Silos are for Farmers ó Not Marketers
By Alex Schwartzwald
association marketers and publishers have spent years growing their brands and
sub-brands, they have simultaneously been collecting massive amounts of online
and offline data from live events, newsletters, webinars, websites, and content
pieces ó all datasets saturated with useful information.
too often I see association marketers and publishers taking a farmerís approach
to data. Instead of combining all of their data assets into one unified
platform, they opt to keep them closed off and separate from each other like
corn in a silo. The result? Associations are overwhelmed with a substantial
amount of siloed data and are unable to deliver personalized content and
experiences to their members and extended audiences.
are two ways silos have become detrimental to an associationís day-to-day
operations in todayís data-driven world ó and two questions to ask yourself.
Lack of accessibility.
If your data isnít easily accessible, it wonít get used, and the valuable
insights within the data will remain unused and locked up in their silos. As a
result, collaboration and innovation will be nearly non-existent.
1: When a salesperson needs data in support of a sales opportunity, is your
associationís process to retrieve that insight quick and efficient?
Silos create inefficiency throughout your association by increasing the time
spent searching through multiple disparate databases for campaigns and metrics.
The result: IT resources are pulled away from projects to clean, append, and
de-dupe your data on a daily basis because you donít have a unified system that
automates the process for you.
2: Is the health of your audience data as clean as your financial data?
By keeping your data sealed off in separate systems and
formats, you are failing to capitalize on its true potential.
Big data continues to grab headlines and create hype.
However, many organizations havenít adapted their technologies or processes to
take advantage of the value big data brings. So, this begs the question: Is the
urgency to embrace big data and data-centric systems justified?
Digital companies ó especially the most successful ones such as Google, Amazon,
and Netflixó know that analyzing and responding to data makes their approach
customer-centric by default. For these companies, itís not just a case of
consolidating data and information about customers. By understanding your data,
you can gain a clear picture of your member, customer, and audience needs and
respond quickly and more effectively than competitors.
know there are organizations that would argue they have been handling big data
and data integration and consolidation for years; in some respects, that may be
true. Itís important to note, however, that your siloed systems prevent you
from unlocking the true potential that lies in unified data. So how do you go
about breaking down these outdated data silos?
A data-driven culture starts with a top-down approach. Without the support of
the CEO and executive team, a new initiative will never succeed. This is the
only way to break down data and departmental silos. Your commitment to the
project and the time put into educating your staff is key. A mindset shift must
occur for everyone to lead with data first. Regardless of your opinion, unified
data speaks the truth about the wellbeing of your business.
Investing in a data management
platform. Any organization that has siloed data faces the same
problems: unifying their data, engaging their audience, and monetizing their
efforts. Step two in the process involves investing in a data management
platform, a centralized platform for collecting, organizing, and utilizing data
sets from disparate sources.
Set aside bureaucracy and office politics. Regardless of seniority or
department, all of your staff should have access to your data. Collaboration
between departments is crucial to innovation and obtaining a complete
360-degree view of your data assets. Opening the floodgates to data
accessibility doesnít come without responsibility. Make sure that everyone is
accountable for the data they manage and contribute.
Develop a data strategy.
Actionable data and insights donít happen overnight. Take the momentum gained
from internal collaboration and develop a structured integration plan. See what
strategies are in place to integrate data assets and discover which best
practices are recommended by your data management platform provider. Finally,
use your new data elements to build audience segments and test, test, review,
and test again. This will enhance your marketing strategy and get you one step
closer to the reality of delivering the right content to the right member or
customer at the right time.
you even start collecting and organizing your data, it is important to outline
your associationís strategic business objectives and identify any key questions
that remain. Once you know what data you need to complete your objectives and
questions, you can strategize on how to capture it. Data collection isnít about
tracking individuals; itís about tracking like-minded groups.
catalyst that will drive and transform your association are the positive
changes you make to your products, services, internal processes, and marketing
strategy. These are guided by insights from the data you acquire across the
organization and by breaking down silos and creating one unified database.
Alex Schwartzwald is
the marketing coordinator at Knowledge Marketing.