The work and discipline necessary to choose a campaign management solution does not end with the selection of a vendors. In many ways, it just begins. Because a company that does not understand the keys to campaign management implementation runs the risk of creating problems far bigger than those it intended to solve, the eight points outlined here can provide the bridge to success.

An organization needs to remember two important things. It needs the right people: those who understand both project implementation as well as campaign management. And it needs the right processes: those that conserve and optimize resources, as marketing automation technology itself is intended to do.

The first step in understanding what enables successful campaign management implementation is to identify some of the roadblocks. In particular, there are four:

  • Almost every marketing organization is implementing campaign management for the first time. This means that many of the unique aspects of the implementation won't be understood until after the project is done or has failed.
  • Most firms are bringing the function of a service bureau in house as part of their implementation. Without understanding that there is a lot of "black magic" in what a service bureau provides, firms tend to underestimate the complexity and resources required to address the project.
  • Modern campaign management software is a fundamentally different way of executing marketing functions for most organizations ­ especially if the software is being used for multi-channel marketing. A business may need to change its marketing process or even its structure to take advantage of the new tool.
  • Finally, marketing automation implementation requires the combining of staff resources from both the IT and marketing departments, yet these two organizations typically are at odds about the right approach to campaign management implementation.

As stated earlier, a company needs to dedicate the right people and the right processes to successfully implement a campaign management solution:

The People

The firm needs to appoint an experienced, dedicated project manager.

This project manager must have one key skill above all others: he or she must be a diplomat, able to bridge the IT and marketing departments as well as coordinate with one or more vendors.

Users must be intimate with the database -- in all of its gory detail.

It is rather amazing that organizations spend millions of dollars on a marketing data warehouse and, at the end, the users get a meeting with the database administrator to find out what the warehouse contains. Knowledge-based marketing requires knowledge. This means that users must KNOW (not just be familiar with) the data, values and how they are related.

Make sure your users have the right skill set.

It's a basic organizational reality: of 10 marketing users, two are leading the charge, two are terrified and six are in the middle. Get the two leading the charge ­ the early adapters ­ to drive the implementation. In the end, these two users become the experts inside your organization; the others will follow.

The (Implementation) Process

Get the database right and then add the right tools.

The best products in the marketplace can't deliver if the database doesn't have the right data organized the right way. Because of that, a firm should think in terms of key insurance policies early in the process: a data model review and a data quality audit. Many firms need a customer-centric data model for effective campaign management, yet they have only account-centric designs when they are starting out. A good rule of thumb is that half the time spent on the entire project should be devoted to the data in the database.

Implement first, optimize later.

Campaign management effectively can reengineer the marketing department and its processes. As such, initial focus on short-term objectives can provide a baseline for process and procedure development. In the interest of demonstrating success early, quick obsolescence of whatever system is currently in place can provide for quick ROI of the new system. This tactic also accelerates the marketing users' hands-on experience and enhances the knowledge they provide to the organization.

Parallel test a new campaign management tool against your current tool to understand the difference between "apples and oranges."

Different tools select customer records in different ways, so it is important to know the nuances between the current and the new environment. This testing process can be time-consuming, but it is critical because it validates the new functionality of the tool and helps the firm get the results it wants.

Minimize the variables

(team, technology and tools) that the firm tries to tackle at once. An all too common example: a client project had new employees using bleeding-edge RDBMSs, first generation hardware, the entire customer base and implemented campaign management concurrently with new analytic tools. Not surprisingly, the final deliverable was several months late, took twice as long as it needed to, and the project was labeled a failure. A better approach could have been to start small with specific regions or data marts and build a prototype in a stable technical environment before moving to a full-scale production environment. This approach minimizes risk and helps the project team be realistic with time lines and deadlines.

Talk to the marketing people in other organizations who have just implemented a campaign mangement solution.

The best advice comes from the trenches of these marketing organizations that can verify the reality behind the vendor claims. Remember that campaign management is still early in its evolution; as such, implementation is an emerging experience and processes are rapidly evolving.

The Beginning

Campaign management implementation is the beginning, not the end, of successful marketing automation. Plan on continued optimization ­ across all dimensions. Advance training helps leverage the technology ­ improving both the process and the knowledge of the organization at the same time. Keep evaluating the people and the processes. Demonstrate early success and ROI with the new system. Finally, keep building intelligence ­ leverage the campaign and resulting response data to improve reporting, analysis and modeling. Firms that focus on the eight keys identified in this article will be well on their way to a successful campaign management implementation.

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