Author: Chad

1. Add a billing record to safeguard project

Although Workfront has recently added a recycling bin feature, deleting a project can cause panic, confusion, and loss of productivity, especially if the project you just deleted was a request queue. Prevent any worry around losing key projects by adding a zero dollar billing record to them.

Even if your company or group isn’t using the billing record feature for its native purpose, it can be used here as an extra layer of protection against project deletion. Simply go to the project, create a new billing record, and set the status to Billed”. Then, if someone attempts to delete the project this error message will display and the project will stay out of the recycling bin:

 

2. Make a placeholder job role to prevent assigning users to parent tasks

By default parent tasks can’t be updated or completed independently from their child tasks. The one task detail that can be independently edited on a parent task is the assignment; however, when users are assigned to parent tasks we find that it often leads to frustration when they receive the inevitable error message for trying update the status or completion percentage. To help prevent project managers and other users from accidentally assigning workers to parent tasks, create a job role titled “Do not assign – Parent Task”. Assign this to all of the parent tasks on your project templates and it will serve as a reminder/safeguard that these tasks are a summary of their child tasks and shouldn’t have a user assigned to them.

 

3. As a plan license user, view the resource planner by user

(Note: this assumes your Workfront instance has completed the prerequisites needed for Resource Planning) The Resource Planner is a helpful widget in Workfront to manage the allocation of resources to projects and forecast their availability for future work. Formerly, this was limited to only users who were listed as Resource Managers on projects. With recent updates, however, any user with a plan license can get valuable information from the Resource Planner by setting the view to “View by User”. If the view is set to View by Project or View by Role, results will only be returned for projects where the user is listed as a Resource Manager, putting you right back at square one. View by User doesn’t have that prerequisite and allows other plan license users to see the allocation of all users, regardless if they’re listed as a resource manager.

 

4. Change ID to name in text mode

(Note: this only works for details tab) When creating views and reports in Workfront, there will be instances where the information you want to display is too many levels away from the object you’re working on. This will limit the display options from the field explorer. For example, when adding a column to a task report or task view for the name of the project sponsor, you will find the only option is “SponsorID”. While this makes sense to the Workfront database, this doesn’t provide much value to users viewing the report. Luckily this can be changed with a quick text mode edit.

While in the report or view editor, click on the column for the ID field and switch to Text Mode.

  • On every line where you see “fieldnameID” change the “ID” to “:name”
  • For example change project:sponsorID to project:sponsor:name
  • Click “Save” in the text mode window, then save the view or report.
displayname=Documents
valuefield=project:sponsor:name
querysort=project:sponsor:name
valueformat=HTML
displayname=
linkedname=project
namekey=view.relatedcolumn
namekeyargkey.0=project
namekeyargkey.1=sponsor
namekeyargkey.2=name

 

5. Flag task commit dates greater than planned completion dates

Commit dates are set by task assignees and can’t be changed by the project owner. While the project manager is notified when commit dates affect the project timeline, it can be hard to quickly review a project and see which task commit dates are later than their planned completion dates. With some text mode code, the commit date field can be added to a task view with conditional formatting to display in red when later than the planned completion date.

This can be done by adding a blank column to a task view and switching to text mode, and pasting in the code below:

displayname= Commit Date
linkedname=direct
namekey=commitDate
querysort=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.icon=false
styledef.case.0.comparison.leftmethod=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.lefttext=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.operator=gt
styledef.case.0.comparison.operatortype=date
styledef.case.0.comparison.rightmethod=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.righttext=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.name=fontstyle
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.value=bold
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.name=textcolor
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.value=d30519
styledef.case.0.comparison.truetext=

Click “Save” in the text mode window then save the view you’re editing. Now when viewing a task list, any user commit dates that are later than the planned completion dates will be displayed in red.

 

6. Link directly to queue topics

Have you ever instructed someone to submit a Workfront request and found yourself listing off the steps of selecting the proper request queue, topic group, then queue topic? Theses directions can be eliminated and the end user experience enhanced by sending them a link directly to the queue topic. Instead of sending the URL “domain.workfront.com/requests” with instructions on which drop downs to select, if you select the request queue & specific queue topic, the URL in your browser grows with each selection. This enables the URL to take the user to the specific queue topic without having to manually make any selections. This is incredibly handy when posting Workfront URLs on intranet sites for users to submit work requests.

 

7. Link directly to a sub-tab on an object

In similar vein to tip #6, URLs can also be built to take users to specific tabs on a project, task, issue, etc. To land a user on a specific sub-tab of an object, Workfront allows for a parameter to be added to the URL with the structure below:

https://<domain>.my.workfront.com/project/view?ID=5b6c7eb5003d2022cea3a135cca33ac1&activeTab=tab-project-updates

Normally when viewing a project (or task, or issue), the URL stops after the object ID regardless of which tab is being viewed. By adding the parameter “&activeTab” the URLs will navigate directly to the project tab of your choosing. Some more examples:

 

URL modifier Landing tab
&activeTab=tab-project-details-forms Project Details
&activeTab=tab-project-approvals Project Approvals
&activeTab=list-project-documents Project Documents
&activeTab=tab-project-updates Project Updates
&activeTab=tab-project-optasks Project Issues

 

The same concept and URL structure works on other Workfront objects such as tasks, issues, programs, portfolios, etc. For other objects, simply change the object reference in the URL examples above from ‘project’ to the object you’re referencing.

 

8. Make sure your browser zoom setting is at 100%

Occasionally, when selecting a request queue or an option from a drop down field in older browsers, the drop down option menu appears on a random part of the screen or, in some cases, doesn’t appear at all. Although this seems like a major issue, 99% it’s not a bug and can be fixed very quickly. Double check the zoom on your browser and make sure it is set to 100%. In certain browsers, if the zoom is set to a value other than 100%, it can cause issues with drop downs appearing.

 

9. Link to documents in a project or task view

Use this text mode trick to create hyperlinks to documents from a project view. When creating a project/task view or report, add a blank column and switch into text mode. Copy and paste in the text mode code below, and be sure to update the <domain> section of the URL with the domain of your Workfront instance.

displayname=Documents
listdelimiter=
listmethod=nested(documents).lists
textmode=true
type=iterate
valueexpression=CONCAT({name}, - "https://&lt;domain&gt;.my.workfront.com/document/view?ID=",{ID},"; ")
valueformat=HTML

Click “Save” the text mode window, then save the view or report. Now, when viewing the results, the names of any attached documents will be listed along with a URL to navigate directly to the document.

 

10. Find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents

After Workfront has been implemented, there will inevitably be projects in your system that were either created by mistake or abandoned shortly after creation. While many of these can be cleaned up by searching your instance for “Untitled Project” and deleting any results, this doesn’t work for projects that have had a name change. To assist in system maintenance, use this text mode to find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents. Creating a project report, go to the filter page, switch into text mode, and paste in the code below:

EXISTS:a:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:a:$$OBJCODE=OPTASK
EXISTS:a:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:b:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:b:$$OBJCODE=TASK
EXISTS:b:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:c:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:c:$$OBJCODE=DOCU
EXISTS:c:projectID=FIELD:ID[/CSS]

 

Workfront reporting is great. But you’re pretty much limited to either basic visualizations or tables. If you find yourself using tables a lot, chances are you’re trying to display a whole bunch of information associated with a single record. And while you can easily just tack on additional columns to accommodate this information, sometimes doing so becomes more of a hindrance than a help.

So let’s look at some advanced formatting options you can employ to help consolidate information (and pretty things up a bit too!). Take a look at the screenshot below. This is pulled from our user directory where we found ourselves wanting to display more information than was feasible in a table. So we broke it out into things we need to more closely monitor and/or sort on such as groups and teams. We then collapsed what I’ll call “secondary” information into a single column and applied some fancy formatting to help make it all a bit more legible.

 

 

So what’s going on behind the curtain. It’s really just two main tricks:

  1. Shared columns; and
  2. HTML formatting

 

Shared columns

Let’s look at the shared column function first. The second column in the report–“Name”–is technically two columns combined into one which, oddly enough, actually requires three columns. In the code below you’ll see a reference to column.1, column.2, and column.3. Column.1 is really just pulling in the username, but it uses the default field code which comes with some additional features beyond just the first and last name–most notably the status of the user profile (i.e., registered/unregistered)–so it’s a good idea to pull this directly from the text mode of the username field (or just copy it below!).

Similarly, column.3 contains the default code for the avatar field. The magic happens in the code for column.2 (lines 13-17 below). There are two key things going on here. First, and most importantly, is the code “column.2.sharecol=true”.This is the code that tells Workfront to join the adjacent columns on either side. IMPORTANT! You ALSO have to include the sharecol code on what would be the column to the left in order for everything to work. In this case, that’s column.1. The other interesting piece of code worth mentioning is on line 16. The <hr> (horizontal rule) tag is what inserts that nifty line between the username and avatar. Now, in theory, you can leave “column.2.value=” blank. But in this case it’s a great formatting tool to help provide both visual interest and some boundaries between the two data elements. Alright! Grab the code below, drop in the second column of your report and let’s hop on to the next piece: HTML formatting (it’s worth pointing out, the column identifiers in text mode start at zero so column.1 technically refers to the second column of the report. If you wanted this to be the first column you’d need to subtract one from each of the column identifiers, i.e, column.0, column.1 and so on).

column.1.displayname=
column.1.linkedname=direct
column.1.namekey=name
column.1.querysort=name
column.1.sharecol=true
column.1.textmode=true
column.1.tile.name=component.user.name
column.1.usewidths=true
column.1.valuefield=name
column.1.valueformat=HTML
column.1.width=100
column.1.tile.template=/WEB-INF/jsp/lists/components/username.jsp
column.2.sharecol=true
column.2.shortview=false
column.2.textmode=true
column.2.value=<hr>
column.2.valueformat=HTML
column.3.displayname=
column.3.linkedname=direct
column.3.namekey=avatar
column.3.textmode=true
column.3.tile.name=component.avatar
column.3.usewidths=true
column.3.valueformat=HTML
column.3.width=100


HTML formatting

Ok the next part looks a lot more formidable but it’s actually pretty simple. Using the sharecol principles we just learned, this piece is really just creating unique columns for the formatted text (title, manager, access level, etc.) and the corresponding user data. So, for example, in column.4 you have the word “title” and in column.5 you have the actual user title data, all of which gets mushed together using the sharecol=true function.

The important lines to pay attention to are the ones that contain HTML formatting such as line 6 where you have <font color=000000><b>Title: </b></font>. Admittedly, this is all a bit easier if you’re already familiar with HTML and CSS, but technically this is just taking two simple HMTL attributes and wrapping the text “Title: ” in them. As you may have already guessed, the font color attribute allows you to change the native color of the text while <b> is making the font bold. A couple things I want to point out. First, the colors we’ve used are what’s known as hexadecimal or “hex”, colloquially. You may have seen them with the hash symbol in front. Ours, obviously, do not have them. Workfront text mode will accept either. Additionally, Workfront will also accept basic colors in word format (i.e., red, black, blue, green, etc.) so if you’re working with a very simple, primary color set, a lot of times that’s just easier. And finally, Workfront also accepts RGB values. In the example above, we would just change the hex code to an RGB value as well as the corresponding HTML attribute: <font color=rgb(0,0,0)><b>Title: </b></font>. A lot of options. Use what feels easiest.

So what are some of the other formatting tricks you can employ beyond bold and font color? There are certainly some limitations that you wouldn’t encounter if you were using traditional CSS but we’ve compiled as complete a list as we can think of at the end of this post.

One last thing I’ll point out about the columns that contain formatted text: since they’re not referencing any actual data, they all use value= as opposed to valuefield= or valueexpression=. As you start to adapt this to your own needs it’s an important thing to take note of.

column.4.displayname=User Information
column.4.sharecol=true 
column.4.shortview=false 
column.4.textmode=true 
column.4.usewidths=true 
column.4.value=<font color=000000><b>Title: </b></font> 
column.4.valueformat=HTML column.4.width=200 
column.5.descriptionkey=title 
column.5.linkedname=direct 
column.5.namekey=title.abbr 
column.5.sharecol=true 
column.5.shortview=false 
column.5.textmode=true 
column.5.usewidths=true 
column.5.valuefield=title 
column.5.valueformat=HTML 
column.5.width=200 
column.6.sharecol=true 
column.6.shortview=false 
column.6.textmode=true 
column.6.usewidths=true 
column.6.value= <font color=000000><b>Manager: </b></font> 
column.6.valueformat=HTML column.6.width=200 
column.7.descriptionkey=manager 
column.7.link.linkproperty.0.name=ID 
column.7.link.linkproperty.0.valuefield=manager:ID 
column.7.link.linkproperty.0.valueformat=int 
column.7.link.lookup=link.view 
column.7.link.valuefield=manager:objCode 
column.7.link.valueformat=val 
column.7.linkedname=manager 
column.7.namekey=manager 
column.7.querysort=manager:name 
column.7.sharecol=true 
column.7.shortview=false 
column.7.textmode=true 
column.7.usewidths=true 
column.7.valuefield=manager:name 
column.7.valueformat=HTML 
column.7.width=200 
column.8.sharecol=true 
column.8.shortview=false 
column.8.textmode=true 
column.8.usewidths=true 
column.8.value= <font color=000000><b>Access Level: </font><font color=CC0033> 
column.8.valueformat=HTML column.8.width=200 
column.9.descriptionkey=accesslevel 
column.9.linkedname=accessLevel 
column.9.namekey=accesslevel 
column.9.querysort=accessLevel:name 
column.9.sharecol=true 
column.9.shortview=false 
column.9.textmode=true 
column.9.usewidths=true 
column.9.valuefield=accessLevel:displayName 
column.9.valueformat=HTML 
column.9.width=200 
column.10.displayname=Primary Associated Fields 
column.10.sharecol=true 
column.10.shortview=false 
column.10.textmode=true 
column.10.usewidths=true 
column.10.value=</b></font><hr><font color=0000FF><b>Primary Job Role: </b></font> 
column.10.valueformat=HTML 
column.10.width=200 
column.11.descriptionkey=role 
column.11.displayname=Primary Job Role 
column.11.linkedname=role 
column.11.namekey=name 
column.11.sharecol=true 
column.11.shortview=false 
column.11.textmode=true 
column.11.usewidths=true 
column.11.valuefield=role:name 
column.11.valueformat=HTML 
column.11.width=200 
column.12.displayname=Primary Associated Fields 
column.12.sharecol=true 
column.12.shortview=false 
column.12.textmode=true 
column.12.usewidths=true 
column.12.value= <font color=0000FF><b>Home Group: </b></font> 
column.12.valueformat=HTML column.12.width=200 
column.13.descriptionkey=homegroup 
column.13.linkedname=homeGroup 
column.13.listsort=nested(homeGroup).string(name) 
column.13.namekey=homegroup 
column.13.sharecol=true 
column.13.shortview=false 
column.13.textmode=true 
column.13.usewidths=true 
column.13.valuefield=homeGroup:name 
column.13.valueformat=HTML 
column.13.width=200 
column.14.sharecol=true 
column.14.shortview=false 
column.14.textmode=true 
column.14.usewidths=true 
column.14.value= <font color=0000FF><b>Home Team: </b></font> 
column.14.valueformat=HTML 
column.14.width=200 
column.15.descriptionkey=hometeam 
column.15.linkedname=homeTeam 
column.15.namekey=hometeam 
column.15.shortview=false 
column.15.textmode=true 
column.15.valuefield=homeTeam:name 
column.15.valueformat=HTML



Additional attributes

Italic
Attribute
<i></i>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font color=0000FF><i>Home Group: </i></font>
Output
Home Group:

Bold
Attribute
<b></b>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font color=0000FF><b>Home Group: </b></font>
Output
Home Group:

Font size
Attribute
<font size=></font>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font size=18><Home Group: </font>
Output
Home Group:

Font color
Attribute
<font color=></font>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font color=red><Home Group: </font>
Output
Home Group:

Font face
Attribute
<font face=></font>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font face=comic sans><Home Group: </font>
Output
Home Group:
(side note: please don’t use comic sans!)

Have you ever been working in a Workfront project and needed to find the point of contact or name of the person who originally submitted the request? If so, you’ve probably also experienced the annoyance of having to navigate back to the original request just to find that information. As you’ve probably already guessed if you read the title, there’s a much simpler way. With a little easy set-up on the front end you can save yourself some serious aggravation.

 

  • Add a calculated field to the request custom form
  • Give the field a name
  • Set the format type as needed (for all the list fields below the format will be “Text”)
  • Add the appropriate issue calculation in the calculation area (see listing below) and click Save
  • Add the same calculated field to the corresponding project custom form
  • In the calculation area enter the name of the calculated field and click Save

 

And that’s it! Pretty easy, huh? So what these calculations are going to do is create a field on the issue form that references a native issue object (project queue, original requestor, etc.) and—since a field can’t self-reference—the project calculation will point to the same field on the only possible related object: the request. Repeat the above process for any additional data points you want to capture.

 

Requestor name

Field name: Original Requestor

Issue calculation: Owner.Name

Project calculation: Original Requestor

 

Queue project

Field name: Queue Project

Issue calculation: Project.Name

Project calculation: Queue Project

 

Parent request type

Field name: Parent Request Type

Issue calculation: Queue Topic.Parent Topic Group.Name

Project calculation: Parent Request Type

 

Request type

Field name: Request Type

Issue calculation: Queue Topic.Name

Project calculation: Request Type

 

Requestor company

Field name: Requestor Company

Issue calculation: Owner.Company.Name

Project calculation: Requestor Company

 

Request reference number

Field name: Request Reference Number

Issue calculation: Reference Number

Project calculation: Request Reference Number

 

Primary contact

Field name: Request Primary Contact

Issue calculation: Primary Contact

Project calculation: Request Primary Contact

 

 

Blockchain is a pretty popular buzzword these days. The sudden boom of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin brought a lot of attention to the technology. Blockchain is much more than just a buzz, however, and it’s becoming very apparent it has the power to change the way business is done in nearly every industry — from banking to SEO.

What Is Blockchain?

It’s a complicated technology, but essentially a blockchain is an immutable, decentralized ledger. That means that instead of a sole third-party record keeper, every party to a blockchain would have a record much like a spreadsheet. As transactions occur, the spreadsheets are simultaneously updated. If someone falsifies data on their spreadsheet, the blockchain would notice the discrepancy from the majority of the records and nullify the bad data. Because it’s nearly impossible to alter the data on all the ledgers, a blockchain is a very secure way to verify and move or exchange assets. It also creates a permanent trail from start to finish. That trail can guarantee the legitimacy of key aspects of SEO — determining if web traffic is human or bot, detecting black hat methods much more easily and reducing the staggering amount of money lost to digital ad fraud.

Link Building

Link building has long been an important part of SEO. That doesn’t mean the same tactics that applied in the 90’s can work today. For example, it’s possible to see some ranking boost from blog comment linking, but those look more like spam every day and their weighting is significantly less than it used to be. Natural link building has long been the most effective strategy. Blockchain will make it way easier for the major search engines to detect and penalize any website they catch buying paid links. Though it’s discouraged today, enforcement is difficult and under-utilized.

Verified Data

User interaction data matters a lot. It’s helpful to your marketing team and necessary for web crawlers to rank your site. That data can be diluted by bot traffic and hurt your rankings. Implementing a blockchain solution can verify human traffic and separate it from the bots, giving you better insights and higher rankings. Paid digital advertising is full of fraud because it’s currently impossible to tell if an ad was clicked by a human or bot. Blockchain technology is a very viable solution to this multi-billion dollar a year problem by connecting advertisers directly with verified potential customers.

Keyword Research

It’s difficult to determine just how a keyword plays out in different settings. The results vary across devices, location, users etc. With a token incentive, keyword research could utilize background space on thousands of devices to create an in-depth aggregate of data-heavy results.

 

While the full impacts are still uncertain at this junction, it’s not likely to be long before technology leaders start to leverage blockchain as a means for securing and processing interactions as much as they do transactions. And that means that you, as a marketer, have a whole new ballgame to learn. Thankfully, it’s likely to be one that rewards good SEO habits and practices, stamps out bad, and works to create a more democratic playing field.

Have you wondered if you’d benefit from one of the new marketing tools powered by artificial intelligence? Some of these platforms make claims that sound almost magical, and it can be tricky to sort out whether they’re worth the investment. Here’s a look at three of the major players in marketing AI, together with an overview of their unique capabilities — as well as a glance at which claims are over the top.

Salesforce Einstein

Einstein is the AI platform created by Salesforce and launched in Fall 2016. It has grown in sophistication since then, using customer data to automatically generate models. These models are continually improved by the AI, which analyzes the history of data and decides which factors are most accurate at predicting the behavior of individual customers. As the unit receives more information, it learns which of its models need adjusting, without the need for any intervention by developers.

Salesforce recently announced that its Einstein engine is now delivering over 1 billion pieces of information to its customers each day. It ranks lists of sales leads and puts information at one side of the screen to show each prospect’s probability of deciding to buy. For marketers, Einstein sorts email lists and says which recipients are most likely to open a given message. Salesforce’s director of product marketing Ally Witherspoon gives an example in Wired of a solar energy supplier discovering through AI that a person’s chances of buying are influenced by the pitch of their roof. In the future, she envisions, satellite photography could tag prospects’ homes according to the geometry of their roof.

Einstein is also in a partnership with IBM’s Watson, integrating its own CRM data with Watson’s insights. This wider reach offers access to customer data sources beyond what Salesforce itself is able to collect.

Motiva AI Cloud

Motiva works with Oracle’s Eloqua to optimize messaging through its ability to characterize audiences. In the words of Chris Diehl, Motiva’s CTO, the purpose of the AI is “removing the need to manually define the relevant population.” Diehl points out that by using artificial intelligence, marketers can discover new affinities and associations and “uncover meaningful populations that exhibit shared content preferences.” In other words, the AI gives new insight into whom to target and which target populations can be grouped together.

The real-world example that Diehl describes is very similar to that offered by Witherspoon when she talked about Einstein. Diehl mentions learning the external web browsing behavior of a marketing audience, then using that data to sort and rank this audience. Once the Motiva AI platform knows these people’s messaging channel preferences, it will advise the marketer about how to customize their messaging. In one example, a healthcare provider used Motiva to vary and improve the messaging sent to patients, and achieved a doubling of click-through rates.

Adobe Sensei

Adobe Sensei is an interesting addition to the AI mix, because unlike Salesforce or Oracle Eloqua, Adobe didn’t originate with CRM and marketing. Instead, the company drew on its deep graphic expertise and entered the AI universe through its interest in recognizing and manipulating visual data. This exploration eventually led Adobe to capitalize on the fact that logical patterns lend themselves to machine learning as readily as do visual patterns.

Fortune magazine says, “Sensei pores over tons of data (the more the better) to detect patterns and present results in a visual way.” While Adobe offers much the same customer experience options as the other two marketing AI systems mentioned here, it plays up two specific virtues: information security and cross-device access. Its “Cross-Device Co-op” program lets brands who use other Adobe marketing products recognize their consumers regardless of what type of device those consumers use. Adobe points out that marketing spend will decrease, because companies can “focus on people, not on devices.”

A number of banks currently use Sensei. If anonymous users visit the bank’s website, the AI platform can make suggestions about products to show them, even if the user doesn’t have a profile with the bank. HSBC used Sensei to highlight a specific product and saw a 109 percent increase in customers reaching that product.

But Will AI Really Help You Market Your Products?

Automatic customer model generation is flashy, but the amount of time it will save you depends on your individual needs. A platform like Salesforce allows businesses that aren’t Google or Facebook to simply purchase AI power without having to customize it and teach it what’s important to that particular business. That efficiency can definitely come in handy if you need help identifying your audience.

Eloqua Motiva can develop and dynamically revise models for messaging prospects automatically, so that the human marketer doesn’t have to waste time testing out which message will work best with which group.

On the other hand, when Einstein itemizes the factors it uses to score prospects, that transparency can either be helpful or distracting. And it’s definitely hype when Salesforce puts out a press release saying that by 2021, “AI-powered CRM activities ‘could’ increase global business revenues by $1.1 trillion and create 800,000 net-new jobs.” Salesforce customers alone, it points out, will account for $293 billion of those jobs. While it does seem promising that AI will increase the number of jobs overall, due to streamlining the time-consuming processes of segmenting and testing audiences, sky-high predictions are not enlightening.

Sorting Out What AI Can Offer You

Tech developers are understandably enthused over the capacity of AI, and marketing is indeed a practice that needs to be — at least partly — data driven. Fifty-one percent of marketers currently use some form of artificial intelligence, and no human being can handle data with the finesse of AI. But the claims made by some of these companies go a bit too far; they imply that you can just toss an AI platform into your marketing campaign and passively let it work its behind-the-scenes wizardry. As Motiva’s website seductively promises, “Turn it on, get results.” No AI platform can synthesize the intuitive insight of a skilled marketer.

There’s an elusive sweet spot between the creativity of a human marketing professional and the efficiencies offered by artificial intelligence. AI can be a useful tool, as long as you identify your goals ahead of time and have a clear idea of how you’ll use intelligent data manipulation to streamline your daily tasks. Certainly the platforms we’ve mentioned above can save time by making sure you’re speaking to the right audience, delivering the message they want to hear via the channels they like best. Furthermore, each system focuses on differentiating themselves from their competitors by delivering something unique. In our upcoming posts, we’ll take a deeper dive into what each of these three brands have to offer. We’ll examine their specific benefits and help you determine which one would be most applicable to your particular situation. We’ll also sort through the three brands’ own verbiage and clarify which of their claims are actually meaningful and which ones are just … well … marketing.

Three ways to know if agile marketing is right for your business

With the growing competition in the marketplace, brands from every sector are looking for new ways to be innovative and rise above the fray. Innovation means not only a willingness to implement change but also an openness to trying new approaches to doing business.

For marketers, this can be exceedingly challenging. Marketing professionals in top businesses across the globe are constantly keeping tabs on changes in their industry and working to identify new ways to get ahead of the competition. This includes studying marketing trends, analyzing the wealth of data that is currently available about consumers, and tapping all available resources to launch new marketing campaigns.

With the highly competitive nature of today’s global economy, it’s difficult to know what strategies can help your business beat the competition. That’s why marketing professionals are turning to agile marketing. This concept, which was born in the information technology industry, has implications for the business world. Agile marketing offers a new way of thinking about business, with concepts that can be applied across the organization to produce better outcomes.

If you want to know if agile marketing is a good fit for your business, take a look at your company and ask yourself these three questions.

How easily does your business respond to change?

While many marketers rely on techniques that are tried and true, this method calls for something entirely different. To take advantage of agile marketing, companies need to monitor the success of their business activities and be prepared to change. This method of marketing calls for validated learning over conventional thinking, prioritizing the kind of customer engagement that has the data to back it up. You’ll need to create marketing plans for both the short-term and the long-term, as well as the middle ground, and make adjustments as you go, using the insights gained from digital marketing analytics.

Agile marketing is best when teams can be flexible in their marketing work and quick to adapt. There is still a role for managers to play, but the business will need to be flexible in order to accommodate changing priorities. With this approach, small marketing experiments can take businesses further than large initiatives that can’t be adjusted down the road.

Can your team identify and adapt to customer desires?

At its heart, agile marketing is about putting the customer first and responding proactively to the changing habits and desires of consumers. This means you’ll need to view your relationship with customers as a collaborative one, where their input on your products, services and marketing efforts hold just as much weight as the expert opinions on your own team.

By implementing agile marketing, you’ll be able to discover a clean customer profile and learn a lot about what consumers want from your company. This will take a higher priority than business predictions, because the marketing method centers on meeting customer needs and adapting the marketing to better suit the customer. This could mean changing marketing and media platforms, using more direct campaigns, adding value to products and services, or adjusting your business plan to suit consumer needs. It may also mean new processes, evaluations and surveys, and reiterations of existing business marketing strategies. They key is to keep the changing desires of the customer at the center of the work you do.

What resources within your organization can support agile marketing?

Before you begin the journey into agile marketing, ask yourself if your business is ready for agile marketing. Take a look at the leaders and teams within your organization, and determine whether they adapt well to change and whether they have the tools they need in order to make major adjustments. Managers and marketing professionals at every level will need to feel empowered to respond to customer opinions, and your business will need to have a high degree of flexibility in order to make agile marketing work.

As a team, you will still need a strategic vision, but you should plan to revisit the vision at each major milestone, in order to determine whether the new strategy is working. You’ll also need to make sure you are properly staffed to handle frequent releases of updated products, services or materials. Your team should be prepared to work collaboratively and with a high degree of respect for one another, while also moving through several learning cycles in order to find out what tactics are most effective. You’ll also need to have team members on staff who can provide support, provide a thorough understanding of data analytics, and keep in frequent contact with the customer. The data will help reveal possible steps forward and the customer feedback will tell you if you’re new approach of agile marketing is working for them.

Agile marketing calls for flexible leadership, business and marketing innovation, and a commitment to the customer, all driven by data and evidence of changing trends. It will require constant change, reliable problem-solving, and agility from the entire team. The end result for teams who can successfully implement agile marketing is a competitive advantage that is unique to the company, which will lead to enhanced customer appreciation and loyalty.

One of the enemies of long-term commercial success is complacency. While last year’s bottom line might have made your stakeholders happy, this year represents a completely different challenge. For long-term success in the digital age, you need to be sure that all your digital channels are performing.

Whether it’s your social media channels or your websites, your online marketing tools need to be continually monitored. Not only do these tools need to reach your target audience, but they also need to deliver conversions. There are five digital marketing analytics that can show you which sites are successful or where they need improvement.

 

1. Traffic

Traffic is perhaps the most obvious marketing analytic large businesses need to be fully aware of. But this isn’t just a counting exercise. To effectively tailor your various marketing messages to the relevant audiences, you need to know exactly what is bringing traffic to your websites.

There are five channels that should be tracked on an ongoing basis: organic, direct, referral, social and paid. In the early days of the internet, organic traffic was the most important, as it refers to the users who arrive at your website after using a search engine for a particular keyword. But as the likes of Google makes manipulating search results more and more difficult, referral, social and paid channels have become increasingly significant.

 

2. Conversions

While high levels of traffic are always desirable, they can count for very little if people land on your website and quickly lose interest. Attracting traffic is only the beginning of the digital marketing journey. Once visitors have arrived, you need to convert them to customers or active engagers.

Increasing conversion rates involves a range of different measures, including the use of calls to action, effective contact forms, multimedia, visual storytelling and content with value. If your website isn’t turning visitors into customers, you have a real problem — which is why monitoring conversions is so important.

 

3. Engagement

You may have created a slick, professional and effective commercial for your social media channels, but it will count for nothing if people don’t see it. There are many reasons why people don’t see certain ads, including the time they are released and what is happening in the world when they are running. In some instances, consumers are either tuning out these messages or simply switching them off.

Measuring engagement usually refers to the likes, shares and comments your messages accrue on social media channels. When people actively engage, you can be reasonably sure that they’ve received your message. But then the message is missed, engagement statistics can often help you to understand why.

 

4. Click-Through Rates

Click-through rates usually pertain to pay-per-click ads (PPC). They are a measure of how many times your ads are clicked in relation to how many times they show up on consumers’ screens (impressions). Low click-through rates can indicate several deficiencies in your marketing strategy, including an irrelevant landing page, a weak offer or an inappropriate target audience.

 

5. Site Loading Speed

Internet users are now more impatient than ever before. According to Kissmetrics, people will simply hit the “back” button if a site they’ve landed on takes more than three seconds to load. The best tool for measuring site speed is Google PageSpeed Insights. Not only does this free service give you your website’s official loading time, it recommends how to resolve any issues.

Identifying the most important digital marketing analytics and monitoring them on an ongoing basis is crucial to the health of your bottom line. But when you identify potentially damaging issues, responding quickly with the help of marketing specialists is absolutely vital.

This year at Leap London, our very own Deven Ravel, former Marine Captain, gave a brilliant presentation on the lessons he’s taken away from his time in the Marines and how he’s applied them to real-world, corporate challenges. Deven told the story of his tour in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province where two members of his squad suffered life-changing injuries in a Taliban ambush and how those events proved to be the best change agents he’d ever encountered—forcing the Marines to adapt to their changed circumstances and breaking new ground in their lives.

He set out 10 key lessons from his experience:

1. Know yourself

It’s not just what you do. You have to think of yourself as the whole organization. Look at the people and the tools you have. What are the expectations of those people? And what about the people you are going to need but haven’t hired yet? Are you thinking two steps ahead?

2. Know your mission

Solutions need to be aligned up and down and organization. This means ensuring that strategic goals (business objectives) are aligned with operational goals (processes and procedures) and tactical goals (delivery).

3. Study history

Know the culture of your organization and understand where it came from. Understanding the history of an organization—knowing where its core values come from—can help tailor change programs to the character of the business.

4. Set expectations

Clear expectations prevent wriggle-room for mistakes. It means you can ask, ‘Do you not understand what was expected?’ or ‘Did I explain it wrong?’

5. Be brilliant in the basics

What are the core standards you expect everyone to have? What are the basic skills that are needed? It’s not about job performance; this is about bare minimum expectations. For his squad of Marines, that meant basic first aid, understanding communication signals, and weapons training.

6. Standardize communications

Define what different communication channels are used for. Make it clear when a team should use instant messenger tools like Slack, email, or Workfront to share information.

7. Build trust

This is hard to measure—it comes from the gut. The key step is to identify change agents within an organization who can help promote change. Those change agents have common attributes among their peers:

  • Influential
  • Respected
  • Impartial
  • Positive
  • Empathetic
  • Proactive

8. Decentralize and empower

If you have established clear expectations, clear communication and aligned objectives, smaller teams will be empowered to act and innovate.

9. Execute with a plan

We ask, ‘What works for the tools you have and the type of work you do?’ If the plan doesn’t fit the tools, the people, or the type of organization, it’s going to be tough to execute.

10. Reflect openly and often

You can only reflect openly and often once you’ve built a culture of trust in your organization. As managers, we need to ask, ‘How can I help you do this better?’

We’re proud to announce that Kevin Ellington is joining the LeapPoint leadership team as a director in our People & Change group. Kevin will serve as our Center of Excellence practice lead which is focused on enabling our enterprise clients to facilitate user adaptation and learning, and gain efficiencies through the reuse of capabilities and resources. He will also lead LeapPoint’s internal CoE, supporting our commitment to operational efficiency and continual improvement.

Kevin earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University and has leveraged his learning to benefit executives and their companies for over 25 years. Most recently he’s dedicated his time to helping companies deploy Centers of Excellence and drive the success of enterprise initiatives. Kevin connects quickly with clients, understands their needs, and equips teams with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to achieve both quick wins and long-term strategic objectives.  He has taught leadership both nationally and internationally and we’re incredibly excited for him to bring his skill, passion, and expertise to helping us drive enterprise change for our clients.

If you haven’t heard of our new productLeapPoint Onewe encourage to check it out immediately. And if you haven’t seen our flashy new video promoting LeapPoint One, we definitely encourage you to watch that too. In fact, do that first. We’re pretty proud of it.

LeapPoint One is a revolutionary product for any shared service organization. It sits on top of your project intake system, taking the place of the standard request form interface. It allows you to provide both visual and verbal details about the products or services your organization offers with a level of depth and interactivity that simply aren’t possible with current systems on the market today. The application provides a familiar, e-commerce style experience that makes it easy for requesters to not only find what they’re looking for, but make multiple requests at once, saving them time and effort. One the back end, the application syncs with a myriad of enterprise systems allowing you the flexibility to bundle similar offerings together as one “product”. Is a particular offering split between marketing and IT? Not a problem. One can take a single request and initiate a project in Workfront and a separate one in JIRA. Need an account created or updated in Salesforce at the same time? Easy as pie. No additional requests required.

As a shared service, One allows you to offer the same level of professionalism and experience as a customer-facing organization.

If you’d like to learn more about One or see a demo, reach out to uswe love showing off our new toy. But seriously, watch that video first.