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Marketing Planning, Collaboration Tools Grow In Importance As Companies Strive To Increase Efficiency & Impact

Featured Marketing Planning, Collaboration Tools Grow In Importance As Companies Strive To Increase Efficiency & Impact

B2B marketing teams continue to strive towards increasing their overall efficiency to produce programs that drive pipeline. Research from Salesforce shows that high-performing marketing teams are 12.8x more likely than underperforming teams to heavily coordinate efforts between touch points.

To accomplish this, companies such as Hitachi Vantara, Paycor and Centrify are successfully leveraging marketing planning and collaboration solutions for better efficiency in a digital workplace that can be easily measurable.

“I’ve been trying to push all the vendors in this space to talk towards the marketing performance management and optimization side of the business,” said Rusty Warner, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “It ultimately gives users that reconciliation with the financial aspects, but it should also feed in to the [campaign] ideation and strategy as well.”

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Industry experts noted that, with growing expectations to improve marketing efficiency and impact on the business, organizations are turning to marketing planning and collaboration tools such as Allocadia, Workfront, Slack and others to gain a holistic view of how marketing time, bandwidth and budget is being spent, what content and programs its producing and how that all is impacting buying decisions throughout the sales funnel. This insight is then being leveraged by progressive B2B organizations to pivot marketing spend towards the campaigns and programs that are driving better business.

“The planning/collaboration aspect is where most enterprise organizations struggle,” said Brent Bird, Director of Integrated Marketing Programs at Workfront. “That's why you're seeing tools like Slack being so popular because they’re tying disparate teams together. When people come to us and look to us, primarily the biggest thing we're able to help them with that concept of that connection to collaborate and working through one system.”

Experts added that the growing popularity of these solutions can be attributed to their pivot from focusing strictly on financial, ERP-like workflows and becoming more modular to meet the needs of marketing teams.

“With the [vendors] still competing, they’ve become more modular and user friendly,” said Warner. “Marketers now don’t have to buy the whole stack; I can buy the financial planning or content planning, for example. They are now adapting to the marketer’s workflow versus imposing a workflow on them.”

Warner added that when you combine these capabilities with the modular approach, “it creates this wonderful window of opportunity where the vendors don’t have to do everything and meet their buyers specific needs.”

This modular approach leads to many MRM solutions integrating and partnering with one another, such as Allocadia’s partnership with Workfront. Strong partnerships with core marketing automation and CRM providers are also having a positive impact on MRM adoption, according to Warner.

“Planning has been more associated with email and campaign planning versus marketing on a holistic basis,” said Warner. “All of these [MAP and CRM] vendors are partnering with marketing planning and collaboration vendors after realizing that there is a necessity in the market.”

Project Management, Collaboration Tools Helping Maximize Marketing Investment

While tying budget to bottom line revenue is a crucial factor in proving marketing programs are driving results, maximizing your human and financial resources to the best of your ability is also vital. To accomplish this, marketing teams such as Paycor and Centrify are using marketing collaboration tools to streamline content production and other workflows and guarantee budget spent is being used efficiently.

Paycor uses Workzone, a project management solution, to help coordinate content production for the multiple campaigns the team runs. Disciplined planning from a content perspective helps the marketing team produce only the content it needs to fuel campaigns, preventing budget waste on one-off static pieces of content.

“In order to hit numbers, we need more content,” Alex Schutte, Head of Digital Marketing Strategy at the payroll and HR solutions provider Paycor. “Our whole content strategy begins a quarter in advance with a quarterly planning process. We also have group brainstorm meetings. Then, based on marketing manager requests, we'll create specific content to meet their needs.”

Having a deeper view into ongoing and future projects positions Schutte’s team to streamline its content production while relying on the same amount of resources. “Ultimately, marketing teams need these solutions to better understand how the team is scaling to meet content demands, to then fuel marketing demands that ultimately drive revenue,” said Schutte.

At the identity management company Centrify, the marketing team uses Slack and Workfront to better understand its workflow. The company also recently onboarded Allocadia for budget planning and forecasting.

“Workfront is the main tool that serves as the interface between campaign managers and marketing execution,” said Linlin Li, VP of Marketing Ops and Strategic Projects at Centrify. “By mapping out many of the integrated marketing processes — whether it’s a campaign, an event, a major piece of content or a product launch — we put in various Workfront templates so that people don’t have to create a process from scratch.”

Li said that the company’s marketing team uses Workfront to track progress on projects and keeping everyone accountable. She added that it usually works best for projects that have a repeatable process. The team can reuse templates that have proven to be seamless and everyone knows the gist of what the project entails each time to get started right away.

“Although Workfront supports teamwork in the way of allowing everyone to collaborate — adding documents, creating updates, updating statuses — it does create a lot of autonomy, which has its pros and cons,” said Li. “For example, my team enjoys completing tasks on their own time (versus having a meeting) and knowing their piece of the puzzle is done. It takes away the human touch in that you can just complete your task and move on to another project/task. Some people may prefer a working meeting, and others may prefer to grind it out in their own time.”

Redefining MRM: The 4 Categories Of Resource Planning

The growth of the Marketing Resource Management (MRM) space comes after a period when solutions in the category were comparable to ERP solutions of the time. Primarily, these solutions were imposing processes on B2B marketing teams that didn’t align with their current workflow.

“If you go back in time a few years, there have been multiple MRM vendors that have failed and been acquired,” said Warner. “There were various acquisitions and those tools have begun to evolve dramatically.”

Warner said that the MRM space can be divided into four separate, yet similar categories:

  1. Money: financial planning and performance management solutions such as Allocadia, Anaplan, Aprimo and Hive9.
  2. People: collaboration and project management solutions such as Workfront, SAS and Percolate.
  3. Content: content production workflows and digital asset management solutions such as Contentserv, Stylelabs and Webdam.
  4. Brand: marketing fulfillment and through-channel marketing automation such as Pageflex, Pica9, MarcomCentral and BrandMuscle.

Understanding the ‘I’ in ‘ROI’

One of the biggest benefits from these marketing planning solutions is the ability to understand the types of investments marketing teams are making into executing successful campaigns. For example, Hitachi Vantara, an IoT, cloud, Big Data and analytics solutions provider, was able to better understand and measure ROI for its global marketing organization by developing a workflow that had the marketing team heavily track its marketing investments to the dollar.

Three years ago, Hitachi was unable to garner valuable insights from how global marketing teams were using — or not using — their budgets in given geographies.

 “We have over 200 marketers in over 40 countries and didn’t have a process or concept in place to measure and understand marketing budget,” said Jeremie Audran, Senior Director of Global Marketing Operations at Hitachi Vantara, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “This was all left up to the country managers, but nothing was scalable. Ultimately, [marketing] planning is your intent and your outcome is the actual results. We couldn't match the two together to fully understand our ROI.”

The company turned to Allocadia to better understand how marketing budget was being leveraged from country to country, while also tying that information to campaign and sales data found in Hitachi’s Marketo and Salesforce instances. Audran also helped the company incorporate internal processes that make each marketing team per country responsible and accountable for that budget.

“With this, we can now give them a scorecard with how much was given to them, how much they planned to spend, how much they actually spent and what return they got,” said Audran.

Audran added that this not only provides visibility for himself, but for cross-department visibility and senior leadership up to the CMO and CRO.

“It all comes down to accountability,” said Audran. “Everything we do is visible to the entire enterprise. This holds everyone accountable because it gets looked at, at a board level, on a weekly basis — and they can see how many deals close from marketing, conversion rate and pipeline.”

With the help of a new budget analysis process, and the right technology, Hitachi is positioned to analyze and benchmark its budgeting habits monthly. Audran noted that this helps his team pivot marketing spend to focus on the campaigns and channels that are driving the most return from their investment.

 “I can tell you on a monthly basis where we spent our budget, allowing us to adjust spending and be a nimbler marketing organization,” said Audran.

Prior to launching this initiative, Audran and his team were able to only attribute 17% of the company’s revenue to marketing investments over four quarters. Now, Audran said that the marketing team can attribute 42% of revenue to marketing investments over the past two quarters.

“We're now able to measure intent and outcome and do it month to month, quarter to quarter to reallocate funds,” said Audran. “While it took us three years to get to this level, we can now slice and dice our [marketing spend] and ROI to give our CMO and CRO the information they are looking for.”