Merkle (http://www.merkleinc.com/), a leading customer relationship marketing (CRM) firm and the nation’s largest privately-held agency, today released its annual Year in Review for 2011. Merkle reported total revenue of $303 million, partially driven by a record-breaking 2011 fourth quarter. These results are a reflection of Merkle’s successful year of organic growth and acquisition, stemming from a continued focus on providing world-class CRM solutions for its clients.
Corporate Strategy and Expansion: Merkle’s keen focus on its own growth and that of its clients is fueled by several macro trends that support building customer strategy as a business strategy: the digitization of media and channels, the mass engagement made possible by socially enabled consumers, and the evolution of consumer expectations and buying behaviors. “These trends have led marketers to begin creating a 360 degree view of the customer from all angles of the organization; developing advanced insights and targeting capabilities; and engaging customers in more effective and productive ways,” according to David Williams, Chairman and CEO for Merkle. “Companies are seeking new partnerships with agencies that can help them develop marketing programs that maximize the value of their customer portfolios. Merkle provides expertise in CRM strategy, analytics, technology and digital media in support of these objectives.”
Over the last several years, Merkle has been at the forefront of the digital marketing movement. This has prompted the company to accelerate its digital offering, which in 2011 included the acquisition of leading search firm, IMPAQT, the launch of its display trading desk, its mobile agency and social agency, Merkle Connect.
In addition to the augmentation of its digital capabilities, Merkle has continued its global expansion, more than doubling the size of its Shanghai office over the last 12 months and forging a growing path in Europe through a large multi-national effort. The company is bringing its global operations to scale and expanding its international data acquisition and data processing capabilities, as well as its technology and analytics outsourcing strategy.
Awards and Recognition: Merkle received several industry honors in 2011, stemming from its work with world-class commercial and nonprofit brands. Advertising Age recognized the company as one of the “Top 50” agencies in the world, ranking Merkle 8th among direct marketing agencies nationwide. The National Center for Database Marketing (NCDM) presented Merkle with its Silver Database Excellence Award in the Business-to-Business category. The company also received the Gold Maxi Award for its nonprofit work with Feeding America. Merkle was once again named to SmartCEO’s Future 50 and inducted into Baltimore Magazine’s Best Places to Work Hall of Fame. CEO David Williams received honors as the Silver Apple Award winner for the Direct Marketing Club of NY and was named to Baltimore Business Journal’s Power 20 list.
Capabilities: Merkle delivers a comprehensive and ever-evolving array of solutions to help clients maximize the value of their customer portfolios. As the company continues to address the increasing demand for integrated digital services, it has further enhanced its capabilities in digital. Merkle IMPAQT provides search engine optimization and pay-per-click services. The social CRM agency, Merkle Connect allows clients to connect with consumers, activate their brand, integrate social data and continuously evaluate social marketing activities. The Merkle display trading desk provides insights, measurement and targeting services for internet advertising. And Merkle’s comprehensive mobile CRM capabilities include mobile strategy, campaign execution and database integration.
In addition, Merkle launched expanded media mix capabilities with Media Mix Optimization, which uses analytics to allocate marketing dollars toward media that will produce optimal incremental impact. Also new in 2011 is Merkle’s Digital Data Integration, which utilizes hygiene and matching techniques to link customer engagement activity in a centralized data management platform, enabling more effective analytics, reporting and campaign execution.
To meet the industry-specific needs of its clients, Merkle’s CognitiveDATA subsidiary also introduced a dedicated specialty retail version of its customer insight and contact management platform. Based on IntelliBASE, Merkle’s flagship database platform, this solution offers imbedded intelligence based on years of serving the needs of specialty retail marketers. The aggregation of highly accurate data into one holistic view of the customer with visual reporting capabilities, the platform provides immediate customer analysis and campaign execution tools to optimize marketing performance across media. The company successfully onboarded 14 new clients to the platform during 2011.
Talent: According to Williams, “In Merkle’s unrelenting quest for excellence, we are constantly driven to bring the best available talent to our team. 2011 brought a wealth of new talent and promotions that will bring us closer to achieving that goal.” The company grew to 1,500 employees in 2011, operating in 12 locations worldwide. Last year, Merkle made several moves that demonstrated the company’s commitment to growing its market-leading position in CRM strategy and digital services – most notably, naming industry-renowned media veteran, James Warner, to its board of directors. Underscoring Merkle’s emphasis on a consultative, strategically led approach to helping clients build sustainable competitive advantage, the firm hired Steve LaValle as Executive Vice President of Client and Advisory Services. Additionally, Merkle hired Patrick Hounsell as chief digital officer, supporting the company’s ongoing commitment to being the premier CRM agency in the digital space.
Merkle reports that its 2012 growth strategy will focus on both acquisition and organic expansion. “We will build upon our multi-channel solutions that help clients build customer strategy as a business strategy,” added Williams. “Sustained focus will be placed upon the development of our CRM consulting and digital capabilities, as we continue to strengthen our team of market-leading talent serving world-class brands.”