21 years ago, Bill Gates wrote an essay on Microsoft’s website titled “Content is King”. It began with “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” Needless to say, Gates was right in his predictions. At the height of the 21st century, it’s undeniable that content is more important than ever, and its value has been increasing as one of the most powerful marketing strategies.
The whole purpose of content marketing is to engage customers, buyers and influencers through multiple points of contact, in order to boost brand awareness and generate leads that ultimately drive sales. Gates’ “home page” era has long deceased and gave birth to an explosion of marketing channels which fueled the demand for original and high-quality content. What’s more, today’s digital users expect personalization – they want to consume the content that is relevant to them, when they want it, in their preferred format, device and language.
As 70% of B2B marketers plan to boost the amount of content they produce in the next 12 months, evolving team dynamics have made marketing collaboration harder. And content teams are feeling the crush:
a variety of analytics to consider, multi-format and multi-channel deliverables, multidisciplinary teams, geographic dispersion, more stakeholders and lack of resources.
Even if most marketers share the same content objectives, their strategies can prioritize different variables across sectors, companies or even products within the same company. Their processes are, again, diverse and may involve countless members across multidisciplinary teams.
Think about your own organization: your marketing team probably needs to liaise with subject matter experts, copywriters, reviewers, graphic artists, video producers, webmasters and other internal or adhoc contributors. If you’re aiming for the global market, chances are you need to add translators, proofreaders or localization specialists to the mix to ensure high quality multilingual content.
With such a never-ending variety of content formats, channels and audiences, your content matrix is probably looking unrealistically cramped when you look at the resources you have available to give them life. Consequently, the time it takes for marketing and creative teams to develop blog posts, web pages, email copies, webinars or ad campaigns is the source of the so-called “creative bottleneck”.
ChiefMarTec has been documenting the marketing technology landscape phenomenon since 2011: their infographic started with 150 logos in the first year, but in the 2017 edition the total exceeds 5000 tools and platforms. Over 5000.
While each tool has its own set of benefits to address every single marketing process and task, it’s not surprising today’s businesses use an average of 15 marketing technologies. For larger organizations this number gets close to 100. This includes Customer Relationship Management (CRM), marketing automation platforms, Content Management Systems (CMS), and various forms of advertising, data management, reporting and analytics platforms.
This tremendously fragmented approach to marketing technology has created some serious blind spots for companies: stressed out marketers spend their days trying to manage all these different marketing technologies, marketing managers run after approvals and disparate team members, analytics teams keep growing frustrated bouncing from report to report in each platform and finance teams wring their hands as costs plunders.
Not only is the need for more content to power sales growth persists, but also odds are high that you’re missing critical pieces of your customers’ and prospects’ stories and you’re losing valuable team resources who feel discouraged when their productivity and results don’t meet expectations.
Try asking your marketing team about their top of mind challenges. Most likely, they will not be much different than the ones on the right.
Recent research also shows that 87% of marketers don’t have an effective creative collaboration process and spend 85% of their time dealing with feedback and approvals. Hiring more agencies and freelancers to help create content only adds to the problem. Your marketing technology silos are slowly killing your company, and if there ever was a need to bring innovation into play, this is the time. It’s time to shatter the creative bottleneck.
The circulation of emails, documents or even commented paper copies between contributors is overwhelming
We have no way to make the finished work visible for others in the company if not by spamming everyone with an email or hiding assets in the depths of the BPM system, where no one dares to go anyway.
We schedule and assign tasks in meetings, emails and MS Planner but most of us still keep a notebook or agenda to keep track
We cannot manage access permissions to windows shared folders without IT so we rely on free unsecure file-sharing services
Version control is a nightmare – we end up with an infinite list of manually-dated files which often gets lost between so many archiving systems
We have project management tools process stages that are too rigid and make us resort to ad-hoc excel files
Through our experience developing collaboration projects and working side-by-side with global marketing departments across industries we’ve been putting marketing collaboration to test and identified the pros and cons of the most commonly used platforms.
While Web Content Management (WCM) systems and marketing automation platforms might be sufficient for collaborative authoring and inbound marketing activities, they fall short on the teams’ organization and planning needed for asset creation, event planning or campaign management.
On the other hand, when it comes to supervising resources, budgets and deadlines, few people would argue with the value of a good project management solution. However, these are designed to achieve organization and control and not to its actual execution, which diverges with the operational nature of marketing departments.
Also, they tend to be quite rigid, in contrast with the fluid nature of creative marketing activities. Last but not least, the user experience can be challenging when using project management applications for the first time. Poorly designed interfaces with steep learning curves will discourage users’ adoption and make teams wishing to go back to the traditional spreadsheets.
Marketing teams need a solution that reinvents their workspaces for content-abundant collaboration with the agility demanded by their ever-evolving projects, deadlines and audiences.
With over a third of organizations worldwide already using it for project or team work, can Office 365 be the right answer for marketing? We believe it can. With the right customization Office 365 is able to keep inspiration and creativity flowing, articulating people, content and tools without limiting them to the same physical location. Through a unique blend of functionalities and userfriendly interface, marketing teams can stay productive and secure, while making sure communication is as fluent as possible.
While some advocate “content marketing has never been easier” and “everyone’s doing it”, creating content at an enterprise level is much more about the flow of ideas from production to publication. Rather than a project management tool that just helps marketing teams with time-management, they need a solution that helps them effectively collaborate
Damien Dewitte, VP Solution Management DXM AMPLEXOR
As modern times demand flexibility and mobility, we built on Office 365’s foundation to take marketing teams, departments and projects to a new level of collaboration. Let’s have a look at how the perfect marketing collaboration ecosystem can have a significant impact on your teams’ performance, eliminate physical barriers and enhance business growth.
Mobile productivity: do your best work anywhere
Imagine how much more productive everyone would be if they had instant access to everything they need either working from home, in dispersed offices, or anywhere around the globe? Based on a “mobile-first strategy”, the working interface, tools and features should share the same look & feel regardless of device used. With a responsive and accessible design, users get immediate access from any device, browser or operating system. Mobile users stay productive on-the-go, having access to all their working tools, projects and features, whether they interact via mouse, keyboard, or touch-screen.
Cross-border collaboration: support global teams
To make sure their strategy is well aligned with customer concerns and product values, marketing teams need to work closely with sales, support and development teams. Moreover, marketing departments also rely frequently on external elements such as agencies or freelancers that join forces throughout campaigns, events and content creation.
Not only there are a lot of people involved in each marketing project but also most of them are not in close proximity. Having everyone together in the same collaborative space is mission-critical for marketing.
While supporting global teams with shared calendars and planners, Office 365 keeps even large geographically dispersed teams up-to-date on timelines, status and project details. By ensuring all users get a similar way of working with shared workspaces and practices, your marketing efforts become more consistent and thus improve your overall customer service.
Speed to market: instant feedback and approvals
While speed and agility are emblematic characteristics of marketing teams, it’s not uncommon that projects get stuck in different stages while waiting for someone’s feedback or signing-off certain activity. With the increasing number of stakeholders involved, the challenges of getting the right feedback, by the right person, at the right time tend to be more frequent and contribute to additional delays. A collaboration platform with instant communication tools can change the way revising and inputs are given to marketing materials. Instead of long email chains, with heavy attachments and overlapping versions of the same documents, you can easily start a private chat or meet online with the decision-makers and collaborate on shared files to secure approval right away. For example, integrated notifications and side-by-side chat while viewing a document enables direct and concise feedback on-the-spot to make sure your campaign goes live on time.
Make the most of face time: more productive online meetings
There’s no denying that “face-to-face meetings” are how the hard work usually gets done. To get the proper focus and engagement, establishing a visual interaction with your stakeholders can make all the difference.
Instead of relying on traditional voice-only calls, cloudbased video calling software lets your teams around the world collaborate as if they were in the same room. Through an intuitive interface, Skype for Business supports screen,
apps and document sharing combined with integrated text, audio and video capabilities. The virtual meeting rooms of Office 365 are the perfect environment for productive discussions and faster decisions around your marketing projects.
Fluid content creation: quick and easy co-authoring
Content writing is one of the areas where the need of a collaborative process reveals itself strongly. Instead of passing versions of files back and forth, Office 365 gives you the possibility for effective real-time collaborative authoring, through your already familiar Office tools. Users can access and edit documents even while others are editing and reviewing them all at the same time. If revisions need to be found, the historical changes to a document are easily retrieved.
Additionally, teams can also benefit from complementary tools that ease co-authoring processes (such as video calls, chat and task planners), and your content sources and outputs may be created and shared in different formats (such as presentations, reports, articles and videos). This strengthens your engagement not only among internal areas but also with external contributors such as freelance writers, subject matter experts and designers.
Getting extended teams, company and stakeholders on board might also help to spark new ideas or topics to cover. In an ideal collaboration scenario, teams can collect contributions and brainstorm aside from their real working editorial agenda, with flexibility to continually adjust priorities.
Happier users: personalized experience and familiar tools
As said, the user experience (and, in the end, the user adoption) can be a critical part of your marketing collaboration strategy. Any collaboration tool that requires long training sessions or continuous support will be ignored from start. Marketing workspaces can be tailored to each team by combining cutting-edge features with familiar tools and intuitive interfaces.
Users can further configure the content and apps they need every day to get quicker access to the most relevant information and teamwork (apps, files or links). Tabs can display a content inventory in Excel sheet, a Planner task manager or even integrate other web-based tools such as a translation portal.
Content management: faster, more intuitive and responsive
The inability to find content is a major pain point in most large marketing teams, aided by the fact that most data is siloed across systems, subsidiaries, individuals, emails and message threads. Because every document shared is saved to the cloud, document libraries are user-friendly, faster and intuitive. Powerful search capabilities also guarantee anyone will find what they’re looking for, instantly, from any device, even offline. Not only that, but they’ll also automatically work on the documents’ latest versions – no additional searching through versions required.
Visibility: foster innovation and knowledge reuse
Office 365 becomes not only your collaboration hub, but it also helps make all marketing activities, outputs and people visible so that the work that’s being done is visible enterprise-wide: the email campaigns going out, which social ads are active where, which events the company is organizing around the world, the most recent news and blogs posted, etc. This enables a collaborative culture, which fosters innovation, knowledge-sharing and repurposing marketing information within other departments’ activities. This corporate memory stays alive even after someone changes jobs or retires.
Peace of mind: keep your work flowing and secure
A fully cloud based platform means a highly secure environment that protects content and connections, even on mobile devices. Plus, no more software to install, with updates and new features automatically integrated as they become available. Marketers can autonomously build their networks and personalize dashboards or the apps they want to use. Furthermore, data is continuously backedup to ensure you never lose any document updates or feedback.
Less operational costs: maximize your marketing budget
When all your marketing teamwork is done through a single platform, everybody wins: users have an improved experience (less passwords to memorize, fewer interfaces to interact with), work is done faster and better, security and compliance are easier to assure, and operating costs decrease. And while we believe that there are far more important areas to consider than the immediate budget effects, there are three obvious areas where collaboration tools will help your marketing department to save money: travel, hiring and technology.
Firstly, from the most basic sharing features to the advanced video-conference software, collaboration tools replace the need for face-to-face meetings, which can represent substantial costs when working with people in different geographical locations.
Secondly, when a staff is able to work from any location, you have the perfect environment to optimize all your existing and new resources, developing a shared services model within your marketing teams. At last, cloud collaboration platforms reduce the financial and human effort needed for maintenance, updates and support. Entire workplaces can be set up instantaneously and overall costs for the desktop infrastructure can be reduced by up to 40 percent.
The ascension of content combined with the overload technology has generated a waste of time and money in many marketing departments. When innovation is muted and too many projects are rushed or poorly planned, it’s inevitable to lose customers’ engagement and miss sales opportunities. Internally your teams grow unmotivated, potentially increasing employee turnover.
Our experience leading collaboration solutions across industries and working closely with global marketing departments allow us to determine the right set of tools when it comes to marketing collaboration. Through a unique blend of Office 365 features and customized user-friendly functionalities, Amplexor secures the perfect marketing collaboration ecosystem. By redesigning internal workflows, we reconnect your marketing extended network, smooth the creation of collaboration projects and improve findability of marketing assets. Marketers can communicate and collaborate with colleagues, partners, suppliers and even customers in ways that were previously not possible.
This end-to-end approach represents the next frontier in marketing technology and what’s needed to break the creative bottleneck. The benefits of this enterprise-wide collaboration span across efficiency and innovation, without compromising security or budget. Teams across your organization become more productive and happier - ultimately, making the most of your company’s investments.