Ever since the world went into lockdown, online interest in managing teams remotely has grown by leaps and bounds.
For so many businesses (and functions), the concept of remote working is new. Managers are consistently experimenting with different ways to keep their teams engaged and productive while delivering work on time.
But when it is about a creative function like marketing, much emphasis is on creating a favorable environment for the marketers to thrive in. Here are nine best practices to successfully manage remote marketing team and collaborate better:
9 best practices for managing remote marketing team
1. Leverage smart hiring practices
The New York Times Bestseller Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street makes a compelling argument. Companies often fail at their hiring initiatives when they are not clear about what they want the new employee to accomplish.
Implement a hiring methodology that enables you to answer three critical questions:
- Who do you want to hire?
- Why are you making that hire?
- Does the prospective marketer even want to work with your company?
This practice will help you define the outcomes you want. These goals can be over the first three months or over one year of making the remote hire.
The new remote hires must understand the company values and align with the flexible work policy. However, hiring is just one side of the coin.
2. Employee engagement
The sudden shift to remote working overnight, as a response to the pandemic earlier this year, has led to a host of challenges.
Surely, remote working is one of the biggest employee engagement trends in 2020. And it will continue to be so in 2021. However, remote working has given rise to engagement and productivity problems that no one was prepared for. While remote working has its benefits, the disadvantages can lead to disengaged team members.
Keeping your remote marketing team engaged is a relatively new concept. After all, disengaged team members do more harm than good to your organization.
How to engage the remote teams?
When you see employees getting burned out, it is high time to connect with the team.
These times call for getting creative with internal communications. Just because you don’t have a shared physical workspace does not mean internal interactions cannot be fun.
Here are some ideas you could try while communicating with your remote marketing team:
- Encourage and gather feedback
- Emphasize virtual meetups
- Appreciate your employees
Going that extra mile to make your remote workers feel valued will be reciprocated in the form of higher productivity and work satisfaction.
An employee engagement software such as Empuls by Xoxoday can help your marketing team stay motivated and engaged.
The benefits of an employee engagement software:
- Regular employee feedback survey helps listen, measure, understand, and improve anomalies and areas which need attention.
- Enables colleagues to socialize to bridge connections.
- Allows distributed marketing teams to collaborate on work and celebrate socially.
- Automating rewards and recognition build a culture of appreciation. A person goes beyond their call of duty when positive behavior is recognized and rewarded.
For new team members, create an onboarding process that boosts engagement and saves time. With marketing teams operating rapidly, you want someone who can quickly join and hit the ground running.
Teach your new remote hires how the marketing department works. Allow them to mingle with their teammates via video conferencing. Ensure that everyone is clear regarding their goals, duties, and expectations.
As a remote marketing manager, you must navigate your team’s differing work hours. Encourage everyone in your time zone to be mindful of others’ schedules.
Ask all the remote marketers to mark their working and non-working hours on the calendar for greater transparency. Suppose you are refreshing your branding. It is crucial for designing, SEO, copywriting, and development teams to be available at the same time. Align virtual communications so that there is no confusion regarding the team’s working hours.
Create a knowledge base or an internal training website where employees can find these documents after the orientation. A well-planned and executed onboarding process can ease first-day anxieties.
3. Implement a remote work policy
Managing a remote marketing team is a massive step. If you want your marketers to deliver quality work in time and collaborate productively, lay some ground rules. Deploy a formal WFH policy that describes everything needed to allow your marketers to work efficiently.
As the reason for a work from home policy is to set clear expectations.
What a remote work policy should include:
- Eligibility and scope
- Request and approval process
- Work hours
- Productivity measures and time tracking guidelines
- Communication expectations
- Equipment and IT support
- Cybersecurity and confidentiality
- Grounds for termination
- Acknowledgment of receipt with e-signature
A standard policy outlines:
- Expectations from the employees
- How their work will be measured and,
- The ways to communicate with teams
In a remote setting, it is essential to have a policy that takes care of each detail. For instance, marketers must know the correct way to reach out to an executive-level employee, behave in group meetings, and whether they are expected to have their cameras on or off in video meetings.
They should also be responsible for maintaining the privacy and security of any company-related documents such as corporate data, passwords, and other work-related materials sensitive in nature.
For the efficiency and productivity of your remote marketing team, the use of time tracking software proves helpful. Time Doctor is a time tracking tool with 83,000 users, helping them improve productivity. For businesses with remote employees and outsourced teams, Time Doctor is a combination of time tracking and project management.
Companies and teams of all sizes use this simple and customizable employee monitoring tool for:
- Tracking and analyzing time spent on projects, clients and tasks
- Tracking time accurately to the very second – to bill clients and pay employees
- Integrates with the preferred payment program and supports all currencies
- Can be used on laptop, tablets and mobiles to track the time spent online
- Manual editing of time
With Time Doctor, time management gets easier with increased accountability, regardless of the distance.
4. Build a flexible marketing plan
As a remote marketing manager, it is your responsibility to keep your team on track when creating SEO-friendly content, building a social media presence, and optimizing email copy – all along achieving your marketing goals.
Brainstorm ideas and put monthly, quarterly and annual plans to achieve KPIs for each channel. Don’t stick to just one channel. Your marketing tactics should efficiently reach all your customers.
Create a marketing plan
Conduct multiple brainstorming sessions with the team to create a marketing plan. Set KPIs, assign duties, and share timelines for everyone in the time.
Since your team is dispersed, it is vital to keep track of everything. Set up weekly reporting to know how the employee performs.
Do a quarterly review to analyze and reflect on the strategies that are working and what needs to be improved. Clear communication drives transparency and productivity.
Streamline marketing processes by automating daily tasks. You can use marketing automation software such as EngageBay. They include sending and tracking emails, lead capturing, managing social media posts, and personalizing site messaging.
5. Organize virtual meetings periodically
When working remotely, team meetings are essential for effective communication.
Tools such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, and even Skype are perfect for remote meetings. You can purchase a paid version depending upon your budget and the team size. Else you can use a free version too.
When you schedule a meeting, pick a time that works for everyone on your team. Virtual meetings without an agenda are futile. Make sure there is a strong reason for scheduling one.
Send an email calendar invite with an agenda (comprising a bulleted list for discussion). Also, communicate in advance to your team what they should do to be prepared. A practice that can help you host an effective meeting is a slide deck comprising discussion points.
That is especially helpful when a person from another team is also invited to the meeting. Also, slide decks can be shared on the screen, making it easier to have everyone’s attention.
6. Use technology to collaborate with sales teams
Marketing teams work closely with several teams, such as operations and R&D but most notably, sales. In the end, sales reps and marketers work towards one goal of generating leads for the business.
Often, it is difficult to track what either team is working on because of the lack of a CRM system. Working in silos won’t fetch any results and instead hamper the long-term business.
Importance of CRM
Integrating a CRM can help reduce the information gap.
Your marketing team can access and see the leads being pursued by the sales reps. They can tailor prospect conversations accordingly using lead magnets, email drip campaigns, paid advertising, and more.
On the other hand, sales reps can provide information about the prospect’s likes and dislikes. This can help your marketing team align their messaging on social media with fresh insights. If your marketing team is repurposing content, they could share these diverse content formats with the sales team. They can further use them to educate the customers and prospects.
Customer service teams must collaborate with sales and marketing teams to let them know the frequently asked customer queries. Your sales and customer support teams can consider a business phone system for seamless interdepartmental communication. Managing call activities, adding notes, and assigning calls to the right team improves customer satisfaction.
With a combined effort, all teams will achieve their goals faster.
7. Use the right set of tools to work efficiently as a remote team
Technology has a significant impact on the way businesses function. Your remote marketing team is no exception. Incorporate the right set of marketing and collaboration tools to manage the team effectively.
Be cautious not to go overboard with different tools for various activities. That can confuse the team. That can even make your department vulnerable to security risks.
Start with the basics such as:
- Secure team communication platform – to facilitate collaboration
- Project management tool – to track marketing assignments and workflows
- Comprehensive marketing calendar – to plan out what content your team should publish, when and where
Tools for remote marketing team
InVideo – Videos are becoming the go-to source of content consumption.
Online video editor InVideo has over 3,000 ready-made video templates. Using InVideo, you can create stunning videos for bite-sized ads, video testimonials, listicles, posters, and even convert articles to video.
Expandi – LinkedIn automation tools like Expandi enable remote marketing teams to focus on making new connections with intelligent and advanced targeting. A dedicated country-based IP address increases visibility and profile views.
Omniconvert Reveal – Omniconvert Reveal is a customer retention optimization software.
It lets your team know the customer retention rate, customer satisfaction score, lifetime value, and the best customer segments.
Respona – Although link building is one of the top 3 ranking factors for Google, building relevant links is only getting tougher.
Respona, a link building software, allows remote marketing teams to streamline their backlinking process.
It provides features such as finding the right link building opportunities, creating automated email sequences, finding verified email addresses, personalizing the outreach, and a detailed dashboard.
Right Inbox – More than 250,000 users use Right Inbox to auto-send scheduled emails. To boost your team’s email productivity, Right Inbox’s Gmail extension lets you schedule emails to be sent later.
For teams whose clients are in different time zones, Right Inbox allows you to schedule their delivery.
Jotform – JotForm is a free, easy to use drag and drop online survey maker tool. Whether you are conducting a customer survey or asking for internal employee feedback, JotForm can be useful.
Despite the issues that come with remote working, there are more advantages in terms of productivity and employee well-being. The right set of collaboration tools can make managing a remote marketing team effective and efficient.
8. Cultivate a culture of hosting and attending virtual events
A significant portion of any marketing strategy relies on attending conferences, training workshops, and meetups. Due to the pandemic, offline events may have taken a backseat, but virtual conferences create a buzz!
If your remote marketing team wants to organize an online event, create a game plan. Have sessions with your marketers to discuss the topic or theme of the event and when you want to host it.
Some of the ideas include:
- X number of ways businesses can alleviate the ripple effect of the pandemic (works if you sell a SaaS product)
- An online session demonstrating “how-to” with a new product feature launch
- A webinar about XYZ topic in collaboration with a complementing business partner
Put together a list of all the collaterals you need. They would include a landing page, email drips, social media captions, webinar tools and so on. Apart from that, it would help if you also sorted out a post-event strategy.
- Daily giveaways that are lightweight and easy to direct mail
- Real-time Q&A sessions
Alternatively, make it a habit for your team to attend virtual meetups. It is an excellent practice for them to keep learning and expand their network. So, push them to choose conferences of their liking. If some of the events are paid for, make sure your marketing budget can accommodate those.
9. Keep the communication channels open for customers
Customers turn to businesses for answers. The temporary closure of physical office space should not affect the customer experience. Make sure your remote marketing team is equipped with the necessary tools to meet consumer demands.
Set up FAQ pages and roll out social media updates to address common queries.
Ensure someone from your marketing team operates the live website chat. If that is not possible, deploy a chatbot. People like to communicate in different ways. Your remote marketing team should cover all bases.
Assign duties to each team member so that all marketing assets of the company (website, social media channels, forums, newsletters and email) are open for customers to reach out to the business.
Building and managing a remote marketing team is, no doubt, challenging. But it offers you an exciting opportunity to bring together talented marketers across the globe under a single roof to work for your company.
Therefore, don’t forget to create a favorable virtual office, deploy digital tools, measure performance and analyze results consistently. Adjust your management style as and when needed. Marketing is exciting. Make working remotely even more exciting!
About the author
Priyanka Desai is the founder of iScribblers, a content marketing and writing agency for SaaS, technology, and advertising companies.