Sharing Is Caring: How to Bust the Data Silo Mentality in Marketing

If you’re running a cross-channel marketing campaign, you’re going to need to do cross-channel reporting, with data from all the platforms you’re using to reach audiences. And that’s a huge problem for a lot of organizations because they’re struggling with a silo mentality. 

What is a silo mentality? It’s when individuals or teams are reluctant to share information and data with others in the same organization. In some cases, “reluctant” is putting it too nicely — they refuse to share! 

A lot of times, data silos form because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” I remember one brand that we had as a client. When we started the relationship, we went in and tried to figure out where all their data was. They were using a multi-channel strategy, so they had investments in offline media, digital and their website.

I noticed there was a marketing team and a marketing communications team. What was the difference? 

Well, they explained, the marketing team oversaw digital media and the website. 

And the marketing communications team? They handled direct mail and email. 

So, I asked, why are they (and their data) separate?

The answer: Well, duh, we do different things. 

No, you don’t! You actually do the same thing: You communicate a message to your audience to either drive them to an action, alert them of something or engage with them in some fashion. You all work for the same company, and you’re all trying to drive growth for your organization.

Your CEO and other decision-makers don’t care about what each individual channel is doing. They care about the impact that marketing as a whole is creating. To measure marketing as a single entity (which it is) you have to share access to performance data.

BLOG: Why Marketers Struggle with Cross-Channel Tracking and Attribution

How to Stop the Silo Mentality in Marketing

The easiest way to fix the silo mindset — the easiest way — is to invite everybody to a sit-down meeting. Have a happy hour, get some pizzas, whatever. Sit in a conference room and list every data source you’re using for marketing. 

And then what you can do is ask, how are you telling your performance story? What kinds of KPIs are you utilizing to measure performance? How do you know if your campaign is successful?

Then, as a group, you can talk about working together to tell a unified story about t he great work we’re doing in marketing and how it translates to business growth. 

How do search, social, your website, direct mail and traditional work together to create awareness? And how does that awareness translate to sales?

Just to be clear: The goal of this meeting isn’t to race out and build a marketing dashboard. First, you need to agree on your performance story, the KPIs needed to tell it, and the data required for those KPIs. Then you can worry about the dashboard. 

Of course, there are other things you need for cross-channel reporting, like creating a common tracking system and using a platform that will aggregate and unify your performance data. You might have to make allowances for PII and other sensitive data that shouldn’t be shared. 

But all that has to come after your entire marketing team is on the same page. 

More communication can usually stop data silos. Unfortunately, some individuals are too stubborn to work together. In some cases, it might require an influencer — a CEO, CMO or some other senior leader — to come in and force people to share data. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. 

Resist the Data Silo Mindset

If your teams don’t collaborate, here’s what will happen. Your company decides to run a spring campaign. You send out some direct mail, you send out some emails, you run some paid search. Maybe you do some retargeting and some video, some paid social. 

And when you go to measure the entire campaign’s performance? Each of the subcampaigns is probably named something different. Maybe it’s “spring_2021” on Facebook, “Q2_2021” on Google Ads and “shoes_promo” in your email platform. 

They’re all technically supporting the spring initiative, but guess what? Your data’s crap. Because there’s no way for your reporting to connect that data back to the spring campaign. Everybody did their own thing because they weren’t unified, and now you can’t show the real value of your cross-channel campaign. 

Don’t give into a silo mentality. Communicate. Understand the other teams’ process. And trust each other to work together to tell that single story of performance and growth. 

Everything You Need for Cross-Channel Campaign Reporting

Alight’s Analytics-as-a-Service model brings together all the resources you need to produce cross-channel reporting and insights. Schedule a free consultation with our team, and we’ll design a solution that’s tailored to your unique challenges!