Overlapping Disciplines for Digital Marketing

I frequently use this space to write about the dangers and downfalls of organizational silos. As we move into 2013, I thought it might be useful to share a visualization of at least one way that digital marketing organizations could more effectively be structured to deliver against the multiple considerations required for effective digital experience delivery.

At the center of this structure are the drivers of digital marketing: consumer behaviors, organizational operations, consumer attitudes, the competitive landscape and organizational objectives. The order given in this diagram is indicative of influences across these drivers; corporate operations shape consumer attitudes, attitudes shape the competitive landscape, competition shapes objectives, and objectives determine the types of experiences consumers may have with a company, and thus shape behavior. And of course, behaviors (i.e leads, purchases, referrals, complaints) determines the resources with which a company can operate – closing the loop.

The next circle out shows the disciplines that a digital marketing organization can use to understand what’s happening in the inner circle; the Analytics and Research disciplines. Research is the older and more established marketing discipline, helping to align organizational operations and objectives (i.e. through marketing mix modeling), evaluating attitudes through panels, surveys and focus groups, and evaluating the competitive landscape through survey and 3rd party data sources.

Analytics is the newer tool in the digital marketing toolbox. Like Research, Analytics aligns objectives and operations through performance measurement of KPIs. Analytics can not only explain performance by direct observation of consumer behaviors in digital and CRM channels (i.e. call-center data), it can also drive performance through the application of data to content personalization across channels, improved CRM interfaces, content testing and optimization and targeted advertising.

Which leads to the outermost circle; the disciplines that create digital experiences. Much like the other two circles, these also have interaction in a clock-wise fashion; Planning (for owned, earned & paid channels) informs content strategy which informs UX and Creative Design. Information/data also flows from the inside-out, with Research and Analytics funneling corporate and consumer insights (and data) to the experience planning and generating disciplines.

This overlapping structuring of marketing disciplines on top of consumer and organizational marketing drivers seems cleaner and clearer than any I’ve encountered in recent memory. As a model, I hope this can be helpful in clarifying needlessly complex, archaic or incomplete existing structures. Since all marketing now includes digital, this model need not be considered for digital organizations only. In fact, I think it can be useful in building more effective 21st century marketing organizations in general.

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