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Where does your digital marketing person, or team, sit? Are they positioned within the marketing department or the IT department? Do they report to e-commerce, or to the head of sales & marketing? If your digital marketing team is not fully integrated within your marketing department, you cannot hope to maintain a cohesive strategy and action plan. If you see digital marketing as a function of IT rather than sales & marketing, it is unlikely that your marketing team will be working together and you will probably struggle to achieve the desired results.
Integration and constant communication are key tools within any organisation, and never more so than in today’s fast-paced interconnected world. In the days of discussing ideas, producing designs and then artwork before submitting collateral to a printer to produce, a process which took days if not weeks, there was plenty of time to review and reassess before committing to a course of action. Today, a digital designer can run up a complete campaign with numerous designs and messaging in a matter of hours, and at the click of a button, disseminate it worldwide. Content, audience and delivery method can be adjusted in minutes, and readjusted according to response and results ad infinitum. A business, and its marketing team needs to be much more flexible and agile than previously, with the digital marketing team at its core.
In some of the more traditional industries, digital marketing may be a relatively new addition to the organisational structure and has perhaps been physically placed wherever there was office space. This might be alongside the IT department rather than with the marketing team. In this case, care must be taken to ensure complete integration of digital marketing within the marketing team. Separation of the functions is just not possible in today’s interconnected world. The digital marketing team should be part of the traditional sales and marketing team, and not treated as an independent unit; goals should be aligned as should activities. One certainly cannot exist without the other and all activities must be closely coordinated to achieve the required results.
Digital marketing is a relatively new discipline and skill. The ‘old guard’ of sales and marketing executives will not necessarily have the knowledge of the youngsters brought up in the digital age, but just because they cannot manage the function themselves does not mean they cannot manage the people or the results required of that function. It does however mean that the digital team has to be included in meetings and discussions to ensure the comprehensive understanding of what is required and how it is to be achieved by the department as a whole. Your senior sales and marketing executive may have worked their way through the ranks, and have an intimate knowledge of the business, the market, the product and the organisational function, but the digital realm develops at such an alarming rate that few but those involved on a daily basis will be able to keep up with all the changes. Be careful that your established team does not see the new kids as a threat, but that they involve them and work with them to ensure their fundamental knowledge of the organisation and product is shared with this ‘new’ team to come up with an integrated strategy that works cohesively in all areas rather than as an independent unit. The old guard does not have to understand the details of how the results will be achieved, but they do still have to drive and direct the activities.
If your digital marketing is outsourced, it is imperative that regular meetings are held to keep all parties updated, with the digital team reporting progress in a comprehensible way structured to constantly analyse and reset activities to ensure that strategic planning is updated as necessary to reach the required goals. Communication is the key here, with an eye on the end result, rather than the details of how that goal is to be achieved, digitally.