In a previous article, we introduced the idea of relevance in digital marketing and listed five keys to achieving a relevance-centered approach. The first key is to overcome organizational challenges. Which means you may need to shake things up a bit.

Organizational challenges can be the silent killer to achieving relevance in direct digital marketing, placing constraints on innovation and on the adoption of technology and best-practices, or limiting the manpower to create compelling campaigns and programs.

You can do everything else right, but failure to address organizational challenges can torpedo an otherwise watertight ship.

Let's take a look at three of the most common organizational constraints.

1. Knowledge constraints

As each technology in the direct digital marketing toolbox has evolved—from the Web to search to email to analytics to dynamic content and mobile—a corresponding organizational structure or resource specialization is often added.

As those silos stack up side by side, the fragmented organizational structure becomes untenable. There is a lot of vertical integrity and knowledge but little ability to extend knowledge across the silos.

If one person or department manages email, another manages search, and another manages the website, the inherent disconnect is evident, making it difficult to extend relevance across multiple channels consistently.

Also, advancements in relevance and consumer experience in one channel are unable to migrate to other channels, creating inconsistency in the total brand experience.

Instead, align business objectives around direct-digital-marketing channel neutrality. Creating an organizational structure that leverages vertical knowledge to create compelling and consistent direct digital marketing is ideal.

Have a landscape-wide outlook that promotes the flexibility to create consumer-centric, relevant communications across channels.

2. Bandwidth constraints

There is a saying, "Money doesn't lead, it follows." The anticipation of a future cash windfall to fund critical advancement is a failing strategy, regardless of the objective.

Driving innovation and relevance in direct digital marketing demands proactive investment in resources, knowledge, and technologies, which can have a positive impact on the bottom line.

However, adding staff and application costs is a leap of faith, given the current economic climate. It is possible to build incremental improvement in direct digital marketing return on investment with the staff that you already have, through technology and service upgrades.

Many technology and service providers—notably software as a service (SaaS) or on-demand applications via which implementation requirements are minimal—extend pilot agreements to limit cash commitments while demonstrating a positive result within key metrics.

Accruing a catalog of incremental improvements on the bottom line through smaller-scale technology and service upgrades builds a compelling case for investment.

3. Motivation constraints

Within many organizations there are few, if any, incentives to reach new goals, master new technologies, or adopt emerging best-practices. As the character Peter Gibbons says in the classic film Office Space, "That will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired."

Incentives are important. Whether your department is large or small, there needs to be sincere motivation for adopting and working through the discomfort of new practices, technology, and knowledge.

Continually setting the bar higher—and reaching those goals each time—calls for new ways of motivating staff.

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Organizational changes can be daunting and are not to be taken lightly. Yet legacy resource alignments confound advancements in technology and knowledge, so the need to make the necessary changes to adopt  relevance-centered direct digital marketing approach is real.

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Bryce Marshall is the director of strategic services at Knotice (, a direct digital marketing solutions company. Bryce is a contributor to Knotice's blog, The Lunch Pail (, and can be reached via