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Aimee Pagano

By: Aimee Pagano on January 31st, 2022

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Make your new digital platform a star

Lead Generation & Growth Strategies | Change Management | member engagement | Membership Growth | Adapting new technologies

mailto:demo@example.com?Subject=HighRoad Solutions - interesting article

For most associations, adopting a new technology—particularly omni-channel marketing automation platforms—is all about shepherding legacy mindsets out the door. The biggest challenge comes down to large-scale adoption of new methodologies and practices that organizations may have never used before. Or even worse, failed to successfully implement in the past. 

With any major adjustment, there are common pitfalls: expectations aren't accurately set; adaptation is rushed; or the organization isn't culturally and mutually owning their newly acquired technology. 

When these critical elements aren't aligned, over time, you'll experience confidence erosion in the tool. As such, an adoption “phobia" comes into play and suddenly, you'd rather creep into the shadows of your new tool than practice tech transparency and pride . 

It's important that you, as your technology ambassador, build a framework that showcases failures, learning curves, and wins throughout the process so that your entire organization can turn them into shared successes. 

So what are the best ways to take a marketing automation stack from fear to failure, to framework while demonstrating small, incremental “wins” along the way?  

Stay strong on original expectations
Everything involved in an organizational pivot starts with acceptance and commitment to a goal that's realistic from the get-go. In other words, be honest about the level of work that will go into the adoption, potential sticking points, and the most realistic timeline for consistently earned ROI.

Don’t sway away from what was initially presented and planned at the onset. Revenue pressures can get in the way of this. For example, the minute your new tech is in place, your event manager may begin immediately asking for additional emails to generate more event registrations prior to early bird registration close. 

While the intent is there, the training and the mindset may not yet be in place to reach the goal. The approach—adding yet more emails to the same audience—may need reprogramming so that the organization understands that quantity does not outweigh quality. 

Therefore, the expectation needs to be firmly established that any new campaign will likely not yield immediate results just because you're leveraging a new tool. The approach has to match the tech. 

Culturize the language of your new tool 
The term “culture” often refers to “just the way we do things around here." As such, it's important that you socialize a new brand of KPIs to better suit your newly acquired technology. 

For instance, if you previously measured member engagement by open rates, you'll want to veer away from these surface metrics. They come with limited insights. The conversation should shift to more substantial measurements such as  lead-to-conversion and marketing-qualified-lead rates, just to name a few.

Part of this change also comes down to building campaigns around audiences as opposed to programs and/or products. This simply means customizing customer journeys around audiences and allowing the programs to organically fall in line with what those segments might like. 

Lastly, your talk track needs to reiterate org-wide ownership of your new tool. In other words, while the marketing department is the primary user of the platform, all organizational functions and departments should commit to the philosophies and practices behind the platform. Otherwise legacy mindsets win and your new toy gets a little less shiny.

Pick your winning horse
Demonstrating incremental wins can be challenging. The path of least resistance lies in focusing your efforts as much as possible.  Start with your personas. Build your campaigns around the personas that give you the best chance of measurable victory.
One of the easiest ways to get this done is through persona prioritization. This is where you evaluate various segment groups based on the greatest amount of revenue generated and overall engagement. 

One-by-one, you can then build campaigns off of the top personas where you’ll likely see higher conversions and more useful insights. Despite a number of associations' inclination to do so, you should also avoid starting off with campaigns intended to grow entirely new markets (i.e. next gen). 

Most of the time, associations have very little baseline insights and, in some cases, programming for these net new audiences. Instead you may consider running insight-based—versus conversion-based campaigns with these new audiences if you've determined this is your out-of-the gate audience.

If your new audiences are your first target with your new tech, just be sure to follow the “stay strong on original expectations” approach and keep the anticipated results realistic.   

Lean into insight-based campaigns 
When it comes to insight-based campaigns, your primary goal isn't necessarily about making the sale. Your definition of success, in this instance, is about collecting meaningful intelligence on your audiences, content, and campaigns to refine your organization's marketing and program efforts.
You can do this by building a dual-dashboard system in your martech: one focused on engagement levels, conversions, and ROIs aligned with your program suite; and the other leaning into top content, campaigns, channels, and audiences. 

While dashboard #1 is focused on goal tracking and conversion attribution, dashboard #2 is designed specifically to help you better your marketing and programming.  Keep in mind, these metrics will take time to simmer into baseline data. So, once again, keep level-setting on expectations. 

These campaigns fit well into your overall testing strategy. For instance, as part of your plan, run quarterly insight campaigns to isolate and test content against different personas. 

Showcase efficiency as you build efficacy
There's a fallacy out there that digital automation platforms are purely designed to increase operational efficiency. While operational efficiency can do wonders for slim-staffed, multiple hat associations, it's a sliver of the power and intention behind these platforms.
Still, since we've established that truly embracing this power takes time, it's fair to lean into those smaller operational wins—particularly talking with executives and board members.  

Deploying a well assembled, automated, and evergreen membership renewal campaign is a great example of this. Once your campaign goes live, even before reporting out on results, you'll be able to demonstrate how much time is saved through the tool's automation capability. 

You can then illustrate refocused staff time from manual to strategic tasks. For instance, the time saved for your team to manually: send multiple renewal emails to varying audiences; build lists for only those who haven't renewed; and build suppression lists for those who have renewed can be allocated to time creating an effective member recruitment campaign. 

Celebrate your successes on a global level 
Cultural acceptance of your new marketing automation tools is best when your wins—no matter how small—are systematically shared with your org.
During departmental and organizational meetings, take the podium to showcase those new marketing insights and innovations that wouldn't otherwise have been possible without your new tech.

These meetings, along with other communication methods like internal webinars, org-wide newsletters, or just everyday conversations are also great channels to push positive narrative about your platform. 

It's also helpful to build an environment that welcomes constructive feedback since adoption of the tool. If you're continually reinforcing that the tech is mutually-owned, you'll create a safer and more transparent environment for the exchange of feedback, learnings, and even failures related to tool use. 

Finally, proactively consult with the other departments on potential data gaps obstructing your communal goals. This feedback inclusivity will empower adjacent team members who aren't daily users of the tool.

Optimize all aspects of your new technology 
If you're adapting a true omni-channel marketing automation platforms, remember that these platforms go far and beyond single-use email functionality.
Most integrated smarketing technology is designed for multi-touch channel management, data activation, lead scoring, performance analysis, and content creation—just to name a few. By acquainting your team with all levels of tool functionality, you're tapping into the true power and efficacy of your investment.

Easing into the many layers of your tech should be incremental. You'll find the most success if you have an adequate onboarding plan in place, whereby your team moves into real-world application at a planned cadence. Set goals to go from 10% to 20% to 30% utilization, until eventually, you're at the 75% mark.

Keep in mind, if you've invested in the right technology, you'll never really be at 100% utilization because your strategic partner's product roadmap will constantly evolve with the market.

Most importantly, remember that your system's functionality doesn't stop at execution. You can build the most reputable and thoughtful campaign workflow but, if you haven't thought through your definition of success, and how you're going to track and report out on your definition within the tool, you're relegating your efforts.

Ditch legacy mindsets and approaches
More than anything, you want to make sure that your association is taking a parallel approach between new technology implementation and the new practices that go with it. Transitioning to a new automation tool only to keep engaging in the same practices seems futile for growth goals. 

Stay focused on your vision,  detract others from “business as usual” mindsets, and remember that the tech is only as good as the people behind it. In the event you start to see diversions from new ways of thinking, diplomatically surface the issue as soon as possible. Deterring the behavior at the onset is the most trenchant way to break the pattern.   

Spin wilts into wins
With any change, failures should be accepted as learning opportunities that eventually turn into wins. For example, you run five marketing campaigns to the same audience and none of them hit your conversion objectives. 

Rather than reporting out on zero wins, draw insights and patterns collected from these campaigns. Eventually, the information you collect will narrow in on what does work, helping you perfect your efforts.  

Need help finding the wins? We can help.

Book a consultation with us. We'll guide you through adaptation practices, campaign development, goal-setting, and full-proof approaches to get you acclimated on your new tool.    

About Aimee Pagano

Aimee joins HighRoad Solution with 15+ years of integrated marketing and communications experience, primarily in client-facing roles within the association and SaaS space. Her specialties include persona development, content strategy/management, lead gen and awareness campaign development, and website development/optimization.