Marketing Operations and Operational Process blog series
Series introduction: Marketing Operations is a complex mixture of people, processes, and technology all working together to prove - and improve - the value of marketing to your company, your customer, and your employees. While the technology and people components of this “Marketing Operations Triangle” get a lot of attention, Operational Process deserves much more focus as a driver of value. In this blog series, we’ll be giving it the attention it so richly deserves.
The UK telecommunications company O2 is a great example of how improved operational processes can not only drive efficiency but also enable a marketing team to free up time for higher-value marketing tasks. O2 went from having non-standardized approaches to campaign management that were creating many problems (more on those later) to a streamlined process that resulted in:
- a 27% increase YoY in the number of campaigns executed, and
- 100% accuracy in campaign execution.
Campaign management challenges
O2 had a small team managing all sorts of operational requests – campaign execution, peer reviewing of campaigns, building out assets and campaign flows in Eloqua, changing lead management processes, and much more. The team did anything and everything related to campaign execution, data, marketing operations, and automation. They’d receive requests from two different business units, typically via email or a quick phone call saying, “can you just do this for us now?”
The problem was that these requests didn’t have a structured process behind them to ensure: (1) a clear direction and time frame for executing the brief and (2) all the information and resources needed to execute the request were included with the brief.
“The briefs they received were so dramatically different. Some requests came with lots of details and relevant resources/assets,” says Rebecca Clark, Customer Success Manager at Sojourn Solutions, who worked with the O2 team on improving the process, “while others did not. The timeframes for delivery could be all over the place too.”
The O2 team simply didn't have the resources to manage it all, and they lacked enough budget to outsource the work. In fact, the team’s budget was being reduced. O2’s campaign management, especially in light of how requests and briefs were being handled, just wasn't working as efficiently as it could have.
Setting expectations with the business units making requests was a massive and time-consuming challenge, and so was managing the team’s budgets, priorities, and schedules. The team would sometimes run out of budget for the month in the middle of the month and then had to seek authorization to spend more. Their operational processes clearly needed to change around campaign management.
The change: Streamlining campaign management
Due to the sheer volume of the O2 team’s work, much of it unplanned for requests, the team just weren’t able to prioritize work and schedule campaigns effectively. They finally decided they needed a new process and a more supportive infrastructure around campaign management.
Fortunately, O2’s Campaign Program Manager, Nicky Clarke, had a solid background in project management so she understood the need for and challenges around driving improvement of operational processes.
O2's Clarke sought to implement a streamlined process that not only allowed the team to see how their budget was being spent, but also ensured that the briefs and requests coming in had a specific process and quality standard supporting them.
“We introduced the O2 team to Smartsheet, which is a project planning tool,” says Sojourn’s Clark. “You can have forms and attachments within a Smartsheet, and the form is submitted by the person requesting the work.”
The requester has to fill in certain fields and then complete a detailed brief that's attached. So it’s an automated process where updates get made, and where each request gets allocated to the right resource with a realistic time frame for executing the work. “That approach with Smartsheet gave the O2 team a more structured approach to requests and briefs,” says Clark.
Adoption of the solution took some time, as the people making the requests were used to just picking up the phone or sending quick “request” emails. They were told to make requests using the new process. “The O2 team became really good at telling business units that they needed to follow the new operational process in order to make a request,” reports Clark, “and it made the team’s workflow so much easier.”
Results: Campaign efficiency & enhanced capabilities
With the new process in place, and despite a decreasing budget, the O2 team was able to increase the number of campaigns it executed by 27% YoY. The effectiveness of those campaigns increased too, some of that due to better briefs that helped inform more effective asset/content creation.
There was also a huge time saving by having everything in one place and not having to chase down missing pieces of a brief.
The team could actually plan their days and their weeks, because the requests were coming from one place with one standard process. “The new, streamlined campaign management process freed up the O2 team’s time to actually consider how they could manage their workload even better,” says Sojourn’s Clark. “They started asking, ‘are the processes behind the things we do as good as they could be?’” The streamlined process freed up some of their budget too, so they could analyze their tech and consider bringing in more effective tools.
O2’s Nicky Clarke summarized O2’s operational process improvement journey this way:
“We saw a huge increase in the volume of work coming into our team and our budget decreased by 50% at the same time, so this meant we had to optimize the way we worked in order to prioritize what we were doing and deliver more with less. We re-organized our team internally and upskilled their capabilities. We worked with Sojourn to introduce Smartsheet for brief logging and workflow management within our team and cross-functionally with our external agencies. It’s made a big difference. Now we’re constantly reviewing processes and optimizing ways of working in weekly collaboration sessions.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how to increase the efficiency - and effectiveness of your campaign production or other marketing operations related processes, contact us today.