Optimization: The meeting point between marketing and IT

Digital marketing is finally becoming a real part of the marketing supply chain.

The days of focusing on how a brand is delivered on TV are diminishing daily. Large scale CRM systems are still widely used to retain and grow the customer base and the internet is a critical channel for acquisition. Moreover, measurement, ROI, and accountability are forefront on people’s minds. What these things lead to is an increasing reliance on technology to deploy marketing programs, measure results, and optimize performance. An existing challenge that few are talking about is a people issue: the dynamics and working relationship between Marketing and IT.

Marketing and IT are perceived to be very different and isolated areas that can’t hardly interact in a positive manner. Their differences like people skills, challenges, personalities and goals normally confront them. After all, how can a marketing organization that focuses on creative concepts, value propositions, and business results collaborate successfully with an IT department that focuses on network architecture, redundancy, software deployment, and the latest patch from Microsoft? Given the trends in the industry, a closer and more dynamic relationship between marketing and IT is highly required. Optimization seems to be the bridge that unite them.

Marketing began working closely with IT during the advent of direct marketing. Direct marketers required lists and reports. These two relatively simple needs grew to requests for data warehouses, data stores, CRM systems, reporting/OLAP systems, and, of course, web sites. Moreover, statisticians and analysts required complex data structures and transformations.

Marketers were often considered clients of IT. There was a working relationship between the areas, but true collaboration was really not happening. In fact, tensions often resulted when marketers required deliverables in very aggressive timeframes that did not always reflect the realities of how long it took IT to accomplish those tasks. Back in the days of legacy systems, getting data inputs was far easier than getting data outputs.

Common goals are an important factor in building strong team dynamics. Online marketing efforts from web development to digital advertising  always require technical expertise from IT. So the dynamic has evolved from direct marketers dropping a ticket for a report to an adhoc matrix team working together, after all the company’s objective is not different for both departments. They both have to interact in a way that helps improve the company’s result.

A mixed adhoc structure with defined roles and responsibilities is the first step to building true collaboration.

Optimization requires a very closed relationship between marketing and IT. It includes all aspects of digital marketing including site development, creative development, and analytics. It also allows marketing and IT to team up on multiple facets of the optimization process including set-up (choosing placements and deploying tags and/or an xml- 2 – solution), content management (storage of and changing digital assets), and analytics (reporting).

Since optimization is a data driven practice, IT and marketing can share a common goal – a critical first step for the two areas to work towards the company business objective.

Website development (and dynamic landing pages) is a clear “Optimization” bridge between the two groups. Website and landing page development has to a live and ongoing process instead of a one time, one deliverable project.

As marketing turns more ‘digital’, IT and marketing will have to get even closer. Soon, we’ll be able to target broadcast ads to individual viewers, optimize communications across all channels, have even deeper analytics, and engage the user in a relevant dialogue from exposure to a general ad through conversion. Along with the reduction of the division between digital and non digital marketing it will come an increase in the way those two departments interact together.

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece” John Ruskin

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