A silo is an impressive rounded structure that stands tall on farmer’s field, storing and protecting the grain within it – all by itself. Other silos stand beside it, protecting the grain they are storing. Such utilitarian silos have served as a metaphor for marketing efforts for a long time, distinct but part of a cohesive team. This term – and the marketing practices it reflects – may just be on their way to distinction. Why?
Internet marketing is young. If it were a human being, it would only be in its second year of college. In 1995, about $200 million was spent on Internet marketing, but in 2014, that number is closer to $200 billion. The rise of the cyber world has changed the way we live, love and shop – and how we do marketing. A social media marketing effort is no longer like a stalwart silo, but more like a piece of Lego that is connected to other pieces of Lego in easily understandable ways. It is all about integration now.
To understand why Internet marketing strategies have shrugged off the silo as an image for an effective marketing effort, look to the Internet user – also known as the target. How do Internet users behave? They connect with the Internet in various ways that add up to a coherent experience. They read blogs, use search engines, absorb images, watch videos, share stuff and so on. A social media marketing strategy must focus on inbound marketing, supplying enticing content to connect with the Internet users – the message must be consistent, continually reinforcing the brand.
Part of connecting with Internet users is making it ridiculously easy for them to fall in love with your company – or at least seriously like you. Say your SEO tactics have delivered more traffic to your website – what then? The baton has been passed to the website where the lead will answer a call of action, perhaps to sign up for a newsletter. After that, email marketing kicks in, perhaps offering said lead $10 to shop at your website. It is all about integration and building relationships.
The customer is really behind the shifts in social media marketing strategies and tactics that have been seen over the past 20 years. For example, companies have learned that customers expect that all members of their team are well-informed about all marketing strategies. In the early days of Internet marketing, online and brick-and-mortar strategies were not always coordinated, leaving customers frustrated and expecting better. Customers these days expect a seamless, coherent experience.
The behavior and expectations of customers will continue to drive change in the methods and theories of Internet marketing. Getting marketing on mobile devices right, and in synch with an overall strategy is occupying much of marketer’s time at this stage of the evolution of Internet marketing. No silos allowed.