Marketing Automation: Simplify, Be Efficient and Grow
"Change is a process. It takes time to simplify, build trust and grow an efficient, centralized organization. Some people and regions are more accepting of change than others. Continue to have respectful conversations with transparency of information, track the data, and keep the priority business goals in mind as you all drive forward together."
How many times have you heard the words “simplicity and efficiency”? Now, how many times when it relates to marketing automation? For me, more times than I can count or remember. We have tried many things to help streamline our organization and our automated programs. Like always, some things we learned the hard way, and others naturally fell into place. Below are 6 items which we experienced over the years. I share these with you so you don’t have to go through the same learning curve that we did. Use one, or use them all as you, your teams, and your customers grow and change.
TIP: Be aware of low connection speeds in emerging areas and how it could affect your content. In order to benefit from this tip, you will need an open mind about industry best practices. As email professionals, we strive to keep emails short and lead the contact to our website for in-depth information. However, internet speeds can vary greatly throughout the world. In some high-growth emerging regions such as Eastern Europe, IndRA, or Africa, our team preferred to send lengthier content and include more information instead of losing their contacts to slow load times during the click-through. We also received customer feedback supporting this need. We are ‘meeting in the middle’ on this one and respecting the local expert knowledge if they need to add information to the approved content. As internet connections improve, and mobile becomes even more prevalent, we will need to revisit this conversation.
TIP: Devise standardized frameworks to facilitate consistent automation, ease of internal communication and efficient long-term maintenance. We know that behavior based automation works, but every region had input on content, touches, cadence and what message works best in their country. After creating 500 different programs based on local input we realized we couldn’t maintain what we had created. We developed standard message models for different stages of the marketing funnel. This allowed us to standardize and localize automation in those funnel stages. We also developed models and templates for everything from beta-tests, to messaging templates, to request and reporting forms. All of these drove understanding and adoption throughout the world. It took testing and sometimes re-testing to get it right, but the consistency, adoption, and conversion metrics of our projects helped prove its worth.
TIP: Take the time to talk to your peers in the way that works for them. Everyone needs the information, but likes to be communicated to differently. We had several communication channels:
- Early morning and late night 1x1 calls which take the most time.
- Monthly regional group calls which cover the most ground.
- Internal standardized project documentation which provided internal consistency and easy reference.
- We even developed training programs to help new hires, and yearly regional summits to continue learning and improving.
I firmly believe it was these open and on-going avenues of conversation that built the trust for our department and why we have become one of the leading global teams for our company.
TIP: Know when to bring in the ‘big-guns’ . Inevitably, in complex organizations, you need to bring in Leadership to get alignment for some items. We spent hours creating branded emails, but they kept being recreated in the local offices. This results in wasted time, resources and money. Sometimes we couldn’t even tell it was our company because of the different message, blinking buttons, dancing robots and off-colors. We needed top Corporate and Regional leadership to align on the priority products, messages and brand requirements. It had to be done from the top - down. Once these were done, we started seeing the benefits of centralization, email adoption, and ultimately cost savings.
TIP: Build in project time for correct localization and translation. Even English content needs to be ‘localized’ for the English regions. UK and Indian English is different than American English. And, then you have the regions with complex translation needs and specialized local characters. Our workflow had to incorporate up to 6 weeks of time to plan for translation and technical review. Once we went to our automation platform it helped with this workflow since regions can copy similar languages and save on review time. We’re now looking into some centralized translation processes to help offload this from the regions and streamline this even further.
TIP: Identify areas of redundancy and specialize the skill set. As the global demand center grew, we realized that several people were doing the same jobs. We were overlapping our workflow and creating unnecessary redundancy for ourselves. We eventually saw the need to create areas of specialization and expertise. We now have 3 distinct teams:
- Strategy development (content and alignment)
- Automation (technical, automation and global ‘help’ desk)
- Analytics (ensuring effectiveness and reporting)
We expect these roles may evolve again as we incorporate regional demand centers and we see global redundancy in the new model.
Finally, keep in mind that change is a process. It takes time to simplify, build trust and grow an efficient, centralized organization. Some people and regions are more accepting of change than others. Continue to have respectful conversations with transparency of information, track the data, and keep the priority business goals in mind as you all drive forward together.