"You mean we already have landing pages for that? And they're live?"
"Yes, it's all in the spreadsheet."

"You guys should write a blog post on X."
"We did. It was published last month."

"When did we send this email?"
"Yesterday. To all 20,000 people on the list."

The conversations above happen regularly because of marketing silos. Nearly 65% of marketers admit that silos obfuscate the campaigns they're working on. How can you gain clarity into work being done when your marketers are doing work that no one knows about?

This is the reason you might have experienced following a brand on Twitter and finding their tone to be friendly and attentive to customer problems, but then receiving cold and impersonal product update emails that sound like they were written by robots.

In the video interview below (Length: 5:21), Gillian Tett, author of The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers, explains exactly what silos are:

Tett says: "We live in a world where everyone thinks that they're hyper-connected with cellphones, internet. And yet our lives and our minds are incredibly fragmented. Inside many large organizations, the fragmentation is so bad that the right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing. "

When marketing efforts are fragmented, and marketers are executing campaigns without unified goals or even tactics, there will be problems that will affect your organization as a whole.

Three Ways Marketing Silos Damage Your Company

Let's take a look at the ways that silos create problems with your product marketing, your customers' perception of your brand, and inevitably, your bottom line.

1. Silos Lead to Inconsistent Customer Experiences

If you've ever wondered why the welcome email from the SaaS tool you just signed up for doesn't match the tone of the blog posts from the same company? That's because one team is writing the emails in your nurture path, and another is creating the blog posts and neither team is working from brand guidelines, or a common editorial calendar. (Or they could be ignoring both.)

Meanwhile your customers are thinking: "Is this even the same company?" or "What they promise in their marketing materials isn't the same as what I actually get."

Bryan Yeager, an analyst with eMarketer says: “Silos cause redundancy. They don’t allow you to get a single view of the customer. From their perspective, that can cause disjointed experiences.”

One of the core tenets of effective marketing is to be customer-centric. That extends from understanding customer pain points all the way to analyzing how they might perceive your brand based on the various touch points throughout the customer journey.

When your marketing teams are in silos, those touch points will vary based on each team's unique understanding of the brand, buyer personas, and customer journey. And that's bad news.

2. Inefficient Coordination Leads to Redundant Work

The email marketing team is working on landing pages for a nurture campaign. But unknown to them, the content team is also drafting copy for these landing pages based on their recent blog posts. Wasted effort? You bet.

When marketers work in silos, you'll get redundant work that could've been avoided if only there were more coordination and better communication.

Shari Harley, the founder and president of Candid Culture, an international training and consulting firm bringing candor back to the workplace, has five communication tips that may help deal with this breakdown in teamwork. They are:

  • Let people know what you're doing
  • Create opportunities for your various marketing teams to communicate on a regular basis
  • Ask people you typically don’t work with for their ideas on what you’re working on
  • Be open to help, new ideas, and sharing projects
  • Keep up whatever idea-sharing practice you start

One of the principles of Agile marketing is the elimination of waste (a holdover from Lean production). Silos waste some of the most precious resources your company has: time, effort, and brain power. Communicate better and unify those separate efforts!

Silos - how to avoid redundant work
Image Source

3. Silo-centric Goals Take Priority Over Larger Business Goals

"My social media marketing goal this quarter is to get 35,000 followers!"
"Ummm, but how does that translate to us gaining 100 new customers?"

If your team works in a silo, it will necessarily focus on product- or channel-centric KPIs designed to boost your own team's function. This doesn’t benefit the entire organization. In fact, in most cases it puts narrow blinders in place that prevent people from seeing the more important big picture.

Ideally, all your KPIs or OKRs roll up into the larger business goals. And if they don't, then that needs to be fixed. But the point here is that teams working in silos won't necessarily know the bigger goals unless a marketing leader communicates it to everyone. It all stems from strong leadership.

Break Down the Marketing Silos

So how do you actually go about breaking down these barriers? Where can you find how to audit marketing department to ensure these silos don't continue to build up?

Author Gini Dietrich (Marketing in the Round: How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era) speaks about how to fix the fragmentation of marketing silos in this video (Length: 2:32):

Her points are:

  • To break down silos, you're really effecting a cultural change
  • You will need CEO buy-in and have her lead the charge
  • You will need a team of champions/evangelists who will spearhead the change
  • You will constantly need to communicate what's in it for the individual employee if silos are broken down

The long and short of it is: marketing silos damage your work efforts, they harm your reputation in your customers' eyes, and inevitably, your organization suffers from the wasted work and the inefficiencies in production. It's time to break them down. Today.

For more insight into breaking down silos between marketing teams, even between departments, read my earlier blog post: How to Break Down Work Silos Between Departments.