Change is in the air. Of course, most things are in a constant state of change, but technology and digital transformation are driving bigger changes at a faster pace. This is impacting marketing departments across every industry. In response, three exciting trends are emerging that will help your marketing team run like a well-oiled machine, even as circumstances shift.
TREND #1: RENEWED FOCUS ON AGILITY
Markets are experiencing disruption, business structures are changing, customer needs are evolving, and your competitor’s product features are advancing at breakneck speeds. Many organizations are struggling to keep up with the pace of business today.
Development teams faced this reality years ago and responded by implementing agile methodologies that dramatically accelerated product development. But doing so created challenges in other areas. If adjacent departments aren’t equally agile, they can create bottlenecks. Today, marketing organizations are looking to boost agility by building flexible teams that help organizations turn on a dime.
But an agile team isn’t built overnight. Two key components are required: a company culture that supports and embraces change, and technologies that support collaboration, enable communication, and help teams adapt to new situations. These technologies are widely available, and most organizations have implemented them.
At my company, we’ve experienced several structural changes over the years, including an acquisition followed by a spinout to private equity and a shift to virtual events and digital campaigns—exactly the types of changes that require a marketing team that’s ready to pivot at a moment’s notice.
When organizations experience structural changes, customers worry. Our biggest challenge was helping our customers understand how our new business structure would—or would not—impact them. Overnight, our focus shifted, and we realized how important flexibility really is.
A FEW POINTERS ON DEVELOPING AGILITY
Increased agility comes with experience, so practice working together as a team to address challenges. This is best done in times of relative calm and not during a crisis. Start by ensuring you can internally communicate the changes taking place and the reasons for them.
Secondly, focus on process. Help teams understand how the changes will impact the projects they’re working on and allow them to set a new course that realigns their efforts with the latest corporate strategy.
Finally, promote cross-functional collaboration by bringing teams together for regular meetings that ensure everyone knows what everyone else is working on.
Most of all, train your teams to anticipate change as a constant and to understand that through change comes opportunity.
TREND #2: MARKETING AUTOMATION 2.0
The introduction of automation transformed marketing. Data collection, analytics, and streamlined processes allowed us to approach potential customers with greater precision. But automation is no longer delivering the necessary results.
Modern marketing teams are now shifting to tools that provide data insights and metrics across entire accounts. Casting a wider net with a greater degree of personalization allows us to better understand the people we’re marketing to and helps elicit the desired response.
Today, my team and I are seeing more participants in the buying cycle. There may be 10 or more people from the same company visiting our website and becoming involved in the decision-making process. To capitalize, we’re shifting from a qualified lead to a qualified account made up of multiple individuals engaged in a buying cycle.
My team has also started moving to tools that offer more information about an organization’s combined journeys across our site to identify what they’re researching and why. And we’re rethinking how leads are scored and how entire teams should be approached with the most effective messages.
The more we understand engagement across an entire account, the more relevant the content we serve them will be—and the more context and data we can provide our sales teams.
TREND #3: THE RISE OF SHORT FORM VIDEO CONTENT
My team at ServiceMax recently performed a website analysis that showed two of the top three most viewed assets on our website are videos. Along with analyst reports, videos are driving the most downloads and the most form fills—important in building a healthy sales funnel.
It’s clear that as people get busier and attention spans shorten, videos are the answer. They are easier to consume, and people seem more willing to click on them versus long form articles where they tend to just scan headlines and subtitles. Videos also provide more control over the content, as it can be very challenging to get everything you want to convey into a subtitle.
CHANGE ISN’T LIMITED TO MARKETING
In many ways, the world seems to have entered a state of rapid evolution. While it’s difficult to see exactly when or how we will emerge from this process, it’s clear there will be some new form of normal. Until then, our focus is on identifying changing situations early, understanding the potential impact of those changes, and quickly and effectively adapting to them. It’s time to prepare ourselves, our teams, and our organizations to operate adeptly, even as the sands are shifting under our feet.
Liz Carter is the SVP of Marketing at ServiceMax with experience in high tech, cloud, SaaS, and communications.