As an In-house marketing manager, I can honestly say that my job in 2020 is much harder and complex than it was 5 years ago: The never-ending changes in the digital marketing landscape combined with an unstable economy followed by COVID-19 pandemic created strong, fast, and unexpected trends. It made me review my marketing strategy and re-think what always seemed secure to me: I know best how to manage my brand’s growth.
Thus, I decided to write about the biggest challenges in-house advertisers are facing today in my eyes and the growth opportunities that can emerge from these challenges.
The Challenge: Predicting & Reacting to Frequent Rapid Changes
In the last 3 months, our team chased its own tail with so many new technicalities: Aligning with the new CCPA, learning the new DV360 functionalities, adjusting to the new Facebook interface, claiming COVID-19 ad credits, making the most of the new HubSpot email automation features, developing TikTok strategies, learning new Google automation best practices and many more.
This left us hardly any time to breathe, zoom out, and review our strategy, long-term goals, and expansion plan, and what’s more important than that?
This made me think – are we marketing technicians or are we marketing managers?
What can serve my company the best way: day-to-day learning and catching up through webinars and articles, or reading between the numbers and imagining ways we can use this situation to induce growth to our brand? Is my marketing strategy still reflecting my company’s business goals, or did one of them change and the other fails to adjust?
This is how we resolved it
Using Social Platform’s Power
It’s always a good idea to look for other opinions and to see what other experts in your field are doing to constantly improve themselves or their business. To do so, I turned for advice on
professional groups on Facebook, Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, and other social platforms. It turned out to be very helpful and other experts happily shared their best practices with me. In that way not only I had a better idea regarding the challenges my industry experiences these days, I also made new connections with people from my own field.
People tend to take prioritization lightly, everything is important, isn’t it? We also tend to think that we can do everything while taking on ourselves more than we can carry. When I talk about prioritization, I mean actually writing it down and most importantly notifying your team about what the initial stage and what will happen in the second, third and fourth stages, in the future. It left us more time to concentrate on both strategy and execution which made my life much easier.
For every task I have or any tool that I want to examine, I always ask myself what’s more important for me and my team right now, X or Y? What best serves our current strategy, Y or Z?
Turning to Experts
We realized that we should turn to an external agency. After all, being on top of new trends and tools is exactly what they do. So, by letting them deal with the technicalities and updating our team about new recommended tools, it left us more time to strategize and plan for the long run.
The challenge: Having an outside perspective
Once a week I look at our website and think “how can I improve its conversion rate”? Then I think: Is my conversion rate good? What is a good conversion rate in our industry? Should I hustle the programmer for all these fine-tunings I desire or are they meaningless caprice?
I know one thing for sure: I wish I had more data from more businesses to learn from.
Our team is mostly trained in-house, and even the ones with prior experience got their mind fixated on our ways. We had to have a fresh outside-the-company perspective to gain new realizations and action-points that might revive our spirits. After all, you can never hear too many opinions or be too smart, am I right?
This is how we resolved it
Dividing advertising activity between In-house and agency
As we defined our company’s H4 goals and vision, it was clear to us that we needed an agency’s escort through our ambitious vision. However, we needed to figure out the formula in which we can make the most out of the agency for our business.
Pre-define goals and expectations
We assessed which marketing department strengths we would like to keep in-house, and what our weaknesses are which we need help with. For example, we recognized our e-commerce sales were stagnating and not growing YoY and knew there are many new tools and specs on the market we need to catch up with in order to increase volume. We decided to outsource our e-commerce activity while managing our B2B and lead activity in-house.
Finding the right agency
We started searching for agencies that specialize in e-commerce, smart feed solutions, and automation. It is vital to come to an agency with pre-defined goals and expectations in order to be able to validate that they are actually the best match for the job. If we would have decided to outsource our lead activity, for example, we may have gone with an agency that specializes in affiliate marketing rather than e-commerce.
The challenge: Depending on Talents
Aaron was a Senior Account manager who left the company this April to pursue a business opportunity. There are no hard feelings and the transition was natural and exciting for his career growth, but this doesn’t mean it was seamless for the department.
Dependency on talents is a real issue for in-house advertisers and can sometimes feel like moving a keystone from an archway. The decrease in productivity, voids in critical knowledge, confusion, and an increase in stress levels are only part of the symptoms that losing Aaron caused our department.
Of course, there are ways to prepare it, and of course, we survived the transition and found a great replacement for Aaron, but when the hierarchy and work roles are segregated between people but aggregated within one department, it’s sometimes inevitable to experience a rocky transition period.
This is how we resolved it
Share knowledge between the department members
Aaron’s departure left us with significant gaps in knowledge that made it very clear that we need to change the way the department collaborates.
We created a new knowledge center divided into categories and micro categories: Internal FAQ if you will. Each member must insert at the end of the week articles/notes about the things they learned this week, the challenges they came across, and how they solved them.
We all get notifications to our email whenever someone uploads something into the knowledge base so we can assist and learn in real-time and not only in retrospect. The amazing side effect was improving communication between us and enhancing collaborations even though everyone works from different locations (quarantines and whatnot).
As In-house marketers you should be aware of the challenges and think with your team about the right solutions, balancing your abilities, workload, and goals, figuring out what is missing in your team and out-sourcing it, enforcing communication between team members whilst recognizing your team’s strengths and leveraging them to your business objective and marketing goals.