How has technology influenced and improved culture, teams, collaboration, structure, morale and career growth for marketers? This was the key question I explored in an interview on the 'Art & Science of Marketing' with Mark Phelps, Head of Marketing Technology at GoCompare, the UK's leading comparison website.
In my previous post I outlined how the changing role of marketing is affecting future team structures and and how this has a significant impact on the success of an organisation, especially when combined with the right technology.
My intention is to explore this further through interviews with leading marketers at thriving UK organisation, in order to help you understand what changes you could be making to transform your own marketing.
Here's what I discussed with Mark - look out for more interviews coming soon!
Mark and the GoCompare team had embarked on a new technology project together with Salesforce to mature and modernise their digital marketing capabilities, starting out with email. The rapid evolution of customer demands and the need to react faster to customers had meant their existing email capabilities were far behind what their customers needed, and what the GoCompare team could deliver on.
“We had pains of evolution and maturity - our email capability was behind our aspirations and our time to market wasn’t keeping pace with other parts of the business” and “channel marketing was not assisting our spend and activity in PPC”.
Not only were the challenges with channel marketing capabilities impacting customer experience, but this was also having an impact on team morale and ideas. “The team would come up with new ideas around email and multichannel marketing, but then had to wait for 2-3 weeks for ideas to come to life. In that time period in our industry, the market had already moved. Simple things like A/B testing became very hard and we were delivering static campaigns”.
However, the business was evolving and growing rapidly and “technology and product became more important to the business”, hence an investment in modernising the digital marketing capabilities. Not only did this give GoCompare the new technology capabilities it needed to deliver dynamic and personalised campaigns, it had a tremendous impact on the team.
New capabilities meant a new lease of life. Marketing was now about “speed and agility” and being “proactive”. Processes were simplified and channel marketing was able to scale. Mark noted how people were now really focusing on the jobs they were good at, and hired for in the first place.
“The technology transformation had a huge commercial impact. It simplified everything we do - at an individual level, team level, and business level. Our email teams were able to get a clear sight into the business impact they were delivering. We then had an engaged team - they wanted to run faster, try new things, new channels and new integrations. Change was not the norm and now it is. It's ideas that drive the business now”.
This is certainly an exciting change and, for me, this is truly what we talk about in the industry when it comes to digital transformation - technology can become the catalyst for a transformation in teams and people, not just in the ability to do things better and faster in the digital world.
It's a win for the customer and for the people who focus on that customer. But what about collaboration and team structure, how had that been impacted at GoCompare?
Naturally, with more energy and ideas, came more collaboration with other teams and departments. “We still have an email team, an audience team, a data team and a compliance team and so on. But they are collaborating well. We still have channel silos but the platform is bringing this together. It's about the content and the customer now. The tech question has disappeared. Structure becomes less relevant - the constraints now are the amount of ideas, not that HTML doesn't work!”
For instance, the PPC team and email team are now collaborating on ideas and not on process or problems. The benefits of this are obvious - as marketers strive for a consistent customer experience across the customer lifecycle, the idea of teams focused on acquisition and existing customer engagement working well together on a combined strategy has clear, tangible benefits on lifetime value of customers.
For Mark, having an energised team and a modern technology platform has allowed him to focus more on the overall vision and the multichannel efforts. “My role is to deliver cross-channel capability. I can focus on the base platform, the measurement framework and the audience platform. The technology is now an octopus that is infiltrating all parts of the marketing team and business, which is pulling teams and ideas together, and delivering content to meet customer expectations”. New channels and new capabilities like push messaging are about when, not if, and data science is becoming a bigger new idea for the team as well.
What has this meant for GoCompare as a talent magnet and a place where careers can thrive?
GoCompare doesn't have the luxury of a silicon valley-sized pool of available tech talent, being based in Wales, but they are excited about creating their own 'Silicon Valleys'. They are building best of breed teams, technologies and infrastructures as they strive to attract the very best tech talent that can catapult their growth.
“We can look for the brightest and best because we are building an environment designed for it. We want to build a structure and vision that encourages imagination and speed - a fertile home for top talent. We still have a way to go and we have a big vision, but we are making great strides with local partners, colleges and initiatives, especially around data science.”
We wish them the best of luck in what is a great story of transformation and its impact on culture, teams, and collaboration.
I believe there are 3 things we can learn from Mark and the GoCompare team:
Next up in my series on the Art & Science of Marketing, I'll be getting the agency view from the WPP and Wunderman team. Stay tuned for that!
In the meantime, find out what is top-of-mind for 3,500 marketing leaders around the globe, in our fourth annual State of Marketing Report.