Four Ways Your Marketing Team Is Losing Your Money
The marketing team is making your company money, right? Chances are, they probably do. But just because something works, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to do it.
In fact, with so many technical and management innovations buzzing around the business space these days, many marketing teams struggle to keep pace.
And in so doing, miss key opportunities to do even more with their budget.
In that sense, they really are losing your company money by making a few key mistakes.
Mistake #1: A Lack of Efficiency Due to Dated Internal Processes and Workflows
If your marketing team is like most, they’re working with a project management approach that hasn’t been updated in several decades. That means a lot of pre-planning, setting large goals and waiting until the end of a project to review work.
While this may have been successful in a previous era, it just can’t be 100% effective in today’s rapidly shifting marketplace, where a post about your product on Reddit is the hottest thing one day and your fans are all over Twitter the next.
As I’ve experienced personally, agile project management can really save your marketing team.
For the unfamiliar, agile marketing adapts principles from agile software development to the marketing setting in order to speed up implementation and increase the team’s ability to adapt to changing consumer demands.
In concrete terms, this means working in rapid iterations, or sprints, to achieve distinct goals, rather than trying to achieve every goal possible over a series of months. An agile project will include the following phases:
1. Pre-Sprint Planning: Yes, I know I just bemoaned traditional project planning, but that’s just due to the length of time and degree of unhelpful perfectionism involved.
In pre-sprint planning, the objective is to look first at the overall goals of the project, and then break them down into smaller, more achievable goals for each sprint.
Then further break those goals down into tasks mapped directly to time amounts, like, say, 2 hours for researching a market report, 6 hours for writing, and 2 hours for editing.
Immediate goals should then be delegated to team members, while the rest are added into a project backlog so team members can focus intensely on achieving the most pressing objectives.
2. Sprint and SCRUM: It’s really important to have an appointed leader throughout the sprint who can both guide teammates, act as the liaison between other teams, and ensure everyone is staying as productive as possible (One way to do that: By distributing an awesome email productivity guide like this one so that the team can effectively collaborate while still concentrating on the most important tasks).
Daily SCRUM standup meetings are also important, as a way of checking up on each team member, offering aid, and tweaking daily goals, whether that’s adjusting the goal number for new Twitter followers or writing a blogpost to promote a product.
Keep in mind that standup meetings should be short and sweet—no more than 10 minutes max—to keep everyone maximally productive.
3. Integrate Continuously: Continuous integration is a process highly specific to the development world, in which code is integrated regularly from across large teams, rather than at the end of a product build when it may be too late to fix many problems (the cause of many long product delays).
This concept can be easily applied to marketing teams in a number of ways. Daily standup meetings are a key way in which team members can keep abreast of each other’s work and collaborate where appropriate.
At the end of a sprint, the team leader should not only evaluate and measure the quantifiable effects of the team’s work, but also integrate the marketing team’s work with, say, new IT developments, new businesses strategies, and so forth.
The key here is to work as a patchwork of smaller teams integrated into a whole.
While practicing agile marketing, it’s also important to embrace a few deeper philosophical tenets, like a willingness to fail in the name of creating a Minimal Viable Product (which could be anything from an ad campaign to a social effort) and the erasure of all silos.
Mistake #2: A Lazy Approach to Company Security When Doing Vital Marketing Functions
According to a 2012 study by HP and the Ponemon Institute, cybercrime now costs businesses $8.9 million dollars per year, and that number continues to rise. In fact, businesses are now attacked as many as 3 to 4 times a week, and the attacks are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect.
While security measures are important for all teams across a business to implement, it’s especially crucial to think them out specifically in terms of the marketing team, as team members often exchange information and interact with potentially risky online tools.
Start with a digital security quiz to diagnose the team’s security weaknesses, and then taking a few key preventative measures:
1. Make Stronger Passwords and Use 2-Step Verification: Strong passwords, no matter what the platform, won’t contain any distinguishable words, and will be complex alpha numeric and symbolic combinations with both capitalized and lower case letters.
And strong passwords can be made even more secure by setting up 2-step verification for important accounts, like email, file sharing, or social media.
If multiple team members will be managing a single business account for a social platform like Twitter or Facebook, ensure that the passwords and usernames are not exchanged via email (use a password memory software like LastPass), and that they’re changed on a regular basis.
You should also have a clear policy in place for what you will do to those passwords when any member leaves the team.
2. Educate the Team on Best Wi-Fi Practices: Marketing teams often use Wi-Fi not just in the office but also on the road when meeting clients or attending industry conferences. As such, it can be tempting to use open or public networks that lack security codes.
However, doing so puts every device at risk, as many of these networks can be easily accessed by hackers. Once they’ve made it into one device, any sensitive stored information is at their disposal, particularly if that information isn’t encrypted.
Instruct marketing team members only to join trusted networks that have WPA or WEP passwords, and consider encrypting company data.
3. Backup Data: Again, this is just a good company-wide practice, but it’s especially important for marketers who don’t want to lose their analytics and leads should they lose their devices to theft, damage, or an absent mind.
Marketing teams will further benefit from using cloud tools like Google Docs so they can easily integrate their work across team members from wherever they are.
Mistake #3: Not Using Available Data to Drive Marketing Decisions
You’d be hard pressed to find a company that doesn’t know about big data these days. With the stats in hand, companies can more quickly identify holes in the market, innovation points, and customer dissatisfaction.
Or at least, that’s what big data can do in theory. In reality, big data is often overwhelming to many marketers, many of whom lack statistical literacy. Big data, it seems, is often just too big, and many marketers find themselves overwhelmed or even clogged with data, unable to find the truly actionable insights.
This, however, doesn’t have to be the case, just as long as smaller businesses draw upon the tools of much bigger businesses that can provide far more comprehensive data services than most companies could find on their own.
Take, for example, the sporting good company, Anaconda Sports, which was stuck with an older e-commerce platform that didn’t allow them to store customer data, check an order status, or provide a unique buying experience based on an individual’s past buying and browsing habits.
But re-developing that platform on their own would have been well out of the company’s price range.
Enter Amazon Webstore, a ready-made platform that instantly allowed Anaconda’s customers to have a much more efficient shopping experience.
Even more important, the company could use Amazon’s highly targeted ads and distribute their message across the site, yet still drive all traffic to their personal site for that very Anaconda feel.
By taking advantage of a third-party data and hosting tool, Anaconda was able to maintain brand continuity and loyalty while using Amazon’s savvy data analysis resources to create a personalized experience for their customers.
Mistake #4: Missing Opportunities with Mobile
It’s no big secret that we’re all constantly on our mobile devices today. And yet, many business websites are still made for computer screens, not smart phones and tablets.
If your marketing team hasn’t pushed you toward a mobile-friendly site redesign, then you’re fast becoming antiquated in the minds of your users, and it’s likely you’re losing customers—or never gaining them in the first place.
Responsive design, is, well, responsive. When consumers load a responsive site, it will automatically adjust to the size of their screen, whether that’s as small as a smartphone or as wide as a computer monitor.
This is accomplished through fluid rather than static grids, and CSS3 media queries, which allow a site to gather data about every given visitor, creating a device-appropriate experience.
There are countless tips on using responsive design out there, and implementing them can mean the difference between a mobile sale and losing a company because of poor mobile UX.
When responsive design isn’t an option, it’s still best to take a few site optimization steps, like creating a redirect to a separate mobile site. Here is a thorough guide on how to build and optimize a mobile-friendly site.
Slow Site Speed
Another big pitfall of loading static sites on mobile devices is that they often load slowly—and with each second of delay, bounce rates increase exponentially.
This is all the more true if marketers are doing what they’re supposed to do: providing rich but bandwidth-hogging content laced with photos and videos.
For this, consider hosting your site on a Content Distributed Network (CDN), which distributes the hosting of your site across many different servers, so device owners are downloading and viewing from the nearest points to them.
Begin by testing your site speed to see just how you’re faring, and then look into solutions from there.
To be an effective marketing team in today’s rapidly shifting marketplace, being adaptable and willing to learn new techniques is key.
Doing so will help marketing teams up their ROI, and, ultimately, keep their jobs.
Implementing just a few of these strategies will be a great boon for every company.
What About You?
What do you think can make your marketing team more effective? What tips can you share with our readers?
About the Author
Adria Saracinois the head of outreach at Distilled. When not consulting on PR and content strategy, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet. You can follow her on Twitter @adriasaracino.