The formation of silos is, for many businesses, an unintended consequence of organisational rigidity and segmentation, both within and between marketing and other departments. Whilst organisations are certainly aware of the negative impact of silo formation, and have become increasingly vocal about the need to remove them to encourage greater cross-functional alignment, many are still facing real challenges in overcoming the issue.
The very nature of the marketing function itself - which itself is segmented across a variety of different areas - means businesses have to work harder to prevent separate groups forming in the first place. With competition for a larger slice of the marketing budget across departments creating internal tension and impacting on employee morale, businesses need to take action to remove internal silos in order to protect the health of the brand.
Teradata and Forbes Insights recently undertook a study exploring the impact of these silos and how organisations should be removing them; Breaking Down Marketing Silos: The Key to Consistently Achieving Customer Satisfaction and Improving Your Bottom Line.
With 65 per cent of marketers admitting to operating in silos, change is certainly required if customer satisfaction is to be improved. If you also consider that as a result of these silos, they are failing to deliver the best experience possible to the customer and the significant financial returns needed to enable growth, the gravitas of the problem intensifies.
Digitisation has led to the growth of new customer channels and generated vast amounts of data, which provide vital insights into customer preferences and behaviour. If used correctly, it will give businesses the ability to create deeper relationships with individual customers, which should engender long-term loyalty.
That said, operating in silos can prevent this data from being as effective as it should be in enhancing the customer experience, making it critical for business to take action now to break down the barriers.
A recent global study, Teradata's Data-Driven Marketing Survey 2013 revealed that only 56 per cent of marketers routinely work with other functions as part of a regular process, whilst 74 per cent claimed that marketing and IT are not strategic partners in their company. Clearly, there is still work to be done to create more streamlined businesses and enable them to maximise the opportunities available today, which in turn will deliver a positive impact on the overall customer experience.
Allowing silos to remain in place, no matter how small or large the business is, will encourage inconsistent messaging as a customer interacts with different touch points. This can create cracks in a customer's experience, be hugely detrimental to a brand and likely result in them failing to secure a sale.
A competitor who has invested in the technology and organisational restructure needed to ensure their business isn't siloed, will be able to deliver a far more streamlined offering to consumers and all too happy to build a relationship with your customer.
Teradata’s Integrated Marketing Cloud, helps businesses establish loyalty with their customers and implement effect data-driven marketing campaigns, which can drive significant increases in revenue and engagement.
As Breaking Down Marketing Silos: The Key to Consistently Achieving Customer Satisfaction and Improving Your Bottom Line highlighted, business have a variety of options to overcome silos; both organisational and technological. Invest time in understanding how to implement these into a business and the outcome should be better-integrated marketing teams, increased customer engagement and a profit. Keeping the customer experience front of mind at each point should keep the business on track in successfully meeting their needs.
As is often the case in today’s environment, data is the most powerful tool in a businesses’ armoury and should be harnessed in this instance to break down silos. Making the right data-driven decisions, which enable relevant targeting and a better customer experience, comes down to having a full view of the data in question.
This is particularly important where on- and offline data is still being held separately. But, what use is data if it only provides part of the picture? It’s likely to result in inconsistent and irrelevant messages, and lower customer retention.
Businesses must invest in data-management systems and technology that help break down these data and departmental silos and give them all the relevant information at their fingertips to facilitate more efficient and targeted decision making.
In today’s landscape, data should be governing decisions; if done properly departments should become aligned, based around offering data solutions, rather than simply trying to push a particular product. Ultimately CMOs need to ensure their data is working harder for their business.
It may seem obvious, but looking at how the organisation can be restructured is often a good place to start. Achieving more effective integration between departments or the different segments of marketing should be the ultimate aim, so it’s time for businesses to explore different options to reach this. Creating new overlay teams, which provide a central link between each department and product offering, enables a unified brand to be presented to the outside world.
This separate group can offer cohesion between departments and makes collaboration far simpler; both crucial if brands are going to keep pace with the changing customer preferences and adapt to meet them.
Restructuring departments to form a new chain of command, to help create a more streamlined offering, is another option. For heavily siloed marketing departments in particular, restructuring across the whole department – from web, to PR and advertising to product marketing teams – to report into the CMO, will make operations more efficient and keep the customer requirements at the core. Messaging remains consistent throughout, no matter how the customer engages, and approval processes are significantly reduced if the decision rolls up to just one person.
Businesses shouldn’t be afraid to implement changes that are visible; often this has greater impact on driving behaviour. The survey reported that one organisation was forced to review its marketing department processes when customers reported a huge gap between what was promised and what was delivered.
The business used this as an opportunity to physically integrate the marketers within other departments, and create an organisation structure based around stages in a customer lifestyle rather than the channel or touch point. As a result, the experience the customer is receiving is far more joined up and is more likely to remain engaged for longer, creating more opportunities to interact.
Businesses cannot afford to ignore the impact of silos on their organisations, and most importantly, the experience they are providing to the customer.
The marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive; leveraging data insights to deliver targeted, consistent messages and one seamless brand experience is vital. Those that fail to take action to remove the debilitating silos – whether that’s reviewing internal team structures, changing the chain of command or investing in technological systems – will soon find growth opportunities limited and customer loyalty declining. The time for action is now.
Christopher Kollat, Country Manager UK&I, Marketing Applications, Teradata