Merkle (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 2012. Once again, Merkle experienced significant year over year growth and exceeded fourth quarter expectations. Of note, Merkle recorded substantial growth within its digital services, a 96% increase year over year, which can be attributed to the build-out of multiple digital touchpoints. Merkle also saw considerable growth among its industry-aligned vertical teams, including a 38% increase for its insurance and wealth management practice and 20% in both media & entertainment and specialty retail.
Corporate Strategy and Expansion: “With the marketing landscape evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, Merkle sees three key trends that are driving change in the ways brands market to customers: ‘big data,’ digital media and customer centricity,” according to David Williams, chairman and CEO for Merkle. Recognizing these trends, Merkle orchestrated a systematic approach to creating more meaningful relationships with consumers. Merkle launched its “connected CRM” strategy in 2012 to allow marketers to identify, serve and retain customers based on their value. Connected CRM brings together a robust customer marketing platform and analytical skills to enable integrated customer-centric marketing at scale. Throughout the year, the connected CRM approach gained momentum in the industry as it mapped out a clear strategy to enable brands to more effectively engage with their customers.
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 data and media services offering through a number of key acquisitions. In 2012, Merkle acquired New York-based Social Amp, a recognized authority in Facebook Open Graph marketing; San Francisco-based 5th Finger, a leading technology-enabled mobile solutions provider, offering responsive web design; and New York-based Brilig, a leading digital data exchange for online advertising. These acquisitions support Merkle’s ongoing strategy to expand its big data capabilities and to further strengthen its connected CRM approach through offline and digital touchpoints.
As Merkle’s client base is becoming increasingly global, the company has continued its ongoing expansion into international markets. Merkle acquired additional space and will open a new global delivery center in China in 2013. With the addition of this new operation, Merkle expects to have 300+ people in China by the year end. Rapid employee growth in China demonstrates the company’s continued build-out of global analytical and marketing technology capabilities for U.S. multi-national marketers. Merkle’s global marketing expertise in aiding our multi-national clients has led to expansion into the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) markets.
Client Activity: In 2012, Merkle added to its already diverse customer portfolio. New clients include Lexmark, WellPoint, Nespresso, Safeway, Cross Country Home Services, Electronic Arts, USAA, AAA, Citigroup, 1-800 Flowers, Kimpton Hotels, Cedar Fair Entertainment, Gerber Life Insurance, Highmark and Comcast to name a few.
Capabilities & Industry Expansion: As Merkle continues to deliver a comprehensive connected CRM solution to help clients maximize the value of their customer portfolios, it has further enhanced its capabilities in several core areas.
- Merkle launched the Management Consulting Group, a connected CRM consulting practice, which helps companies to assess their CRM readiness across six key domains and build a roadmap for implementation. The Management Consulting Group’s mission is to help client organizations put CRM into practice with their customers, as well as establish long-standing relationships with clients. It will do this through two key practice areas: customer business strategies and marketing and channel management.
- Merkle launched IMPAQT Trading, a media solution suite that applies the targeting and measurement practices of traditional direct marketing to execute targeted display, video, mobile and social media advertising. IMPAQT Trading offers a data-driven performance media solution that optimizes digital spend and results. The proprietary platform was developed to understand, influence and measure consumer behavior through digital media.
- Merkle has continued its industry focus across the enterprise expanding into 8 industry practices (insurance and wealth management, nonprofit, specialty retail, financial services, life sciences, retail consumer goods, and media and entertainment). Merkle’s industry expertise has proven to be a core strength and differentiator in the market. Most recently, Merkle launched a Technology/B2B practice, which broadens the reach of the company’s industry expertise.
Talent: The company added over 140 employees and grew to 1,700 employees in 2012, operating in 12 locations worldwide and adding industry-leading talent across its capabilities and industry practices. Rounding out the board of directors, Merkle added Robert Frerichs, industry leader in the consulting space, to the board. Frerichs recently retired from Accenture after holding executive level posts for the last 35 years.
“Merkle’s 2012 growth strategy focused on making major investments in the build-out of our multi-channel solutions, specifically through the acquisition of several leading digital solutions providers,” said Williams. “In addition to continued exploration of acquisition opportunities, our organic growth strategy for 2013 is focused on imparting the merits of the connected CRM philosophy, and includes a sustained emphasis on building relationships, maximizing customer value, and delivering on our commitments to our clients.”