A 4-step guide to creating a self-service marketing organization
Self-service marketing increases efficiency, gives marketers more skills and lets marketing operations focus on strategic issues.
Marketing operations teams have a big problem with staff burnout and turnover. Among the many reasons for this is the amount of time spent doing the same tasks over and over for different campaigns. Fortunately, there is a solution — one that resides entirely in MOps itself.
And what is that solution?
“Self-service, something that I really think is a huge missed opportunity for many marketing operations teams,” said Justin Sharaf, vice president of marketing operations at data intelligence company Collibra. “The best way to be more productive yourself is to train others to do their own work and do their own work better. This is what I mean by self-service.”
In other words, get the marketers up to speed on these basic things they need so they can take care of it for themselves. This increases efficiency for both marketers and marketing operations. For marketers there’s less time spent waiting for someone else to do the thing they need to do their job. For MOps it means more time they can spend on strategic issues.
“If you’re looking to advance your career in marketing operations and get out of the execution and into the strategy,” said Sharaf, speaking at The MarTech Conference, “looking at self-service options for your marketers can really get you on your way.”
Here are four things you need to focus on to “really make self-service pop for your organization.”
- Robust QA process
- Access management
Training is essential, but it isn’t enough. No matter how good the training, many people won’t come out of it completely ready to execute. Things will be forgotten or misremembered. As a result some steps don’t get done or get done in the wrong order. Either way, the result is the same: It doesn’t work.
That’s why you have to document what you want them to do and how to do it.
“You can use Confluence or Wiki or SharePoint as an encyclopedia of knowledge for your marketers,” said Sharaf. “You can teach them and train them on what they need to do to be able to utilize Marketo or Eloqua HubSpot themselves. [That way they’re] using your team as a support mechanism rather than using your team as an execution mechanism.”
This is really important for marketing operations professionals trying to move from execution to strategy and advance their career. This is a piece that I think a lot of marketing operations professionals are able to take advantage of and many are not.
For Sharaf enablement means two things: reference and support.
“Enablement to me is the most important thing that marketing operations can do for the marketing organization,” said Sharaf. “Because the more you enable others, the more time that marketing operations professionals can focus on more strategic projects and advancing the goals of the marketing organization.”
Documentation is one part of reference, the other is recordings of regular trainings. “You want to constantly be doing trainings and recordings so that new people in the organization are able to access the information they need for self-service solutions,” he said.
Support means being available to answer users questions, but need to set boundaries around that. If you don’t, you encourage them to contact you about anything at any time. That undermines their ability to “stand on their own” with marketing tools.
The solution is setting up regular office hours — like a professor does — when people can come and ask questions about things you’ve previously trained them on. These can be weekly or daily. That depends on the size of your group and the needs of the organization.
“Showing them how to do these things through regular trainings and then answering their questions through office hours is a great way to get them up to speed quickly and also keep them up to date with what you’ve been up to more recently,” Sharaf said.
3. The QA process
“One thing marketing automation professionals miss when they’re doing self-service is they don’t have a great QA process and they don’t have a great go-live process,” he said. “They do all the training in the neighborhood and they just send the marketers on their way. Then the marketers make some mistakes and you think, ‘Oh man, I don’t want them to do it anymore because they’re making mistakes.’”
Don’t do that.
Instead, create a robust QA process. Have the marketers do the self-service by building the email, landing page, program, etc. Then, have your team confirm it’s ready before it goes live.
“A robust QA process makes the marketers feel more comfortable, makes you feel more comfortable, and gives you a lot of time to focus on other things rather than building and rather than worrying about something going wrong after the fact,” Sharaf said.
4. Access management
Access management is key to protecting both you and your users. Everybody needs access to the level of their skills and no further.
“You don’t want a beginner to be able to make edits to your database,” he said. “[Proper access management] limits the risk of mistakes being made and allows you to progress users through the access process. So, as they become better they get more access and more autonomy to be able to do more with the marketing automation platform.”
Most marketing automation tools let you create different roles for different users. Sharaf suggests having beginner, intermediate and expert roles. Not only does this limit access appropriately, it lets you know how well your training is going.
“If we see too many people in the beginner role, it means that we’re not doing our job training them,” Sharaf said. “If we have too many in the expert role, it probably means that we’re being a little too little, too flexible in allowing people to get through to that expert role.”
Self-service takes work but it’s a win/win proposition. Marketers get more skills and you get more time to help the organization and yourself by working on bigger picture issues.
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