Skim through any current collection of marketing best practices and marketing integration issure to be a central theme. So while the concept of a cohesive multi-channel marketing strategy is hardly new, many if not most organizations have yet to fully adopt this best practice. Newer companies have the advantage of building their internal processes to fit the post-digital landscape, but for most firms, integration is a massive undertaking requiring complex transformation across multiple layers. The deepest challenges include siloed organizational structures both inside and outside marketing; conflicting objectives across business units; and the absence of the right tools and data to effectively integrate campaigns.
If your organization is making the move toward marketing integration (kudos!), it can be difficult to know where to start. It is important for midmarket and large businesses to recognize this cannot be a quarterly or annual “project”; there needs to be a long-term strategic focus championed at the C-level. Often, companies take too tactical an approach to the transformation process, overlooking fundamental change management issues that are far weightier than the technical side of the matter. As you begin down the path toward marketing integrations, it is crucial to consider the following:
- Objectives & Incentives – Is your organization divided into different product departments? How about functional departments? Who manages each channel within the marketing department? Many firms struggle with integrating campaigns because of mis-aligned or even competing goals, incentives and budgets. For example, one team may have product or sales goals, while another has acquisition or profit goals. Or managers may each be fighting to get the biggest chunk out of a shared bucket of marketing dollars to meet quotas or, let’s face it, because they feel it affects the perception of their own significance. This makes it impossible for them to come together and think about creating the best multi-channel campaigns. Marketing integration requires a central planning structure that will allow all channel and product managers to objectively and openly collaborate—putting time and dollars where it makes most sense for the organization, rather than their own departments. This means breaking down siloes and aligning goals and incentives across departments.
- Marketing Metrics & Campaign KPI’s – One of my past clients was a Fortune 500 financial services company where each functional team essentially used its own set of metrics and KPI’s. So while one department was using sales to measure its success, another decided to use profitability. And guess what? They didn’t match up—at all. By spending more money, the first department was able to ramp up its online advertising, resulting in more exposure and therefore more sales. However, sales were increasing at a far lower rate than marketing spend–which made overall profitability decline significantly. Even if they have the same goals, without standard metrics and KPI’s, different departments can interpret campaign success in very different ways. In order for departments to plan campaign strategies together, they must also be using the same metrics and considering all of the same factors.
- Process & Technology – After sorting out complex cultural and organizational issues, this may actually be the easiest part! As different departments and channels come together to create integrated campaigns, they will have to find ways to efficiently sync up their processes as well. This requires syncing everything from different lead times to different creative agencies. Inevitably, some processes will require changes, while others may eliminate duplication and create greater efficiencies. From planning to execution to evaluation, merging processes will require shared data and reporting. This will be a challenge for firms where different technologies and software are used by different teams, particularly if they create multiple versions of the customer view. While you’ve probably heard about the “single view of the customer” so many times by now it sounds like a cliché, it really is necessary for current-gen marketing, and will make the already painstaking marketing integration process a much smoother one. Invest in the right tools and technology to make sure different departments, each with their own skill levels, can access the same data and reports. Conduct sessions so that teams can share and even train one another on the various software and business intelligence tools each may be using. In some cases, it will make sense to invest in formal training sessions, but in others, a simple lunch n’ learn session can foster collaboration while delivering the essential education.
Remember, total integration of these organizational components may require successive developments over several years. But despite the inevitably long and arduous transformation process, your organization can certainly begin realizing the benefits of integrated marketing far before its full completion, enjoying fruitful change along a continuum.