January 25th, 2023

7 Ways Siloed Digital Communication Is Failing You

Author: Laura Lynch
Laura Lynch
Director of Marketing

You get further when all your communication strategies are pulling in the same direction.

Many businesses are coming to recognize the central role their websites play as the online face of their organization. However, even as they grow in appreciation for their website as representing their brand image, when it comes to their digital marketing, too often it’s treated as an afterthought rather than the cornerstone of their communication strategy.

If we had to name a culprit for this lapse, we’d pin the blame on communication siloing. Siloing between departments can present in a number of different ways, but when it comes to marketing, communications siloing is likely to hit your website hardest. 

Tell me if any of these scenarios sound familiar:

  • Your social media engagement is looking healthy, but the interest rarely translates into traffic back to your website.
  • Your sales team directs leads away from the website because they know it doesn’t give a good impression of your company.
  • HR posts new job openings but they aren’t attracting qualified applicants.
  • You rely on your IT department to update the site, but their priorities lie elsewhere.
  • Customer service has their hands full fielding a list of routine complaints and FAQs.
  • Leadership is noticing that their company culture lacks cohesion, but isn’t sure where or how to create change.

All these issues are symptoms of communication silos within your company. To turn things around, you need to break down the silos and turn your website into the hub for your overall communication strategy. Not sure if the situation is really that urgent? Here are seven ways communication siloing may be costing your business in ways that aren’t immediately obvious.

1. Internal disconnects between your departments become public facing.

One sign of a strong brand is that every touchpoint feels unified. While different communication channels may carry different messages to different audiences, it’s all coming with the same voice. But when the different people in charge of that communication aren’t coordinating with each other, gaps in the messaging start to show—and over time, that rift becomes noticeable to those outside the organization as well.

Usually, these gaps aren’t intentional. For instance, the sales team, which has access to the CRM, sends out an email promotion and doesn’t tell the marketing team. Meanwhile, the marketing team has just launched a social media campaign focused on a completely different topic. Mostly, the lapse just looks awkward—but the lack of communication is apparent to anyone who can see both messages, and it sends the wrong signal.

More importantly, it means your team is missing out on the opportunity to combine their efforts. Speaking of which…

2. Your departments struggle separately instead of helping each other out.

The blame game that often happens between sales and marketing is nothing new. Sales blames marketing for bad leads, marketing blames sales for not closing qualified customers. The reality may be a bit of both: sales is struggling to close leads because they haven’t given marketing any feedback on what works.

Similar principles apply to other departments as well. How often do you have your marketing team speak with your front line customer support? What if an FAQ resource page could stave off some of the most pressing complaints? Or what if your marketing team could work with your web development team to create a guided wizard tool that would help customers self-serve instead of needing to contact your support team directly?

There are numerous ways your teams can be helping each other—but they can’t do that if they don’t have insight into each other’s priorities.

3. You create duplicate or redundant processes.

Here’s another challenge: your sales team uses Salesforce as their CRM, which they use as a lead nurturing tool, sending out emails via a drip campaign. Meanwhile, your marketing team has been collecting emails through a download form, and begins scheduling their own campaign through MailChimp. Some of your customers are getting double-emailed, on two different platforms, with two different messages, leading to two different sets of email metrics.

Here’s another example. Your marketing team creates an FAQ page on the website. Your customer support team creates a different FAQ page for the support portal. Some of the answers don’t match, and it creates confusion.

It’s bad enough that this disconnect is now in front of the customer, but it’s also duplicating work. Your teams would operate more effectively if they were more aware of what resources each had on hand and where they were prioritizing their time.

4. Your audience doesn’t know where to go or what to do.

Let’s talk some more about audience confusion. We mentioned earlier that siloing can lead to a disconnected message, but this has real implications for lead generation. Customers—especially online customers—don’t have a lot of time to waste. Their interest is valuable, and it’s important that you guide them toward something specific while you have their attention.

Too often, however, online communication doesn’t give visitors anything to do. Your ad campaign may be drawing visitors to your main page, but what happens once they get there? Your social media channels may be garnering likes, but do they draw visitors through to your website?

Not every engagement results in a conversion, of course. But if you’re seeing interest drop off at a certain point, it’s time to examine your marketing funnel for leaks.

5. You lose alignment on key performance metrics.

Different departments will have different metrics to measure success. Marketing may focus on site traffic, audience engagement, and email open rates. Sales looks at their close rate. Customer service keeps their eye on satisfaction scores. That’s all well and good.

But those metrics are all only portions of the big picture. A customer service team focused on resolving complaints may forget that the primary goal should be to reduce the number of complaints in the first place. Closed sales aren’t a victory if it turns out the new customers are difficult to work with or dissatisfied with what they receive.

6. Departments lose sight of their colleagues’ contributions.

We touched on the blame game earlier—how when things go wrong, everyone can have a different explanation for why. In the process, trust between departments can break down. When no one sees what the other is doing, it’s easy to assume that they’re behind every poor decision. And when your own hard work isn’t being recognized, it’s understandable for frustration to follow.

One of the first steps we take when we begin working with a new client is to talk with team members from across departments—sales, HR, leadership, marketing, customer service, IT, you name it. We ask a lot of questions, but we’re mainly there to listen: to what their priorities are, to the various challenges and opportunities they perceive, to what they do for their jobs and how they could be better supported.

Helping team members recognize the work being done in the parts of the company they never see can help everyone feel like their work has purpose, and that it’s being valued by their coworkers.

7. Customer experience breaks down.

As is probably apparent by now, each of these issues adds up to one big problem for your customers: they’re getting mixed messages from a variety of sources, they’re being bounced around to different departments, their questions aren’t being answered, and their needs aren’t being met.

The good news is that, when you help your team get on the same page, many of those problems resolve themselves.

Your website forms the hub of your digital marketing. Your digital marketing gives your website purpose.

We’ve written it before, but it bears repeating: Your website is your best marketing tool. There are two points to emphasize here. First, your website should be at the center of all your online marketing efforts. But second, your website is a tool. If you’re treating it like a static place card while you funnel the rest of your marketing energy elsewhere, then you’re allowing your best resource to languish.

Instead, it’s time to bring everything together. Put your marketing team in charge of your website, and then open communication channels between marketing and your other departments so that your messaging gains coherency. As a bonus, marketing can support your other departments, and with fewer disconnects happening internally, you can bet the benefits to will filter through to your customers.

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