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It’s Time to Bust Marketing Silos, Get Integrated

Posted by Scott Vaughan on June 23rd, 2014 at 8:47 am

Marketing has clear marching orders to define, discover, engage and delight customers every day, along each step of the buyer’s journey—from prospect to loyal customer.  While this has always been a business goal, the impetus is now squarely on marketing chiefs and their teams to make it happen.  We also operate in a world where consumers and business pros alike have new levels of expectations; the bar for marketing’s performance has been set as high as their customer’s best experience with their favorite brand.

This means it is time to re-imagine our marketing organizations and eliminate the gaps and silos that exist.  Progressive, modern marketing leaders are focused on: integrating people, processes and technology across multiple prospect and customer channels; connecting different bits of customer, prospect and campaign data; and organizing their marketing teams around customer segments and markets.  Not a simple task, but very doable if you identify the silos and re-think your infrastructure, methodically, with the customer front and center.

Here are four core areas you can focus on to drive customer-centricity and begin to break down silos:

Mapping Processes to Your Prospects and Customers

Marketing is made up of hundreds of processes.  The key is to prioritize and focus on those that are customer-driven.  This involves committing to understanding your customer preferences and profiles, identifying gaps and chokepoints, and swiftly adapting processes to assure you’re set up to discover, engage and acquire happy customers.  A few examples of processes that you can impact:

  • Selecting and deploying media sources (search, content syndication, social, etc.) that deliver and measure multi-touch strategies
  • Developing and presenting personalized content across your web site and communications that follow your prospects and customers on their terms
  • Organizing and acting on customer and campaign data applied to make marketing and media investment decisions

Many successful marketing organizations start with their top 3 to 5 processes and knock them out one by one, integrating and tying them together as they go.  Remember, the ideal state is mapped to your customer’s journey and experience.

Connecting Tech Silos and Systems

After mapping your processes, there are critical steps to take before your next major marketing technology investment.  Prioritize those investments that empower you to become more integrated and customer-centric and literally rip out technology that impedes this effort.

  • Take inventory of existing customer technology and systems
  • Organize into a blueprint, laying out existing technology systems and processes
  • Identify missing gaps and areas of duplication to create an efficient infrastructure that supports customer-driven processes
  • Share blueprint with existing and potential providers to scope optimal solution(s)
  • Set standards for integrating and connecting systems, including your major platform providers

If your systems are unable to be integrated, marketing processes and data will remain siloed, and you’ll miss out on the real value.

Connecting Data and Turning It into Actionable Insights

Data is likely your fastest path to integration and customer impact.  There is tons of data everywhere — campaign data, customer data, website data, email data, etc. — and more spreadsheets than you can imagine.  But data doesn’t have any real impact unless it’s connected, integrated and actionable.  This is why it’s essential to build a data framework (how you format, store, and share data), use APIs to move and integrate data in an automated fashion, and develop a dashboard (many times known as the “CMO Dashboard”) to bring all of your data together into one place.  The good news is there are some excellent visualization and BI tools to help with this effort.

Once your data and reporting is integrated and organized, you can then begin to connect the dots to draw insights for performance optimization and measure ROI more holistically across your marketing investments.  For example, you can examine all marketing investments (campaigns, content, media partners, channels, third-party segment data, etc.) to understand which are the most influential in generating prospects and to what extent.

Talent and Skill Sets Organized Around Your Customer

Your processes, systems and data can be connected, but if your organization isn’t structured in an integrated way, it’s hard to act on all that you’ve built.  There’s no one model, but many high-performing marketing teams are organizing around customer sets and markets to best understand and deliver on specific needs and opportunities.  This applies whether you’re a large company with tens of products and markets or a startup, hyper-focused on targeted segments to scale and grow faster.  You may have centralized product teams focused on developing products and marketing managers driving customer segments — SMBs (market) or C-level executives (role), for example.  This focus promotes the ability to utilize the best methods to engage and nurture prospects to happy customers, and to optimize and measure investments in an integrated way.

It’s time for marketers to embrace a customer-centric, silo-busting mindset with a clear plan that includes customer processes, technology systems, actionable data and orchestrated talent. This integrated formula consistently translates into better results and happier, loyal customers.

2 Responses to “It’s Time to Bust Marketing Silos, Get Integrated”

  1. Tom Pick says:

    Excellent article, thanks Scott. But those silos have to be busted throughout the marketing cycle, from the first exposure a prospect gets through that prospect becoming a customer and advocate. In the initial stages, the disciplines of marketing communications, PR, advertising, social media marketing, and SEO have to work in a coordinated manner to maximize relevant visibility for the brand using a web presence optimization (WPO) approach. Now that "link building" is pretty much dead, PR and efforts like event marketing and analyst relations play key roles in "link earning." Social is ultimately about building relationships, but also plays a key role in visibility. Without integration between these different roles, visibility will suffer and prospective buyers will be confused.

  2. Thanks Tom for your comments and feedback. Your broader view of marketing disciplines and marketing cycles makes sense and where every marketing org/business should strive to reach. In my work leading marketing teams and working with clients here at Integrate, adopting this mind set and looking across the customer cycle and channels is the right place to get it going. Tech, data and hiring/organization can help fuel this as the way marketing thinks and runs.

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