Center of Excellence | Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

Marketing Technology

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Implementing a foundation program library inside of your Marketo Engage application is one feat. Implementing a center of excellence outside of the platform is another. Without a focus on people, processes, and overall technology, you could be setting yourself up for poor adoption and support. With a focus on the three, you could be setting yourself up for optimized value realization and your next big promotion. As employees turn towards virtual work during the pandemic, these components are more important now than ever before.

Wait, what’s a Center of Excellence (COE), anyway? If you are familiar with Marketo Engage, you have probably heard of the Center of Excellence inside the platform…what we are talking about here is outside. A Marketo Engage COE is centralized governance, best practice, thought leadership, and organizational structure allowing a company or institution to control scalable marketing strategy, initiatives, and processes. It has been proven to drive improved efficiencies, consistency in communications, and brand standards across an entire organization. However, less than a third of companies have made the transition to experience-led businesses, according to a recent Forrester Research report. We call out this statistic because those who strive to excel with their digital capabilities to enhance the customer journey will definitely want to utilize this COE structure.

Here are the top ten questions to ask yourself when considering this transformation:

1. Why would I need a center of excellence? We already have one inside the platform…

We know, it might be confusing. Why did we call two different things the same thing? #growth. A center of excellence, or more appropriately, a foundation program library, is the place inside your Marketo Engage instance that houses the foundation program templates, typically those that drive the most value and are most commonly used, as well as approved for widespread use by your marketing operations team. Remember, you can get everything inside the platform right and still fail if the necessary structures and processes outside the platform are not in place.

A center of excellence outside of the platform is a broader concept that focuses on the people, process, and technology to better enable your marketing automation solution. It strengthens what you have built inside the application by nurturing design outside, including a dedicated focus on the following areas:

  • roles and permissions,
  • deployment and enablement,
  • process management,
  • change management,
  • metrics and reporting,
  • governance and governance model,
  • the sales and marketing partnership,
  • customer journey,
  • and more!

Having carefully thought out and designed these structures will maximize your return on investment in your solutions and allow for organizational transformation both inside and outside of Marketo Engage. As we discuss in the COE, momentum needs a sponsor and your biggest successes will come with that sponsorship.

2. Have we carefully considered centralization vs. decentralization as well as hybrid models?

Centralization and decentralization can be applied to a plethora of disciplines. It is not insignificant to consider your strategic approach to aspects of your business with regard to centralization and decentralization. The mere act of thinking about where your organization stands or where you want different aspects of your organization to land on the centralization and decentralization scale is a step in the right direction.

There are different degrees of centralization, and it should always vary by degrees versus purely all or nothing. On opposite ends of the spectrum, there is total control and teach to fish—think of them, quite frankly, as they are named. These degrees of centralization applied to various business aspects are strongly correlated with company culture and resources, they are always on a sliding scale and there is no utopia.

Also, examine where you stand on the centralization spectrum with regard to the following areas:

  • compliance
  • training and enablement
  • process documentation
  • content creation
  • creating and editing templates
  • reporting
  • nurture strategy

3. Do we have good momentum around marketing automation that catalyzes additional value across our business?

Take a step back and think about the momentum that exists today. Analyze why that momentum exists, learn from that momentum and how you can replicate or use it to inspire additional change throughout other facets of the business. If something does not have momentum and is not generating positive value in some way, shape or form, face it head-on, pivot, and adapt.

4. Are we personalizing and tailoring our enablement needs with accommodating tactics?

Engagement marketing maturity does not only need to exist externally with customers. Consider the enablement motions you have in place today. Think about the unique enablement needs of the team or teams. We recommend that you think about internal user groups, “brown bag” or informal lunches to info-share, and promote enablement, Marketo Engage community User Groups. (Check out the global list here for access to a strong community of Marketo Engage and digital marketing experts just waiting for you and your team to join.) There are many ways to get creative with personalized enablement and we encourage you to carefully examine what will work best in your organization.

5. Do we have a strong, defined enablement path moving forward?

In addition to the items mentioned above, we recommend that you focus on the basics as well. Build a plan around how you will onboard users of Marketo Engage with playbooks, user guides, training decks and recordings, launch checklists, QA forms, program requests, and promotion of strong internal and external resources—Marketo Engage has a ton of amazing resources, and other applications and advisory firms do as well. When there are new features, have a process on how you will roll them out. Additionally, you should consider annual standards training or reviews you might need to complete that are company-wide…and do not wait for these initiatives to happen. If you feel there is a topic that needs addressing, be that voice inside the company.

6. Are we tracking existing, critical KPIs well & are there net-new KPIs we should consider?

Take a data-driven approach and be able to tell a story and make a strong case with verifiable data. Understand the KPIs your constituents in sales, finance, customer success, etc. are tracking, learn how to speak a common language that will help you get buy-in, or simply have a productive conversation about metrics that do not leave your head spinning post-meeting with the CFO. Marketo Engage recommends you focus on metrics like program performance, lead quality, waterfall metrics, return on investment (ROI), and lead acquisition reporting as well as sales efficiency metrics. If your organization is very mature with regard to its attribution strategy, we recommend you agree upon multi-touch attribution measures across the organization and leverage the appropriate technology paired with maturity to facilitate that measurement. Also, consider a data-driven operating model to align and drive the business toward strategic objectives across the customer journey with minimal business disruption to ensure continued growth through alignment of KPIs to each stage of that journey.

7. Is there friction in the sales and marketing partnership that affects the customer journey?

This is a timeless topic. No matter how much technology evolves and no matter how sophisticated we become with our marketing tactics, there is no amount of machine learning that will ever trump the age-old practice of collaboration. It is critical that you nurture this relationship, have a strategic and ongoing dialogue, and truly value this partnership.

8. What other alignments of people and processes with other initiatives critical to Marketo Engage exist?

Here’s where process and change management comes into play. Do you have centralized processes that exist today? Consider how you adopted them, what made adoption hold and think about where you might need new processes to support your marketing growth. There are various pillars of COE process management infrastructure, user setup and process documentation are just two to name. Change management is key as well. Do you reflect on the catalyzation of change within your organization and all its glorious components like communications, change agents and change measurements? Food for thought…

9. Do we have stable Governance structures?

The role of governance and governance structures is pivotal in the success of marketing’s role as a revenue driver versus a cost center. Creating oversight structures across different layers of the organization brings together people, processes and technology of the organization in a strategic way to prioritize, assign, and execute key initiatives. We are not talking about more agenda-less meetings to add to your calendar.

10. Do I still need a COE if we have mastered execution?

The short answer is yes. No amount of excellent execution can mask poor design. Take the time to carve out these elements to reposition Marketing from “saving the quarter” to being thought of as a strategic authority and agency of its business unit. Design is just as important as execution.

Having trouble answering these questions? Adobe’s Digital Performance Strategy team has solutions that can help you successfully answer these questions and move to strong design and strong execution or even stronger design and stronger execution.

Check out more information here about Marketo Engage’s Center of Excellence Workshop or contact us here.