Joshua Nite

How to Drive Better Content Marketing Results with Integrated Marketing Teams: Top Tips from NewsCred’s Shafqat Islam #CMWorld

Joshua Nite on Sep 10th, 2019     Content Marketing, Content Marketing World

Here’s a wild new idea: Consumers expect immediate, consistent, on-brand experiences across channels.

Just kidding about the “wild” and “new” parts. Most marketers likely have the phrase embroidered on a pillowcase by now. It’s fundamental.

But if we know that consumers demand an omnichannel experience… Why are so many marketing teams stuck in silos?

NewsCred Co-Founder and CEO Shafqat Islam believes this siloed structure is what’s holding marketers back from their omnichannel dreams. Integrated marketing requires integrated teams. During his Content Marketing World 2019 session, Shafqat shared how NewsCred reorganized to deliver better results.

Key takeaways: Integrated marketing is better for consumers and brands, modern marketing is collaborative, risk-taking content teams are best suited to drive transformation

Image courtesy Shafqat Islam & NewsCred.

The Dangers of Hyper-Specialized Marketing Teams

As marketing continues to grow more complex, says Shafqat, marketers have had to specialize. A modern marketing team might handle content, social media, paid advertising, internal communications, events and more. In larger organizations, each of these specialties might have its own sub-team. And each operates more or less independently of the others.

The result? The majority of marketers (89%) think they’re doing great with integrated, omnichannel marketing… while only 58% of consumers agree. According to Shafqat, hyper-specialized, siloed teams can lead to:

  • Redundant or broken tech stacks that cause inefficiencies
  • Disconnected content efforts that produce ineffective content
  • Missed opportunities to find synergies across the teams
  • Sub-optimal campaign results

The Solution: Integrated Marketing Teams

Of course, specialization can be a good thing. Marketers should have an area of expertise, but they should also have enough general knowledge to work with teams in other areas.

Shafqat proposes a “team of teams” structure to help marketers work together towards a cohesive plan while empowering each silo to do what it does best. “Keep the expertise in each team, but do all the planning together,” he says.

When the whole marketing department is working with a singular vision, each team (or person) can put their specialized knowledge to use towards a larger goal. For example, content can support the next event, with paid ads promoting them both. Most importantly, messaging and branding is consistent across every area of specialization. With integrated planning, teams can avoid duplicating work, streamline their processes, and end up with a better end product as well.

Diagram demonstrating multiple marketing sub-specialties working together to plan campaigns and content

Image courtesy Shafqat Islam & NewsCred.

The Five Traits of Modern, Integrated Marketing

According to Shafqat, these are the attributes an integrated marketing initiative should strive for:

#1: They’re Collaborative

Teams are able to communicate with each other across the marketing department, form ad hoc “tiger teams” across specialties, and share data and processes.

#2: They’re Transparent

According to Shafqat, teams should aim for an “uncomfortable level of transparency.” That means shared visibility across all teams and programs – no hoarding knowledge or covering up mistakes.

#3: They’re Aligned

Teams work together to develop strategies. They use centralized campaign briefs to bring teams together on shared objectives and KPIs. Shafqat recommends starting with a single line campaign brief: One sentence that brings the project into sharp focus for everyone.

#4: They’re Agile

Marketing teams should adopt Agile processes that they find useful and necessary. Shafqat recommends not doing everything strictly by the Agile book – only keep what  works for the team. In general, it’s a focus on continual iteration and optimization for content and campaigns, developing a minimum viable product and refining it through sprints.

#5: They’re Scalable

Think about scale in everything you do, says Shafqat. Look to create processes that boost efficiency, that are repeatable, and that make sense as your team continues to grow. For example, develop a tagging system for content on your content management platform. Tags are something everyone can use to find and repurpose content quickly.

Shafqat highlighted the Mayo Clinic as an example of what happens when teams are integrated, while still preserving their specialized knowledge. The Mayo treats an entire patient, not just a problem or symptom. Everyone who treats the patient shares a common goal. Every doctor has access to the other specialists’ information and expertise. They all share knowledge and work together on a single shared KPI: the patient’s health.

Silos Are for Grain, Not Marketers

Text reading "let the idea grow. Take risks."

Image courtesy Shafqat Islam & NewsCred.

Creating an integrated marketing “team of teams” will lead to more efficient marketing and better results, says Shafqat. But the benefits don’t stop there. Shafqat believes marketing can help drive change throughout the organization, first by modeling integration, then by expanding it to other departments. The sales, customer experience, and HR teams all could benefit from sharing information with each other and with marketing.

Customers expect a unified, consistent experience; as Shafqat points out, it’s time that marketers demanded the same from their teams.

Looking for more insights out of CMWorld 2019? Check out these other posts featuring several of this year’s speakers:

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