Process and People Alignment Is Key to Automation Success

  |  May 16, 2011   |  Comments

Sometimes the biggest benefits of marketing software come from the commitment to optimize and the good management of the technology.

Collaboration and more effective workflow are primary benefits of any marketing automation investment. Yet, with so much of our marketing happening outside the actual marketing department, marketers sometimes struggle with how far to extend the community of users – should sales and customer service have access to publish social marketing activities? Do brands and business units need access to reporting only or to approvals or creative content? What about our creative and direct agencies? How about the email or search teams?

For one marketer, at least, the answer is obvious. "We've made a commitment to this integrated marketing platform from Aprimo, and having all our internal teams and our outside creative agency on the same tools is essential," says Lisa Lewis, Aprimo application manager at Focus on the Family. "We've mapped our processes to be optimized for the technology we use to manage them, and so having key players outside that process defeats the purpose of the investment.

"We've also seen benefits of setting up the approval process so that the agency now has the power to say 'No' to projects that don't make sense or are not aligned with our broader objectives and budget," she says.

As in many organizations, creative reviews used to be done on paper via colored folders, Lewis says with a smile. Now they use annotation software built into the integrated marketing platform to maintain various versions and corrections, and to streamline the process. "All our feedback is in one place, where we can compare different viewpoints, digest suggestions and make final creative decisions," she says. It's saved time, and improved the conflict resolution process so inherent in having more than one opinion in the mix.

Lewis has seen real costs savings from using a centrally accessed platform for all the distributed users who touch various marketing activities:

  • Eliminate false starts by the agency and other creative teams.
  • Improve insight into the agency activities and time management, as well as ability to remove barriers or accelerate approvals.
  • Speed approvals and improve conflict resolution by allowing feedback to be seen collectively and simultaneously.
  • Strengthen digital asset management. Only approved assets are in the library for use, and all assets are housed in a collective location for brand management.
  • Improve capacity management of precious production and creative resources. With one workflow for all projects, it's easy to see where time and budget is flowing.

A key aspect is the centralization of all activity around the one platform. "We selected this platform and have developed a workflow specific to that platform, which not only empowers us to take advantage of the cool and important features that we loved in the beginning, but also optimizes our actual utility of the platform," she says. "We now have a set of business rules for approvals, work outputs, task assignments and sub workflows.

"And if anyone says they need a different project than the ones that are in process, we resolve that by giving them a choice," she says. "They can either pay extra for an additional resource or wait in line. Since we can tell them with certainty how long they will wait, this is often a very easy choice for them."

When Lewis talks about the efficiencies and time and costs savings they have achieved, it reminds us that sometimes the biggest benefits of marketing software come from the commitment to optimize and the good management of the technology. In doing so, the marketing department can significantly outperform prior benchmarks. Have you included all your distributed users in your marketing operations and given them access to the platform you use? Please share your thoughts and ideas on improving management of marketing software in the comments field below.

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Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP, Member Relations and Chief Listening Officer at the Direct Marketing Association ( Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT the-dma DOT org or @stephanieSAM.

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