Commentary

Stopping The Marketing Silo Creep

We all learned early in our lives that a breakdown in communication often leads to conflicts, both personal and professional. Understanding context casts many situations in a different light, and joining forces across teams can unlock massive potential.

In business, these ideas have been reinforced time and again. Collaboration is good. Silos are bad. So why do silos continue to be one of the most common challenges identified in business today?  

In marketing, it is especially easy to slide into a siloed system because our entire operation is based on a collection of channels. As the company grows, we add more channels and then add more team members to manage those channels. Before you know it, there is a different manager, technology, database and measurement system for each channel. The problem is, consumers don’t exist in one channel at a time.

For a marketing team to operate at maximum potential, strategy must be guided by a deep understanding of the entire customer journey  on every channel. That requires continually collecting data and insights from every touchpoint to build a complete view of the customer.

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Merchants just starting to build out their marketing team are in luck. You don’t have to break down silos, you just have to avoid creating them.

Here are four ways to squash silos and keep your team operating at full force:

Be transparent about the bigger objectives. Business leaders tend to overlook sharing company goals and plans with employees. Share goals and explain how marketing fits into the mission so individuals can understand their impact. Visibility helps employees and teams evaluate their activity and re-prioritize if needed.   

Cultivate a collaborative culture. Creating a collaborative culture requires deliberate planning. Being intentional about cross-department engagement ensures it happens and isn’t just a forgotten bullet on the agenda. Don’t just encourage your team to work together, include them in a repeatable system of collaboration.

Centralize your data. You are likely pulling in disparate data sets from various tools designed to monitor performance of a single campaign on a certain channel. They are probably owned by multiple team members who might be protective of their customer information and wary about who is using their databases. Unfortunately, those data sets have limited value until they are combined to provide the complete picture. Only then can you adjust strategy and allocate resources accordingly.

The amount of data coming from just a few sources is vast and growing in size and complexity, so combining data in a meaningful way can be a difficult task. You need to shift the way individuals think about ownership and find a way to extract insights. Assign someone to be the data champion. He/she should learn what information is coming in and identify how to analyze and utilize the data.

Measure what matters. If employees are measured solely by how a particular marketing channel performs, why would they go out of their way to engage with other parts of the organization? To develop a high-performing marketing machine,  identify metrics based on results that build to the common goal. While everyone likes to be part of a bigger cause, job security will always take precedence. Work with your team members to customize metrics that accomplish both.

Marketing silos can sneak up on you, especially when you are building a team and keeping up with a growing business, but being deliberate about cross-team engagement can keep the splintering at bay.

The most important things you can do for the business and your employees are to clearly state the goals of the organization and measure performance based on metrics that map to meaningful common objectives. This keeps teams motivated and engaged and ensures marketing delivers results that drive the business forward.

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