It’s About Helpfulness — But What’s That?
In any marketing technology initiative, adoption always gets lots of attention — as it should. Without adoption, there can’t be success in any meaningful way. But, what do we need in order to get adoption?
Well, surely satisfaction. And engagement too. Maybe even advocacy.
OK, sounds good. But what gets us those? Well, as we always say: a supremely helpful solution.
OK, great. And, what makes a solution supremely helpful?
We could go several more rounds, but you can probably already see what the challenge here is:
It’s about getting to the bottom of it all, finding the initial dominos in a sequence of dominos, to create a supremely helpful solution that satisfies, engages and compels users to embrace it and ultimately to advocate for it.
So, in our world of marketing work management, what are those dominos?
Math to the Rescue
It turns out there’s a simple math formula to express our challenge. OK, we know what you’re thinking — moan, groan — but please bear with us for a moment, it’s very straightforward and totally relevant, we promise! Here’s all you need to know:
Y is a function of x. Which is comprised of factors x1 through xn. Each of which has a certain impact on y, expressed by coefficients a, b, c, etc.
The key point is this: y is a dependent variable, while the x’s are independent variables. And, some of those independent x variables have greater impact, or leverage, on y.
Believe it or not, this formula is literally at the heart of all market research. It’s also at the heart of our quest for user adoption. All we have to do is this:
And why is this important?
Because satisfaction, adoption, engagement, advocacy — those are all dependent variables. The math is telling us to look elsewhere: to the independent variables on which they all depend.
So, let’s follow the math, and let’s apply these concepts about independent and high-impact variables toward solving our challenge.
Supreme Helpfulness in Marketing Work Management
To that end, let’s ask ourselves: what makes a marketing work management solution supremely helpful? Well, almost certainly, three things:
- The ability to create and manage work assigned to others
- The ability to prioritize and do work assigned to me
- The ability to see real-time information and status about said work
In marketing work management terminology, these involve three categories of solution capability:
- Project management: solution capabilities that enable project managers to create, schedule and manage marketing projects and task workflows
- Task management: solution capabilities that enable task assignees to view, prioritize and complete and/or collaborate on work tasks assigned to them
- Visibility: solution capabilities that enable marketing leaders, project managers and task assignees to view real-time information about the state of work in dashboards, reports, etc.
For each of these three categories of capability, we want to understand and pinpoint what the independent, high-impact factors are — from each user’s perspective, and with respect to each user’s role and responsibility, meaning creating work, doing work, or viewing work status.
So, how can we gain a clear and specific understanding of what those independent, high-impact factors might be? Well: let’s talk to users and find out what they think!
In fact, there are a variety of questions we typically use, either in surveys or focus groups, to help us pinpoint the independent and high-impact factors we’re looking for. In the following sections we’ll discuss some of these questions, with respect to each of the three categories of solution capability we noted earlier.
Project Management: Setup, Applicability & Assignment
When we ask users questions about project management, we’re trying to uncover high-impact solution capabilities that help marketing managers to better manage marketing projects and initiatives.
This entails probing in areas such as general ease and burden of use, workflow templates, completeness of data, team-specific needs, etc. Typical questions we ask include:
- Do you believe the solution’s project management capabilities will make it easier for you to manage your marketing projects? (Shown above)
- Do you the solution’s project management capabilities accommodate all of the project types you need?
- Do you believe the solution provides project management capabilities that are well suited to your team’s needs?
- Do you believe the solution ensures that projects are properly defined with complete and accurate data?
- Do you believe the solution reduces the amount of data entry and/or duplication of effort needed to manage projects?
Task Management: Prioritization, Collaboration & Completion
When we ask users about task management, we’re trying to uncover high-impact solution capabilities that help marketing professionals prioritize, work on, collaborate on, and complete tasks that are assigned to them.
For example, we typically ask:
- Do you believe the solution has made it easier for you to complete your assigned tasks? (Shown above)
- Do you believe the solution enables you to manage all of the tasks for which you are responsible?
- Do you believe the solution has improved your ability to collaborate and coordinate with your team members?
- Do you believe the solution’s task assignment capabilities improve task assignment accuracy?
- Do you believe the solution’s task scheduling capabilities improve resource utilization and efficiency?
Visibility: Calendaring, Reporting & Search
Finally, for marketing managers and professionals that work in high-volume and high-velocity marketing organizations, access to real-time information is not only critical, but also instrumental to help them to proactively respond to day-to-day marketing challenges “in the moment.”
So when we ask questions about calendaring and reporting, we’re trying to pinpoint not only the kinds of data they need, but also their ability to modify the presentation of that data to suit their individual or team’s needs. To that end, we often ask:
- Do you believe the solution provides the information you need at the moment you need it? (Shown above)
- Do you believe the solution provides real-time information about marketing initiatives?
- Do you believe the solution’s calendaring capabilities provide you with comprehensive information on key project dates and project milestones?
- Do you believe the solution’s reporting capabilities offer the management and status reports that you need?
- Do you believe the solution enables you to easily create and/or modify reports to suit your needs?
Of course, there’s no definitive list of independent and high-impact factors that collectively delivers the supremely helpful solution that compels users to erupt in rapturous satisfaction, rabid engagement and delirious advocacy.
It depends on the circumstances, and it varies from one organization to another.
However, the good news is that more often than not, you’ll likely find that the short list of high-impact factors revolves around just a handful of areas:
- User’s perceived understanding & ease of use of capabilities
- Capabilities that are conducive to “getting the job done”
- Capabilities that deliver completeness & coverage of functionality
But: to get to the bottom of it all — to specifically pinpoint those initial dominos — we strongly recommend a user-focused approach.
So, by all means, do some preliminary research to narrow the field. And always — always — talk to your users. Listen to them. Engage with them. Brainstorm with them. Because: