In today’s fast-paced, multifaceted Digital Marketing environment it is critical to not only admit there are problems, but to also identify the right problems to fix. The first part of this is difficult because no one wants to admit they have problems at their organization or, in this case, within their Digital Marketing department. However, as Mark Graban reminds us about lean philosophy at the Lean Blog, “no problem is a problem” and, more importantly, no problems means there is “no need for managers.”
So… after you have admitted you have some problems, identifying the right problems to fix and the priority in which to fix them takes close examination. Fixing the wrong problem is wasteful and could result in creating more, unintended problems. Within Digital Marketing here are few core problems with websites, management, and skills I experience over and over again:
The Problem with Websites
Almost everyone I talk with has some problem with their website, but the problems they are trying to solve vary. Some people identify problems in areas like decreasing conversion rates or declining Average Order Value (AOV) or needing improve overall customer experience. They’re all too quick to blame these problems on their website. In some cases, where a website is built on an outdated platform or a homegrown platform, each with its limitations, the website is the issue. But in other cases, where a website is built on a modern platform, built with the customer in mind, blaming the problem on the website doesn’t usually help. It’s easy to blame the problem on a website when in reality the problem most likely lies somewhere else.
The Problem with Management
In digital media and marketing, I see managers who are not aligned within their department or across their company. Problems with management can easily be interchangeable with organizational or company culture problems. Leadership in Digital Marketing roles need to make sure that their various digital marketing channel departments are working together and that the day-to-day users are brought into the decision-making process early and often. Misaligned departments and disengaged team members can create resistance to a new idea or software platform and will cause delays with getting the right content or product to a customers on time. This can happen regardless of things like “website design” or the maturity of the platform a website is built on. But again, it’s easier to blame the website or a particular piece of media or a particular marketing campaign for larger problems rather than addressing the real root cause or overall work process or process for decision-making.
The Problem with Digital Marketing Skills Gap
The skills gap problem in digital marketing is bigger than you might think. A joint study between Capgemini Consulting and the MIT Center for Digital Business had a lot to say about the Digital Talent Gap. The Online Marketing Institute has completed their own Digital Marketing Talent Study with results that make the gap pretty clear. In short, Digital Marketers are really good at email marketing or display advertising but they fall short with strategy or business acumen. When day-to-day managers fail to translate the activities of their respective digital marketing channel into business requirements and goals, it’s the customer/user who ultimately suffers. Again, it’s to blame a website or an individual project lead for things like a low conversion rate or high bounce rate when in reality the lack of business and/or digital marketing skills has something to do with the real root cause of these problems.
Fixing the Right Problem
This is not an exhaustive list of problems we encounter in digital marketing, but I placed Management is in the middle for a reason. Management or leadership needs to take ownership of problems and make sure efforts are being made to fix the right problems. I am not saying that they need to fix the problems themselves. That’s not reasonable, nor wise. What I am saying is that managers need to make sure that they are developing and hiring the right people to manage digital marketing strategies from a process-oriented, customer-centric viewpoint. Closing the skills gap of employees will encourage engagement and help reduce waste in several areas. With more engaged and knowledgeable team members, Management should have an easier time aligning digital marketing efforts across the company. An aligned digital marketing strategy is what makes your business stronger and your customers happier. Beyond this, if you have clarity on process, if there is an actual problem with the website, the problem can be quickly identified and resolved with efficiency with little to no impact on the customer.
No one likes to spend time fixing problems, but if you don’t you create more problems. Customers do not pay for problems, they pay for value. In an ideal world we would be problem or defect free but in reality problems persist. Identifying and fixing the right problems is far less costly in the long run than denying problems exist or fixing the wrong problems.
So the next time you hear someone say “no problem” as a member of Management, you might want to drop everything and find out what the real problem is before your company loses more money or, even worse, a valuable customer!
Ernie Richardson & Tracey Richardson
Ernie Richardson & Tracey Richardson