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Wrike

How intelligent technologies are helping marketers predict challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond

By Saranya Babu, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Wrike

Marketing is undeniably one of the most important aspects of modern business strategy. Whether it’s developing a unique brand image, or carrying out specific campaigns to attract the right audience, the activities of the marketing department are at the centre of driving growth and revenue within any organisation. 

This year, marketers have been presented with an entirely new and unexpected challenge – how to navigate a global pandemic. The economic uncertainty surrounding this ongoing crisis has forced many businesses to redefine their brand identity, in order to distinguish themselves from their competitors and survive. 

While many businesses are accustomed to crisis management, the scale of this pandemic calls for a more comprehensive approach. In order to truly speak to their audiences during these unprecedented times and beyond, marketers must focus on developing a meaningful and consistent brand image, with each and every project being a success.  

Make no mistakes with integrated insights

With businesses of all shapes and sizes facing a long road to recovery, tough decisions are being made across the board. Unfortunately, many marketing departments are bearing the brunt of industry-wide cut-backs. In fact, dips in business revenue have resulted in the largest ever decline in spending, with over  41% of UK firms  reducing their marketing budgets in the third quarter of 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic.  

During this time of turmoil, instant access to real-time performance metrics within existing work management platforms is essential for marketing teams, especially given the speed at which things are changing. The ability to examine the progress of ongoing projects and campaigns, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as potential areas for improvement can improve the chances of a successful outcome. 

After all, marketing is dependent on the ability to juggle several tasks at once. This is a lot easier said than done when multiple ads, email, and social campaigns are running simultaneously. Operating on outdated information – even by a day or two – can adversely affect the final outcome of a project. Moreover, as the remote work era continues, visibility will become more important than ever before. The lack of face-to-face communication demands accurate performance metrics in order to track and analyse a campaigns’ progression at any given moment.  

Ahead of the game 

Many different things can derail a project. Additional costs, failure to meet deadlines, or unplanned modifications can all have a negative impact and, ultimately, cost a business – especially in our current landscape. In order to increase the likelihood of success for a project and limit any potential risk, marketing teams should look to predict and plan for a series of different possibilities from the offset.  

This is where modern technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – come into play. These technologies can pinpoint at-risk projects and provide an early diagnosis, so that teams can take necessary action to minimise risk and solve any potential challenges before they even occur. By recognising signals and patterns based on hundreds of factors, including past campaign results, work progress, organisation history, and work complexity, the insights provided by these technologies can help to salvage entire projects. 

With intelligent insights readily available, marketing teams can work towards prioritising matters of high-importance, such as mitigating and managing risk. This can be done by evaluating a project’s ‘risk tolerance’. In other words, how much can you allow before you need to act. This is a crucial step in any project management process, enabling marketers to choose the most effective response and ensure that resources are being used in the most effective way.  

As competition rises and budgets shrink, marketing teams are under increasing pressure to deliver. Connecting with desired audiences through brand consistency, strong messaging, and impactful campaigns is still important. However – thanks to the increased pressures brought by the pandemic – there is no longer any room for error. Therefore, guaranteeing all activities are on course and risk is at an all-time-low must be a priority. While there isn’t a single ingredient for success during these unprecedented times, integrated insights and AI and ML technologies could play a significant part in enabling marketing teams to predict and mitigate any possible risks ahead of time. 

Priorities for marketers amid a global pandemic

By David McGeough, Director of International Marketing, Wrike

Around the world, businesses are adapting their strategies to reflect the COVID-19 era. For some this means pivoting to a blanket e-commerce approach; for others it has meant creating completely new content hubs and microsites.

Whatever the changes may be, relevancy has never been so important. Your audiences want to know exactly how you are responding to the current challenges and how you will come out the other side.

Now, more than ever, marketing departments are being tested. Previous plans must be replaced, budgets must be cut, and teams must try to maintain the same level of productivity while working remotely.

Stay connected, keep collaborating

Most workforces have now been logging on from home for around nine weeks. During this time, we’ve all had a chance to adapt to our new working routine, finding alternative ways to stay connected with our colleagues.

This has quickly brought to light the importance of collaboration, and how much we take for granted being in close proximity to team members. No longer able to ask someone a question at their desk or get campaign updates in daily face-to-face meetings, we’re relying on technology to bridge the gap. Regardless of where employees are based, marketing teams need to be able to quickly and easily see the status of a task, know the latest developments, and have full visibility of crucial deadlines.

Not only do these tools and platforms need to boost collaboration, they also need to bring every aspect of a campaign or activity under one umbrella. This means should external agencies, freelancers or third-party suppliers be involved, everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect.

With technologies such as work management platforms helping businesses maintain productivity away from the office, many organisations will continue their remote working policies in the future.

A spotlight on ROI

As the pandemic continues to transform the economy, many businesses are experiencing a severe decline in revenue. Inevitably, this has had a knock-on effect internally, with multiple departments taking a hit.

Despite marketing playing a key role in promoting products and services, as well as ensuring the right audiences are being targeted, it’s unsurprising that the vast majority of teams are having to work with reduced budgets. While we’ve seen the same happen as a response to previous recessions – including those in both the 1990s and late 2000s – it has led to certain campaigns being put on hold or cancelled altogether.

It has also resulted in an urgent focus on performance, with a need to understand exactly what activity is having the most impact, and what can no longer afford to be a priority. Marketing teams are using this time to analyse every tactic and platform being used to uncover the return on investment they are getting.

Under close watch, marketers will be forced to transform the way they work in order to find their feet. This will mean getting creative, working with what they already have, and injecting innovation into every activity. This approach won’t just be critical for the current climate, but for those that want to thrive when the economy begins to rebuild.

Preparing for the new normal

While it’s easy to be consumed by the negative impact of the ongoing crisis, this period provides a unique chance for marketing teams to deploy different tactics and learn new skillsets. Employees that usually focus on events, for example, can transfer and develop their skills for digital webinars or conferences. As a result, teams will be better set-up to deal with the changes we are set to see post-pandemic.

If teams are willing to properly analyse the results of their campaign audits under new budget restrictions, they will end up with insights that improve their strategies both now, and in the future. New tactics, tools and ways of working will be replaced by more efficient, streamline and effective methods, without teams having to lose out on the collaboration that is fundamental to marketing success.

Taking a step back could turn out to be extremely positive for innovation. Despite recruitment being on hold, it’s very likely that we will see an increased demand for certain skillsets, such as digital media. The teams that are willing to adapt are the ones that will come out on top, having used this time to rethink product offerings, key audiences and technologies.

Short-term, KPIs and priorities for marketing departments will continue to fluctuate as businesses become more cautious with their money. The longer-term impact will likely be different; however, it is still too early to say how. COVID-19 has forced every marketing team, on a global scale, to consider how they spend and invest their money. Those that have been able to streamline and readjust to the new normal will find it easier as we begin to come out of this.

UK marketers ‘burying their heads in the sand’ on automation

A new survey has revealed that low-level, repetitive tasks are stifling the flow of creative juices and operational efficiencies among UK marketers.

And yet a third are choosing not to do anything about it.

The Digital Work Report 2018, commissioned by Wrike, found 33 per cent of UK marketers say that automation is not something they are considering, while 34 per cent saying they do not believe it would give their company a competitive edge.

However, nearly all (98 per cent) who took part admitted some aspect of their work is repetitive or cognitively routine, with a quarter estimating as much as 61-80 per cent.

Crucially, the survey found over two-thirds (69 per cent) believe they could achieve more work if technology could take on repetitive tasks such as filing, copying information between systems and documenting action items from meetings – with a quarter saying as much as 50 per cent more if that was the case.

If they could win back some valuable time, marketers would choose to focus more on creative work (32 per cent), team management (26 per cent), developing strategic projects (21 per cent), time spent listening to customers (20 per cent) and creating a better work culture in the office (19 per cent).

The report found that the ability to be efficient is hampered by some of the processes in place in their organisations; 27 per cent felt work is done across too many systems, creating duplication of work and communications, for example.

While 48 per cent said they have a culture of operational excellence in place, whereby they constantly review and improve how they are doing things within their team and organisation, only 10 per cent scored their company’s ability to consistently deliver high-quality work on time with existing resources as ‘excellent’. 30 per cent of UK marketers say their company strives to improve processes but changes are just too slow.

“Traditionally marketers are at the cutting edge of technology trends when it comes to the work they deliver, but these results suggest they are not always finding time to practice what they preach,” said Andrew Filev, CEO and founder of Wrike.

“With ever-increasing pressure around delivery times, personalisation of products and predictability, the marketing craft is being slowly buried under a mountain of disparate processes that leave little time for adding real creative value. With business automation developing at pace, change management is becoming an increasingly important part of the role.”

Interestingly, 34 per cent of marketers said they believe that when it comes to flawless execution they could do a better job than their boss. Worryingly, out of frustration with a lack of operational efficiency, 32 per cent of marketers have searched for a new job.

Wrike for Marketers ‘simplifies and frees’ creatives from technology overload…

The project management application service provider, Wrike, has launched a brand new solution which aims to provide marketers with a ‘core management platform’, as well as added capabilities specifically designed to help define, execute and plan standout campaigns in a multichannel digital world.

Wrike for Marketers claims to support all phases of the marketing lifecycle; as jobs are requested with customisable briefs and ideas and content created with a document editor and the Adobe Creative Cloud Extension that notifies, assigns and brings focus to creative work.

Founder and CEO of Wrike, Andrew Filev, said: “I believe we’ve built the easiest way for marketers and creatives to manage their work from inspiration to delivery. A big pain point for these teams has always been the time and frustration required to transfer information between the various phases of projects. Wrike for Marketers integrates those phases into one continuous stream.”

Find out more about Wrike for Marketers here