Dogs and Cats Living Together? Why It's Time to Merge Content and Commerce
by Ray Grady
Putting marketing and commerce teams in the same room isn’t exactly the equivalent of dogs and cats living together, but it’s close. While co-existing under the guise of collaboration, at most retailers these two groups have traditionally operated independently, with separate leaders, discrete objectives and other clear lines of delineation, such as completely different sets of software to get their jobs done. Commerce people live in a world of transaction processing, product information and order management systems. They care about calculating shipping rates and sales taxes. Marketers use content management systems, Photoshop, social media tracking and marketing automation services. They care about brand hygiene, color palettes, marketing calendars and value propositions for their target personas and segments.
To pedantically quote Kipling, “Never the twain shall meet.”
It’s time to break down those walls. As more retailers and brand manufacturers seek to differentiate their brands through customer-driven digital experiences, they’re embracing the need to integrate content and commerce operations. A critical step in this transformation isn’t finding a technical solution -- it involves knocking down the organizational silos between marketing and commerce. In the end it’s about org charts.
It won’t be easy. A recent Forrester survey found that nearly 60% of companies that sell products or services online have separate marketing and commerce teams. Based on the classic purchase funnel, the separation made sense – marketing was charged with upper-funnel activities like building brand awareness and promotion, while the commerce team focused on conversions. There was a distinct handoff between the two, but little overlap.
That’s all changing, thanks to a modern purchase path that is anything but linear. Consumers criss-cross multiple channels – often simultaneously – as they research products, compare prices, shop and, ultimately, purchase goods and services. Marketers are getting more sophisticated at analyzing shopper behaviors and preferences and delivering targeted content designed to engage, inform and convert.
To be successful in this new environment, companies need to go a step further – by throwing out existing channel- or function-specific organizational models and re-organizing around the true customer journey.
Here are four tips for breaking down the organizational silos that are very likely inhibiting your digital commerce efforts.
- Hire a chief digital officer (CDO). Marketing and commerce teams generally report into separate executives - the CMO for marketing and either the CIO or COO for commerce. Unification may require a new C-level executive who can strike a balance between telling great brand stories while increasing conversions, average order value, units per transaction and other commerce metrics. A chief digital officer may fill the void. CDOs are gaining traction across many industries; the CDO Club estimated that the number of CDO positions worldwide would reach 1,000 in 2014, more than double the 488 execs who held CDO positions in 2013. Just 6% of those 2013 positions were in the retail sector, however.
- Co-locate marketing and commerce teams. Something as simple as making marketing and commerce sit next to each other may provide a catalyst for tighter integration between content and commerce operations. As part of a wide-ranging digital initiative, UK-based cosmetics company Lush put its creative and commerce teams together in a space specifically designed to facilitate collaboration. Another retailer that has raised its digital marketing game, Puma, consolidated eight separate e-commerce teams into one global unit that oversees market rollouts, investments and brand strategy. The goal of this type of consolidation is to blend art and science skills. By melding creative and conversion expertise, both sides should gain a better appreciation for what the other side does and why it’s important.
- Add new skills as the glue. Groups that have long worked separately may need some help forming tighter bonds. Adding new or repurposed skills could provide the adhesive. For example, in an integrated content/commerce environment, UX designers might evolve into the digital equivalent of a visual merchandiser – the person charged with designing store layouts that attract customers and maximize sales. Demand for editorial skills is also increasing as marketing content evolves from purely promotional messaging to a more engaging form of storytelling. Also, as marketing and commerce metrics converge, data analysts who understand both will take on greater importance as they dig more deeply for insights about customers across the entire buying cycle.
- Get the measurement and incentives in sync. Changing the org chart won’t make a difference unless everyone’s focused on shared objectives. Marketers can’t be driving improvements in Net Promoter Score while commerce teams are putting all their efforts into driving sales. Blending the metrics (which we’ll discuss in a future post) will bond the teams more closely.
Are you ready to break down those organizational silos? Who knows – the dogs and cats may actually enjoy cohabitating.
See the fifth post in this series: Integrating CMS and Commerce Platforms: A Catalyst for Change?
See the series ebook: Why Retailers Need to Reorganize for Effective Content-driven Commerce