Don’t Destroy Silos (Yet). Eliminate the Problems They Cause.

Technology silos. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re everywhere. Their abundance comes from, as marketing technologist guru Scott Brinker says, the over 5,000 technology solutions in the marketplace today—3 times(!) what was available just 3 short years ago. The average marketing team uses a staggering 20 solutions or more.

Naturally it’s a common challenge to figure out how to get those silos to integrate with one another well. More often than not, there are organizational silos that make it difficult to get departments on the same page working toward a common goal. The same is also true on a micro level across organizations, for example with separate teams within marketing departments trying to coordinate across email, mobile, web, search, offline channels, etc. It is thus typically painful to try to provide a meaningful, cross-channel experience for the customer. But not doing so can cause other problems—leading to declining loyalty, infrequent purchases, and decreasing brand advocacy.

That’s why most marketers agree that providing meaningful, relevant, and well-orchestrated experiences across all channels will yield great engagement. Most just don’t do it, because it seems too hard. But it doesn’t have to be.

With some strategy and planning, they can utilize cross-channel strategies to get a more full-bodied understanding of users’ preferences, transaction histories, and more—wildly effective for any company. It can be so effective, in fact, that Gartner Research says their analysis shows that campaigns integrating four or more digital channels will outperform single- or dual-channel campaigns by 300%. Incredible.

You can have that kind of success. But where do you start? Consolidating technologies on a marketing platform is a good place, but—according to my brilliant colleague Linda Reed, Service Manager with Adobe Campaigns, there are other things you must do to provide better customer experiences. You just have to know what those are. Here you go:

  1. Don’t re-invent your cross-channel marketing strategies.
  2. Attack not the silos but the problems they cause.

Don’t Re-invent Your Cross-Channel Marketing Strategies.
It can be easy to think that by quickly removing silos will be a quick fix to right the ship. Ultimately, that is where it might make sense to go, but doing so quickly ends up being quite disruptive. It’s too quick of a change for people to learn new jobs, new skills, and new people to work with. Ultimately, such strategies lend to negative impact on morale and decreased effectiveness of marketing.

So don’t be so gung ho that you take drastic steps and risk the continuity of your teams. But there’s another reason not to demolish your silos.

For as much trouble as they can cause, they can simultaneously be beneficial. This is particularly true in big companies where they can help provide sound structure that helps companies work better.

So resist the temptation to change rapidly. There’s nuanced work to be done to figure out what you can learn and then how you can mitigate the problems silos are causing.

Identify and Address Silo Problems.
Use tactical acumen to keep moving as you stretch out changes over the course of a few months. It may not feel like it, but you can afford the time to be strategic even though it feels like you’re getting washed away with the tide.

This allows you to handle what you can handle but also be making steady, marked progress—so you’re not always playing catch up.

And doing so will lend you gradually better returns. But more, you’ll learn increasingly new (and because of this, robust, when taken on the whole) information about the problem (within each channel). This will have you taking many small steps in the right direction rather than trying to long jump over the problems!

But how, specifically, do you attack those problems?

With three key building blocks:

  1. _Collaboration _— Cross-training marketers on multiple domains, installing a shared mission, and creating a journey map to help address technology and skills gaps.
  2. Goal Alignment — crafting an internal communications plan, utilizing cross-team KPIs that align well, and starting small, while celebrating wins.
  3. _Change Management _— administering training and enablement, keeping teams and leadership informed, and installing a transition plan without being afraid of course corrections.

These steps are considerations to take into account as you think of your team, to get everyone unified and moving in the right direction as a wise, thoughtful, experience-led business. We’ll dig deeper into what these look like in our next post: Eliminate Organizational Silos with Collaboration.

This is the first of four blogs in a series about getting rid of silos the right way. If you’d like a jumpstart to that, you can listen to Bruce Swann and Linda Reed’s talk from the Adobe Summit this past summer.