nights for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers: updating data strategies to adapt to data deprecation, and introducing or enhancing their organization’s AI capabilities. A survey of B2C marketing decision-makers in the Forrester 2023 B2C Marketing Challenges and Priorities report indicated that these issues top the list of respondents’ challenges within the next 12 months, at 47% each.

These and other data challenges are affecting marketers’ ability to effectively use one of their most powerful tools — personalization. “The evolution toward a cookieless world and consent management issues with zero- and first-party data make it more difficult for marketers to access data,” wrote the July 2023 report’s authors, Thomas Husson and Rusty Warner, both VPs and Principal Analysts at Forrester.

Husson and Warner noted that managing data quality issues, driving decision-making with customer insights and creating a single view of the customer across channels all present hurdles to effective marketing execution, and that as a result, 41% of respondents globally cite personalizing communications, experiences and interactions among their biggest challenges.

Six Steps to Create Customer Value

The report also identified six key ways that marketers can overcome these challenges, aligning marketing, customer experience (CX) and digital to create value for customers.


1. Foster empathy to better understand customer needs: The report warned against marketing teams listening to customers “one-dimensionally,” which risks functional fixedness and “me too” products and services. Real empathy requires marketers to look beyond consumers’ digital behavior to better understand their intent and the emotional context of their actions.

2. Better align marketing and CX: Marketers seeking to bring together marketing and CX will need to shift from focusing strictly on acquisition, conversion and onboarding journeys. Instead, marketing and CX teams will need to collaborate on both journey mapping and experience design that encompass the complete customer lifecycle. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) can “prioritize customer journeys based on impact and feasibility to create momentum with quick wins. Such projects will ultimately accelerate efforts to bring brand strategy to life by aligning brand, customer and employee experience,” according to the report.

3. Test use cases to reduce the impact of technology hype: All the buzz about generative AI is predicting almost magical results, especially for marketing teams. But the report noted that most organizations need mature governance to master technology, data and analytics before they can maximize AI’s benefits. Use cases for generative AI should be pragmatic and pay close attention to issues such as consumer data privacy.

4. Fully leverage martech investments: Nearly two-thirds (66%) of marketing decision-makers say their organizations will increase marketing technology (martech) spending this year, but Forrester predicted that they will pay 20% more to get the same capabilities, due to inflation and post-pandemic licensing adjustments. Forrester recommended careful selection of tools from the 11,000+ martech vendors to facilitate experience delivery based on deep customer understanding. “They must also maximize value from existing martech investments, which will require a pragmatic evaluation of overhyped customer data platforms (CDPs) and data clean rooms that promise to solve their customer data management woes,” according to the report.

5. Combine internal and external skill orchestration: Hiring externally to acquire fresh talent and/or upskilling internal teams won’t be enough to manage all the elements of a marketing transformation, which will require skill sets in content creation, creativity, technology, design thinking, CX, channel expertise, measurement and customer analytics. CMOs will need to orchestrate internal teams, external agencies and consultancies; forward-thinking CMOs can further modernize their operations by shifting from traditional full-time equivalent (FTE) thinking to a human/technology equivalent (H/TE) model that aligns employees with supporting tech investments.

6. Use CLV to align marketing and CX metrics: The financial methodology behind customer lifetime value (CLV) can demonstrate how the work of both marketing and CX teams directly contributes to an organization’s long-term value. However, because CLV calculations are complex, only 21% of global B2C marketing decision-makers say their organizations routinely use it to measure and attribute marketing’s value to the business. The report recommended that CMOs work with both finance and data science teams to establish a CLV framework in order to help predict the future profitability of customer engagement and justify the needed investment.

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