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Silicon 70 2018

Make Your Customer Experience, Media Performance, Marketing Technology, CRM, And Loyalty Get Along: Merkle


Merkle is a global data-driven, technology-enabled performance marketing agency. For nearly 30 years, Fortune 1,000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations have partnered with Merkle to build and maximize the value of their customer portfolios. Merkle works with world-class brands like Dell, T-Mobile, Samsung, HBO, GEICO, Regions, Kimberly-Clark, AARP, Lilly, Sanofi, NBC Universal, DIRECTV, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, and many others to build and execute customer-centric business strategies. With more than 5,500 smart, dedicated people in 50 offices around the world, Merkle is still growing at a rate that outpaces the market, with 2017 net revenue of $630 million.

Performance marketing focuses on measurable outcomes. It is judged based on campaign results, the value of your customer relationships, and loyalty earned against your marketing investment. A customer-focused approach that employs individualized targeting and personalized messaging is a key driver of performance. And a people-based marketing strategy takes that personalization to another level, delivering truly unique and tailored customer experiences in real time.

History: A Foundation of Passion and Experience

Over the years, Merkle’s business model has evolved, allowing the company to become one of the nation's premier performance marketing agencies. The company provides its clients with world-class solutions for maximizing the value of their customer portfolios. 

It all started when a small data processing company was purchased by a young visionary with big dreams of building a world-class service organization.

In 1988, Merkle was acquired by a young entrepreneur named David Williams. At the age of 25, Williams already possessed a visionary leadership style; but even he could never have foreseen what technology had in store for the marketplace and for Merkle, which evolved into one of the leading performance marketing companies in the world.

Growth and expansion have always been watchwords — not only for Merkle’s own business ambitions but even more importantly in terms of its clients. Merkle has reached its market-leading status through years of tenacious focus on organic growth, revered talent acquisition, and smart corporate acquisitions.

Merkle has earned a reputation as a valued partner to its clients by assembling an elite team of experts who share a passion for achieving greatness. Merkle has convened the most experienced multidisciplinary marketing experts in the country, who strive to achieve their best work in areas of strategic consulting, database services, digital media, experience creation, analytical services, and technology.

In addition to Merkle’s human assets, Merkle has made a series of strategic acquisitions over the last 29 years, from software and technology providers to data and analytic companies to creative agencies and mailing services. 

Merkle is constantly evolving Merkle's value proposition and expanding its core competencies in anticipation of marketplace changes. The company has experienced double-digit annual growth over the past three decades, with 2016 revenue of $560 million. With more than 5,200 employees worldwide, the company opened its Columbia headquarters campus in 2008, now complemented by 24 additional offices in the US and 21 offices in EMEA and APAC.

What Merkle Does: Truth In Data And Proof In Performance

Customer Strategy

The customer is the single most important asset in any organization. So why is marketing strategy often so disconnected from customer experience?

An effective customer strategy leverages a data-driven approach to understanding the opportunity within your customer base to drive marketing and business outcomes. Merkle can help you gain a unique comprehension of total customer value that leads to incremental gains for your brand. And, it can couple that with a methodical approach to business transformation that supports the people, processes, and technologies required to embrace today’s digital consumer economy.

Merkle identifies opportunities in your customer portfolio, align your marketing investments, and inform meaningful, differentiated customer experiences that lead to long-term value.

Experience & Personalization

The demand for meaningful, anticipatory customer experiences is at an inflection point — with disruption in every industry becoming a mainstay.

As a marketer, it’s likely that you want to radically change the way your company engages with customers, so you can deliver direct impact to the business. To do that, every interaction with your brand should be so intelligent that the experience itself differentiates you and becomes a key competitive advantage.

To make the shift needed to deliver connected experiences in a crowded marketplace while you are competing internally for the increased budget can seem risky, but it allows you to prove ROI that transcends channels and campaigns. You’ll have knowledge of who your customers are. You’ll know what they want, and you’ll know how to communicate with them.

Solution: Merkle helps brands imagine, design, and drive measurable business outcomes through personal customer experiences. With keen audience planning, machine learning, and AI, real-time decisioning creates intuitive and cognitive customer journeys. Merkle combines experience planning, user experience design, and marketing platforms.

The Chief’s Take On The Company Philosophy

“At Merkle, we help brands make the people-based marketing transformation. Using a combination of first- and third-party data, we create, target, and measure the highly customized customer experiences that not only drive immediate results in the form of today’s response and conversion, but also build tomorrow’s increased loyalty and customer value.

We apply an industry-focused methodology to the solutions we provide, from customer strategy consulting, to audience and experience planning, to experience design and creation, to performance media and site execution.”

The Bigwig

David Williams, Chairman & CEO: David acquired Merkle in 1988 and became its 24th employee. Under his leadership, Merkle has sustained double-digit annual growth over the last 25 years and is the only agency that has been recognized by Forrester Research across every aspect of the customer journey: customer database and engagement, search marketing, and loyalty solutions.

David is the author of the book, Connected CRM: Implementing a Data-Driven, Customer-Centric Business Strategy, which was published in 2014 by Wiley Publishing. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and has written numerous articles and white papers about topics.

He began his career at Butcher & Singer, a Philadelphia-based investment bank, and holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

“At the heart of Merkle’s solutions is the deep heritage in the data, analytics, and technology capabilities that enable them.”