As a DemandGen Campaign Operations Specialist working with our clients’ marketing automation systems, I see a lot of unique set-ups. It’s like a science fiction story: you visit other planets, all the building blocks required for life are present, but on each planet, life has evolved differently in strange and magnificent ways. And just like in life, some of those evolutions are more successful than others!. . .and some are downright scary.
Over time, working with many different accounts, I’ve come to the conclusion that simplicity rules. At times people build systems, campaigns, and programs that are overly complex and don’t make a lot of sense to anyone outside the team. Those kinds of situations require lots of figuring out and explaining and creating documentation to provide to partners like us, not to mention extensive training and lengthy ramp-up times for new hires. There’s always a way to simplify.
If you need an Alka-Seltzer after looking at your production process, it’s probably time to clean house. Here are my top 5 tips for refining your production process for greater efficiency and scalability.
- Use dedicated, centralized resources.Keep all supporting documents (segment/smartlist guide, asset build guides, campaign setup guide, branding, etc.), clear and to the point. Don’t overcomplicate with overlapping content. Try to update documentation whenever changes are made to your processes. They should be clear enough for anyone who’s never been in your instance before to follow and understand, and if not, both the documentation AND the process need refinement! Consolidate all your documentation into one central repository. You’ll find that doing so not only allows users to efficiently find the help they need, but also allows you to see where steps can be streamlined, duplications eliminated, and confusion cleared away.And “resources” means your people, too. Keep the production of new campaigns limited to a select few on your team. They will know the right questions to ask your Sales or Marketers when requests for new campaigns are made with any missing information or details. They will also know how to deal with any nuances in the build process and/or translate information provided in campaign requests into the correct logic for your marketing automation platform. Ultimately, this approach reduces the risk of user error, which brings us to the next point. . .
- Limit user permissions.Too many cooks spoil the broth! Trust me on this: if you give access to everybody, they make a giant mess of things: overwriting emails, altering campaign rules, messing up data collection. Limit permissions for each function to those who know what they are doing in that area.
- Implement naming conventions.Establishing and sticking to logical naming conventions has enormous impact on reducing the complexity of your systems; it surprises me that so many companies don’t implement strict conventions sooner. You should be able to know exactly when, where, and what type (to name a few basics) of campaigns from the details used in the naming convention. If you plan on including graphics or documents specific to the campaign you are building, use a similar naming convention for those as well. Additionally, If you align your foldering structures with your naming conventions, you will easily be able to find campaigns and assets without having to try and figure out what made sense at the time they were created.
- Standardize how project requests are submitted.In the old days of marketing, when people wanted a marketing piece like a brochure, they would fill a printed form with all the relevant information. But now, just because everything’s electronic, sales reps or field marketers anywhere in the world randomly email you all sorts of copy, images, links and whatever they think you need for their campaigns. After a while, they get complacent with their method of submitting things to you, but that approach is simply not scalable. How long would it take you to train someone so that they would be able to make sense of that process? Instead, use a project management tool or ticketing system that allows you to attach documents, add notes, and send notifications. Such a system will keep all communication and assets for each campaign together and make it easy to review. Another option would be to create a shared folder in Box or Google where you can share and update documents. Create subfolders for each campaign you are working on to keep everything in order.Make sure all necessary information is provided at the time of the request. Requestors can be eager to get their campaigns up and running, but may not always do their due diligence and provide the details you need to properly set up the campaigns (like routing or scoring leads), and might expect you to fill in the details. If you are using a ticketing system, try making these fields required.
- Don’t isolate yourselfDon’t be afraid to reach out and become part of the MA community—a wealth of knowledge is out there. What do other people suggest; what do they tell you can be done? Scour the MA online community for topics relevant to what you are doing, and for similar solutions. Why reinvent the wheel and waste your own time when others may have already come up with ways to do the same thing? Even if you are doing something innovative or outside the norm, asking around helps bring attention to that issue. Some of the vendors listen to suggestions and try to implement changes based on user votes. The MA providers and some of the leading vendors like DemandGen offer live and recorded webinars that are often very useful and enlightening.One caveat: you may run into surprising resistance when you begin to make changes to your established processes, even if the improvements will clearly benefit everybody. Why is that? I’ve found that sometimes people spend so much time and effort building programs that they don’t want to change them; this is what they built and know and worked so hard to create, and now you’re saying you can do it better? They can be very uncomfortable with alterations to processes and systems that are familiar. In these environments, just start chipping away at it by taking advantage of the resources that your vendors provide, whether MA, CRM, webinar, or service providers like DemandGen.
A vendor like DemandGen, that provides production support via our own process, can be very helpful here. A new client walks us through how everything is done, how the data is being moved, what fields are used, how everyone submits projects, what templates are used, and the like. Based on that information, we build a way for them to submit the projects to us—and over time we slowly start to inject suggestions and streamline processes with best-practice approaches. Eventually, a more efficient process emerges!
Adam Mokrzecki is a DemandGen Campaign Operations Specialist who supports the marketing efforts for multiple client accounts. A Jack-of-all-trades, Adam is Eloqua Partner Certified and a Marketo expert with extensive experience in campaign strategy and execution, lead management, reporting and analytics, email and landing page development. Adam has a keen sense for problem solving, quickly finding and implementing solutions to any challenges keeping clients from reaching their marketing goals.