The Silo Emergency In Digital Marketing

Blaise Lucey 230A little while ago, I made an appointment for an eye exam online. The day of the appointment, I showed up and talked to the receptionist. She said the doctor had already left for the day.

If you’re wondering what “silos” look like on the other end of the funnel, this is a great example. While the digital marketing team for the store probably knew that I had made an appointment, the receptionist didn’t know my name and the doctor definitely hadn’t expected any more appointments that afternoon.

Silos affect businesses of all sizes. If a customer checks her inbox in the morning and she has three different emails from the same company, there’s a good chance she’ll delete all of them. And probably unsubscribe from the company’s mailing list, too.

But the truth is that missed eye appointments and multiple emails are symptoms of a deeper and much more pervasive problem in digital marketing: silos. In this case, different teams probably had different goals. A customer retention team wanted to send out a loyalty offer. The sales team wanted to send out a great discount. The product team wanted to give a preview of an upcoming item.

And, thanks to silos, none of them communicated with each other. This is happening every day. Teams often don’t talk about ongoing initiatives outside of their own department, which means customers are traveling from silo to silo, but the rest of the company doesn’t know it, because data isn’t being shared beyond the single team.

That’s where the most problems are happening: it’s not just that teams are siloed, it’s that customer data is siloed.

The Data about Data

This year, Experian released a survey that found that 91% of customers are using data to optimize the customer experience, but only 35% manage their data through one central director.

So data is stuck in silos across the vast majority of companies. This can cause problems in any industry. If you’re in B2B, it could mean that the leads that are getting automated nurture emails are also, at the same time, getting emailed by sales reps with competing messages. Or maybe someone who bought something years ago is still getting sent loyalty offers.

This silo emergency affects every corner of digital marketing. Without the right data, repeat web visitors are treated like new users. Customers are treated like prospects. And marketers have limited visibility into the entire customer journey.

It’s not that businesses are having trouble collecting the data or that stakeholders are skeptical about the value of data. This is more of an organizational challenge: marketers need to conduct a serious audit about where data is being stored and how it’s being used before they can maximize efficiency.

Then, it’s time to think about finding common ground.

Shared Goals, Different Metrics and Comprehensive Data

Want to solve the silo emergency in digital marketing? Centralize, centralize, centralize.

To get a clear picture of what every prospect or customer wants, data needs to be united in one platform that’s shared across the organization. That way, it’s possible for every team to see each action that has been taken on behalf of customers and prospects. If sales department representatives s see that a prospect hasn’t opened the last two lead nurture emails, it may not be appropriate to reach out. If they see exactly what web pages someone has visited and what they’ve downloaded, they can provide more relevant, personalized content.

Teams also have to find a common goal when thinking about what really moves the needle. If everyone is heads-down on using data only to benefit their own department, information can get lost and customer interactions end up scattered across different touchpoints. That’s how customers end up moving from phone to website, or social media to store, and starting relationships over again.

To solve the silo emergency in digital marketing, you need to centralize all the insights from every different channel. Every customer record should be updated in real-time, so that when it’s passed off – whether to a sales rep or the eye doctor – everyone in the organization knows the history of customer interactions, can use those insights to inform the next interaction going forward and drive results.

Blaise Lucey is Senior Content Strategist at Bitly. He’s in charge of developing and distributing content in many formats and channels. He also works closely with the sales team to coordinate content across the company and establish the Bitly brand across the ominchannel, social, and mobile marketing space. Having worked both on the agency and brand side, he has built content programs from the ground-up for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike and is passionate about bringing great content to life.