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Bridging silos to define a strategy for digital marketing channels

The mission: Define a digital channel strategy

A team of digital channel experts was in search of their overarching digital (channel) strategy, in order to align themselves as one team, with one clear vision on digital channel marketing. The team, consisting of specific channel experts, were struggling to align on the broader picture. That is when this large Belgian retailer called in the help of The House of Marketing, to get a central perspective.

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The biggest challenge: Bridging expertise silos

As mentioned above, the main objective was to pull the team’s knowledge together into a consistent and aligned strategy, but also to ramp up their capabilities. However, soon we observed a lack of alignment, vision and cooperation. The existing silos were blatantly obvious.

It was an interesting challenge to bridge the channel experts’ silos to end up with one vision. Everyone has their own deep expertise in a certain channel or domain, e.g. social media or website, and looks at strategy mainly from their own channel perspective.

The missing link for the team to get this work done was a profile that could coordinate the team, challenge each of its members, provide templates to ensure consistency, give strategical injections and coach them towards the end goal. Our role was to build a bridge to connect the different team members and to build an extra connective layer between the team and the manager.

The approach: Bringing visions and the right skill sets together

The first important step was to understand the vision of each expert on his or her channel(s), and to make sure there was a clear picture of the current performance of each channel.

As a second step, we injected inspiration and benchmarks about digital roadmaps and strategies to open up the minds of the channel experts and create the first building blocks towards more alignment. We focused on how we wanted to position ourselves as a digital team and what roles we had to fulfil within the organization. Once we reached agreement on our team mission, the way forward became a lot clearer. It is crucial that team members not only understand, but also contribute to the common goals and objectives.

After that, it was a pleasant combination of group work and individual exploring. By using our digital compass and the AARRR funnel, we deep-dived into the right use of channels for campaigns and how these could contribute to the overall marketing objectives. The experts took a first plunge into the world of the other channels and we discussed each other’s individual input until there was alignment.

Once aligned on the overall building blocks, the channel experts adapted it to their ‘own’ channels. They decided on how those specific channels will (not) be put to use, what they envisioned for that channel and what they would like to accomplish over the next year. For example, questions such as ‘to agency or not’ were put up for debate. Besides guiding all these workshops, -sometimes for group meetings, sometimes for individual channel roadmaps – we also provided the right templates, relevant benchmarks, examples, etc. More info about our digital expertise can be found here.

Something that proved a big help in our exercise was setting up specific workshops for each channel to decide on the North Star metric. A North Star metric is the single metric that best captures the core value that your channel delivers to customers. For example, the number of monthly active users is the one metric that matters for Facebook. In these workshops you could really hear the cross-functional music in the room.

What profiles were needed to get the job done?

The nice little cocktail we mixed consisted of a content marketer, channel expert, digital visionary, strategic marketer, developer, digital analyst and finished off with a touch of product owner. Bringing these specific skill sets together is where the real magic happened, and it was a small first nod towards the spirit of agile working. However, all these different roles together might create frictions. A good way to solve this is to have a very clear set of roles and responsibilities and/or make use of a RACI.

We wanted to make sure our plan was understood, supported and validated by our stakeholders and by all different types of marketers. While we were making progress, we assembled feedback from our manager, but also from other departments. For instance, the campaign and category marketers, the customer experience team, the strategic marketing team and the CMO. This cross-functional set-up provided us with very relevant insights.

One of the key pillars to get to the final result was the use of data and data insights in order to make more objective decisions and roadmaps. Therefore, to put our money where our mouth is, the strategy, roadmaps and targets could not have happened without the input of an (data) analyst.

The result

With the help of The House of Marketing, the digital team defined their overarching digital strategy and digital roadmap. The biggest achievement was to bring this assignment to a successful conclusion as a team. The impact of such an exercise would be completely different if we had not overcome this challenge together. A nice benefit is that, by joining forces on this specific task, there was more affinity for collaboration in general.

Things we achieved, besides the overarching digital strategy:

  • By working with the teams, through workshops, team meetings, etc., we increased buy-in for the plans and enthusiasm to execute them.
  • By inserting the right expertise & skill set at the right time and adding relevant material, frameworks or templates, we also built up capabilities (Digital Compass, AARRR funnel, channel strategy template, roadmap template, North Star Metric, etc.)
  • By setting up quarterly check-ins, using the final roadmaps and KPIs as a reporting tool, first steps were taken towards continuous improvement and follow-up.
  • By thinking the roles and responsibilities through and writing them down, as well as putting in place all the (internal & external) stakeholders (and the RACI) of each channel in a clear overview, we also paved the way for possible improved efficiency in the marketing department. For example, this gave us a good overview of how much ‘strategical power’ lays within the department, or is given to external parties sometimes.

How about your team struggles?

Are you also struggling with silos in your team? Do you want to ramp up the (digital) marketing capabilities of your experts? Do you also want to take your digital strategy to the next level?

You do not have to face these challenges on your own; you can inject a challenger profile into your team. This will bring a breath of fresh air that will unlock its full potential.

Find more information on how we, The House of Marketing, can help you with organizational challenges in 2021.