Most of today’s CMOs understand the importance of breaking down organizational silos in the quest to build a modern marketing organization, one that can keep pace with the ever-evolving consumer. But knowing where to start is another matter altogether. Marketing departments, particularly at large legacy brands, are often established entities with their own systems, cultures and KPIs. These can be difficult elements to unite across functions.
Historically, marketing data has also fallen victim to the marketing silo epidemic. This applies to both the customer intelligence that drives strategy, as well as the metrics that feed back into optimization and deeper learnings.
Today’s CMO has an opportunity to harness the power of an organization’s consumer insights and leverage that data as a key tool in uniting the marketing organization’s disparate teams and processes. This data-driven approach to breaking down silos establishes a shared understanding of a company’s target consumers—the true humans behind the data—as well as a unified system from which to draw and feed back needed insights.
Start with the Consumer
A united marketing organization starts with a deep, unified understanding of a company’s customers and prospects. These kinds of insights aren’t easily drawn from a company’s CRM database or other management platforms. Marketing teams have vast stores of data across many channels. This data does provide a lot of information: customer demographics, purchase histories, exposure to past media campaigns, etc. But it lacks the fundamental depth required to unite a marketing organization’s disparate departments and channels.
As Simon Sinek famously pontificated, CMOs need to “start with why.” Why do customers make the purchases that they do? Why are they loyal to certain brands and abandon others? Why do they choose to purchase online vs. in person—or vice versa or both? The best intelligence into customer drivers is derived by both asking people about their values and motivations, as well as observing and understanding their real-life actions via online behavior. CMOs should keep the following key points in mind when laying a foundation for organizational success with consumer intelligence:
Put consumer intelligence at the center of your data platform. A deep, shared understanding of the consumer across departments must be reflected in a company’s data management strategy. The importance of unifying marketing research, data, measurement and analytics within a single, intuitive platform cannot be understated. By onboarding all departments to a single system that presents a consistent view of customers and prospects, silos begin to naturally fall away, and KPIs can be better aligned and tracked.
Ensure your intelligence evolves with your consumer. Avoid static snapshots into customer preferences and motivations. The relationship between a brand and its consumers evolves over time. Silos often spring up or are strengthened when a single department realizes the need for new consumer intelligence inputs and endeavors to obtain them in a vacuum to drive short-term results in a given channel. By investing in an always-on window into consumer motivations, and enabling all departments to tap into those insights on a regular basis, CMOs can avoid the splintering of departmental understandings and objectives down the road.
Plan for frequent cross-departmental conversations. When developing a plan to gather consumer intelligence, a CMO must simultaneously be building a plan to derive value from those unique consumer insights across all marketing functions. From acquisition to expansion to loyalty to retention, all teams benefit when operating from a unified consumer understanding. Hold regular check-ins with department heads to discuss consumer insights and ensure everyone is aligned on how such knowledge will be uniquely leveraged across channels.
Without a doubt, today’s CMO faces a formidable challenge when it comes to breaking down departmental walls and aligning teams within the marketing organization. When consumer insights are placed at the heart of this process, the marketing organization’s data will cease to be a victim of marketing silos, and instead become a sledgehammer in breaking down the walls.