three skateboarders
PHOTO: Lucie Delavay

Digital marketing experience and transactional commerce are becoming increasingly entwined, resulting in a new set of opportunities, challenges and practices.

Delivering excellent commerce experiences requires business alignment across all channels, touch points and devices. This takes the combined effort of three different roles: the technical side, marketing side and commerce (a.k.a. sales) must partner to deliver the experiences that achieve consistent business results.

commerce experience
The Digital Commerce Experience is served by the partnership between marketing, commerce and technical departments and resources. Testing and experience optimization must straddle these same disciplines to assure actionable analytics and improvement strategies.

Another way to view the partnership of these roles is against a more typical staged funnel model:

funnel view of commerce experience

Delivering optimized experiences will take all three departments sharing a common understanding of the analytics, testing and reporting methods used to drive continuous improvement. Each group must be able to articulate what success looks like for them, what they can contribute to the team effort and, critically, be ready to collaboratively help create new, more broad and common goals and strategies across the team.

A Common Understanding of Goals 

As with any relationship, effective collaboration starts with a clear and common understanding of the needs of all stakeholders. 

Kick-off this team effort by having each department make a clear statement of what it hopes, or needs, to get out of the combined effort. 

For example, if marketing is being measured on brand impressions, new visitors or repeat engagement, commerce and technical members of the newly formed team should embrace those goals, as well as their own. 

The shared purpose may generate fresh thinking in the team, sparking new and creative ways to move the needle against those specific measures. At the very least, all members of the team need to understand the target of others to appreciate why certain strategies may be at odds when considered cross-functionally.

Share Strategies and Capabilities

Along with common goals, the team should share the strategies they're currently using, explaining what’s working well and where they may be struggling to get traction. Include the sacred cows and pet campaigns that carry importance and value beyond metrics, and disclose areas currently under review that are potential candidates for replacement. 

The effectiveness of this approach is only as good as the transparency and efficiency of each party. It's in your best interests to bring other parts of the team up to speed, as their partnership will help you improve your results. 

Treat your communications and roles within this team as you would an upward management review of your priorities to most efficiently establish clarity on the aspects of your department that matter most.

Aggregate Visibility, Strategy and Impact

As with any closed-loop management process, the challenge is often found in establishing the optimized metrics and reporting lens upon which to build the joint ownership and action plans for improvement. 

Assuming that the goals, strategies and capabilities that each respective group brought forward were reasonably mature and well-defined, the challenge remains for the team to establish the most meaningful and actionable ‘team-view’ across the whole. 

In most cases, this means distilling certain high-level measures from each group and establishing a small set of collective goals in collaboration with the team. The biggest challenge often comes when setting specific strategies and capabilities to impact those new goals. Depending on their nature, specific capabilities and tactics may require another layer of creative resource allocation and/or development.

This cross-functional team represents a very strong organizational impact and, frequently, managing the conversation upwards within the organization will generate strong support from senior management. 

Cross-Functional Operational Optimization

If you manage to align your team's various purposes and components — congratulations! You have established a very enviable and powerful team capable of efficiently driving a diverse set of solutions which result in comprehensive improvements for your digital customers. 

Whereas before, the marketing department may have constantly redesigned interactions to improve brand engagement, their technical partners can point out that the 6 second page-load time such enhancements require fail to conform to industry standards. A better collective solution may be to reengineer the underlying integration necessary to hit the 2 second target. 

Or commerce leadership's frustration with a declining conversion percentage on new visitors can be turned around through collaboration with marketing. Maybe their running a particularly broad campaign whose real value towards conversion lies two touch points downstream. By pulling out specific acquisition profiles from the ‘standard’ measure into a separate pool, marketing and sales can track conversion against a different measure.

The Power of Cross-Functional Collaboration

As the breadth and depth of Digital Commerce Experience continues to expand, so too should the organizational profile of those departments and disciplines who manage its optimization. 

Using dated and single thread web management practices for testing, analytics and reporting may lead to the wrong conclusions and as a result, the wrong corrective actions. 

A cross-functional team who owns a collective set of metrics for this Digital Experience — as well as updated and nuanced versions of their traditional measures — can position and drive the best possible collective understanding and solutions across the organization and distinct customer types.