As more organizations are conducting business digitally, remote working has also become more commonplace.
In fact, 77% of virtual companies with over 2,500 employees offer the option of telecommuting while 20% of the global workforce is part of a remote team. Remote working allows employers to reduce overhead cost and tap into a larger talent pool to increase profitability.
This is particularly beneficial for highly specialized disciplines such as marketing, which requires expert knowledge and skillsets. A virtual marketing team allows organizations to attract experts from all over the world and establish a presence in the global marketplace cost-efficiently.
Meanwhile, remote workers enjoy more flexibility in their schedule and location. They are also found to be happier and more productive, which can translate into higher employee satisfaction and retention.
However, managing a remote marketing team can be quite challenging due to many factors that did not exist in the past. These include the lack of in-person relationship-building opportunities, higher chances of miscommunications that lead to errors and delays, as well as differences in time zone, location, and cultural backgrounds. In addition, the cross-department lack of communication that can be created in an office setting can be amplified in remote teams that never communicate with other remote teams in different parts of the organization.
To maximize the benefits of using a remote marketing team, you need a strategic plan in place to guide the implementation of the right processes and systems. Here are some key areas to focus on:
Marketing is a discipline that requires a deep understanding of customers’ psychology and behaviors. You need to hire team members that not only have the required knowledge but also the ability to tap into consumer sentiments and turn them into actionable insights proactively.
You should look for employees that have a track record of working in a virtual environment, the technical competence of using various tools for effective communication and collaboration, and the self-motivation to complete projects proactively under a low-touch and flexible management style.
To find the right fit, you should conduct live interviews with candidates either in-person or via video-conferencing. Consider their personalities to make sure they’re a good fit for your company culture, use online tests to determine their level of self-motivation, and consider time zone differences that could impact team communications.
High-quality candidates should demonstrate their abilities to take initiative during the interviewing process (e.g., by following up proactively), stay organized, complete assignments autonomously, and make decisions independently.
In addition, instill a culture of productivity to augment the positive traits of your new hires. For example, by incorporating regular check-ins with management to encourage accountability. Regular check-ins also give supervisors the opportunity to ensure that new hires are getting the support they need to become fully productive as quickly as possible.
Effective marketing requires a deep understanding of your brand’s image and values. Everyone in your virtual marketing team should have a good grasp of what your brand stands for so they can be empowered to proactively take on initiatives that align with your business objectives.
Look for candidates that are enthusiastic about your products. They should have done their homework to understand your brand and research about your target audience. They should also have the ability to articulate your brand values during the interviewing process.
Communicate your company’s principles and goals during the employee orientation process. Create a mission statement that highlights the company’s long-term goals and share a clear set of expectations that outline how employees should conduct their work.
Build a company culture that embodies your brand’s identity and make sure it’s embedded in the employee experience via all online and offline touch points. If possible, make in-house orientation part of the onboarding process (if your company has a physical location) so new hires can have an immersive experience of your company culture before working remotely.
Since a marketing team needs to collaborate closely with other internal departments and external partners, they need to understand the procedures to ensure timely and effective communications.
Implement transparent processes and set clear expectations to help remote teams work cost-efficiently by avoiding bottlenecks and delays, which are common when team members aren’t working in the same office. Make sure you have all the workflows clearly documented and shared in a centralized location. Also, it’s imperative that proper permission levels are granted to remote team members and there’s an audit of who greenlit what tasks. This ensures sensitive information is secure and management has transparency into the entire process.
To ensure adherence to the various processes, you should schedule regular checkpoints, organize virtual meetings, and build a culture of open communication. In addition, use various communication tools to encourage bonding among team members, which can enhance employee engagement and loyalty.
You can streamline processes and ensure consistent quality by providing guidance and scripts to help your team answer questions from customers. Also, use live call coaching tools and scorecards as part of the management process to evaluate employee performance and provide timely feedback to improve outcomes.
Communication is the backbone of any business while collaboration helps foster creativity, which is key to helping your marketing team come up with innovative ideas that can cut through the clutter and capture the attention of your audience.
Cloud-based software applications allow your team to work together at any time and from anywhere with an internet connection. Employees can have access to the latest information at all times to avoid errors and miscommunications.
For example, unified collaboration platforms allow your marketing team to communicate with colleagues, partners, vendors, and customers using a single interface. These platforms offer features such as voice and video calls, messaging, file sharing, and screen sharing to enable effective real-time exchanges.
Also, use a variety of collaboration applications such as project management software (e.g., Asana, Trello), document sharing tools (e.g., Google Drive), e-signature applications (e.g., HelloSign), and password management tools (e.g., LastPass) to streamline processes, share information, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
To ensure that your remote marketing team is functioning at its best, you need to provide them access to the right tools and technologies, just like you would for on-site employees.
Implement a centralized data management platform to ensure that all customer information is updated in real-time. This allows your team to create 360-degree customer profiles to inform your marketing strategy.
Use a CRM system to manage all customer interactions in real time so your marketing team can deliver the right message at the right time through the right channel to optimize results.
Marketing platforms, like Socialbakers, provide teams with cross-channel customer engagement capabilities in addition to campaign planning and execution.Provide tracking and reporting tools to help your team process data from various marketing channels and extract actionable insights, which can be shared across the organization digitally to drive timely and accurate data-driven decision-making.
Many of these applications also allow you to set up workflows. Tasks can be passed to the next team member automatically to avoid oversight and bottlenecks that could hold up approval processes and lead to unnecessary delays.
Since your virtual marketing team members will be working remotely on their own, you need a comprehensive onboarding process to make sure that they understand the internal workflows, communication protocols, and other operational procedures so they can work independently.
Provide comprehensive training on the communication and collaboration tools you have put in place – after all, your team won’t achieve the best outcomes if they don’t know how to use the applications to maximize productivity and optimize results.
Also, remote employees need to connect to your systems and access customer information using their own networks and equipment. Given the high cost associated with data breaches, cybersecurity is no longer an option for companies using virtual teams.
As such, you should provide the support and training required to ensure the security of your employees’ connections and the privacy of their networks. Make sure they have the proper VPN set up and take the necessary measures (e.g., use two-factor authentication and secure Wi-Fi) to augment end-point security.
In addition, Single Sign-On platforms, like OneLogin, give an added layer of protection whenever a remote team is accessing company apps, websites and data.
“What gets measured gets done”, and that’s no different when it comes to managing a remote marketing team.
Besides hiring the right people, setting up streamlined workflows, providing the right tools, and implementing a comprehensive onboarding training, you also need to track performance. This will allow you to fine-tune processes and provide timely coaching.
Scorecards and reporting software are essential tools that provide a common platform for supervisors and employees to evaluate performance objectively. By establishing the right KPIs, you can measure productivity and results to ensure that your team is getting the right support and resources to do their job.
Also, regularly gather feedback from your remote team members about their progress and challenges. This will not only give you a “from the trenches” perspective and help nip potential issues in the bud but also foster a culture of open communication that encourages collaboration and innovation.
Effective marketing depends on a deep understanding of your company’s vision, brand identity, and customer behaviors. The longer employees stay with your company, the better they understand the nuances so they can deliver great results.
To improve employee satisfaction and retention, make sure your remote marketing team is equipped to operate efficiently, communicate seamlessly, and have access to the right resources to do their jobs effectively.