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We've established the importance of a strong collaborative relationship between marketing and IT. As we approach 2015, it's time to highlight another relationship that will become equally important in the year ahead: a strong partnership between marketing and commerce teams.

Commerce experts today are laser-focused on implementing the best platforms and portals to facilitate online transactions safely and securely. Meanwhile, marketers concentrate on telling strong brand stories to increase sales and build customer loyalty. While both teams have similar goals when it comes to increasing a company’s business, their efforts are often siloed. They don’t realize the benefit of integrating efforts closely in order to create bottom-line business impact.

Like Seeing Double

Studies have shown that 60% of marketing and commerce teams operate in silos -- reporting to separate managers and using separate technology platforms to create customer experiences on a company’s website. While common across companies, this siloed strategy can lead to major issues. For example, brands whose marketing and commerce teams are not integrated suffer from something called “two-site syndrome” -- where the branded content portion of the website feels disconnected from the purchasing section. It’s almost as if they are two different sites altogether. And consumers notice.

Two-site syndrome disrupts the path to purchase and leads to lost conversion opportunities and lost revenue. Even worse, it creates a disjointed experience for site visitors -- which is hugely detrimental to creating and keeping loyal customers.

A recent study found that brands whose commerce and marketing teams operate independently feel less confident that their collaborative efforts will positively impact conversions. Those same brands also suffered a negative impact on product development metrics, with a 24 percent slower time to market. What’s more, companies with disparate marketing and commerce teams struggle to merge important streams of customer data into one unified platform. Disconnected data points collected on separate technology systems weaken customer profiles, making it harder to implement best-practice features like content personalization on your company’s website.

A Marriage of Minds

But there is hope for companies who have, to this point, kept marketing and commerce in separate areas. To prevent a negative impact on product development and user experience metrics, companies should implement a unified platform for both the marketing and commerce integrations online. A unified platform ensures that both sides of the site operate in tandem -- and that consumers can seamlessly move from one section to the other.

As evidenced by Gartner’s recent ranking of Web Content Management platforms, brands have started to take notice and make actionable changes toward integrating the two teams in the year ahead. Within Gartner’s report, the platforms that provided greater overall value throughout the entire digital experience performed better than specialized tools focused solely on content management.

I believe 2015 will be the year of marketing-commerce integration. Brands will take serious steps to intertwine their marketing and commerce departments, find unified tools that fit the needs of both parties, and structure their organizations in a way that both of these departments report to a common executive. ​

Title image by Stephen D (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license