I’ve been fortunate enough during my career in digital marketing agencies to have experienced most of the forms they come in: single freelancer, a few people in a dingy basement office, a more expanded team of 10-15, and all the way up to 100+ people agencies. My experience played out in exactly that order and with each step I took on more senior roles – I say this because I think it afforded me an insight into a problem that everyone in marketing comes up against at some point: the moment where everything becomes siloed.
I’m speaking from my own experience, which is agency-heavy, but the same is true (if not more-so) brand side – especially those with larger marketing teams. A loss of transparency between co-marketers, between executors and team leads, and between departments is a huge obstacle. The challenge, I found, as a digital marketing leader in these environments was effectively trying to recapture the working environment found in those small teams.
When the team is small and agile it’s easy to be more joined up. In that environment a single digital marketer might work across a multitude of platforms, allowing for the insights from one to easily cross-pollinate. Eventually and inevitably, with growth, the teams split, the platforms get siloed; financial decisions migrate away from the marketing teams, and strategy becomes its own department – completely removed from the point of delivery. Operationally it makes sense, but this is where the problems start.
When the team is small and agile it’s easy to be more joined up
There’s plenty that can be done operationally to solve the problem too. Breaking departments into smaller cross-disciplinary teams that encourage a culture of shared problem solving – though this has certainly been made more challenging with the advent of remote working models. But even that doesn’t solve the issue of data democratization, it effectively becomes a roundtable of folks with specific and siloed knowledge of their individual platforms. What I advocate for is data transparency.
Digital marketing insights can come from anyone
Allowing people, cross-department and cross-platform, to get insight into performance throughout the entire ecosystem allows for more holistic problem solving. Digital marketing insights and PPC budget recommendations that can come from anyone, because anyone can see the data in one place and see that data contextualized against targets.
Recreating that small team agility and holistic view is a challenge that marketing teams will continue to face in-house and in an agency alike. The insight I would offer is to examine what is at the root of the agility and shared strategizing small teams can pull off: the data is accessible to everyone.