Many marketing organizations are still operating like it’s the 1990s — or even earlier. Duplicative marketing teams exist within the same company across multiple product lines. Digital marketing teams are centralized yet isolated from the broader organization. Marketing groups are splintered into communications, consumer marketing, brand marketing, and digital marketing units with no common thread in strategy and execution.
Over the past dozen years, I have participated in both the infusion of digital capabilities into traditional marketing organizations and the establishment and maturation of digital marketing organizations at Disney, J.Crew and, now, Conde Nast Entertainment where I am VP of marketing-digital. Based on this experience, I see five areas that need to change in order for marketing to function effectively in the digital age.
Internal structure: Most marketing teams are organized by either functional expertise (such as social media marketing or marketing analytics) or brand. To be a successful digital marketing organization, your team needs to be organized by functional expertise rather than by brand, project or platform in order to deliver coherent, integrated campaigns across all consumer touchpoints. The customer who is a fan of your brand’s Facebook page should receive a more personalized email newsletter after visiting your website. She should be given a personalized promo code in her email to shop at your brick and mortar store based on her online shopping history, and later, be reminded with a push notification message on her mobile phone when the promo code is about to expire so she can take advantage of it online.
My team at J.Crew was organized by function such as affiliate marketing, paid search, email marketing, and search engine optimization. At Conde Nast Entertainment, my team is also organized by function across social media, paid advertising, earned/owned media, insights/analytics, and audience development. Each functional expert is responsible for all 12 brands that we work on. This structure is effective in a multi-brand environment with a centralized marketing team because each brand benefits from deep functional expertise as well as consistency across touch points.
Functional alignment: Many marketing organizations suffer from a failure of cross-functional collaboration. For example, IT decisions that affect marketing may be made without a thoughtful analysis about the resulting user experience beyond page load speed and server uptime. New product features may be introduced into an e-commerce site without understanding how they will impact traffic conversion rates and average order value.
Digital marketing teams need a seat at the table so they can infuse digital-first marketing insights into product and technology planning. Website feature changes should not be released without thoughtful analysis of the potential impact on traffic. Email marketing templates should not be altered for design reasons without a/b testing the impact of the change on click-through rates. Website page title changes should not be based solely on editorial considerations but also search engine optimization competitiveness.
Meritocracy vs. hierarchy: In traditional marketing organizations, job responsibilities and titles are hierarchical and rarely fluid. Each role is clearly defined and limited in scope. The new digital marketing organization thrives on a less hierarchical structure with more flexibility and an emphasis on meritocracy. Your Email Marketing Manager may also happen to be an expert in Instagram. Hence, your next email campaign may be highly integrated with social media. At Conde Nast Entertainment, digital marketing execution sometimes falls to whoever on my team can figure out the best way forward first.
When technology and consumer behavior patterns are changing so quickly, there may not be time to wait until the person assigned to the campaign gets around the task.
Data-driven decision making: Compared to digital organizations, traditional marketing organizations have a longer feedback loop on their campaign performance and results of their go-to-market strategy. In digital organizations, immediate data allows marketers to be smarter and faster in their decision-making. It is time to capitalize on the marriage of traditional and digital marketing data. Digital marketing insights can guide the strategy of traditional marketing and verse versa.
At J.Crew, I would determine my paid search marketing investments and choose which clothing product categories to drive online demand based on in-store sales data. For example, if the mint green cashmere sweater is a top category seller at stores in New York City, I would shift my paid search advertising to concentrate on relevant keywords, and target by geography and remarketing lists to customers in similar zip codes as they shop through search engines.
Governance: A few forward-thinking organizations are doing without a chief marketing officer, and instead have given the job of leading marketing to a chief digital officer. The question of who owns digital marketing in an organization is often uncertain. Accountability for digital revenue, digital product innovation, omnichannel strategy, and online audience growth blurs the line between many traditional roles from marketing to technology to product development to strategy.
Organizations that seek to be more digitally focused should first ensure alignment at the top between vision and execution. The CEO’s vision must prioritize digital marketing innovation. The execution of the vision could be governed by either a Chief Digital Officer or a CMO. Having this a CDO role could make sense if the company is revenue and product focused in an advertising supported business model. The CMO role could make sense if the company is consumer and content focused because of the specialized knowledge required to drive an effective traffic and audience strategy.
What’s next? As a marketer, I have witnessed two camps of organizational transformations in the digital age.
Camp one is characterized by cycles of digital misalignment across the company. The company makes significant investments in digital marketing, infrastructure, product design and technology to optimize digital performance, only to gut everything and start over again every two to five years. This is not only disruptive to the people in the organization but also to your company’s bottom line.
Organizations in the second camp define a pivotal moment at which they will become a digital-first company with a commitment to invest in digital marketing, technology infrastructure, and digital talents. From this point on, the organization reorganizes its workforce, strategy roadmap and investments to build a new marketing organization that fully integrates traditional and digital marketing in a sustainable way.Go to Source