Silos in organisations have long been a significant barrier to marketers and their ability to deliver smooth and seamless customer experiences.
The simple fact is that if one channel is run by one team and another by a separate team, and the two have no integrated KPIs, the way a customer interacts with the brand across those two channels is going to be disjointed.
The recent 2016 Digital Marketer Report found silos in organisations continue to be a problem, especially for big businesses with multiple channels and larger teams.
According to the survey, 59% of enterprise marketers work in teams broken out by channel and are 54% more likely to rank "facilitating alignment" their top priority.
Why are silos an issue?
Silos in your marketing approach are a huge barrier to being able to deliver seamless customer journeys. This is because modern marketing requires brands to communicate intelligently with their customers. Not as a multitude of different voices but as one single entity.
The proliferation of smart phones over the last ten years has exponentially expanded the number of touchpoints available to a marketer and increased the average consumer’s ability to jump from channel to channel and device to device.
What’s more, not only are customers active on multiple channels they are also considerably more demanding in the level of service they expect.
If they Tweet a brand a request they expect that brand to be able to respond via email or through an app, regardless of how separate the brand may consider those channels.
Because of this, individual channels cannot be treated in isolation and this is where silos become a serious concern. Consumers expect a cross-channel approach and brands that are riddled with organisational and channel silos are going to struggle to operate one.
According to the survey, only 30% of marketers work in teams that are fully integrated. That leaves 70% of markers operating either completely siloed by channel or in a partly integrated set up.
Why is it more of an issue for larger (enterprise) companies?
The prevalence of silos in organisations increases when you look solely at larger organisations. According to the 2016 Digital Marketer Report, a huge 59% of enterprise-level marketers work on marketing teams that are broken out by channel.
The reason this is the case is the team and channel structure evolved to enable larger organisation to deal with the sheer volume of messages each channel was dealing with and allowed marketers to apply the required level of attention to their allocated channels.
However, times have changed and now big brands need to change the way they operate in order to put the customer experience first.
Small companies are naturally swifter and more flexible. Often their marketing teams are fully integrated simply by dint of being a single team already.
It’s a painful process but big brands need to put the customer first and do what they can to break down those channel barriers.
It’s clear that big brands know it’s an issue. In the same survey 42% of C-level executives at enterprise companies ranked overcoming internal silos as a top priority.
How to overcome the challenges silos represent
A major step forward is ensuring that all your teams are measuring the same KPIs or at least KPIs that overlap. If you’re still doing attribution by channel you need to structure and incentivise your teams to work together.
If you have channel conflict, price discrepancies or conflicting sales models you need to make it a priority to fix them. Having separate profit and loss statements and objectives designed around each channel only creates missed opportunities and gaps in the customer experience.
It’s going to be a hard and painful process but it’s one that needs to happen.
To start with try encouraging your teams to work together more on individual projects. Push them to share their goals and share success. Sometimes different channel teams don’t even sit in the same building and sometimes they haven’t even met.
Make sure this isn’t the case with you – start breaking down those silos and soon you’ll be able to own a single customer experience.
Nicholas Moore is head of marketing for Experian Marketing Services