Center of Excellence |  Top 10 questions to ask yourself

Center of Excellence | Top 10 questions to ask yourself


Implementing a core program library in your Marketo Engage application is a feat. Setting up a center of excellence outside the platform is another. Without focusing on people, processes, and technology in general, you might set yourself up for poor adoption and support. By focusing on all three, you could prepare yourself for optimized value achievement and your next big promotion. As employees turn to virtual work during the pandemic, these elements are more important than ever.

Wait, what is a Center of Excellence (COE), anyway? If you’re familiar with Marketo Engage, you’ve probably heard of the Center of Excellence inside the platform… what we’re talking about here outside. A Marketo Engage COE is centralized governance, best practices, thought leadership, and an organizational structure that enables a business or institution to control a scalable marketing strategy, initiatives, and processes. It has been proven to improve efficiency, consistency of communications, and brand standards across an organization. However, less than a third of businesses have made the transition to experience-based businesses, according to a recent Forrester Research Report. We call this statistic because those who strive to excel with their digital abilities to improve the customer journey will definitely want to use this COE structure.

Here are the top ten questions to ask yourself when considering this transformation:

1. Why would I need a Center of Excellence? We already have one inside the platform …

We know it can be confusing. Why have we called two different things the same? #growth. A center of excellence, or more appropriately, a foundation program library, is the place inside your Marketo Engage instance that hosts the foundation program templates, typically the ones that generate the most value and are the most commonly used, as well as approved for widespread use by your marketing operations team. Remember that you can do anything inside the platform and still fail if the necessary structures and processes outside the platform are not in place.

A center of excellence outside the platform is a larger concept that focuses on people, processes, and technology to better enable your marketing automation solution. It reinforces what you’ve built inside the app by nurturing the design on the outside, including focusing on the following areas:

  • roles and permissions,
  • deployment and empowerment,
  • process management,
  • change management,
  • metrics and reporting,
  • governance and governance model,
  • commercial and marketing partnership,
  • customer journey,
  • and more!

Having carefully thought out and designed these structures will maximize your return on investment in your solutions and enable organizational transformation both inside and outside Marketo Engage. As we discuss at the WCC, Momentum needs a Sponsor and your greatest successes will come with that sponsorship.

2. Have we carefully considered centralization versus decentralization as well as hybrid models?

Centralization and decentralization can apply to a plethora of disciplines. It is not trivial to consider your strategic approach to the aspects of your business in terms of centralization and decentralization. Just thinking about where your organization stands or where you want different aspects of your organization to land on the scale of centralization and decentralization is a step in the right direction.

There are different degrees of centralization, and it should always vary in degrees from all or nothing. On opposite ends of the spectrum, there is total control and an education to fish – think of them, quite frankly, as they are named. These degrees of centralization applied to various business aspects are strongly correlated with the culture and resources of the company, they are always evolving and there is no utopia.

Also consider your position on the spectrum of centralization with respect to the following areas:

  • conformity
  • training and accreditation
  • process documentation
  • content creation
  • creation and modification of models
  • report
  • development strategy

3. Do we have good momentum around marketing automation that catalyzes additional value across our business?

Take a step back and think about the momentum that exists today. Analyze why this momentum exists, learn from this momentum and how you can replicate it or use it to inspire further change in other facets of the business. If something lacks momentum and generates positive value in some way, train it, face it head-on, pivot and adapt.

4. Do we personalize and tailor our empowerment needs with appropriate tactics?

The maturity of engagement marketing doesn’t just have to exist externally with customers. Consider the enabling motions that you have in place today. Think about the unique empowerment needs of the team or teams. We recommend that you think about internal user groups, “brown bag” or informal lunches to share information and promote activation, Marketo Engage community user groups. (Consult the global list here to access a strong community of Marketo Engage and digital marketing experts just waiting for you and your team to join.) There are many ways to get creative with personalized activation and we encourage you to carefully consider what will work best in your organization.

5. Do we have a strong and defined path of empowerment to move forward?

In addition to the items mentioned above, we recommend that you also focus on the basics. Develop a plan for how you will integrate Marketo Engage users with playbooks, user guides, training games and recordings, launch checklists, quality assurance forms, requests for program and promotion of strong internal and external resources – Marketo Engage has a ton of incredible resources, and other apps and consulting firms do as well. When there are new features, establish a process for how you will deploy them. Additionally, you should consider annual standards training or reviews that you may need to complete company-wide… and don’t wait for these initiatives to materialize. If you think a topic needs to be addressed, be that voice within the company.

6. Are we tracking existing KPIs and are there any new KPIs to consider?

Take a data-driven approach and be able to tell a story and make a strong case with verifiable data. Understand the KPIs that your customers have in the areas of sales, finance, customer success, etc. follow, learn to speak a common language that will help you gain buy-in, or just have a productive conversation about the metrics that don’t leave your head. -Meet with the financial director. Marketo Engage recommends that you focus on metrics such as program performance, lead quality, cascading metrics, return on investment (ROI) and lead acquisition reports, and efficiency metrics. Sales. If your organization is very mature in terms of its attribution strategy, we recommend that you agree on multi-touch attribution metrics across the organization and leverage the appropriate technology associated with maturity to facilitate this metric. Also, consider a data-driven operating model align and drive the business towards strategic goals throughout the customer journey with minimal disruption to the business to ensure continued growth through the alignment of KPIs at every stage of that journey.

7. Are there any frictions in the sales and marketing partnership that affect the customer journey?

It is a timeless subject. No matter how technology evolves and how sophisticated we become with our marketing tactics, there is no machine learning that will ever trump the age-old practice of collaboration. It is essential that you nurture this relationship, that you have a strategic and permanent dialogue and that you truly appreciate this partnership.

8. What other alignments of people and processes with other initiatives essential to Marketo Engage exist?

This is where process and change management comes in. Do you have centralized processes that exist today? Think about how you adopted them, what drove the adoption, and think about areas where you might need new processes to support your marketing growth. There are different pillars of the COE process management infrastructure, user configuration and process documentation are just two to name. Managing change is also essential. Are you thinking about the catalysis of change within your organization and all of its glorious components like communications, change agents and change metrics? Food for thought …

9. Do we have stable governance structures?

The role of governance and governance structures is critical in the success of the role of marketing as a revenue driver versus a cost center. Creating oversight structures across different layers of the organization brings together people, processes and technology in the organization strategically to prioritize, assign and execute key initiatives. We’re not talking about more meetings without an agenda to add to your calendar.

10. Do I still need a COE if we know how to execute?

The short answer is yes. No great workmanship can mask poor design. Take the time to break down these elements to reposition Marketing from “saving a quarter” to that of being thought of as a strategic authority and an agency of its business unit. Design is just as important as execution.

Having trouble answering these questions? Adobe Digital Performance Strategy Team offers solutions that can help you successfully answer these questions and move on from solid design and strong execution to stronger design and stronger execution.

Find out more information here about the Marketo Engage Center of Excellence workshop or contact us here.



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