Let’s make an assumption, you’ve chosen the right technology that has all the features and functions that you need to deliver your communications to your customers. That’s a challenge in itself but, it’s been covered countless times, so we’ll assume you have some great tech to work with.
The technology vision that you buy in to can be very enticing. In reality your marketing team is made up of people and that means challenges. Your team is never static, new people join, others leave, people have bad days, people have different skills, people don’t follow the rules, each person is different. Technology aside, getting ‘it’ right is a big people challenge.
I want to look at the three biggest learning’s I have from working with marketing technology.
#1 Technology is best at automating low end tasks
There is a misconception that marketing technology will automate vast elements of a marketing department. It’s a compelling sales tool and there is some truth to it - small features and great UI design have really simplified the marketer’s experience. However, adopting marketing technology, to leverage some of the new and exciting ways of engaging with customers, often requires more effort than previous ways of working. Let’s pause for a second; yes technology can require more effort as new possibilities and capabilities are introduced.
I’m yet to see the person-less marketing department, and we wont. We need the creativity that is provided by humans to differentiate our brands. What it can do is automate a lot lower end tasks.
Don’t fall in to the trap of attempting to downsize because you know have some new technology in place. It should certainly deliver efficiencies, and it may fully automate and remove some administrative activity. However, it should be viewed as an exceptional tool for your marketing team.
#2 Invest in appropriate change management
Change management is the transition from your current way of working to a new way of working.
Given some of what we have discussed and the rapid growth of the marketing technology industry it can safely be assumed that the technology you will implement will have a significant impact on your way of working. Many engagements I work with are adopting a specific type of technology platform for the first time; or at least making a significant step forward from aged systems, due to the rapid pace of change in technology capabilities.
Therefore, significant care needs to be given to your approach to change management. Here you may think I’m going to talk about processes, documentation and training. That’s wrong; change management is cultural. It’s mostly about communication, emotions and knowledge. In other words...people!
I once worked with a large retailer that had such an active (and positive) approach to career progression, the average time a staff member would be in their role was approximately 12 months before they moved into a new role. Appropriate change management was essential to implementing the right technology and generating the right return on investment.
Here are some considerations for implementing change:
- Identify a marketing technologist. This shouldn’t be the team member lumbered with the technology problems. This role should be front and centre. Scott has referred to it before, it’s become a more prominent role, and hitting board level for some forward thinking companies. Make sure that you do the same.
- Change management takes a long time. It is not a handful of training sessions or a how to user guide. It will take months, possibly years. Be prepared to invest time, listen and adjust. Rarely is anyone right first time, be humble enough to realise that
- Think about bringing in professional support, they are experienced and will be able to provide capacity without disrupting your business as usual activity. Change management is the most valuable activity, and if you aren’t successful you won’t achieve the return on your investment in marketing technology.
#3 It's a cycle that needs continually feeding
Realising return on investment takes time, often many marketing cycles. How long is that in your organisation; 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 quarters, 2 years?
In that timeframe, consistency, rigour and diligence are required to make sure the technology works and evolves with your needs. You, and your team, need to be patient whilst you achieve results.
Marketing is a cycle, that continually needs feeding. Technology enables us to feed that cycle more efficiently. However the real value is the insight and creativity provided by the people in your team. To make the most of your marketing technology re-invest any efficiencies in the best people you can. If you thought technology was delivering you significant benefits, having the best pilots at the controls will accelerate your marketing outputs like never before.
To conclude, we all have the access to the same technology it’s how we use it that will differentiate our brand and captivate our customers.
If you want some independent, impartial help implementing your technology. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org