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Why big brands need to get over silo issues

Simon Martin, managing director for cross channel marketing at Experian Marketing Services UK, strips away received wisdom to put marketing industry assumptions to the test.

It’s a strange situation… those with the most to gain have the hardest path ahead. It’s often the way with things – especially in the competitive world of modern marketing.

Marketing has moved past campaign management and channel-specific roles. For the modern consumer it’s all about interactions and the contextual and flexible customer journey.

Your customer needs to be able to receive an offer via email, check it on the website, ask a question on Twitter and then redeem it in store – all in real time.

So how do we manage those interactions and why is it harder for some of the bigger brands? Basically, you need an integrated cross-channel approach that sees and treats each person as an individual.

However, in the way many brands are set up (especially the larger ones) channels and goals are under the remits of different people and often different teams. A brand may have a head of email, a head of social and a head of CRM – not to mention entire teams responsible for the website.

What this leads to is different silos (yes, there’s that word again) operating with different goals and objectives, often sitting in different locations (within the building and around the country). Furthermore, each of those teams has their own boss who’s probably not particularly keen on handing over swathes of responsibility.

Obviously, for smaller brands it’s a far easier process as it is more of a tech issue rather than an organisational one. Smaller brands with smaller teams can swap and change and integrate much more easily – and the early adopters are definitely already reaping the rewards.

The fact of the matter is that big brands know cross channel is the future and most either have plans in place or are working towards them. It’s just going to be a slightly painful process – but the benefits will be huge.

The irony being that the larger companies with huge customer databases, significant presences on social media and multiple stores are the ones with the most to gain by doing so and the most to lose by not doing so.

My final point in this slightly rambling conjecture is to remind people why we’re doing this. Yes, marketing results, efficiency and effectiveness should improve with cross channel, but that cannot be the main goal. We’ve changed our techniques because the marketplace has changed. The marketplace has changed because consumer behaviour (and therefore the consumers themselves) have changed.

Cross-channel marketing is critical because it improves the customer experience. Providing relevant, timely and useful interactions (intelligent interactions?) is what customers expect so it’s about time we started giving it to them, consistently.

Simon Martin is managing director of cross channel marketing at Experian Marketing Services UK

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