Cross-Channel Success Means Overcoming the Structural Barriers

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Marketing professionals are keenly aware that successfully engaging today’s sophisticated digital consumer requires a comprehensive approach that leverages multiple channels. Then why do so many companies continue to operate as if they were wearing blinders?

The answer, according to a new report from Experian, is a lack of technology, infrastructure and investment that makes it difficult if not impossible for many brands to break out of their legacy siloed operating models.

This month, Experian released the 2014 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report, which details how this trifecta of related impediments is hampering brands from meeting consumers where they live and play in the digital ecosystem.

The survey of marketing professionals in more than 20 countries found that a majority of firms are working to achieve full cross-channel potential, but nearly two-thirds still struggle with collecting and integrating the data they need to optimize those efforts – a necessary first step to implementation.

The marketers polled by Experian identified their company’s current technology as the leading barrier to creating campaigns that are integrated across multiple channels. But equally problematic is an organizational structure that promotes compartmentalization of efforts over cross-team synergy. Just over a quarter of marketers say they work on teams that are fully integrated, but just as many continue to work on teams that are organized by marketing channel.

Meanwhile, nearly a third report a lack of internal communication between departments.

In an interview announcing the release of the report, Ashley Johnston, senior vice president of global marketing at Experian Marketing Services, blamed part of the problem on political will and a reluctance to make necessary structural reforms.

“It’s time for brands to finally put into action the strategies they’ve been talking about for some time now,” she said. “New technologies in cross-channel marketing have enabled this to be a reality, but now brands must evolve their policies, processes, and structures to be more aligned to the realities of today’s hyper-connected customer.”

Jake Sorofman, research director at Gartner, suggested in a recent blog post that some firms may be subconsciously avoiding the disruption that they know such a major transformation will provoke.

“Digital marketing requires standardization and automation of many procedures that were once performed by human beings,” Sorofman wrote. “In the same sense that automation made some IT folks uneasy, digital marketing will surely do the same for some marketers.”

The good news is that almost two-thirds of companies now report a strong appetite for digital experimentation, and a majority

Since the biggest obstacle to success is admitting you have a problem, the marketing profession has already leapt its biggest hurdle.

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