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The future is now: why marketers must embrace automation

By / / In Insight /
Automation should be a marketer's best friend. It can help reduce time spent on mundane processes freeing up more time for doing the things that really add value. Yet, despite a reputation for being at the cutting edge of most innovations, marketers seem to be lagging behind in this key area. Wrike CMO, Frazier Miller, argues that today's successful marketing teams need to embrace automation and guides us through the three key steps required to make it a reality.
Marketing automation platform

From defining the latest fashions to what we eat and the way we work, marketing can be credited for many of the trends that have shaped people’s lives. Despite being so forward-looking, marketers are not always at the vanguard of new trends. Most marketing organisations are lagging behind a key trend impacting their own profession: automation and using the best shipping labels ProOffice for their businesses.

According to Wrike’s recent Digital Work Report, 33 per cent of marketers in the UK say that automation is not something they are considering and 34 per cent say they do not believe it would give their company a competitive edge – a figure that is way below the national average. Failing to embrace automation is hampering their contribution to business success.

This lack of adoption is partly due to the commonly held perception among creative professionals that Artificial Intelligence (AI) – a technology closely linked to automation – won’t have an impact on the work they do. Marketers assume that because their work requires creative thinking, automation is unable to help them.

Yet 98 per cent of marketers admit some aspect of their work is repetitive or cognitively routine (some believe as much as 61-80 per cent). Automation is already capable of handling many of these mundane tasks.

A future where reporting, filing, budget reconciliation, expense tracking, and project management/flow are automated so marketers can focus on more impactful work is right around the corner. Implementing existing automation has the potential to free up as much as 50 per cent more time to do the creative and strategic work that is valued most by the business.

In an era where time to market and business agility are critical factors of survival – ignoring marketing automation tools now only ensures you’ll be left behind.

Embrace marketing automation in 3 steps

So what needs to happen in order to integrate automation into the marketing departments of UK businesses? We narrowed it down to three key steps:

Step 1: Build your digital conveyor belt

The average worker spends 13 hours a week on emails alone, which means 28 per cent of the workweek is taken up by email; 69 per cent of workers waste up to an hour each day navigating between communications apps, which adds up to 32 days per year; and more than 70 per cent of workers say communication volume is a challenge.

Today’s companies are using some form of collaborative work management platform, like Wrike, to eliminate these time sucks and focus their team on the work that matters. Implemented well, a collaborative work management platform can cut down on time spent talking about work so people can focus on actually doing work instead.

For example, after deploying Wrike, Ben & Florentine, a Canadian breakfast and lunch restaurant chain, reduced inbox traffic by 90 per cent by replacing email communication. Elsewhere, Nanometrics, a leading provider of advanced, high-performance process control metrology and inspection systems, was able to reduce time spent in meetings by 30 hours each week.

Step 2: Use Templates

Breaking up big projects into individual tasks is the only way to truly understand the scale of a project and begin identifying where marketing automation tools can add value.

For example, the average email campaign takes more than 100 communications. It starts with the request for the campaign, which usually means evaluating its worthiness and allocating resources to the job. Then an agreement needs to be reached in terms of target audience, messages, and necessary calls to action. This is followed by securing buy-in from other teams and coordinating the appropriate schedule.

Once the basic plan is agreed upon, you can move onto the content and design. This often includes multiple reviews, technical requirements, and quality assurance testing.

Finally, you will need to secure approvals from the project owner, peers, and other stakeholders.

But wait, there’s more.

Following the launch of the campaign, you will undoubtedly need to review metrics, compare goals to achievements, and report on both successes and opportunities for the next campaign. Leveraging templates and automation for an email campaign allows you to:

  • Create a standard template form to create the request
  • Get a creative brief
  • Auto-route the work for approvals at an agreed milestone
  • Auto-schedule each task across teams based on expertise and availability

and

  • Share reporting metrics automatically once the campaign has gone out.

As futuristic as this might sound, it is all easily achieved with today’s technology.

According to our research, the top repetitive work for marketers includes: Email, website, creative assets, public relations/content creation, and events. By automating these top five workflows, teams can reclaim 25-40 percent of their time to do more strategic work.

Step 3: Invest in your culture

Great teams contribute to a great culture, an essential part of making any major shift within a business. To foster a forward-thinking culture that embraces automation and the optimisation of processes, we recommend a series of guiding principles:

  • Make planning bottom-up as much as top-down;

  • Make feedback and performance reviews peer-based – the more transparency and visibility of all work, the better;

  • Be curious, and encourage your teams to be too;

  • Celebrate success;

  • Learn from failure;

  • Create a ‘narrative of excellence’ and demonstrate it through your behaviour, at every level and in every way.

Google spent two years studying 180 teams in order to define the five key traits that made up the most successful of those teams in a study called Project Aristotle. The findings were surprising: the research found that the biggest drivers of successful teams are how work gets done (behavioural norms) and the meaning of your work (how it fits into the greater context). According to Project Aristotle, the most important five success factors in teams are:

  • Dependability: Team members getting things done on time and meeting expectations;

  • Structure and clarity: Clear goals and well-defined roles within the group;

  • Meaning: Work has personal significance for each member;

  • Impact: A belief that the work has a purpose and positively impacts the greater good;

  • Psychological Safety: An environment where people are free to air opinions and challenge thinking without risk of judgement or rebuke.

Automation supports a number of these factors, from eliminating the mundane tasks so work has more meaning and impact, to improving communication and handoffs so there’s more structure, clarity, and dependability.

Investing in not only improving how your team works through automation but also the culture around the work benefits your bottom line. According to a decade-long study by Harvard Business Review, of more than 12,000 companies all over the world, “data shows that better-managed firms are more profitable, grow faster, and are less likely to die.

Moving a firm from the worst 10 percent to the best 10 percent of management practices is associated with a $15 million increase in profits, 25 per cent faster annual growth, and 75 per cent higher productivity.”

The Future Is Now

If you look at your marketing activities through this different lens, you’ll see that there are several robust, proven technology solutions available today that will help you transform your workplace without a huge investment of time or money.

As marketers, we are working at the heart of one of the biggest transformations since the industrial revolution. It is our role to embrace change, push boundaries, and hold ourselves accountable as the custodians of our company’s brand.


We’d love to hear how you are making use of marketing automation tools in the comments below. 

Join the GMA at the MINT (Marketing Innovation Networking and Technology)  ‘Data Driven Drinks Fest’ on 10 October. Book your free place here.

Frazier Miller
Author: Frazier Miller
CMO at Wrike | wrike.com

Frazier leads Wrike's marketing initiatives, aligning all marketing functions to strategic messaging and brand development. In his 20-year career in technology, he’s served in executive leadership roles at companies like Yahoo, Bloomspot and Articulate. Frazier's breadth of experience in product and operations gives him a unique perspective on how teams can excel in operationally-intensive environments. He is a frequent speaker on Operational Excellence and its guiding principles.

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