I recall just five to ten years ago how effective social media marketing could be for a small business. Standing alone as its only active digital marketing component, social media marketing could grow communities, drive action and get results. I also remember email marketing being the main marketing strategy that many businesses used to drive their sales and revenue, but those days are also gone. Online marketing has become a complex web (no pun intended) of properties, platforms, rules and tactics that must all work together under a unified strategy.

A Picture Of Siloed Marketing

If you are an American, you have inevitably driven by a farm in your lifetime. You have seen those large cylindrical structures on farms that often have a domed cap on top. That is a silo. The purpose of the silo is to store bulk materials, while keeping them separated from other types of materials.

Great for farm products, not so good for digital marketing.

What Is Silo Marketing?

Silo marketing is a disconnected or limited use of digital marketing channelsSilo marketing isĀ isolated, disconnected or an incomplete integration of all channels and functions of marketing online. It could be using only one or two channels or platforms, or using multiple digital tactics, but using them in a way that they don’t work together. Silo marketing is isolating to one system, process or platform as the main focus for driving online marketing results.

A week doesn’t go by that we have a conversation with a new prospective customer that comes to us with a specific need in their marketing efforts. Sometimes it’s that they just want us to handle their social media marketing or maybe produce some content for them. They are stuck in the silo approach to marketing, and they’re not alone.

A silo focused marketing approach is something that many startups and mid sized brands do, usually without even realizing that they are doing it. The silo method of digital marketing is usually only done with ignorance, lack of strategy or without a budget to see the marketing climate as it actually is. This is often fatal.

Silo’s Emphasize One Size Fits All

Since the internet is a web (hence its name) marketing has become an interwoven connection of website properties, social networks, search engines and other platforms. Which of these various applications are used will vary dramatically for every given brand.

For instance, if you are local brand that only has one store in Portland, Oregon, you are going to need to approach your online marketing in a very different way and using a few different online applications than an international fashion brand. The local brand will need to have extreme emphasis made on locale layered on top of everything that they do online, whereas the fashion brand will much more heavily focus on audience demographic over geographics. Two very different strategies that require very different approaches to their marketing mix.

Going even further, the mix of platforms, strategies and tactics used will also be significantly different from local company to local company, depending on their customer target, product or service and the demographic that they need to reach. Just because they are located in the same city and are both local companies, does not at all mean that their digital marketing strategy, the platforms they use, nor the type and frequency of their content will be remotely similar.

Silo marketing doesn’t take any of these crucial considerations into account. It uses a shotgun approach to pick social networks to be on, how to use those networks. Furthermore, a siloed approach to marketing ignores that the website a follower of that social account might end up on is not optimized for mobile, loads slowly, offers a horrible user experience and will not convert any traffic that social media may produce. Silo marketing also offers very little value to the target customer in the form of consistent relevant brand content that builds trust, leadership and traffic.

There is no one size fits all single internet application that works well on its own…

Avoid Silo Marketing

The complexities of digital marketing have grown to levels that were not even thought of just five years ago. From incredibly detailed requirements of Google to achieve search rankings for brands, to changes in user content preferences, to continual algorithm changes on every social network, and the reduced reach in favor of social ads, a silo marketing approach just isn’t going to cut through the noise online, let alone beat your competition that is likely already integrated many of these items together in one shape or form.

Integrated digital marketing starts at a strategy level that is based on known information about your company’s market, target audience and competitors. The strategy takes into account the who, what and where of the digital marketing plan in order to be everywhere that is required, then combines all of the content, tactics and channels into a unified effort, while always minding the details and requirements of each individual platform being used.

Yes, it’s complicated, but a proper integrated digital marketing strategy that is executed well, will ALWAYS win over a silo approach being done by your competitor. Even if your competitor is bigger, has been around much longer and is more well known, their silo marketing holes that they have taken for granted are the opportunities that a well thought out and professionally executed online marketing program can outperform.

Get out of your silo marketing approach and build a solid foundation that unifies your marketing efforts under a single strategy, played out across all of the appropriate channels online. THIS is how it’s done.