Marketers, It’s Time To Stop And Standardize
If you've been ignoring standardization, it's time to pay attention. Columnist Scott Vaughan outlines five key areas where marketers should set standards.
As marketers, we are expected to be creative — the brains behind the next big campaign to help differentiate our brand, products and services. And that is still very much part of the role today; but, given the urgency for CMOs to use people, processes and technology to provide clear ROI and an awesome customer experience, it’s time for a quick pause.
As elementary and boring as it may seem, CMOs need to make standardization a priority across their organizations. By ensuring standards for data, systems, processes, metrics and technologies, this can create much-needed time and resources for the creative, big idea initiatives.
While standardizing for efficiency and scale has been the norm for several years in manufacturing, operations, finance, sales and human resources, marketing hasn’t quite caught on. While we might often feel like we are on a treadmill cranked up at max speed and always onto the next upcoming launch or customer campaign, standardization is an essential best practice that yields long-term benefits, including scalability and that often-elusive ROI.
Since it’s not the industry norm, it might not be obvious where to begin. Here are five key areas marketers should start standardizing:
Without standardization, every marketing initiative requires a unique process for initiating, executing and measuring campaign results. A prevalent example is lead management and scoring. If every campaign or media source uses a different metric to measure lead quality and readiness, salespeople are confused on who and when to follow up and the Marketing Ops team wrestles with how to nurture prospects.
In this case, the adoption of standardized lead management, scoring and reporting processes across campaigns provides clear direction on the steps sales and marketing should take.
Marketing data, collected across all channels used to reach and engage customers, is often compiled in different formats depending on its source or marketing program.
For example, a consumer filling out information via a white paper download might list his company as “Ford Motor Co.” However, the system might only recognize “Ford” instead of the extended reference. Or, prospects with the same title could be identified differently depending on how they input their information.
Something as simple as not standardizing and normalizing data adds not only a layer of complexity and manual effort to manage, but this valuable prospect data can be quickly disregarded. The result: A perfectly good lead becomes discarded simply because of data standardization issues.
3. Key Technology Systems
With standardized data comes the ability to connect marketing systems that automate standardized processes, eliminating manual, human errors and precious time. To plug into marketing technologies that allow the business to adapt with evolving customer expectations, marketers need to build upon scalable, open marketing platforms.
Rather than limit the organization to a single vendor, it is best to choose a few core providers, set standards and build around them.
4. Metrics And Benchmarks
Arguably the most important area of standardization, metrics and benchmarks essentially provide a scorecard for marketers and other business stakeholders on what to measure and how to measure it. Standard metrics can be identified using outside sources like Sirius Decisions or ComScore.
However metrics are determined, they should start with agreed-upon definitions; for example, the characteristics of an inquiry, lead, opportunity, or sales qualified lead (SQL) should all be outlined in advance.
Once identified, these metrics will ensure successful measurement across various sources, channels, and assets. Without them, it’s impossible to properly evaluate results to identify successes and failures.
5. Team Expectations
In the march toward the automation of marketing, alignment among team expectations can be easily neglected, but shouldn’t be. From front-office customer experiences to back-office analytics and efficiency optimization, it’s important to consider the following: what is most important, what should be rewarded, and how the team is evaluated and compensated.
It is critical to set standards and communicate them so marketers throughout the organization know what is expected of them and how they are evaluated.
With 65 percent of CMOs saying they feel increasing pressure from their CEO or board to prove ROI, getting back to basics is an often overlooked way to meet these expectations. Without standardization across departments, marketers are left with inefficient processes, inaccurate data, technology systems that don’t connect, and more.
It’s time to make marketers’ jobs a little bit easier by taking a break from the everyday madness and laying down the right foundation. The result: more time and resources for that creativity that is needed to take the brand to the next level.