Marketing teams are using more and more automation tools and techniques. Modern marketers can automate everything from sending emails to scheduling meetings to posting on social media.
Technology can even automatically take care of some tasks associated with managing marketing teams. According to a recent analysis by McKinsey, 25 percent of the job of a CEO and 35 percent of management tasks can be automated.
Even though the marketing sector is spending billions on automation and is expected to continue to increase spending, more than half of marketers say they’re struggling to find success with automation due to the lack of an effective strategy. Automation tools can be useful, but you need to be careful to implement them in a way that will bring real results. Here are five tips for doing so.
1. Augment rather than replace humans
One key to successfully rolling out automation tools is to focus on augmenting human activity instead of replacing it. Separating the technology from the human element may improve efficiency, but it won’t be able to spur any long-term change. This applies to leadership as well as to other members of the marketing team.
In a blog post for the World Economic Forum, management consulting company A.T. Kearney suggested using the following three principles for augmenting leadership with technology:
- Human-centricity: Make people the center of your approach to technology and use it to support people’s existing qualities and skills.
- Full-circle strategy: Employ a strategy that encourages collaboration and providing feedback and information up, down and across an organization.
- Followership: Use technology to enhance people’s sense of autonomy, purpose and personal growth in their work.
2. Focus on the value automation provides
There’s a lot of pressure to implement automation solutions to keep up with the competition. Sometimes, it can feel like you’re just rolling out technology for the sake of technology. Of course, this is not conducive to finding success with your automation strategy.
Instead, what you need to do is focus on the value that tech provides to you and your organization. This knowledge will help guide your use of the tools and will give you the inspiration to stick to your strategy.
Before rolling out a new automation technology, calculate its ROI. Estimate the time and money it will save you, then compare that to the time and money it will take to implement the solution. Then, inform your team of the ROI and potential benefits.
3. Automatically assign tasks
Assigning tasks to employees — especially repetitive tasks — can consume a lot of a manager’s time. Automation can help to streamline this process and even make it more effective. Lots of tools can help you to assign tasks to staff, keep track of progress, and communicate and collaborate with employees on projects.
Sales commission software Performio, for example, offers a task management feature to create checklists for tasks, assign tasks to colleagues and automatically assign reoccurring tasks. The research organization Institute for the Future even built a prototype software called iCEO that automatically divides a project into small tasks and allocates them to workers. iCEO managed the creation of a 124-page research report with surprising success.
While you probably won’t — and most likely shouldn’t — hand over complete control of a project to software, automating parts of project management can help make it more efficient. Using a collaborative platform for assigning tasks and tracking progress also gives workers a chance to collaborate and receive recognition for their work, improving their job satisfaction.
4. Use data to help make decisions
Today’s businesses can collect vast amounts of data and analyze it to reveal valuable insights. This prevents leadership from having to rely on out-of-date information or pure gut feelings. While intuition still plays a role, it’s now easier than ever to back up decision-making, performance review and other tasks with data.
Modern artificial intelligence-powered tools make it possible for any business leader — even those with data science degrees — to get actionable insights from big data. Business intelligence platform Sisense, for example, allows you to analyze marketing campaign data using easy-to-read graphs. This increased visibility into your campaigns helps you to optimize them.
Capturing data in near real-time enables managers to provide more useful feedback to employees, as well. Rather than waiting for an annual performance review, leadership can regularly provide feedback. This guidance can also be increasingly based on concrete data, increasing accountability and making feedback more relevant.
5. Automate repetitive administrative tasks
According to McKinsey, frontline managers typically spend around 30 to 60 percent of their time completing administrative work and attending meetings, while spending 10 to 40 percent of their time actively managing employees. As a manager, you probably spend a substantial amount of time on repetitive tasks. These kinds of activities are optimal targets for automation.
Some of the tasks best suited for automation? Sorting emails, scheduling meetings and handling approvals for time-off requests and budget-line items.
As automation becomes more prominent in the management world, the roles of marketing team leaders will change. More repetitive tasks will become automated, and data will play a more significant role in driving decisions.
This will make competencies such as humility, adaptability, vision and engagement more important for managers, and give leaders more time to focus on the human aspects of their jobs.
Automation technology holds a lot of potential for improving marketing team management, but achieving success with it requires having a well-defined strategy in place.