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4 Steps to Breaking Down Silos for Better Cross-Channel Marketing

We know effective cross-channel marketing is key to increasing engagement, attaining customer loyalty and improving ROI. But a successful cross-channel marketing strategy depends on a lot more than just publishing content across multiple mediums like web and direct mail.

To do this well requires tapping into a strong data foundation to offer a unified customer experience at every touchpoint.

However, as organizations grow, it often becomes difficult for them to reach customers who are splitting their time across an increasing number of channels.

We find startups and small businesses often create better and more seamless cross-channel marketing experiences than enterprise organizations and large businesses, despite vastly different resources.

It is much simpler to design a true cross-channel marketing campaign when you have only 1-3 people handling your organization’s marketing—including everything from email to social media to direct mail automation.

There are fewer hurdles to cross-channel marketing when just one marketer or a small team has complete access to your dataset and broad insight into the customer profile.

But as companies become more successful and evolve, they often begin placing specialized teams in charge of individual channels, leading to inefficiencies like duplicated or competing campaigns on various channels, fractured internal communication, holes in data, and ultimately cumbersome customer journeys.

This progression toward silo marketing must be reversed in order to improve an organization’s cross-channel marketing performance.

First, What Exactly is Silo Marketing?

It is only natural that as organizations grow, they need more employees, more departments, and new ways to organize and divide the workload. This often results in teams that are grouped by product line, specialty, or as commonly seen in marketing departments, channels.

While specialized teams and departments certainly have their place in business, in modern marketing, silos are a major challenge.

If your marketing department is organized by channel or geographical area, it is likely that the various groups lack ability and/or motivation to share data, collaborate on creative ideas and merge resources—all of which are necessary to truly integrated cross-channel campaigns.

When the email team doesn’t know what the direct mail and mobile teams are doing, for example, it just isn’t possible to reach out to customers at the right time on the right channel.

Often, each channel team is pumping out so much marketing that there is just too much brand volume overall. As a result, the marketing becomes diluted as separate teams develop similar (and sometimes conflicting) ideas.

If your marketing department is dealing with poor collaboration between channel-based teams, misaligned messages, disjointed customer experiences and other challenges, consider ways to dismantle silos.

Start by identifying which barriers can and should be broken down in order to provide customers with a better integrated cross-channel marketing experience.

Solving the Marketing Silo Dilemma in 4 Steps

When a marketing department becomes gradually segmented by function or channel, you can take several steps to develop a more comprehensive approach to cross-channel marketing—and thus create better marketing.

Step 1: Centralize Data

The fundamental first step when breaking down silos is to take control of your data.

How organizations manage their data is a significant factor that can lead to fractured, disconnected marketing teams and messaging. You must organize your data in a way that ensures all of the players in your marketing department are reading from (and adding to) the same playbook.

For example, marketers who create direct mail should have the same data visibility as marketers who create digital messages. By seeing which email promotions have low engagement in real time, for instance, direct mail marketers can strategically add direct mail triggers into your cross-channel campaigns to overcome email shortfalls.

Marketers can even integrate direct mail with social media and create highly effective multimedia cart abandonment campaigns, as long as the data is at their fingertips. Additionally, if you’re using tools like email address validation and direct mail address validation, any corrections should constantly feed into your customer database improving customer profiles.

When making changes to the way you manage data, start by taking stock of your entire marketing ecosystem and consider which marketers need visibility into which data points. Generally speaking, the greater access to view and add data, the better cross-channel marketing campaigns.

Bite Squad eliminated silos for better direct mail

Bite Squad’s marketers were able to create this effective direct mail loyalty piece using Inkit due to their visibility into customer app usage data.

For step-by-step instructions on consolidating and standardizing marketing data into one centralized system, check out Iterable’s Growth Marketing Platform Migration Guide

Step 2: Break Down Organizational Silos

Often, marketing and CRM teams are organized by channel, and as we’ve already discussed, this greatly inhibits cross-channel marketing success. Once you’ve taken care of data silos, it’s time to break down these organizational silos.

Start by centralizing communication just as you’ve centralized data. This way, channeled teams can design, execute, test and optimize marketing campaigns in alignment with each other. You will need to implement a system for internal communication that ensures alignment across channel, accounting for a nonlinear multi-channel customer journey.

Over time, this groundwork will allow your organization to shift from channel-based silos to the task of delivering smooth end-to-end cross-channel customer journeys.

When designing new team functions, think first and foremost of the customer experience. This is to say you should focus your team’s organization not on channel but on functions of the overall customer experience.

Need some motivation to make the shift? Check out this customer experience survey, which found the holistic customer journey to be 30% more predictive of customer satisfaction than individual interactions on any one channel.

Step 3: Find Your Cross-Channel Customer Champion

Breaking down silos isn’t enough to achieve cross-channel success. You’re still going to need to put the right team in place, one that can actively shape individual customer journeys across all channels.

So, once you’ve solved any issues with data organization and accessibility and have broken down silos, it’s time to find a marketer who can use this new framework to advocate for the customer experience.

This person may be called an audience manager or a marketing champion. Their role is to use data to create a 360-degree view of individual customers. They will then set up audiences and campaigns, with input from any involved teams—from product groups, to channel-specific CRM teams to content creators.

Step 4: Unify and Examine Complementary Channels

By this point, you have already broken down several barriers to effective cross-channel marketing. Now, as a marketer you should remain committed to understanding the evolving customer journey. 

Start by unifying your closely aligned channels and then explore new ways of integrating them into your campaigns; frequent testing ensures your experiments drive toward success. 

You may already do this with channels that seem like a natural fit such as display and social, but it is important to consider how other channels may work together to provide a cross-channel lift.

For example, consider mobile app and direct mail. It may seem like no two channels could have less in common with one another, but they can actually complement one another very well.

Here is just one use case: re-engaging customers with direct mail after an app crashes. Just 16% of users give an app another try after two failures. But with a strong cross-channel approach, you can monitor for such poor customer experiences and trigger direct mail to re-engage and reactivate users once your app is back up and running.

Why direct mail? Direct mail is a great choice when you need to boost loyalty. As a tangible object, direct mail yields a significant emotional impact and brand recall, and it garners higher response rates than any other direct response channel.

This is just one example of how you might build and iterate on cross-channel marketing campaigns once you’ve broken down silos, centralized data and given the reins to an audience manager with a 360-degree view of the customer.

Ready to Get Started? Think Big, Start Small

Dismantling silos to build a better customer experience probably isn’t something your organization can do overnight. It may require both operational and cultural shifts necessitating the engagement of stakeholders across the company.

But don’t let this stop you from beginning a digital transformation that will ensure better performing cross-channel marketing. Start today with small steps like focusing on cross-departmental collaboration, a more agile team framework and an increase in measured experiments to help build your case.

To learn more about adding direct mail to your cross-channel customer lifecycle, demo Inkit’s direct mail automation software now.

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