From Google glass, to smart thermostats, self driving cars and beyond, digital innovation is on the move. The iPhone was introduced seven years ago, and today we’re predicting a thirty fold increase in Internet connected physical devices in the next seven years.
The speed of innovation doesn’t only apply to the introduction of new gadgets and products. Today’s consumers turn to websites and apps for information, entertainment and services, so companies need to evolve their processes and toolsets to move faster in the digitally disrupted world of business. It used to be that digital excellence was a competitive differentiator. But now companies must move beyond excellence — and move at a faster speed of digital innovation. Otherwise, they risk becoming extinct from Digital Darwinism.
How can a company move quickly and survive digital disruption? The marketing department is a great place to start. Marketing is typically well ahead of its peers in all things digital because marketing’s success depends on being able to respond quickly to the broader marketplace and customer needs at any given time.
Savvy marketers know how to use digital as a competitive weapon, but sometimes even the marketing department can fall victim to old-school processes that slow them down significantly. Avoiding these three traps will keep marketing teams on track and on pace.
1. Siloing Your Marketing and IT Departments
Many companies view marketing and IT as completely separate (and therefore independent) departments. But as marketing becomes increasingly technology-driven, this thinking has to change.
Marketers are some of the most data-driven and technology-dependent people in a company, always integrating technology from new social media platforms, analytics and cloud computing tools. Marketers require the freedom to quickly implement new tools and applications to reach customers, drive sales and increase revenue. But with siloed responsibilities between IT and marketing departments, the process of updating a website or integrating new tools becomes difficult and inefficient: marketing needs to call on IT to execute a task and then wait until IT has the bandwidth to complete the job. Even after initial implementation, marketing still must call upon IT for simple updates and changes.
With this ineffective cycle, projects get caught up in a bottleneck, preventing marketing from moving at the speed they need to hit essential business goals. Designing better collaboration and integrating these two teams will ease the process and give marketers the flexibility they need.
2. Using Legacy Proprietary Software
Using legacy software is a time suck. For one, big enterprise vendors who offer proprietary solutions often operate on formulaic roadmaps designed to maximize their share of your wallet — only adding updates at certain times in the development process. The products aren’t the most up to date, and often can’t integrate with the newest marketing products or applications.
Marketing teams are often at the mercy of these software roadmaps, and so they aren’t able to capitalize on new technology opportunities quickly. Legacy software limits marketing's flexibility. For years, the IT department has invested in big technology stacks from big enterprise vendors, and essentially dictated them to marketing, causing marketing to work around IT. Modern open source and SaaS applications better align the needs of marketing and IT.
3. Focusing on Redesign vs. Iteration
Marketing teams should take note of the Lean Startup movement when it comes to website redesigns. Planned redesigns can often take months — even years — and come with a hefty price tag. What’s worse, while the redesign is in the planning stages, your webpage remains stagnant and out of date for a long period of time.
Marketers should focus on smaller, more frequent iterations to introduce new content and designs faster. Test changes frequently with a tool that will measure audience response and feedback, and help you get smarter and more strategic about your next move. Don’t be afraid to think big: implementing larger iterations and testing the reaction at more frequent intervals can give you great A/B data to work with.
This strategy is all based on a “build-measure-learn” feedback loop, which encourages testing and implementation of new features early, so teams can react based on real customer feedback and use cases. Implementing small iterations over time will help your team move faster to create a website that is continuously improving for you and your customers.
Keeping up with the speed of innovation is essential for today’s digital marketing teams. Moving quickly and remaining agile allows organizations to adapt to the changing digital landscape and take advantage of new tools and solutions that attract more customers, increase conversions and grow their revenue. Companies who avoid the above pitfalls are well on their way to laying the foundation for an agile, digital-first marketing team.
About the Author
Tom Wentworth is the chief marketing officer at Acquia, responsible for global marketing strategy and execution. He has spent most of his 18 year career in the web content management, most recently at Ektron where he served as chief marketing officer. Follow him on Twitter and read his Acquia blog on content management and digital marketing.
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