The Clutch Maturity Curve: Road to Human-Centered Marketing

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."
Charles Darwin

The future of B2C marketing will be a human-centered, experience-based model.  As we continue our migration towards an experience economy, companies must compete on how well they understand their customers. This will require sophisticated technologies that leverage AI and automation to deliver individualized commerce and engagement strategies. 

By 2030, it is estimated that 70%¹ of businesses will have implemented some form of artificial intelligence. But today, most companies use spreadsheets to manage customer data. To understand where we are going and how to get there, we must first understand ourselves and our abilities at the present time.

This eBook will introduce the Clutch Human-Centered Maturity Model, a universal continuum of marketing maturity on which all companies reside. With the Model as our guide, we will help business leaders and their teams align on a strategic vision for the future and the investments required to adapt and thrive in this rapidly changing landscape. We will explore the implications for marketing and IT departments to support this new business model and its various demands. Finally, we will provide direct recommendations for technology investments, budgeting, personnel changes, and actions to take at specific points in time. 

We encourage you to continue reading if you wish to understand your potential and plan for your future as a B2C business.


Human-Centered Marketing

“Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimensions real people have.”

-Jonah Sachs

Human-centered marketing is a philosophy that responds to this shift in control and the evolving role of consumers. It acknowledges that a customer is a state of being that comes and goes and the importance of appreciating the person as a separate and consistent entity. Instead of trying to influence, manipulate, or mislead, it seeks to know them as human beings. To know their interests outside of the brand, what makes them feel good, what problems they have, to anticipate needs and predict behaviors. The customer is respected and seen as intelligent and discerning. human-centered marketing puts the customer at the center of the business and attempts to solve their problems, anticipate their needs, and improve their experience in life.

For marketers, human-centered marketing is 1:1 personalization made manifest. It realizes the underlying power of all of the data that exists. The choices are clear, and the outcomes are predicted, known, and true. There is no more testing and optimizing on the fly or making risky bets on the future. The only surprise is how satisfying and rewarding it is for both brands and consumers to do best by each other. 

True human-centered Marketing does not exist yet; in our lifetime, most companies will never get there. But it is where we are heading and why we present the ideas in this eBook. We have laid out a plan that can be used by any company, from any starting point, to make progress toward a human-centered approach and the benefits that come with it. 

The Human-Centered Maturity Model

Human-Centered Marketing is the future, and the Clutch Human-Centered Maturity Model is how we will get there. The Model is an evaluative and aspirational tool for any B2C business to understand its current marketing maturity level and identify a clear and strategic path forward. In an era of machine-driven marketing, businesses can align their vision, manage the technological transition, reduce overwhelm, and turn the journey into a rewarding and exciting experience.

Businesses can use the model to marry their unique vision for the future by adopting technology at the right time, planning for everything from contract duration and integration costs to managing the fundamental changes to their operational structure over time. 

We know that the future of marketing will be machine-driven. This model and the recommendations are intended to make the transition less overwhelming, more formulaic, and ultimately a rewarding and exciting experience.

The Clutch Maturity Curve

Content Focus
Focus is content distribution, typically via 1 or 2 traditional channels.
  • Multiple Member Systems
  • Long cycle times
  • Static / no data
  • Limited reporting
Digital Alignment
Digital initiatives are more strategically aligned within marketing goals. 
  • Siloed data
  • Basic data collection
  • Basic segmentation
  • Legacy channel(s)
Data Focus
Test & Learn
Emphasis on raw data collection, marketer instinct and manual analysis to build and test simple customer segments.
  • Digital channels
  • Basic marketing database
  • Basic Journey(s)
  • KPI Development
  • Reporting
Data Centric
Commitment to customer centric model based on automated engagements via each customer’s preferred channel(s)
  • Marketing tech
  • BI  & analytics tools
  • Actionable insight
  • Segment automation
  • Vendor consolidation
Customer Focus
Platform Automation
Technology is the focus given the volume and velocity of 1st & 3rd party data collected into a singular longitudinal view of each customer.
  • Singular data strategy
  • Omni-channel journeys
  • Process automation
  • Micro-segmentation
  • Data Science
Human Experience
Create contextual experiences using real time data and predictive analytics that optimize both customer and business outcomes.
  • Machine learning tech
  • Dynamic segmentation
  • Real-time cycles
  • Dynamic content
  • AI guided marketing

Shown from left to right along the X axis, the three main phases of marketing maturity are Content Focus, Data Focus, and Customer Focus. Within each phase are two sub-stages defined by a set of capabilities and challenges commonly experienced by companies in those groups.

Legacy businesses are often brick-and-mortar first or smaller, mom-and-pop style operations. Sometimes, companies that are just getting started will find themselves in the Legacy stage.

Moving to the right on the curve, we estimate that 70% of companies globally are somewhere in the Data Focus phase. They focus on acquiring and using consumer information and adopting technology for these purposes. 

The data economy gained momentum with mobile adoption and was massively accelerated by the pandemic, where 6%³ of the world’s population gained internet access and 90% of the world’s data was created. By now, businesses largely appreciate that investments in personalization are worthwhile, hence the large population of companies that exist in the Data phase. According to McKinsey, the extensive use of analytics translates to 132%² greater ROI. 

The more skillful a company becomes in applying data to grow customer knowledge and intimacy, the greater the returns. More value from loyalty, more repeat shoppers, more upward migration

McKinsey & Co
The data economy gained momentum with mobile adoption and was massively accelerated by the pandemic
of the world’s population gained internet access
Of the world’s data was created.

And at the far right, Human Experience Marketing does not exist yet, though we may begin to see bleeding edge use cases play out in the next three to five years. This is a world where humans recede, and an unbiased AI takes charge of decisions; its sole objective is to optimize everything, including cost, resources, effort, and experience.

For the Clutch Model, Human Experience Marketing is the final stage of marketing maturity. While it is uncharted territory, it can be imagined today. 
Imagine …… the instant you enter a room, the lights and temperature adjust to appease your senses. The first notes of a nostalgic song seep in at such a tenor you aren’t sure if it’s playing in your head or over the sound system. Your eye catches a display. A coat that reminds you of the one you had years ago that made you feel so great, so powerful is showered in a soft, unassuming light, your size, your color. 
How to Use the model- Start Here

To start, determine your marketing maturity level by reading through the sub-stages and deciding which one is most relatable and accurate. Familiarize yourself with the full model and the recommendations for reaching the next phase. Follow the recommendations and begin your journey to Human-Centered Marketing Maturity. 

The following sections will summarize the six stages of marketing maturity. We will outline common capabilities and business challenges and provide recommendations for how to move up the curve. Recommendations fall into three categories:
Actions to take that will develop your marketing and data strategy.
Timing and cost of technology and partnerships to adopt at each stage.
Forecasts for personnel that will support growth alongside AI adoption.

Content Focus

You are focused on getting the message out

Content Focus
Data Focus
Customer Focus


You communicate with customers on a monthly or quarterly basis about major sales or seasonal events, usually via direct mail. To acquire new business, you may purchase lists of contacts by zip code and mail them a flier. Customer data is stored in various spreadsheets; updates are ad hoc, and inaccuracies persist. Setting up a mailing campaign is slow, and ROI is unclear.

  • Content distribution through offline channels, primarily direct mail
  • Manual data management, primarily spreadsheet-driven
  • Data is static, much of it is out of date
  • Communication is generic
  • No reporting or attribution

Digital Alignment

You have a semi-regular newsletter sent to your database via email and direct mail. You are not able to personalize much beyond first name. You are growing frustrated with a lack of manpower and resources. You want tools to help you understand the impact of your communications and how to improve results. You also want a budget to acquire new business on social media and via ads.

  • Content distribution through email + direct mail
  • Basic data collection (name, address, email)
  • Basic segmentation (i.e. by zip code)
  • Data is siloed, much of it in spreadsheets
  • Manual exports and imports of data for marketing
  • Segmentation is manual
  • Limited to no reporting or attribution


Invest in technology to free up your people


Start to make the case for upgrading your tools and team by creating basic customer journeys. Think of a progressive, one to two-step journey a customer could take and the content needed to support each step. 

For email, consider ways to opt in, incentives for opt-in, types of content, and purposes for content. Consider entry points like ads, landing pages, web forms, and offers. Look for opportunities to learn about customers along their journey and consider where and how customer data will be added and updated. 

Don’t be constrained by your current capabilities; instead, take note of how you can - or why you can’t - do something today. However cumbersome, describe the process. Your future technology investments will improve speed and efficiency and should be flexible enough to adapt to changes in your campaigns and consumer behavior. 

Develop KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your journey campaigns. When you first deploy a campaign, report on the results. Start tracking attribution - it will be manual for now, but attempt to learn whether an email or offer results in a sale or intended action.


Invest in a basic marketing database or CRM.

If you are dealing with legacy systems and homegrown solutions, select a CRM that is affordable and has decent functionality - just make sure it does what you need to do right now. Don’t sign more than a two-year contract - you are likely to outgrow the solution in three to five years.

If you are starting your company from day one, try to standardize your most critical tools on one technology stack. A good strategy is to scale technology relationships that are core infrastructure for your business. If your Point of Sale system offers rudimentary data management, you may want to consolidate spending there for now. Or, you might select a peripheral CRM to an e-commerce platform you already use. The Salesforce CRM is a logical choice if you are using Salesforce Commerce Cloud. For Microsoft Azure, choose the Microsoft CRM. Standardizing in this way will ease the transition and optimize time to value. 

You may be motivated to choose best-of-breed solutions across the board. This will increase the complexity of your ecosystem and may limit flexibility down the road. With several high-performing yet disparate solutions, changing one system will inevitably impact other systems, slowing operations and draining resources. 

A single-platform approach is more sustainable in the long term. Teams only have to learn one UI instead of multiple systems, reducing errors and improving productivity. Integration and maintenance of multiple systems can overwhelm tech teams who are asked to manage interoperability between unfamiliar marketing systems along with their other work. Competing priorities and unclear responsibilities can lead to tension between teams and resentment over time.

Finally, consolidation among marketing technology platforms is a central theme. Between 2022 and 2023, 7% of the 9,000 MarTech solutions available were acquired, went out of business, or pivoted out of MarTech⁸. The best-of-breed solutions are the most likely to be acquired and integrated into existing enterprise platforms, impacting end customers with unforeseen changes to product roadmaps, feature sets, pricing, contract terms and customer support. Inquire or research the future prospects for any platform you consider and become familiar with the roadmap for your existing partners. A current partner may be adding functionality that meets your needs, preventing you from making a costly move.


Hire or find a partner with digital marketing capabilities. 

To fill a 2-3 year gap in the marketing team, in-source with a director-level employee proficient in CRM marketing. This person will have a strong understanding of customer behavior, data analysis, and business strategy, ensuring that all data-driven campaigns and programs align with business goals. The CRM director should closely relate to IT, proactively managing support requests and integration projects. You will also need an email marketer who can create and manage a content calendar. A candidate who is a proficient writer with good attention to detail and at least five years of experience will be successful in this role.

For a longer-term solution, run an RFP to find a strategic partner to help you roadmap your digital evolution. This could be a systems integrator, digital agency, consultancy, or a combination. A worthy investment will cost 300-500K over two years and should include systems identification, cost / benefIt analysis, vendor selection and implementation and marketing strategy. The partner should also support ongoing work while you transition solutions in-house, onboard new systems and hires.


Data Focus

You are focused on data capture and utilization

Content Focus
Data Focus
Customer Focus

Test & Learn

You are testing out marketing concepts using a mix of transactional data and behavioral data, fishing for insights about customers that will translate into marketing campaigns. However, compilation, analysis, and segmentation are time and labor-intensive, putting a strain on internal teams.

Integrated platforms have a 25-35 percent lower Total Cost of Ownership vs. point solutions and can achieve a 30% faster speed to market
  • Raw data collection - batch processing from POS & ECommerce
  • Simple customer journeys
  • Established KPI reporting
  • Testing marketing concepts
  • Individualized offers with attribution
  • Systems and vendors are not integrated, data is siloed
  • Insights are basic, analysis is manual
  • Marketing and tech team priorities are not aligned
  • No automation around data or outbound marketing
  • Lag time between data, insights, and execution

Data Centric

You are beginning to outgrow current technology partners and in-house solutions. You know what you don’t know and are looking for technology to solve gaps and enable greater speed and efficiency. You may incrementally onboard new solutions such as an enterprise suite like Salesforce or a CDP + email solution.

  • Streamlined capture of transactional and behavioral data
  • Automated segment creation
  • Trigger-based engagements by channel
  • Marketing and tech team alignment
  • Selecting the right technology solutions and partners
  • Lack of internal expertise for data management
  • Meeting data privacy and regulation standards


Consolidate vendors, upgrade your technology suite and get marketing and tech teams on the same page.

"Our commitment extends beyond technology; we advocate for data and vendor consolidation to achieve unified insights and clarity.  As you navigate the future of marketing, your focus must remain on the individual behind the data. At Clutch, we leverage AI and sophisticated analytics to pioneer solutions that anticipate customer needs, enhance consumer engagements, and place the human experience at the heart of every strategy.
This approach not only streamlines operations but enriches the quality of customer interactions. Crucially, we emphasize the alignment of marketing and technology teams, fostering collaboration that unlocks unparalleled potential. When these teams operate in concert, powered by coherent, comprehensive data insights, the result is truly personalized and meaningful experiences that are rewarding for businesses and consumers alike through human-centric marketing."

Dan Guy
-Clutch Co-Founder and CTO

Start the process to achieve a singular data strategy.

Assemble key stakeholders and, together, define the customer experience you want to be able to deliver in 5 years. This will be your vision for the company. Evaluate the limitations of your existing systems, identify gaps, and plan to invest in new or updated data and marketing systems that will give you the flexibility you need going forward. Consider your abilities in the following areas and whether you need to add, upgrade or retain the following systems:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
  • Marketing Automation Platform
  • Data Analytics and Business Intelligence Tools
  • Customer Segmentation Tools
  • Email Marketing Software
  • Social Media Management Tools
  • Loyalty Program Software
  • Customer Feedback and Survey Tools
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • A/B Testing Tools
  • Mobile App Analytics
  • Personalization Engines
  • E-commerce Platform Integration
  • Customer Service and Support Software
  • Ad Campaign Management Tools
  • Predictive Analytics Tools
  • Security and Compliance Tools
  • Communication and Collaboration Tools
  • Customer Journey Mapping Tools

When crafting your vision, avoid a short-sighted approach. Do not simply look to the next step or to what brands are doing today; instead, focus on longer-term trends in emerging consumer behaviors. Otherwise, you risk engineering yourself into a corner and slowing the business down because it cannot adapt to change. 

Avoid specialized tools in favor of more flexible tools. The problems we face today around individualized, contextual content and experiences will be solved by AI in the next several years. A systems-out strategy starts with the back end before considering the front end, effectively reducing friction over the long term. The opposite approach takes the outputs from today's marketing team and tries to map them back to specialized systems, inevitably adding cost, complexity, and operational bloat.

Singular Data Strategy
A long-term, universally accepted plan that defines the technology, processes, people, and rules required to manage an organization's information assets.
Systems Out Strategy
An approach to technology development that starts with the back-end systems before considering the front end or desired experience and marketing use case, effectively reducing friction over the long term.

Invest: The main objective of your marketing campaigns should be the capture of zero, first, and third-party data and the normalization and integration of this data.

You will need budgets that allow for technology integration, a CDP to unify data, and eventually, AI-powered marketing tools to help you interpret and make decisions based on that data.

Of all a company’s functions, marketing has perhaps the most to gain from artificial intelligence

Harvard Business Review

Getting started with AI does not have to be intimidating. There are a variety of stand-alone and integrated tools on the market that use AI to perform a variety of tasks with varying degrees of complexity. Choosing one should depend on the size of your business and what tasks you’d like to automate. 

If your business is small ($25-200M revenue), introduce AI to increase operational efficiency by automating tasks. If you are a medium  ($500M-1B in revenue) or large business (more than $1B), these investments should enable your existing teams to move farther faster and push the customer experience you are creating to new heights. 

The main types of AI applications on the market can be classified by their structure (stand-alone or integrated) and level of intelligence. Customer service chatbots are examples of simple standalone apps. The product recommendations we see on many shopping websites are applications that are integrated with customer databases and ecommerce platforms and can be extremely sophisticated. Generative AI applications are those that can create original content, such as images, videos, and text that are indistinguishable from content created by humans. This type of AI is proving incredibly valuable to marketers who are beginning to use it to write email copy or blog posts, find images for websites or social media, and even design marketing collateral.

Whatever the use case, there is no need to develop proprietary AI or machine learning capabilities in-house. It takes a long time and a vast amount of data to train models and most marketing platforms already have some form of AI or machine learning embedded, with more functionality on the roadmap. Ask your teams what tasks would be most beneficial to automate, and there is a good chance a solution already exists to meet the need.

Isolated from other platform
Integrated With other platforms
Stand Alone Machine Learning Apps
Segment creation
Report generator
Trend forecasting
Stand Alone Task Automation Apps
Basic chatbots
Content generation
Automated surveys
Integrated Task Automation Apps
Fraud management
Churn management
Marketing automation tasks
Integrated Machine Learning Apps
Lifecycle management Product recommendations
1:1 personalized offers

Hire a CIO if you don't already have one. 

The CIO is a strategic business leader who understands both marketing and technology and is rising in prominence in the executive suite to sit between (or above) the CMO and CTO. With the CMO and CTO on the delivery side of the equation, CIOs are assuming more control. The CIO can aid in digital transformation, forecasting costs and ensuring your investments align with the overall business strategy.

Additionally, find a partner or hire a business analyst or data scientist to support data acquisition, normalization, and key insights. If you choose to bring the data science function in-house, instruct them to create and use proprietary models that focus on things that are germane to who you are as a company, as they will be more effective than open-source models. 


Customer Focus

You are focused on technology-driven optimization

Content Focus
Data Focus
Customer Focus

Platform Automation

To support your singular data strategy, you require considerable tech support to integrate new solutions. You lean on technology for operational efficiency, to protect margin, to improve experience, and to grow revenue as much as possible. You are investing heavily in customer experience roles to ensure a smooth handoff between the back end and front end.

  • Singular data strategy
  • More than 50% process automation
  • Micro-segmentation
  • A team focused on data strategy
  • Using ML for recommendations, offers, and segments
  • Enterprise marketing automation, CDP, BI
  • Volume + velocity of data
  • Internal change management
  • Scaling content generation
  • Staying the course to realize the vision for the business
  • Planning and forecasting technology (Build vs Buy)
Build Vs. Buy
The Build vs Buy dilemma occurs when the CTO wants to build instead of purchasing or integrating an outside solution. While they may be able to save on cost for this iteration, over time, a home grown solution will require more money and resources to maintain.  This is a critical juncture where to survive and scale, you must invest in a solid technology partnership that aligns with your future vision. It is VERY expensive to get it right internally for the long haul. At some point it is no longer a practical decision to build something internally.

Human Experience Focus

You are all-in on AI and have been able to downsize your teams with gained efficiencies. IT and Marketing have merged into one team and priorities are finally aligned. An unbiased AI now sits between you and your customer and is optimizing outcomes for the customer and the business. Your role is to oversee the outputs and recommendations from the AI while evaluating the legal, ethical, and financial implications of those decisions. Customer expectations are rising, and with them, the cost to deliver.

  • 1:1 engagements to a “segment” of one
  • Real-time, AI-guided marketing
  • Generative AI
  • Dynamic content
  • Supply chain predictability
  • Internal trust in AI outputs
  • Accuracy of AI outputs
  • Ethical considerations
  • AI regulation
  • Increasingly high customer expectations
  • High cost of investments in experience
  • High risk of failure
AI-Guided Marketing
This AI application combines human intelligence and machine learning to help create more intelligent marketing actions. It combines prescriptive and predictive data to help them marketers determine the next best action to take.
Dynamic Content
Any digital or online content that changes based on data, user behavior or preference. The goal is to optimize engagement and conversion with content that is more aligned to the viewer.


Disintermediate. Give control to the customer


Start by taking a step back.

Your customers are giving you more access to their lives: calendars, schedules, travel plans, discretionary budgets—all are known and understood using AI. Your job is to allow the AI to predict consumers’ wants and needs and marry your product with the individual in a way that gives them the best experience possible. 

One of the top applications of AI in its earliest form was to enhance relationships with customers for its ability to quickly meet customer expectations and communicate solutions at scale. Yet some people question whether a machine can really bring us closer together. If it can know how to manage the nuance of human needs and desires better than another human can. The answer is up for debate; but when scale, speed, and accuracy determine marketing success, intelligent automation from AI far surpasses the output from any team of human marketers. 

Mckinsey projects that generative AI and related technologies could automate activities that currently take up to 60-70% of an employee’s time. But this does not mean replacing those workers; instead, most industries and workers will be complimented by AI, allowing them to focus on more strategic, analytical and ideally more fulfilling work. Estimates from Goldman Sachs suggest that 85% of job growth in the past 80 years is explained by technology driven creation of new positions⁹.

So empower AI to take on the work of making sense of what each customer expects and desires, letting it take the next best action on behalf of your business. Replace the tedious, labor-intensive tasks that fill your day with things that cannot be automated. Focus on strategic work that requires creativity and innovation to continue the forward momentum of the business. With AI as the workhorse, you can achieve more than you ever thought was possible.


Invest: If AI is doing its job it should be optimizing the costs to run your business.

Your supply chain is more predictable, your margin profile and cost of sale are lower, inventory turns  are faster, and so on. You have more money to invest in the consumer, whereas before you had to invest in the business.

This is Human-Centered Marketing: the customer is at center stage, and their needs are the highest priority. With your added investment, you can elevate the shopping experience, offer deeper discounts, give better privileges and perks, anything the customer wants. You can spend more to pacify unhappy customers and do more for them when things go wrong. You can enhance the in store or in app shopping experience to make finding and trying on merchandise easy and fun. You can incorporate feedback in a way that makes them feel heard, understood, and valued.


Hire Experience Managers, Customer Relationship Managers, Customer Service Representatives, and of course, additional Data Scientists.

Now hiring shifts from investments in technology to investments in people. At this stage, companies will bring employees back in a way that's in keeping with a Human-Centered approach: people with strong interpersonal skills, diplomacy, effective communication, and empathy. This feels like a very exclusive upgrade for customers who are accustomed to interacting with sophisticated AI. 

Considerations & Key Takeaways

"It's time to recognize that piecing together a "best-of-breed" retention marketing tech stack can drain resources and increase risks, steering you away from your core values and mission. The traditional practice of system hopping every few years has become unsustainable. Now the focus needs to be on systems that can grow with your needs.  Looking ahead, the savvy move is towards streamlining systems onto a single, unified platform. This approach isn't about finding a flawless solution; it's about cultivating ideal partnerships. By embracing this strategy, you're not just future-proofing your operations but laying the foundation for future innovation and business impact.  This approach is the only feasible way to succeed in a market where consumer preferences dictate the need for seamless, integrated experiences."

Andy O'Dell
-Clutch Co-Founder and CSO

All along the maturity curve, challenges arise that can be solved by technology. But when we try to solve those issues, we acquire a new batch of problems. We set out to fix those, and the cycle repeats. Even for Customer Focused companies who are edging toward full automation and AI proficiency, each advancement sheds light on a need to be addressed.

A 2023 Gartner survey of over 1,500 buyers revealed that sentiments about new tech are more often of regret than rejoice. With an average of sixteen stakeholders at the table - most of them non-technologists - efforts at diplomacy have created painful buying scenarios. Conflicting objectives among team members, distributed teams, poor communication and an overwhelming number of options to consider have scarred buyers who now enter into purchasing scenarios with pessimism and negativity.

The ongoing problem-solution cycle and traumatizing buying experiences have made switching platforms every three to five years simply untenable, but it continues anyway. Any technologist will agree that no platform exists today that can do everything they want to do now or in the future. So why the ongoing quest for a perfect set of solutions? It is time for a new perspective. 

There is no perfect solution or set of solutions. Our advice is to stop searching for it, and instead, to invest in a long-term partner with whom you share two critical philosophies. First, you must share a general technical approach to creating technology. This can be revealed through one’s approach to productization, overall flexibility, decisions around configurability or an adherence to custom code, and how the business user’s experience is considered.

Second, you must agree on a vision for the future and how to get there. The Maturity Curve is a great example of this. If you buy into the process to get from one phase to the next, and the one beyond, you need a long-term partner who is also on board and can help you along the way. A shared belief system will mean the difference between growing together instead of apart. While they won’t meet all of your needs now or in the future, they will provide a strong, stable foundation from which you can build other long-term relationships. 


The Clutch Human-Centered Maturity Model and its implications for success follow a path of consolidation onto a single platform. The impacts are twofold. At a macro level, business operations become simpler, more efficient, and more cost-effective. At a department level, removing the burdens of a bloated technology ecosystem, legacy systems, and flawed decisions from the past empowers teams to move faster and realize the potential of the tools at their disposal.



2X the effectiveness of communications through automation
Higher up the maturity curve, automation, AI, and better integrations reduce cycle times between data and execution from days and hours to milliseconds. These shorter cycles mean marketers can take advantage of opportunities at the right time, improving customer satisfaction, reducing churn, and driving purchases. On average, automated communications result in 2X revenue per message and 2X conversion to purchase when compared with scheduled communications.
40-60% reduction in operational burden from multiple systems
A multi-vendor strategy takes more time to stand up and demonstrate value, requires more tech support to maintain, and negatively impacts productivity. Teams must navigate numerous systems to accomplish a single objective, leading to errors and omissions in data and in execution against data. In an eight-hour workday, upwards of 30% can be lost to non-productive activities including error correction, troubleshooting, maintenance, vendor check-ins, contract renewal, and training.

Technology Teams

Reduce Integration Work & Ongoing Maintenance
Each integration to a marketing system can cost between $100K and 1.5 million. Dependence on third parties introduce complexities and can lead to extended timelines, taking teams away from valuable internal projects. Numerous systems require dedicated support for troubleshooting, interoperability, and ongoing maintenance.
Reduce support requests from the marketing team
Consolidation onto a multi-function platform reduces the complexity of the ecosystem, and ideally empowers the marketer to do more on their own. Fewer requests for SQL queries and troubleshooting support will free up teams to focus on their internal projects, improving productivity and morale.


Consolidate cost and mitigate risk
The cost of integrating to multiple platforms is astronomically higher than with one partner who can meet multiple needs. The risk of failure, implementation timeline extension, unmet expectations, unforeseen issues, and other external factors are reduced as the number of external systems is constrained.

Average Cost of Common Integrations:
  • POS integration - $100K-250
  • Website integration + front end - $150K-1.5M
  • Marketing platform integration $300K-1MCDP integration to all of above - $250K-2.2M
  • CDP integration to all of above - $250K-2.2M

    The legal burden of renegotiating numerous contracts every 2-3 years is significantly less for one system.

Living in the present era, we are privileged to witness an unparalleled magnitude of change, surpassing any other period in human history. As professionals—marketers, engineers, operators, or business leaders—the enormity of guiding our brands, teams, and personal careers into the future can seem daunting. To ease this journey, the Clutch Marketing Maturity Curve and the recommendations outlined in this document are designed to demystify and bring to life the concepts of human-centered marketing and the experience economy. These tools are crafted to make such ideas approachable and practical rather than being perceived as intimidating or elusive. This document reveals a path from any starting point to a desired future state, breaking the journey into manageable and achievable steps. Key to navigating this path successfully is establishing a solid plan and forging a committed partnership with a long-term technology ally.

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Marketing attribution evaluates the marketing touchpoints a consumer encounters on their path to purchase. The goal is to determine which channels and messages had the greatest impact on conversion or the next desired action. 

AI Guided marketing

AI-guided marketing combines human intelligence and machine learning to help create more intelligent marketing actions. It combines prescriptive and predictive data to help marketers determine the next best action to take.

Behavioral Data

Information about a customer's interaction with a business. It can include website page views, shopping cart activity, email or loyalty program signup, likes, shares and more. Behavioral data is typically collected through marketing automation systems, social media, websites, mobile apps, CRM systems, call centers, and emails. 


A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is designed for marketing. Its primary function is to collect and unify first-party customer data from multiple sources to build a single, coherent, complete view of each customer. 

Clutch Human-Centered Maturity Model

A model for businesses to assess and advance their level of marketing maturity. The model recommends staged technology investments, hiring plans and actions to progress from one level to the next.

Content Focus

The first phase of the Clutch maturity model. The focus is on getting a message out to an audience. Within this phase are two sub-stages, Legacy and Digital.

Customer Focus
The third phase of the Clutch maturity model. The focus is leveraging technology to optimize outcomes and operations. Within this page are two sub-stages, Platform Automation and Human Experience marketing.  

Customer Journey

The customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer. It is the sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with a brand.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology used by companies to manage the relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is to grow the business by effectively managing important customer and account information, streamlining processes and advancing the sales cycle.

Data Focus

The second phase of the Clutch maturity model. The focus is to capture and utilize customer data. Within this page are two sub-stages, Test & Learn and Data Centric.

Dynamic Content

Any digital or online content that changes based on data, user behavior or preference. The goal is to optimize engagement and conversion with content that is more aligned to the viewer.

Experience Economy

A likely future reality where consumers are driven by the sale of memorable events or interactions rather than simple transactions.

Generative AI

A type of artificial intelligence capable of generating text, images, or other media using generative models. Generative AI models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new data that has similar characteristics.

Human-Centered Marketing

A marketing philosophy that puts the customer in the center of the business. The opposite of a top down approach, a human-centered marketing strategy is dictated by customer signals, feedback and behaviors and seeks to improve their experience and meet their needs.

Human Experience Marketing
A likely future reality where AI drives marketing decisions with a sole objective of optimization. In the Clutch Maturity Model, this is the final and most advanced stage.

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific objective. Examples include cost per lead, acquisition cost, clicks and conversion rate. 

Micro Segmentation

A marketing strategy that creates increasingly smaller groups of individuals based on shared attributes in order to enhance the level of marketing personalization and effectiveness. 

Singular Data Strategy

A long-term, universally accepted plan that defines the technology, processes, people, and rules required to manage an organization's information assets. 

Systems Out Strategy

An approach to technology development that starts with the back-end systems before considering the front end or desired experience and marketing use case, effectively reducing friction over the long term.

Transactional Data

Transactional data is information that is captured from purchases. It can include the time, location, price of the items, the payment method employed, discounts, and other quantities and qualities associated with the transaction. It is typically collected via point of sale systems and ecommerce websites.