Bridging the Gap between Marketers and Developers – Part 1

Being a technical consultant that has spent a few years in a corporate marketing department, I know how miscommunications can happen and how to avoid them by helping marketers and developers have better conversations. In this blog, I’m going to focus on how to bridge the gap between marketers and developers when doing Online Marketing with Kentico EMS by suggesting the questions to ask and discussions to have around six areas:

  • Picking a suitable development model
  • Understanding Online Marketing data
  • Considering contact segmentations
  • Utilizing automated lead nurturing
  • Creating dynamic marketing emails
  • Understanding integrations with CRM systems

Why? Because on one hand, marketers may well have a lot of experience with traditional marketing, but doing things digitally may be something new. On the other hand, most developers can be technical when it comes to implementation, but they don’t have any strategies or a good understanding when it comes to Online Marketing.

Picking a Suitable Development Model

Personally, I felt that this is one of the most miscommunicated subjects between marketers and developers when it comes to building a website using Kentico. Kentico offers multiple development models that can be used for different project requirements, for a marketer-centric project, the preferred model is portal development, however, for a developer-centric project, the preferred model could be MVC or ASPX templating.

In many cases, developers simply pick the model they are more comfortable with (MVC or ASPX) without asking marketers about how much control they want to have. The resulting problem comes when the project is handed over, marketers suddenly realize that they don’t have direct access to modify pages in the same way as they saw in the sales demo or EMS training, and they have to go through developers for all the changes. That’s when everything turns sour.

To avoid this from happening, marketers should have some understanding about all the available development options and how much involvement they can get from each option before development starts. Also, marketers should be clearer upfront on what kind of things they want to do with the pages so developers can avoid any pitfalls.

As a marketer, try answering some of these questions:

  • What kind of pages do you plan to manage? Home pages, landing pages, campaign pages, etc.?
  • Other than updated data, do you plan to be able to add/remove components on the page without a developer?
  • Do you want to do content personalization?
  • How about A/B testing or MVT to enhance the performance of campaign pages?

As developers, try helping marketers by doing some of the following:

  • Explain the different development options. E.g., portal development is more business-user friendly and MVC is a more developer-centric approach.
  • How many templates should be created when going with portal development?
  • What kind of components (widgets) should be created for marketers to enable them to do more than just content editing?

The typical outcome of these discussions should include:

  • Ensuring that the marketers can be self-efficient when creating landing pages with components—using portal templates is the better option right now.
  • Even if marketers are not ready to do everything on their own at launch, as long as it’s on the roadmap, then planning and preparing ahead. Avoid rebuilding the solution.
  • Generating a list of components that marketers need. Utilize both built-in and custom user controls to create widgets.

The takeaway here is that until the day similar modifications can be done by marketers in an MVC project, portal templates development is still the best option for them to do things on their own.

Understanding Online Marketing Data

Most traditional marketers care about matrices, they want to see the number of visitors, page hits, CTR, keywords, conversions, and form submissions, etc. With Online Marketing involved, there are also campaign performance and contact activates to track. Marketers expect that developers can provide them with all the data necessary for them to generate reports, refresh content, and adjust strategies, etc.

Some of the essential conversations with developers are: The kinds of data you want to keep track of; How much or how far back you want to keep the data; How the data should be presented.

Marketers should be able to understand the following:

  • Do you only need web analytics data about your visitors or do you like to track visitor activities on your site? If you only need analytics data, make sure that activity tracking is not enabled as tracking utilizes server resources.
  • When it comes to storing marketing data, there are multiple things to consider, such as:
    • Keeping all the data in Kentico so it will be easy to utilize the data for the built-in Online Marketing features. However, keeping too much data can lead to slower performance of your servers.
    • Using external tools such as Google Analytics to keep the data so that it doesn’t cause performance issues on your servers. However, it will be hard to utilize the data for Kentico built-in Online Marketing features without developers’ help.
  • My recommendation is to use the best of both worlds:
    • Use external tools to keep long-term analytics data from the past three, five, or 10+ years so you can generate website performance reports or provide data for audits.
    • Use Kentico to keep short-term data, and, more importantly, contact activities on the site because you need to use that data for Online Marketing processes. How much should you keep? I say that depending on the average sales life cycle of your business, three, six or 12 months. Any activity data older than that may be less important because visitor behavior changes or may not be a valid opportunity to pursue any longer.
  • What kinds of report do you want to have for that data? All the data is in the database, but the out-of-the-box reports may not be what you need. So discuss with your developers, tell them your needs, and they can create custom reports (with SQL queries) so the reports are easier on your eyes instead of them exporting thousands of rows of data and giving it to you for you to work on.

The take away from these discussions is to have a better understanding on what data is needed, how it will be used, and how to maintain it. Have a better control of the data will ensure the better performance of your website.

Considering Contact Segmentations

Having a popular website is great. But to understand what kind of visitors you have to serve them better, marketers need to segment visitors, or “contacts” in Kentico EMS terms.

When it comes to contact segmentation, my recommendation is always to start with a manageable number of segmentations based on how many resources you have. Why? Because it’s not just putting contacts into buckets, but also preparing unique content to serve each segment.

Here are the different ways to segment contacts with Kentico:

  • Contact Groups can be used to segment contacts based on similar properties or attributes. Contacts can be manually added into contact groups, or rules can be set up to add contacts to the group dynamically. This is mostly used for traditional segmentation.
  • persona is your ideal customer, so you want to fit the contacts into the right profile. Contacts are calculated dynamically into a single persona based on a set of rules. But don’t start with too many of them, as you may not be able to separate them clearly or have enough unique content to support each persona. This is mostly used for lead nurturing.
  • Lead Scoring is mostly for identifying the qualified lead to be forwarded to the sales team. It’s also dynamically calculating scores for each contact based on a set of rules you have set up.

For contact segmentation, here are some of the discussions marketers and developers should have:

  • How many segments do you “actually” need? Do you have resources to support all of these segments?
  • Which segmentation feature works best for you? You may use a combination of these features for different parts of the marketing process.
  • What kinds of conditions or rules do you need for each segment? Are these rules linear, parallel, or can they be combined using conditions? Certainly, the fewer the number of rules, the better, and don’t forget to disable the rules you don’t use anymore.
  • Developers should check to see if some of the condition rules marketers asked for are available out of the box or whether they need to be custom created.

The takeaways here are:

  • Pick the right segmentation option for different purposes.
  • Start with a manageable amount of segmentations and add more as needed.
  • Always study the data and refine the rules you had set up for segmenting contacts.

Now you can see what some of the conversations are that marketers and developers should have during the planning phase of the web project. Do you think these topics will save you time and help avoid trouble in the long run?

By Rui Wang in Kentico

Posted: Saturday 23 September 2017