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Focus on Marketing Automation: 5 Benefits of Content Management Technology

content management system

Marketing Automation can take many shapes and forms. It can make email campaigns more efficient, track social media responses and ensure approval processes are completed in a timely manner. In fact, the number of technology options are staggering. But most Marketing Automation solutions can be broken down into three areas of impact on the marketing function:

  1. Strategy and Effectiveness
  2. Workflow and Project Management
  3. Content Management

We’ll look more closely at Strategy and Effectiveness and Workflow and Project Management in another post. However, Content Management tends to be a particular point of pain as marketers struggle to stay on top of the multitude of channels in which to engage a customer or prospect.

Content Management from a Marketing Automation perspective tends to help functions such as page builds, Digital Asset Management, product information and copy management. Think of all the pieces of content your marketing department touches or uses: images, headlines, logos, copy, legal disclaimers, taglines and more. Then think of how many ways in which that content can be used: print, email, social media, blogs, newsletters, websites, magazines or catalogs, e-books, radio, television and more. If you’re a global company, compound that by different languages, countries and social customs around the world.

If you’re not careful, it can be a nightmare to track and control. Enter Content Management technology.

Content Management technology can help your marketing department accomplish five major goals:

  1. Helps create brand consistency. In last week’s blog, we talked about how Marketing Automation can help protect and guard your brand. Specifically, Content Management is the biggest tool marketing departments can use to help accomplish that goal. When you automate aspects of your content processes, you protect the integrity of your brand by not leaving anything up to chance or opening yourself up to errors.
  2. Manages multi-channel communications. Channel silos are no longer the efficient way to get things done. But that doesn’t mean that legacy silo technologies or processes have to get in the way of streamlining and aligning marketing messages across channels. Content Management software can help align messages regardless of channel and keep pace with changing customer demands.
  3. Promote accountability, control and security. Accountability does not have to be a negative word. It can mean that you know where everything is for a specific campaign at any given time — and that’s a good thing. A very good thing. Content Management technology also helps protect your content assets and ensure that only the people who need access to specific pieces of content are able to retrieve them. Again, this helps you protect the overall integrity of your brand when you have greater control over the content aspect of your brand.
  4. Decreases time to market. When you streamline processes and are able to reuse content more easily and effectively, campaigns can get out the door faster. The faster they get out the door, the quicker you can start seeing results and making any necessary changes to your message to make sure it stays on target. This ability to react quickly is often referred to as Agile Marketing. For more on Agile Marketing, read our previous blog post, Do You Have What it Takes to be Agile?
  5. Realizes cost savings. Whenever you can do things more efficiently and reduce errors, cost savings will follow. This is especially true when you can eliminate duplicate efforts that resulted from having to create separate content for each channel or reduce the amount of time your team needs to get a campaign to market.

Content Management solutions won’t solve all your content problems. After all, you still need to create the campaigns and the digital assets that go with them. But once those assets are created, it can help you to use those assets more efficiently, with more security and ultimately, more confidence.

Protecting Your Brand Through Marketing Automation

Your brand. It is your company or product’s personality — it’s flavor or promise.  It’s the way you connect with your customers. It’s one of your top assets. It’s critical to your success.  You guard it. You build it. You promote it. You protect it against impostors or those that would do it harm.

But are you using all the tools at your disposal to keep it protected from both outside forces and internal mishaps? Have you thought about how Marketing Automation can help?

As we discussed in an earlier post, Marketing Automation is the technology piece of the Marketing Operations cake. It encompasses any type of technology that takes repetitive marketing tasks and automates them, thereby making the marketing function more efficient and eliminating or reducing human errors. Marketing Automation can encompass email marketing, social media, approval processes, digital asset management, campaign integration and tracking and more. It can touch nearly every aspect of your marketing function.

And that includes your brand.

marketing automation

Think about how your brand is present within the marketing function. Each email needs the right look, feel and tone. Each customer contact needs to convey the personality specific to your brand. Each social media outreach should reflect positively on your brand (even when responding to negative comments – that’s a way in and of itself to build your brand). 

Your brand is ever-present in all of these functions. When you automate aspects of these processes, you protect the integrity of your brand by not leaving anything up to chance or opening yourself up to errors. 

For example, we recently received an email offer from a retailer, only to have another email sent shortly thereafter from them saying, “Oops, we sent the wrong offer code.” In the grand scheme of things, that may not seem like a huge deal. After all, the error was eventually caught. 

But what was the collateral damage to the brand? For one, a customer receiving that email may think the company is careless, and what does that say about the quality of their products or services? Or, if the customer tried using the coupon code in the first email and it didn’t work, they may have gotten frustrated and abandoned their sale altogether. Not only that, they may have been angry enough to share the negative experience on social media. That then compounds the impact of the error.

A seemingly small error has now grown and has the potential to negatively impact the brand on a much larger scale. And it’s an error that could have been caught with Marketing Automation software in place that checks offer codes before emails are sent. 

Another way that Marketing Automation can improve a brand experience (and protect the integrity of your brand) is by providing customers and prospects with relevant, timely information. If you are able to manage campaigns and channels while integrating customer feedback and real-time responses to deliver timely, relevant information to customers, that’s a major win for your brand. Not only does it deliver what your customer or prospect is looking for, thereby creating a positive feedback loop, but your customers and prospects are able to get better acquainted with your brand — in a positive, controlled way.

A recent study entitled The Digital Evolution of B2B Marketing has shown that prospects are 54-80% of the way through their buying process before engaging with a sales person. They already have a solid idea about your brand before they even speak with someone from your company. They accomplish this through their own due diligence — namely online research. If you can provide relevant information for them based on their search patterns in a timely way through automated content or sales funnels, your company will have a leg up in the sales process, and the entire customer or prospect interaction will reflect positively on your brand.

All too often when Marketers think about Marketing Automation, it’s because they’re looking for a way to become more efficient, save money, work faster or work smarter. And Marketing Automation can do all that and more (when implemented correctly). But don’t overlook the positive impact that a good Marketing Automation strategy can have on your brand as well.

Do Marketing Operations Initiatives = Large Technology Investment?

So you’d love to implement a Marketing Operations or Marketing Automation initiative, but you don’t have the budget right now for a big, expensive technology investment.

Don’t worry. You’re not out of luck.

Making simple changes to your Marketing Operations workflow is one of the most common ways to improve marketing efficiency. In many cases, revisiting the workflow or adjusting how you use technology can have a huge impact on efficiency and marketing effectiveness.

Processes can become outdated and redundant over time, so it’s important to revisit whether the initial reasons for the processes still make sense.

Are marketing leaders actually using all of the insights that are being delivered? Is it really necessary to plan at such a granular level? These are business challenges that may or may not lead to a technology investment, but can improve your overall Marketing efficiency.

improve-marketing-without-spending-money

We’ve outlined six ways you can start to improve your Marketing Operations without spending a dime:

  1. Form an internal team comprised of people responsible for varying tasks within the Marketing Department as well as IT. The goal is to get a good idea of how things are being done —from campaign concept to completion, including reviewing campaign results. Some of the best ideas to streamline processes come from those who perform them every day. The IT person can help to determine if there’s a way that your existing technology can work harder or more effectively to accomplish the tasks you’re looking to streamline.
  2. Identify problem spots or pain points. Where does the process slow down? Where do things bottleneck? Are approvals taking too long? Why? If you can identify where in the process things tend to get bogged down, hung up or derailed altogether, those are the first pain points you need to closely examine to see how you can eliminate or reduce the headaches.
  3. Question everything. Don’t just accept “that’s the way we’ve always done things” as a reason for a process to be in place. Investigate if it’s truly the best and most efficient process, or if there’s a way things could be done more effectively. This may require what we call Change Management. This is an ongoing process to help ensure your team is involved and on board with any changes, thus helping any initiatives to have a better rate of success. (Looking for more information on Change Management? See our blog post Why you need a therapist when implementing a Marketing Ops strategy.)
  4. Make sure your existing technology is up to date and team members are trained on all of its functions. There’s a good chance there are ways you can use your existing technology tools even more fully. To make the most of the technology you already have in place, make sure all updates have been installed and that team members are up to date on their training on the technology’s full functionality. This is where the IT team member can help. 
  5. Look at the results and insights already being delivered and how they are being used. Is all the data currently generated by your campaigns being analyzed and used to its fullest potential? You could potentially be missing out on some valuable opportunities if relevant data isn’t analyzed in a timely fashion. If you don’t already have one, look into creating a Marketing Dashboard where critical data can be quickly viewed and analyzed. For more information on how to create a Marketing Dashboard, see our previous blog post, Marketing by the Dashboard Lights.
  6. Take another look at your Marketing Plan in relation to reality. While it may be status quo to create a detailed Marketing Plan months or years in advance, you may be hindering your ability to quickly move on insights gained from real-time data. While you’re focused on a plan, the Next Big Thing may be passing you by. Planning at a granular level may no longer be necessary. It may, in fact, hinder the success of your Marketing department.

While technology can be a great investment that offers countless opportunities to increase efficiencies, effectiveness and ROI, the reality is that not everyone has the budget to implement a big technology solution. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do now to help improve your Marketing Operations strategy. If you’re willing to invest some time and critical thinking, it can go a long way to improving the effectiveness of your Marketing department. Plus, you’ll be that much more prepared — in terms of the readiness of your team and understanding what your needs are — when you do decide to invest the budget dollars into a Marketing Operations or Marketing Automation solution.

The Difference Between Marketing Automation and Marketing Operations

Have you ever seen the cheesecakes at the grocery store or bakery wherein the cheesecake is comprised of several slices of varying flavors? A couple slices might be turtle, others strawberry, some chocolate and a few New York style — all fitted neatly next to one another to create one fabulous dessert.

That’s kind of how we view Marketing Operations.

marketing automation versus marketing operations

There are all these wonderful technology solutions that help a Marketing Department become more effective and efficient that are grouped together under the title “Marketing Automation.” Marketing Automation, in its simplest form, is any type of software that helps to simplify and automate any repetitive marketing tasks. This streamlines the marketing processes and reduces human errors by taking the human element out of the equation. This results in your Marketing function becoming more efficient.

Marketing Automation can cover a variety of functions including Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration, web analytics, sales lead flow, nurturing and scoring, email marketing, list management and reporting. It can manage social media platforms and multi-channel campaigns. It can organize customer data, qualify sales leads and complete a campaign analysis for insight into campaign effectiveness. And it can allow for you to see the data from each of these functions in one location or dashboard (see our previous post to read more about the benefits of a great dashboard). So instead of having to look at multiple databases to see your analytics, you can view everything in one place – with the opportunity to gain greater insights into your overall marketing effectiveness and performance.

So how does Marketing Automation relate to Marketing Operations?

While Marketing Operations functions may vary slightly amongst different Marketing Departments, the main responsibilities of Marketing Operations includes marketing performance measurement, strategic planning and budgeting, process development, marketing data and best practices. It involves a close working relationship with Sales, IT, Finance and more. The goal is to give the Marketing function as a whole greater visibility and accountability in order to bring it more in line with the overall organizational goals.

In the simplified terms of our multi-flavored cheesecake, Marketing Automation is one delectable slice of the whole cake that is Marketing Operations. The other pieces include the data, processes, planning and budgeting, creation of best practices and organizational development. In our practice, we’ve broken it down to your People, Process, Technology and Results.

So really, Marketing Automation is just one part of the greater Marketing Operations whole. Marketing Operations does not exist without Marketing Automation, and Marketing Automation works best within a well-crafted Marketing Operations plan.

But that doesn’t mean that Marketing Automation always needs to be conducted within a greater Marketing Operations initiative. Some Marketers choose to start with Marketing Automation as their entry into Marketing Operations. For some, Marketing Automation is a huge advancement in and of itself into helping control the chaos of their Marketing function.

That being said, whether you’re looking at Marketing Automation as a part of a greater Marketing Operations whole, or if you’re looking at Marketing Automation as a standalone investment and solution, it still helps to go through a process of analysis and discovery to ensure you’re getting the solution that will best fit your needs.

We call this our Envision process. In this process, it’s important to envision what challenges and opportunities you want to address with your Marketing Automation investment. This way, you can be sure the technology solution fits your current and future needs, without feeling pressured to take a solution “off the shelf” or as-is and try to make it fit.

It’s a process we feel is important for any marketer to undertake, whether looking at Marketing Automation pieces or diving into the whole Marketing Operations cake.

Is your head in the Cloud? Maybe it should be.

cloud computing for marketing

 

Cloud computing has been touted as the next step in the evolution of the Internet. While you may already use the iCloud® with your iPhone® and other Apple® products to access your music, photos, calendars, content and more, there are ways to use cloud computing technology for your Marketing organization as well.  

At its core, the “cloud” is hardware, networks, storage, services and interfaces that are combined to create a service that is delivered over the Internet. That means those resources are available pretty much anywhere at anytime. The great thing is that cloud computing doesn't require a lot of technology prowess to use (again, the iCloud is a great example). And the cloud service can be completely private so security issues are kept in check.

Think about it – as a marketer, you could have access to your digital assets anywhere at anytime. Or even better, you can control who has access to those assets easily because they’re all stored in the cloud, not on a specific network in an office somewhere. You remove constraints such as time, location, space (have you seen some of those server rooms?) and power from the equation, which means you can typically save money as well. Another great thing about cloud computing is that it’s easily scalable. You can make the cloud service is as large or as small as you need it to be, depending on the size and complexity of your organization.

BrandMaker GmbH has recently introduced its own version of cloud services specifically for marketers called the Marketing Efficiency Cloud. BrandMaker is one of the leading providers of Marketing Resource Management software in Europe and has recently entered the US market. In fact, Gartner has positioned BrandMaker in the Leaders Quadrant of the “Magic Quadrant for Marketing Resource Management” for the second time in a row. 

(If you’re not familiar with Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, Gartner describes it as, “a culmination of research in a specific market, giving you a wide-angle view of the relative positions of the market's competitors. By applying a graphical treatment and a uniform set of evaluation criteria, a Gartner Magic Quadrant quickly helps you digest how well technology providers are executing against their stated vision…. Leaders execute well against their current vision and are well positioned for tomorrow.”)

But, back to the BrandMaker Marketing Efficiency Cloud. BrandMaker describes this offering as follows: “The Marketing Efficiency Cloud is a modular software solution suite that enables marketers to organize their entire marketing processes and activities in one place. The solution gives organizations the capability to manage everything from planning and budgeting, campaign development and digital asset management, right through to advertising production and logistics. Once this lifecycle is complete the Marketing Efficiency Cloud then enables organizations to analyze campaign performance and make sure the marketing operation is continually evolving.”

It also includes components for planning and budgeting, as well as creation and distribution methods for marketing plans and forecasts. The cloud service can also house all of a marketing organization’s digital assets, including images, videos, audio and other materials. Automated templates make production and compliance easy: “Tools for advertising production automation allow users in markets or channels to customize templates through the system: from creation of business cards with individual contact data to the assembly of centrally-specified flyers, Web banners, and newsletters with locally relevant content and products. In addition, tools for advertising logistics simplify internal order management and the external procurement of marketing materials such as the ordering of giveaways and the booking of media services.” 

Essentially, you can have all the marketing automation, asset management, forecasting, budgeting and planning you need, on a platform that’s easily scalable to fit any size organization and can grow with you as your organization grows. It helps make virtually any marketing organization more transparent and efficient.

BrandMaker isn’t the only provider offering cloud services. You’ll find that Oracle, Aprimo (now Teradata), IBM and others offer a form of them as well. But the fact that BrandMaker is new to the U.S. market, and that they have already made a strong impression in the Marketing Resource Management world, makes the offering rather exciting.

Defining Roles with a Marketing Operations Consultant

Last week, we identified key considerations when forging a partnership to implement a Marketing Operations initiative.This week, we’re going to take it one step further.

Oftentimes Marketers looking to implement Marketing Operations technology will also work with a consultant to help them navigate their software choices, better understand their needs and how the technology can solve their issues, and work with them through the implementation and beyond. If you choose to work with a consultant, how “hands-on” you choose to be in the process has a direct impact on the ultimate success of the implementation and your overall costs.

working with a marketing consultant

Like anything in life, the relationship requires a balance: relying too much on the consultant may result in high costs and a solution that doesn’t quite fit, while not relying on the consultant enough may produce an inflated timeline and increase the risk of project failure.

So how do you strike the right balance?

As Marketing Operations consultants, we’ve worked with Marketers in all different types of companies — from major, world-wide retailers, to financial giants, to the top name in sports apparel. Each relationship we forge is different. It’s based on the individual Marketing Department and the goals of the CMO and his or her team. But with every relationship, we’ve found that striking a balance in the roles and responsibilities between our clients and us is critical to the success of the project. By “success,” we mean getting the project done on time, having a final outcome that fits our clients’ needs and doesn’t blow the budget. 

If you look at the roles and responsibilities in terms of a continuum, with the Marketer taking on most of the work on one end, and the consultant taking on the majority of the responsibilities on the other end, the most productive place to be in terms of getting work done is somewhere in the middle where the consultant and the Marketer share the responsibilities.

Defining Roles with a Marketing Operations Consultant

The following are the different roles an MO consultant may take in terms of dividing responsibilities with a Marketer, and how that impacts the project:

Advisor (Where the Marketer takes on the majority of the responsibility):

  • Requires more internal resources because you are taking on the bulk of the responsibility for the project implementation
  • External resources (i.e. the consultant) provide advisory support only
  • Increased risk in project failure/delay because internal teams rarely have the experience and insights to do a large-scale MO implementation
  • Lower external resource cost since the role of the external resources is marginalized
  • Potentially longer time to benefits realization since internal resources are working outside their area of expertise

Coach (Midway between an Advisor and a Partner)

  • Internal resources have some Marketing Operations implementation experience
  • Helps keep costs down, while working more closely with the consultant vs. an Advisor role

Partner (A division of the responsibilities between the Marketer and the consultant)

  • Work side by side with internal and external team members
  • Design decisions made with a complete understanding of the organization’s critical requirements
  • Ensure knowledge transfer from the consultant to the Marketer
  • Minimize project risks
  • Increased project cost with quicker realization of benefits

Driver (Midway between a Partner and an Owner)

  • Costs tend to rise a bit more than with a Partner role, since the consultant is taking on more of the responsibilities
  • There is an increased risk of the final project not meeting organizational needs

Owner (The consultant takes on the majority of the responsibilities)

  • External resources implement the Marketing Operations system
  • Software configuration may not meet organizational requirements since the Marketer has minimal involvement
  • Less knowledge transfer from the consultant to the Marketer
  • Increased risk of lower user acceptance since less change management is likely to occur (See our post on why Change Management is critical).
  • Higher implementation costs due to heavy reliance on external support

Striking a balance of responsibilities with your Marketing Operations consultant not only results in a better end product that more effectively fits your needs, but it also typically results in a shorter timeframe and better transfer of knowledge that will help your team to better adapt to the new technology. After all, this is your technology investment. Give it the best chance of succeeding by knowing when to trust the experts and turning over the reins – without losing your voice in the process.  

8 Keys To a Successful Marketing Operations Partnership

Choosing A Marketing Operations Consultant

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the plunge and invest in a Marketing Operations implementation or upgrade an existing legacy system. You’ve found the technology provider and maybe have even decided to work with a partner like MarketSphere Marketing Operations to ensure the implementation goes smoothly.

We’ve discussed in a previous post about the steps needed to ensure a successful implementation. This post talked about the actual implementation process, broken down into five steps: Design, Build, Test, Deploy and Support.

In addition to these steps, it’s helpful to have a clear set of defined roles for both your internal team and whomever you’ve decided to partner with on the implementation. This helps to establish a strong working relationship — a partnership — to ensure that the process moves forward smoothly, efficiently and effectively.

We’ve broken it down to 8 key expectations that lead to implementation partnership success:

  1. Governance — strong, visible executive sponsorship and direct access to key business unit and IT leadership on all sides. Everyone needs to know that the top players are involved, invested and accessible when needed. This helps the entire implementation team know that the process is supported and will get any assistance when needed.
  2. Dedicated, trained resources who understand the business and technical requirements and are actively engaged in “taking work off the workplan.” When you have resources who are focused on getting things done, they will keep the project moving forward.  
  3. Open, honest communications. Like any good partnership, the key to success is communication. Without it, plans get ignored or delayed, and the project timeline and ultimate success can be jeopardized.  
  4. Clearly articulated expectations and willingness to prioritize. Unfortunately, not everything can be a number one priority. It’s important that all sides come together to establish a clear expectation of what needs to get done and when.
  5. Joint accountability. Success of an MO implementation rests squarely on everyone’s shoulders. And success is more attainable if everyone involved recognizes that fact and takes ownership of the parts of the process for which they are accountable.
  6. Timely action on identified issues and design decisions. Small questions or concerns can lead to big delays if not acted upon quickly and definitively. Bigger issues can have an even more devastating impact. It’s important to define issues and challenges immediately as they come up, and then tackle them head-on to ensure the project timeline and goals don’t become derailed.  
  7. A collaborative approach to solving problems. Tackling issues should be a team process. Your technology partner will have solutions that they suggest, but you also know what may or may  not work best for your team and organization as a whole. Coming together to solve challenges means that the solutions will be more effective and will hopefully be enacted more quickly.  
  8. A willingness to be respectfully challenged, and to think “outside-the-box.” Sometimes the best solutions are just outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to be challenged in your ideas on how things should be done — and conversely, don’t be afraid to do the challenging, either. After all, your MO solution is YOURS, and should be crafted to fit your specific needs. That may mean thinking about the solution in different ways or trying something new for every team member.

An MO deployment will go through a specific implementation process, but it should also come with a set of expectations for how the teams will interact and what roles everyone should play. Not only will this help reduce the stress that comes with any big organizational change, but it will help ensure that the implementation is efficient, effective and results in a solution that your organization can fully embrace — and get the most value from.  

Your Marketing Operations Technology is in Place. Now What?

A breakdown of the ongoing efforts needed after implementation to ensure your new MO software continues to meet the needs of your People, Processes and Results. 

What if you bought a new car but never did any preventative maintenance? You skip the oil changes, never rotate or replace the tires, ignore mysterious noises when they pop up and lend it to people who don’t know how to drive. It’s hard to imagine that car lasting as long as one that’s well maintained and taken care of. The same can be said for your Marketing Operations (MO) technology investment.

When you decided to take the plunge into an MO solution, you got your organization on board with the investment. You determined your needs, selected an MO software provider, went through the implementation, worked with employees on change management and had a successful launch. Now’s the time to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor, right?

Well, yes — and no.

 marketing operations technology after install tips

One of the probable reasons you decided to invest in MO software was to help you keep up with the changing marketplace and customer demands. You may have even replaced a legacy system that was no longer useful, but at the time of its launch more than fit the bill. While not every software has in an infinite life expectancy, the goal is to get as much value out of the system for as long as possible. That involves ongoing maintenance — not only of the software itself, but of your people, processes and results.

While the “heavy lifting” of the MO implementation may be complete, a continued focus on your people, processes and results is needed to ensure that the solution continues to work properly and meets your changing needs. After all, you want to maximize the impact of an investment that required quite a bit of time and effort (and budget!).

To do this, we broke down what factors you should continue to focus on after your MO software implementation to ensure a long, happy and successful relationship with your MO solution:

People:

Hopefully, you focused on change management throughout the MO implementation process (see our former post, “Why you need a therapist when implementing a Marketing Ops strategy” on why this is important), and you probably had some extensive training before the launch. While those steps were critical as part of the implementation, it’s also important to offer ongoing training as part of your change management strategy to ensure your team is fully using all the MO software’s capabilities. In addition, offer a strong system of user support, so that any issues or challenges are resolved quickly and don't become a barrier to usage.

Also perform frequent checks to ensure user adoption is high. There’s always the chance that the “doing things the way we’ve always done them” mindset may creep back in, and you want to address it head-on before it derails the effectiveness of the solution.

As the MO technology is adopted and used, you may also need to go back and review organizational alignment, roles and responsibilities again. You may find that some additional refinement is needed to ensure your team is being used efficiently and effectively now that the system is in place. Continue to do periodic checkups on all these fronts to ensure the MO system continues to meet your team’s changing needs.

Processes:

Just like the alignment of your people may be in order after implementation, the same is true for your processes. You will hopefully find that many of your processes become streamlined with your MO technology. You may even find that some can be eliminated all together because the solution handles it for you (for example, streamlining or eliminating steps in approval processes or ensuring digital assets such as images and copy are used correctly). The technology can also help streamline compliance oversight, reporting and analysis. Again, it’s important to periodically revisit how these processes are working with your new technology to ensure that they continue to be effective.

Results:

With any new implementation, there’s bound to be a bug here or there that needs resolving. Make sure you have a strong issue resolution procedure in place for your team to report issues and ensure they are resolved in a timely manner before they become major headaches or a barrier to usage. Also, additional software enhancements and upgrades will be available. It’s important to make sure these are all tracked and implemented quickly so that you can continue to ensure your MO software works effectively. There should be an administrator overseeing the updates, issue resolutions and enhancements, as well as maintenance and best practice usage.

While it’s tempting just to sit back and let the MO technology take over once it’s implemented, an ongoing focus and feedback loop for your people, processes and results is critical to ensuring the MO solution continues to meet your organization’s needs for years to come. That helps you focus on what’s ahead on the open road, instead of on what’s taking you there.

5 (Balanced) Steps to a Marketing Operations Deployment

In a post from earlier this year, “Marketing Operations Software is Only One Piece of the Puzzle,” we talked about how a balanced approach to a Marketing Operations plan was imperative. When tackling Marketing Operations strategies, oftentimes the focus begins and ends with the actual Marketing Operations software. While technology does play an important role, only focusing on that one piece of the equation will not help you strike the balance — and therefore your ultimate happiness — with your Marketing Ops solution.

The balance should include a careful consideration of your marketing organization’s people, processes, technology and results. As we help clients implement a Marketing Operations plan, what we call our Enable process, we break down the process into five phases:

  1. Design — This is where we look at your marketing organization’s needs in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish and how a marketing operations software tool can support those needs.

  2. Build — In this phase the actual software is developed. Typical Marketing Operations software solutions aren’t one-size fits all. A good MO solution is tailored to fit an organization’s specific needs.

  3. Test  — With any new software, extensive testing is critical. At this stage, the software is carefully tested and any bugs or hiccups worked out before the full deployment.

  4. Deploy — At this point the MO solution is rolled out to the larger marketing organization. The deployment may happen in stages or all at once.

  5. Support — Once the Marketing Operations technology is deployed, ongoing training ensues, as well as help with any additional software bugs or updates.

While the phases of this Enable process sound like the focus is solely on the technology (or configuration), the process also needs to continue to take into account the marketing organization’s people (through change management), processes (through business analysis) and results (through program management).

Here’s how that balanced approach should look through each phase of the Enable process:

marketing operations change management

Notice that in some of the phases, such as during the deploy and support stages, the main focus isn’t on the technology at all — it’s on your people through a strong change management emphasis. Similarly, during the testing stage, the main focus is on the business analysis to ensure that the processes that your organization needs are working correctly and being addressed by the technology in a sufficient way. 

In fact, the only time that the technology actually requires the bulk of the focus is during the build phase (makes sense, doesn’t it?).

We often hear that people are most surprised to see the focus on change management —an organization’s people — throughout the process. We’ve talked about the importance of change management before in our post “Why you need a therapist when implementing a Marketing Operations strategy”. Ultimately it’s people that make the difference between the success and failure of an initiative. This is just another way to visualize how a balanced approach to people, processes, technology and results fits into the larger Marketing Ops plan.

How to stop fighting over who "owns" big data

who owns big data

 

In last week’s post, we talked about what it takes to be a customer-centric company. One of the first things an organization needs to do in this quest is to determine who “owns” the customer. This is not always as easy a task as one would think.

According to a recent CMO Council survey, the customer is not clearly owned by a single office. Both CMOs and CIOs agree that ownership rests across the CEO, CMO, sales or is simply undefined and spread across multiple functions.

Not surprisingly, there’s confusion in companies about who “owns” the data as well.

In an online survey conducted by SAS and SourceMedia with 339 data management professionals in December 2012, there was no real consensus on who “owns” the data management strategy. Twenty-nine percent indicated the CEO, 26% said CIO, 7% said Other C-level Executives, 14% said Line of Business VP/Directors and 7% said Senior IT Executives.

For CMOs and Marketers looking to harness the power of Big Data through Marketing Operations (MO) automation and technologies, this confusion can lead to additional challenges and roadblocks when it comes to planning and implementing an MO strategy.

CMOs have recognized that Big Data plays a critical role in the future success of their enterprise marketing organizations.

In our post from the beginning of this year, “Are you a CMO of the future?”, we looked at a report entitled Outside Looking In: The CMO struggles to get in sync with the C-suite from the Economist Intelligence Unit. When asked, “What are the primary barriers that impede marketing from delivering more value to your organization?” the third most popular response focused in on a better use of data (behind strategic roles and marketing talent):

  1. Lack of a strategic role for marketing in the organization (38%)
  2. Hiring and retaining skilled marketing talent (36%)
  3. Inability to turn data into actionable insights (33%)

Even though turning data into actionable insights was number three on the barrier list, CMOs see that area as the largest focus for upcoming investments.

But when there’s confusion as to who owns the data strategy within the organization, turning data into “actionable insights” becomes even more of a challenge.

That’s why it’s important when trying to spearhead an MO initiative that Marketers work to get the buy-in and support from across the company’s leadership including the CEO, Finance, Sales and IT. Identifying these “executive champions” was one of our “4 Steps to Selling Your Boss on a Marketing Operations Initiative” and is a critical step when not only getting buy-in, but also in getting the budget dollars to get your initiative off the ground.

That way, regardless of who feels they “own” the data strategy, they become advocates in the charge to use Big Data to shape and enhance the Marketing function — which, in turn helps boost the overall company’s performance. 

"Big data or not, data management will help determine which companies thrive and which ones struggle in the years to come," said Todd Wright, Global Product Marketing Manager for SAS DataFlux Data Quality. "The 12% of organizations that are already planning around big data enjoy a significant competitive advantage," he added.

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