You probably have a few different circles of friends. No, I’m not talking about Google+ circles or those elementary school classmates you haven’t seen in decades but have friended on Facebook. I mean groups of people you actually socialize with on a regular basis. Perhaps you have your book club buddies and your shopping gal pals. You get something out of each of these groups, such as a different take on the latest best-seller or which stores will have the best sales over the weekend. With those circles, the benefits really don’t overlap that much, so you probably wouldn’t think of asking your book club where to shop or your shopping group what they think about that wild plot twist.
This dynamic likely also occurs in your work life. You have various partners and vendors who all serve a particular purpose that benefits your company. Your schedule is probably filled with calls to each of the vendors to check in on campaign performance, receive updates on new product offerings, and review overall infrastructure. Having been on the vendor side for most of my career, I understand how these meetings benefit the client’s business and strengthen the vendor-to-client bond, but it may be time to rethink how you interact with these groups.
In the past, it may have been up to you and your team to connect the core offerings of your partners into something useful. By “connect” I mean conceptualize, design, program, test, implement, and review…the whole shebang. For example, you would discuss how to optimize product pages and the checkout process with your e-commerce platform provider and then, in a separate discussion, talk to your email service provider about how to trigger emails to shoppers who are abandoning while shopping and checking out. Connecting those dots was up to you and your team. Not only does that translate into a lot of work for you and your team, but you would probably also miss some efficiencies in the implementation, resulting in a less-than-optimal solution.
While attending several e-commerce conferences this year, I have been blown away by the ways various marketing platforms are now working together. Your partners have been busy building bonds through turnkey integrations, apps, and other automated processes. I’m equally shocked by how many retailers are not taking advantage of these connections. It’s like your book club and shopping gal pals got together for a fun night out and are dancing away in da club and you are sitting outside in your car. It’s time for you to get in on the fun.
This is where a group therapy session between you and your partners will bring all of the orbiting circles together to find some overlapping strengths. Forgo formality and let your partners put an agenda together that highlights how to get the most from the combination of solutions. Your instinct may tell you that this sounds like an opportunity to be sold something. More likely, though, there are already tools available to you, that you’re not using, which will make your life easier and drive sales.
With the first half of 2014 behind us and the holiday madness already starting to rumble, now is the time to start these conversations. Who wants to launch something new in the middle of the busiest time of year? As part of your early holiday planning, identify areas where you are spending too much time, such as building segments, analyzing data, or testing triggered messages. Make a list of those strategies you just haven’t had the time to launch, such as product page abandonment reminders or an extended post-purchase series. Share these topics with your partners and let them do the heavy lifting to find ways they can work together to help you.