Why Collaborative Technologies Need a Bigger Role in the Martech Stack as CMOs Expand In-House Creative Agencies?

inmotionnow logoThe modern marvel of Martech stack has brought us better insight, targeting, timing and reach. In many ways, the advent of Marketing Technology has facilitated tighter campaign integration, better reporting and a strong alignment with sales.

Yet, technology has also left marketing with a greater need for Creative Content – the fuel of the marketing engine. Through these platforms, we have acquired and stacked across our marketing organizations’ run-on content.

Without content, there is nothing to distribute, no message to analyze, and no behavior to track. Without content, the marketing engine grinds to a halt. There is a growing acceptance that the entire customer experience is ‘the brand’, so the role of creativity in messaging throughout is that customer journey has never been more important. As a result, the demand for content has grown exponentially along with the rise of the machines.

Recent studies by Forrester, the ANA and The Creative Group all show that CMOs have responded to the heightened demand for content by staffing up their in-house creative agencies. The thesis is simple – in-house agencies are embedded in the organization, have a deeper knowledge of the brand, and will be more responsive and efficient in producing a higher quality of content for the marketing engine.

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Decoding Martech Stack for Creative and Marketing Growing Pains

Unfortunately, this trend is not unfolding exactly as envisioned. The 2019 In-House Creative Management Report, which my team fields annually in collaboration with InSource, revealed, operational challenges as these teams have grown. Even more concerning is that, some of those have manifested into issues among the ranks about leadership, collaboration, and even team morale.

For example, the 550 creatives and marketers polled identified challenges across the content creation process including:

  • 72% said ‘obtaining the necessary information just to get started on a project’ is a challenge that soaks up time that would be better spent doing creative work;
  • 48% said they spend about one day a week or more on administrative tasks – that’s up 14% from the same survey last year;
  • 22% said they spend 10 hours a week or more chasing down information, feedback and approvals – that too ticked up 6% from last year’s survey; and
  • 79% said they receive little or no feedback on the performance of creative assets;

These process issues are showing up in the team assessments of leadership and organizational climate:

  • Just 54% said their marketing leadership is effective;
  • Just 51% said collaboration between marketing and creative is effective; and
  • Less than half (45%) said morale on the creative team is high.

3 Ways to Get Creative and Ensure Marketing is Working Better Together

While in-house creative teams do promise greater efficiencies and higher quality creative work, organizations can’t just bolt on a creative team and expect miracles. It is important that marketing leaders get ahead of this problem sooner so that it does not fester. In order to reap the benefits, creative and marketing teams must develop a strategic relationship along the lines that follow below.

Foster Alignment Between Creative and Marketing.

Marketing has done well to align with sales over the last decade. It needs to do the same thing with the creative team if the great in-house agency experiment is to be successful. Marketing leaders need to realize creatives are not ‘mechanical artists’ as one survey respondent put it. More importantly, marketing stands to gain sizable benefits by bringing creative experts to the strategy table early in the process.

Standardize and Streamline the Creative Process.

Many of the concerns about leadership and morale are an effect of frustration and broken processes, rather than a cause. The larger a team becomes, the greater is the need for a standardized and efficient process. You cannot eliminate the creative brief just because you brought a team in-house. To the contrary, creative briefs, project check-ins, reviews, approvals, and feedback loop – getting marketing campaign metrics and results back to creative – are more important. These should be improved for greater efficacy.

Field the Technology Tools, Creatives Need to Be Efficient.

Marketing has benefited greatly from MarTech. It has provided a new level of organization and analytics to manage campaigns at scale. The irony is that these systems have added strain to the fuel supply. While marketing organizations have added creative talent, they haven’t given creatives the collaborative tools they need, to organize and prioritize the creative workflow process.

In moving creative teams in-house, marketing leaders may have lost the commitment to process and collaboration that outside the agencies is required: strong creative briefs, project management, traffic control, and analysis and feedback. Marketing leaders can bring this back by making collaborative tools and process automation part of their MarTech stacks.

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The Payoff for Aligning Creative and Marketing

‘It takes a partnership between the creative and marketing teams to increase the effectiveness of creative’, wrote Brent Chiu-Watson, a senior product management director at Adobe, in a contribution to the 2019 In-House Creative Management Report.

He continued, ‘Both parties need to share an interest in performance analysis and be open to surprising insights. When the teams find insights, learn, adapt, and iterate together you see real business impact’.

Indeed, growing a creative team is not merely a matter of adding headcount – you have also got to ensure that the marketing and creative shops are aligned and build collaborative processes. As marketers, we are stewards of our brand, and we need to ensure that the brand thrives during this move toward in-house creative teams by bridging the partnership with the processes and tools needed to fuel our brand marketing with best-in-class creativity.

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