Guest Blog: Why IT and marketing must work together

Peter Sieyes

News from Forrester that 87% of online retailers are planning to optimise their mobile email communications with customers this year, and that 70% plan to do the same for paid search for smartphones and tablets, couldn’t have come a day too soon.

We continue to hear that consumers are using more mobile devices than ever; in fact, smartphone penetration in the UK is already at 58% and shows no sign of slowing. To capitalise on the trend, retailers have beendeveloping an ever growing arsenal of apps, online forums and digital marketing campaigns geared at reaching customers on these devices. But, despite these effortsretailers just aren’t seeing the returns they’re expecting.

We recently surveyed 1,000 tech-savvy UK consumers and found that two thirds of them believe that the current digital marketing they receive (whether it’s online, mobile or social) doesn’t make an impact on them . In an era where shops are facing fierce competition from online vendors, retailers can no longer afford to waste their time and money on digital marketing campaigns that don’t work.

In addition, many retailers are realising that a large source of their problems is their often channel-centric approach to customers, mirrored by their systems and data environment, which have led to a fragmented and siloedcustomer engagements. Compounding the issue is the costly and painful process of integrating retailer systems in order to reach that desirable unified view of the customer.

On a positive note, the findings from Forrester do suggest that not only are retailers and their marketing teams acknowledging theseissues, they’re also looking for ways to overcome them.

This is great news, but in order to be successful, these companies have to look beyond their marketing departments and ensure their IT teams are integrated in the digital marketing process.

While cooperation between IT and marketing is a must, it is easier said than done. For this relationship to be truly collaborative, it is critical to break down some of the traditional cultural barriers between IT and marketing, so that each team can benefit from the other’s skill sets. For example, IT people can learn from marketinghow they can contributemore to revenue growth (arguably an area of marketing’s expertise). As an ever increasing proportion of marketing activity is technology enabled, marketerscan benefit from learning programme management and governance skillsrequired in complex process and technology innovation (where IT excels).

Retailers are taking an exciting step forward as they decide to focus on optimising theirsearch and mobile optimisation initiatives this year, but only by breaking down departmental barriers and taking a unified approach to IT and marketing,with the customer truly at the heart of their efforts, can they successfully engage with consumers in the long term.

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