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5 Things to Change in 2017 to Drive Better Results

Dec 2, 2016

Claire Austin
By Claire Austin
Head of Audience at King Content
Sydney, Australia

The marketing team wants more clicks and impressions, the sales team wants leads, and the customer service team wants to know why they now have to manage Facebook and Twitter comments as well. The finance team wants a report on what LinkedIn has actually contributed to the business's recently launched service, and HR isn’t sure if they or marketing should be running the talent branding campaign on LinkedIn. No one is sharing their data or insights, for fear they might give another department something that will help them get better results, and therefore more budget next year. Does this all sound familiar? It's what's called the rise of digital misalignment!

Over the past five years, as tech, digital and data have exploded across everything we do as a business, companies have struggled to manage change and communicate with departments how they should be using these new shiny toys to improve efficiencies and drive better results. That’s right ‘drive business results’ – growth, increased revenue, that is, what we’re meant to be doing after all. Instead, each department is consumed with team KPIs and we’ve forgotten we are all working towards one overall objective. It sounds so simple, but day-to-day it’s not, especially as businesses grow. When you think about it, tech, digital and data should be making our lives easier and should definitely be driving better results, but in some instances they're not – because we aren’t sharing or communicating.

Your business is sitting on a goldmine of data. I guarantee it. Change these five things and start driving better results in 2017.

Related: The Best and Worst of Native Advertising 2016

1. Encourage collaborative and holistic thinking

Getting the customer journey and the customer experience right are vital to business success as we all very well know. So avoid getting caught up in your part of the funnel and think about how, as a business, you can give or get info from other departments that will assist in achieving results. Start by inviting stakeholders from other departments to your meetings. For example, marketers meet with agencies and brief them in on campaigns all the time, however, they very rarely invite other departments to the meetings. Your sales team and customer services team are speaking to your customers and prospects on a daily basis, so they know them pretty damn well. This is data and insights that should inform your campaigns. They know your customers' pain points, they know what type of people they are, they know when and what makes them convert/purchase. Get them in the room to get a better understanding of your customers so you can improve your strategy and develop customer experiences that your customers enjoy and resonate with.

2. Document your strategy and objectives

The next step is to document it, and agree on overall objectives and how you're going to measure them. Each department should measure their success and then share this information with the team that's executing the next part of the strategy to ensure you meet the overall objectives. Define how you're going to agree what worked and what didn’t, and what the next steps are. As agencies, we often see each department saying 'yes, "our part" ([eDM, PPC, content]' was successful, but no one is joining the dots to see what the customers' journey was, where they converted or where they dropped off. This brings me to the next point…

3. Close the loop

This is key! Did we convert prospects and are customers coming back? If they aren’t, then where is this not happening? This is where we need to start bridging the gap better between the digital world and physical world. PwC’s Richard Blundell wrote a great article on hyperlocal targeting and how it's becoming possible for businesses to achieve it. Let’s start practising smart marketing and put it into place. Before you do this, I’d advise making sure you're closing all the possible loops on digital, and that the customer experience is consistent and authentic no matter where your customer finds you. Implement tracking and conversion pixels and analyse your customers' behaviour. Then use the data to improve what you're doing and alleviate any issues they may be experiencing, such as a poor mobile experience, inability to complete transactions and unresponsive customer service on social.

When employees trusts their managers and believe in how they manage, they feel empowered and are happy.

4. Hire leaders who people trust

Good leaders should be there purely to help people work better, and learn and progress in their careers. The foundation of this should be trust. When employees trust their managers and believe in how they manage, they feel empowered and are happy. In the process, the inevitable happens, employees' strong work ethic benefits the business, and the company prospers. The other side is managers who only care about results and getting the next promotion. This style of management isn't sustainable and isn’t beneficial to businesses. Without trust, undoubtedly there's no common vision, which means that employees go off on their own and the team doesn't achieve its goals or the overall business goal. Encourage managers to spend time getting to know their team, embrace transparency and build a relationship based on trust not metrics. Happy teams foster an ambitious energy that means they'll want to do all the things mentioned above in points one and two, because they'll have a common vision and will want to achieve great things together!

5. Encourage diverse skill sets in your teams

We generally hire people who had exactly the same experience in their previous job because we think they'll be best equipped. So what we end up with is teams made up of exactly the same kind of people with the same education and career background. This breeds conformity and one type of thinking. Diverse skill sets invigorate teams, increase creativity and encourage a different way of thinking. It challenges the status quo and encourages people to appreciate other approaches, working styles and skills. Often the best marketers are people who've studied psychology not marketing – they 'get' people and they are good listeners! So next time you hire, don’t make a degree in your field or a certain departmental skill mandatory, instead look for people who have initiative, ambition and can transfer skills and teach your team something new. The more diverse the team, the broader and fresher perspectives will be and, as a result, better decisions will be made, which will impact results.

There are small changes we could all be making to improve how our teams operate to increase productivity and efficiency in our businesses, we just need to be willing to make the change, that’s the hardest part.

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Photo credit: Lisa Vanovitch/flickr

Story by Claire Austin

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