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The Home Depot® became the world's largest home improvement retailer by giving customers what they need for their biggest investment: their homes. Dave Abbott, VP of Integrated Media and Online Marketing, describes how the company is reorganizing to serve customers now and in the future.

Google: How has the structure of your teams changed?

Dave Abbott: We used to be two separate organizations: a website marketing team and a store marketing team. Both helped support one another and worked well together, but we were two silos.

Now we're one marketing team aligned by category. Part of the team focuses on strategy and budgeting, the other part on activation and execution. While there has been cross-pollination between the groups, the old .com group is now largely the execution group in charge of all cross-channel activation.

Why make this change?

Our goal is to provide our customers with a great experience no matter how or when they shop us. The front door to our store has changed significantly. A lot of customers begin researching and shopping online and then end up in one of our stores. Some customers never come into our store — they complete their entire experience online. Digital is a huge part of the customer journey now; mobile and tablet are over 50% of our online traffic, and 42% of online orders are picked up in-store.

From our customer’s point of view, he or she is shopping one Home Depot, and we have to be prepared to serve them in the same seamless way. So we’re constantly working to integrate our online channels and digital media assets with our physical store operations to create the most convenient experience and best value for customers.

From our customer’s point of view, he or she is shopping one Home Depot, and we have to be prepared to serve them in the same seamless way.

To execute against our interconnected retail strategy, we have to be able to share insights easily across the business and move quickly to leverage opportunities as they arise. That’s more difficult to do in a siloed organization.

How are you judging your success?

We're about two years into this change in our marketing organization, and it's still a work in progress. But based on customer behavior, we know we’re doing the right thing. For marketing, return on ad spend will continue to be our 'true north' metric, but with one marketing team we can add higher-level customer metrics around brand health and a better understanding of the buying journey of our customer.

A great example of this is the work we’ve done with Google to measure how mobile influences offline purchases and then make investments accordingly. We've used Google data to measure the impact of mobile search ads on store visits, and used store sales data to track the transactions influenced by mobile search and display ads. That's how we learned that in the past year, more than 1 in 3 people who clicked on a mobile search ad had visited the store. We earned over 8X in-store ROI when we used location extensions for display to reach home and garden enthusiasts on mobile.

What advice do you have for others on this path?

Three things:

Focus on the customer experience. Ask yourself: what is the customer's journey like? Does the store experience match the digital experience? What about mobile?

Don’t be shy. Discuss changes with the teams affected and ask for feedback from everyone before the transition starts. Ultimately, it’s fairly intuitive why changes like this would be beneficial. Your associates aren’t stupid, so don’t treat them as incapable of being a part of the discussion.

Remember that it takes time. You'll have a lot of knowledge transfer and teams figuring out their work streams. Push hard for change, but also be patient.