Marketing teams have a lot going on in this new economy —from having to deliver a killer user experience to staying ahead of each new “it” marketing channel. They have to generate and publish a constant stream of content that shares their company’s values, engages the public, and just generally makes sure buyers feel like their product or service is “the” place to be.
Getting all this done requires marketing teams to work closely with a vast array of other teams: product development, sales, customer service, external ad agencies, and a stable of reliable freelancers. That’s a lot of people touching a lot of campaigns and content before anything goes out.
And most of these people aren’t even in physical proximity with one another! Gathering everyone into a single collaborative online space is now mission-critical for marketing teams.
There’s no shortage of choices, but it’s easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles of online collaboration tools. To cut through the fluff – here are five functions a sophisticated marketing team needs from its collaboration tool.
1. Better Than A Swiss-Army Knife
Daily, the range of campaign types and channels expands. Marketers must quickly and easily adapt their collaboration tool to handle whatever mix of content and strategy is needed for a new campaign.
Your tool should be able to centralize critical administrative information and facilitate discussions. It adapts to anything you throw at it. Need to build a lead nurturing campaign? Manage your freelancers and their work? Help you organize assets such as images, fonts, copy points, media schedules? Your tool should be able to handle any of these scenarios. If it can’t be at least as useful as a Swiss-Army knife, keep on looking.
2. It Keeps Workflows Simple
The right tool makes building workflows easy-peasy. Most project management tools are overly complicated. Pick a tool that doesn’t require a master’s degree in logic to create a workflow.
For example, the bane of every marketer’s existence is the creative brief. They all need to answer the same basic collection of questions, regardless of campaign type. And while there’s always some variation because of campaign type, it’s still pretty standard. Building a template for a complete, actionable creative brief should be a repeatable, easily executed task with your tool of choice.
3. Conversation and Content Stay Connected
Without constructive feedback, marketers can’t stay nimble enough during campaigns. The problem is that everyone’s feedback is in a thousand places – text messages, chat, dozens of different email threads, dozens of document comments of unnumbered versions. It’s enough to make any marketer go insane. A quality marketing collaboration tool makes it easy to keep content and its feedback together.
This makes it obvious what piece and version of some content is the subject of any feedback. It also helps making decisions about the content simpler. No more hunting through all those different communication channels trying to piece together the content’s evolution.
The productivity costs of context switching are well-documented. When you can’t put everything into the same tool, discussions, decisions, effort, and time are lost.
4. Speaks Media Fluently
The best collaboration tools work well with any and all types of media. They play well together. You should be able to store different media in your collaboration tool and/or be able to open it and view it. The best ones let you edit files in their native app. Media includes everything from images, photos, and audio/video files to illustration and design files, databases, and yes, even ye olde spreadsheets and simple text documents.
5. Easy Logistics
Is your collaboration tool so foreign that people need to an interpreter to use it? Maybe I exaggerate, but people don’t use tools they don’t like. And people like easy and intuitive. Do other popular tools (e.g. file sync and share, instant messaging, video chat, project management, etc.) seamlessly work or integrate with it? Does it fit into your existing processes without needing to change them?
Any collaboration tool that requires long training sessions or IT support to create new checklists or campaigns is either going to get ignored or be under-utilized. In either scenario, your company is spending money on a collaboration tool without getting any return on it.
Effective collaboration can’t just be a buzz word. A marketing team that wants to get the most out of all its partners and team members requires a platform that makes genuine collaboration smooth and practical.
We’ve seen how the wrong tools create the collaboration paradox – that is, the current functionality of most collaboration tools sucks up work time that results in low productivity. But successful marketing teams and campaigns must adeptly respond to feedback and changing conditions. Any collaboration tool that gives Marketing the ability to create central work spaces where content, conversations, revisions, and results all happily co-exist together is a tool worth having.