How to make remote collaboration work in Marketing

MarketingThe Marketing team today can look very different to teams of just a few years ago.

Globalisation, remote working, outsourcing and flexible working have all grown over recent years. And while these are largely very positive trends, they can result in teams that are geographically dispersed, and in some cases working in different organisations and even across time zones.

This brings new challenges when it comes to effective project management, efficient working and delivery of marketing campaigns. How can teams collaborate successfully to deliver their marketing activity?

The changing nature of marketing collaboration

In the past, a Marketing team might have consisted of just two or three people, all of whom would sit in the same office. Working together was straightforward; formal meetings weren’t always needed, as ideas could be shared and suggested approaches discussed across the desk.

Jump forward a few years, and for many firms, teams are spread across offices, even countries, with some working at home. Job-sharing and flexible hours also mean that not all the team are in the same place at the same time.

Marketing generalists have been replaced with specialists in digital, content, events and operations – teams have diversified and grown.

Meanwhile, an increase in outsourcing sees external agencies essentially become part of the Marketing team, with the associated challenges this brings when it comes to co-operation.

If this changing landscape sounds familiar to you, how can you tackle it? What can you do to ensure your team works effectively together – whoever it consists of and wherever they are?

The good news is that there are some fairly simple steps you can take to ensure collaboration doesn’t fall down. We share our tips for maintaining a polished marketing operation, even when your team works remotely.

  1. Make sure your communication is on top form. Whether you’re briefing your creative agencies or keeping your internal team updated on project progress, clear and comprehensive communication is vital. If team members need to work on projects handed over in their absence, they have to be sure of current status and next steps.

Look into tools like Yammer – which can be a quicker and less cumbersome way than email to initiate conversations, get answers and brainstorm ideas.

Webexes – with video if you’re brave enough – can be a great way to replicate in-person meetings if face-to-face isn’t an option. And if it’s practical, try to meet in person every so often. Even a once-a-year get together can make a big difference when it comes to working relationships.

  1. Related to this, be clear on responsibilities and next steps. Having a single owner for a project is even more important when you’re collaborating as a remote team.

Someone needs to be in charge – not necessarily the always the same person, and not always the team manager. But having a dedicated project leader helps to keep everything on track and in line.

  1. Version control is also essential when creating and reviewing materials across a remote team. Maintain immaculate version control and you can avoid the headaches of rework, duplication and potential errors. One person needs to be in charge of a master document and all edits need to feed into this master version.

Not only will this save you time and unnecessary work, it reduces the risk of regulatory compliance breaches or other errors in branding or accuracy.

  1. Related to this, make sure all marketing assets are centrally stored and easily found. There’s little more frustrating than trying to find a document you need to update, and being thwarted because of someone else’s unpredictable filing. And they’re not around to ask…

Avoid recreating marketing assets unnecessarily by creating a central asset library, accessible to everyone who needs to use, update or approve marketing collateral. Read more tips here on achieving best practice digital asset management.

  1. Explore the tools available to help you. There’s any number of collaborative and automated marketing workflow tools on the market.

A good marketing automation platform can help you to keep on track by enabling collaborative reviewing, facilitating project management and ensuring you stay on schedule with reminders.

Having an instant view of all tasks and timelines has an immeasurable impact on marketing efficiency, making your projects transparent and straightforward. Capturing all document edits in a single file makes it easy to pick up projects from team members and feed them back to external agencies.

Whether its organising an event or planning your social media posts, there will be an app or a tool that can help.

Scheduling tools like Buffer or Hootsuite, for example, can ensure social media posts from different areas of your business are scheduled sensibly. Tools like Dropbox allow you to share large documents without clogging email boxes, and enable you to track whether they have been safely received and downloaded.

  1. Make time differences work to your advantage. Think creatively and a time difference can be a help, not a hindrance. If you’re in the UK, your team members in the US are still part-way through their day when you’re finishing yours. Hand over some key actions at the end of your day, and you should have an updated project by the time you come back in to the office.

And don’t forget to take into account people’s time-zones when scheduling any calls, online meetings or training. You may need to put in a couple of different times to cover off people in Asia and the US. While this might seem unwieldy, it’s courteous to schedule meetings within people’s usual working hours where possible – and increases your chances of having everyone you need on the call.

Effective solutions for remote collaboration

Remote working may sound like an obstacle to marketing efficiency, but take on board these tips and it needn’t be. Follow some best practice advice for effective remote collaboration and you can maintain a well-oiled marketing machine whatever the make-up and location of your team.

As we mentioned above, automated workflow tools can be one of the secrets to success when it comes to marketing collaboration.

To find out why regulated firms are increasingly turning to automated workflows to manage their marketing, and the tangible benefits they are seeing, you can download a copy of our free whitepaper, The benefits of automated workflow systems. You can read a free copy here.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

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