Contributed by Guest Blogger, Shawn Herring, VP of Marketing, Proof HQ
The evolution of customer experience is a topic that marketers cannot ignore any longer. It seems as if customers are exposed to a new way of doing something, finding something, or interacting with someone on a daily basis. From a customer standpoint, this is great. From a marketers standpoint, this poses an opportunity for some and a problem for others. What makes the difference between a marketer seeing the glass half full or half empty when it comes to customer experience? Their marketing agility.
Before we dive in, what are some macro-level changes causing changes in customer experience?
- Global smartphone usage increasing more than 25% from the year before
- More than 74% of adults online are now using social networking
- Content production is continuing on an explosive growth curve
The constant change in mobility, connection, and content gives you an ever-growing number of ways to gather data and engage as a marketer. This can happen in real-time and either confirm that your plans are headed in the right direction, or tell you it’s time to “tweak” what you wanted to do. If you have the ability to capitalize on this, then you are clearly at an advantage. This is where agility becomes paramount.
After stepping back and looking at how agile marketers have responded to the ever-changing environment, most marketing teams are focusing on three core areas: people, processes, and platforms. Each area requires a different type of adjustment that has internal and external implications, so there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution that everyone can implement. It must be tailored to each company’s objectives, target market, and resources.
Marketing teams are taking on more responsibilities and the roles are becoming more specialized. When you look around at your own marketing team, you should be able to see it. Is everyone on the team capable of making changes to the website, running a trade show event, designing graphics, and writing up thought leadership? If your answer is, “yes, everyone on my team could do that,” my challenge to you would be — should they?
Each marketing channel, especially in digital, requires a depth of knowledge in order to make it truly effective. People should know WHAT they are doing, WHY they are doing it, and HOW they do it. More often than not, managers are providing the WHAT and WHY, while waiting for the generalists to figure out the HOW. Without specialization, generalists are having to figure out the HOW every time they attempt to complete the task / initiative. Thus giving you both an inefficient process and ineffective results.
My recommendation — Figure out how each person on your marketing team can specialize in a function that is tied to your overall marketing objectives. It will pay off in both the short and long term.
When the environment around people changes, it inherently changes how they work with others (i.e. the process). The manner in which today’s marketing organizations plan, iterate, and execute on projects has already changed and is not going to stop any time soon. Why does this matter? Because it increases the potential of friction between people.
By definition, more friction means more resistance. Friction is increased when you constantly try to do the same thing over and over while everything else is changing. The result is poor quality, increased rework, and/or missed deadlines. Instead, look at each initiative through a new lens and determine what needs to change with your process based on the other variables impacting it.
My recommendation - Reduce friction by assigning specific responsibilities to people and have a plan that is adapted to the current initiative. Never accept the response “this is how we have always done it.”
When you begin to understand who should be working on something (i.e. the people) and how they should be doing it (i.e. the process), you can now work toward automating it. From marketing operations all the way through the creative process, there are software solutions designed to streamline specific solutions.
So if there are solutions for all types of problems that marketers are facing, what is the issue? Picking the right solution to implement, not just the familiar one. Everyone has heard the phrase, “If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.” This is the unfortunate truth when executing on marketing strategies. Teams constantly try to figure out how to make their existing systems work to fit the new and evolving needs of the people and processes. Since it is hard to justify allocating resources away from immediate top line growth, teams absorb the inefficiencies. If it is not addressed, this inefficiency builds project after project until… well, you know where I am heading with it.
My recommendation - Once you specialize roles (or at least certain functions) and begin implementing a process that is adapted for each project, look for a system that fits your specific team needs. Do not settle.
Becoming more agile in today’s marketing environment is imperative. Marketing agility is a must have as teams are required to know more, do more, in less time, and achieve better results. By taking a proactive approach to your people, processes, and platforms, your team’s ability to capitalize on the new customer experience is significantly improved.