Why brand and ecomm should be BFF

by Laurie Heller

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When I transitioned from brand marketing to e-commerce, it felt like I went to the dark side. Ask anyone in brand or e-commerce why this is and they'll know what I'm getting at. One team wants to elevate the brand and the other wants to drive sales, sometimes at any cost — leading to over couponing and brand denigration. TLDR; it doesn't have to be this way if both teams work together.A brand manager's KPIs are generally a combination of brand engagement, growth and positive consumer sentiment. They're focused on building and preserving the long-term health and desirability of the brand. On the flip side, if you work in e-commerce, your KPIs are usually just revenue, period. And here's where the divide starts. Both departments have separate budgets to meet their KPIs. And then suddenly the teams feel they compete with one another and work against each other vs. with one another. To add more complexity to the madness, marketing vendors and agencies get tossed back and forth between e-commerce and brand teams according to which agenda they support... almost as if the brand and e-comm teams are separate companies. But yet they're both there to move the company forward, yes? Did someone forget?

It doesn't have to be this way. Really, it doesn't.

In a perfect world these two teams should be BFFs. While e-commerce teams might seem too worried about the present and hitting their quarterly number, they can and should be brought into the brand way of thinking. It just takes a little effort and the ability to let go of egos on both sides. But this also needs to happen at the top. Since e-commerce often sits under the CFO's org, it's even that more important for the CMO and the CFO to find common ground. Naturally, 9 times out of 10, that's revenue.

Essentially a brand can and should run its high-touch, beautiful top-of-funnel ads, but they should also bring the e-comm teams on board and retarget those users with bottom-of-the-funnel ads to bring awareness and purchase together. And yes, contrary to what others believe, I do think the other way around is important. I like to think of it as brand reinforcement.

When it comes to defending the brand champions, I so get it. The non-stop SALE emails that go out make you want to cry. But they don't have to be that way. Make sure your e-commerce promotional emails have some brand elements - what's happening on social media, new products, exclusive collaborations, events, etc. Test messaging combinations and, see what works. You might be able to kill two birds with one stone.

It's no secret that CMOs are constantly getting hit for not driving results, but if businesses took a second to think about this holistically and challenge the conventional, what would happen?

What if there was just one team: the marketing team and everyone worked together towards a shared goal? It'd probably result in a bit of organizational upheaval and some budgeting chaos, but the payoff might be worth it in the end.


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