How to Dismantle the Exploding Workload of Digital Marketing


Psychologist often say “we live in a modern world with a prehistoric brain”. Well, for marketing you could say “we live in a digital world with a pre-digital organizational mindset”. The rise of digital, in combination with the “cleansing effects” of the 2001 and 2007 recessions, has completely changed the scope and the role of marketers. Although roles and expectations have changed, reality shows that the organizations and processes in which most marketers operate, still party like it’s 1999.
As a result, marketers experience a digital overwhelm in their brave new worlds.

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Oh simple things, where have you gone

Here are the numbers showing just how fast marketers moved away from their analogue caves and suddenly got exposed to the organizational traffic of the digital highway.

Compared to 15 years ago, marketing executives must coordinate 6.5 times more projects across 11.9 times more agencies in just 15 percent of the time.

Fifteen years ago, the average B2B enterprise with $1B in revenues spent $40 million in marketing, sales enablement, and corporate communications. Enterprise marketing spent this $40 million through 7.8 agencies across 1,337 projects with a typical project duration of 8.1 weeks.

Today, the equivalent enterprise spends $44 million through 93 agencies across 8,756 projects with a typical duration of 1.25 weeks.

So, you’re working with 12 times as many agencies, running 6 times as many projects in 15% of the time.

Let these numbers sink in for a moment.

Is it realistic that these radical increases in workload and tasks can be managed without any radical changes in organization, process and tooling?

Today, “following the customer” is a day job and not all marketers find their way back to the office. If you are not able to work smarter, digital overwhelm will cripple your organization.

The dangers of the brave new digital marketing world

The biggest opportunity space for realizing additional marketing results lies in quick response to changing market conditions. To do so, companies need to be equipped to:

  1. Continuously identify opportunities
  2. Quickly respond to opportunities

Opportunity identification means managing the rapid intake of user generated content, which overwhelms most companies. But even if this data is available and the data gets translated into insights and prescribed actions, the biggest hurdle is being able to actually undertake these actions. The internal processes do not facilitate a quick response.

In the past, the review and approval process could handle the trickle of owned and paid media. Not anymore. Regulatory and legal approval will become unwitting agents of revenue suppression if not managed correctly.

Pre-digital organizational structures cost money every day.

Remove the pre-digital bottlenecks

Obviously, these quick response activities themselves cannot be planned in the traditional sense of the word. What can be planned however, and implemented, is the organization and process to deal with them.

The inward focused process and administrative burden should be minimized to maximize the focus on the customer.

Having pre-approved elements in place like content snippets and creative templates, and having a budgeting approach that is goal driven instead of task driven, go a long way towards becoming more responsive to opportunities.

Before you can start improving, you need to know where you are now. Ask yourself the following questions to get insights into how you handle things today:

  • Do we have a well-defined process for reviewing curated and user-generated content?
  • How often do we see market opportunities that require a fast response?
  • Do we know what the business value of being able to respond faster, and seizing the opportunity, would be?
  • If we need to create or assemble a quick response, how many and which content elements need to be included as a base?
  • Do these elements require a formal sign-off by legal? And if so, is it possible to have (some of) them pre-approved?
  • What percentage of our social content bypasses regulatory or legal review and what is the impact?

By answering these questions you’ll be able to start calculating the current cost of any missed opportunity.

The strategic impact of dismantling the explosive workload

Digital marketing has put many marketing departments in reactive mode. Everybody is too busy in the present to anticipate what the future will bring. Seizing opportunity has become quiet a mindless game of “who can react the quickest”. Yes, you are being responsive, but at a very high cost.

Marketers have become fancy project managers with limited time for strategic topics. Being able to respond to opportunity is good and certainly better than not being able to respond at all. But, if being responsive takes up all of your time in the present, you won’t be able to think about the future, and you will be swamped with work until the end of time.

When you have the right processes in place, you’ll be able to be responsive in the present and have time left to think about the future. With a better-equipped digital marketing organization, ready for the new reality and massive scales of content handling, you can dismantle the current operational bomb under the surface of your marketing organization.

You may not be able to see the light at the end of the digital marketing tunnel now, but having a great marketing strategy starts with being able to cope with the huge amount of content the digital age has brought about. Strangely, the essential first step toward creating a marketing strategy is having processes in place that will leave you with enough time to actually think about your strategy.

Download article "Overwhelmed by Digital Marketing?"

Stephan Nobs By Stephan Nobs

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