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An Absolute Guide to Customer Engagement Platforms

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An Absolute Guide to Customer Engagement Platforms

The demands placed on businesses by customers have increased significantly in recent years.

Customers now want businesses to answer their beck and call 24/7, but they don’t want to talk to them directly. They expect companies to be aware of their challenges and needs, but may not be willing or able to share them openly. Customers also highly value personalized service — but not at the cost of their privacy.

So how can you reconcile all of these seemingly contradictory expectations?

The answer is customer engagement platforms.

A customer engagement platform is a tool that helps you to manage customer interactions and communications across multiple channels. This can include everything from social media to live chat to email. By using a customer engagement platform, businesses can get a 360-degree view of the customer, which helps to provide more personalized and relevant service.

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So if you’re not already using a customer engagement platform, now is the time to start. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

What are customer engagement platforms?

Most brands today use different apps for engaging and interacting with customers, with each collecting unique data sets. Unfortunately, this often leads to poor experiences where customers get treated very differently depending on how they contact a company. A customer engagement platform (CEP) helps to solve this problem by consolidating all of these different applications and data sets into one easy-to-use system.

A CEP’s primary purpose is to capture customer interactions with the company and deliver a cohesive experience for customers. You can think of it as the “brain” for customer engagement where all the data collected from various touchpoints is centralized and analyzed. Using this data, you can provide your customers with a more integrated and personalized experience.

There are many different features that customer engagement platforms offer, but some of the most popular ones include:

  • Third-party integrations. Of course, a CEP is only as good as the data you put into it. Because of this, CEPs have built-in integrations for popular CRMs, e-commerce platforms, and other business applications.
  • Omnichannel support. A CEP will allow you to manage all of your customer interactions in one place, regardless of the channels they use (e.g., phone, email, trackable QR codes, social media).
  • Segmentation. Segmenting your customer base is essential for delivering a personalized experience. CEPs make it easy to segment customers based on data such as demographics, location, purchase history, and more. And this segmentation, in turn, will directly influence and optimize your conversion rate.
  • Live engagement. Live engagement features allow you to connect with customers in real time, whether it’s through live chat apps, voice, or video. This can be a great way to get back to customers right away if they have any questions or concerns.
  • Analytics. Collecting data is worthwhile only if you can actually make sense of it. CEPs come with powerful analytics tools that help you understand your customers better and make informed decisions about your engagement strategies.
  • Automation. Most CEPs can automate many routines or repetitive tasks involved in customer engagement, such as sending follow-up emails or responding to common questions. The result is a more efficient engagement process and happier customers.

Benefits of using customer engagement platforms

Good customer engagement platforms offer a wide range of benefits that can help businesses of all sizes. Here are some of the most noteworthy ones:

Hyper-personalization

CEPs pull together first-hand engagement data to create real-time customer profiles that provide rich and up-to-date info about your customers. By having this data at your fingertips, you can engage with them on their topics of interest via their preferred channel of communication.

Gain a competitive advantage

A customer engagement platform can help you create a specialized customer experience that will make your company stand out from the rest. Almost all business owners will say that customer experience is a key differentiator, but few are actually able to deliver on that promise.

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CEPs can help you turn that promise into reality by enabling you to track, manage and answer all customer queries in one place. That way, you can quickly resolve issues and deliver a seamless customer experience.

Improve customer satisfaction

Last but not least, customer engagement platforms can help you improve customer satisfaction. Delivering personalized and timely engagement via CEPs will show your customers that you care about them and take pride in providing them with a great experience. This, in turn, will lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Are customer community platforms also customer engagement platforms?

Today, the rise of the customer community platform is a direct result of the way customers want to engage with companies. They want to be able to find answers to their questions, get help when they need it, and share their experiences with others.

A customer community platform provides a place for customers to do all of those things. It’s like a help desk, CRM, and communication platform all rolled into one.

That’s why more and more companies are using customer community platforms as a way to engage with their customers. Here are a few reasons why you should too:

To collect customer feedback

The very nature of online communities is to promote candid conversations and collect feedback. This open exchange of ideas and feedback is key to understanding what your customers want and need. Additionally, being able to directly connect with your product team encourages customers to share their thoughts and insights.

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To educate new customers

Creating practical guides and best practices for product usage is a great way to educate customers and help them get the most out of your product.To raise awareness for your brand or products, influencer marketing platforms can come to your aid, making it easier for you to reach your target audience. Aside from that, A customer community platform is the perfect place to host this type of content so customers can easily find it and refer back to it when needed.

To provide a robust onboarding experience

Inviting new customers into a community platform gives them a way to get involved with your product from the very beginning. They can explore on their own, ask questions, and get answers from both you and other customers. This type of environment accelerates the onboarding process and sets customers up for success with your product.

How do you choose a customer engagement platform?

Customer engagement platforms are becoming an increasingly popular way to connect with customers and manage customer relationships. But with so many options on the market, it is sometimes impossible to determine which will work best for your business.

Here are a few things you can use to narrow down your options and choose the right customer engagement platform for your business:

Customer needs

The whole point of customer engagement is to support your customers’ needs. So, you must ensure the platform you choose is equipped to handle those needs. Consider the range of channels your customers use to engage with you. Then, find a platform that plays well with all of them.

Integration possibilities

Another important consideration is whether or not the platform can integrate with your other systems. The best customer engagement platform for you can integrate easily with your existing tools and platforms, allowing you to create a seamless customer experience.

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Resource constraints

You need to be realistic about the resources you have available. If you’re a small business, you might not have the same budget, time, or manpower to invest in a customer engagement platform as a larger company. Use your resources wisely and don’t overstretch yourself when choosing a customer engagement platform.

Future-proofing

Finally, when it comes to considering any ecommerce marketing tool, you need to think about the future. As your business grows, your customer engagement needs will change. Make sure the platform you choose is flexible and can accommodate future growth.

Now that you know what to look for, let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market. Here are our top picks:

Zendesk

The folks at Zendesk understand that providing excellent customer support is only part of the equation when it comes to keeping your customers engaged and happy. That’s why they’ve developed a suite of tools to help businesses streamline their customer support operations while also integrating with other key customer engagement platforms. By doing so, businesses can rely on a single source of truth for customer information, which leads to more engaged and satisfied customers.

Notable features:

  • Zendesk provides a business with a complete and overarching view of all its customers by bringing data together from all the disparate systems where customer conversations are happening. This helps businesses avoid silos and provide a coordinated, consistent, and delightful experience to every customer, at every touchpoint.
  • The platform has plenty of automation features to make things easier on your team, speed up resolutions for customers, and improve your agent productivity. No matter where you are in your support journey, this tool can help you streamline your process and deliver the best possible experience to your customers.
  • Zendesk also has its own chatbot that you can deploy to answer common questions and help deflect tickets. The chatbot can also be used to engage customers in new conversations and get feedback on your products or services.

Pricing:

Zendesk offers a free trial but its pricing tier starts at $19 per user/ month for the sales platform and $49 per agent/month for the service platform. It also offers a custom enterprise plan for businesses with more specific needs.

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Qualtrics XM

If you want to get the most out of your feedback and turn it into actionable items, then Qualtrics XM is the tool for you. It combines world-class listening technology with automated workflows to ensure that every level of your organization can take advantage of what people are saying.

Notable features:

  • Qualtrics XM allows you to collect data from every customer interaction, so you can understand which interactions are driving engagement and which ones are hurting it.
  • The tool gathers data from many different sources, including apps, websites, video and voice calls, direct messages, social media, customer satisfaction surveys, and IoT devices. This allows you to get a complete picture of customer sentiment.
  • The tool will give you real-time insights into customer satisfaction levels. With insights into how customers feel at every stage of their journey, from first-time buyers to repeat customers, you’ll know what matters most to them and how to best keep them engaged.
  • As your business grows, it becomes more difficult to keep track of all your customer support tickets. Qualtrics XM offers a solution by automatically categorizing messages and routing them to the right contact center agents. That way, you can be sure that each customer’s concern is handled in a timely and efficient manner.

Pricing:

Qualtrics XM hasn’t released its pricing publicly, but you can request a quote by contacting the company directly.

Salesforce 360

Salesforce 360 is the perfect solution for teams who want to work together more efficiently and deliver personalized experiences to customers. With Salesforce as your partner, you’ll have everything you need to deliver world-class customer engagement.

Notable features:

  • Salesforce’s 360 Einstein AI feature provides recommendations for your sales and customer service campaigns based on a customer’s individual traits and past interactions with your business. This allows you to anticipate their needs and better serve them throughout their customer journey.
  • Salesforce 360’s Genie is a powerful customer data platform that automates, intelligently guides, and speeds up every interaction, making your team’s job easier and your customers’ experience more seamless.
  • The platform integrates with a wide range of popular business applications, so you can easily connect all your data in one place. This way, you’ll always have the most up-to-date information at your fingertips and can make decisions based on the most accurate data possible.

Pricing:

Salesforce’s pricing will depend on the specific features and services you need for your business. However, the company does offer a free trial so you can explore what Salesforce has to offer.

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LiveAgent

LiveAgent is a platform that leaves little to be desired when it comes to improving sales and delivering excellent customer service. All those behind LiveAgent’s software consider customer-centricity and engagement the key to running a successful business. The software combines all the tools necessary to proactively approach clients and to build and strengthen relationships.

Notable features:

LiveAgent’s ticketing software keeps all customer interactions under one roof. It doesn’t matter how your clients like to reach out, you can always provide consistent support throughout their journey with hybrid ticket streams and unlimited ticket browsing history.

Built-in live chat lets your customers address any issue they may stumble upon. You can set up advanced features like smart chat routing, canned responses, and proactive chat invitations. On top of that, the chat button is fully customizable, so you can make sure that it fits your branding to a tee.

LiveAgent allows you to build a self-service portal that reduces ticket volumes as well as response times overall. More importantly, it empowers your customers to research on their own and resolve issues without the need to contact customer support. You can integrate your LiveAgent account with many third-party applications. Integrating software using API is super easy and allows you to connect all the tools in one place. This way you are equipped to handle any issue and collect all the data from multiple platforms.

Pricing:

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LiveAgent’s free tier is accessible to everyone regardless of their budget. To leverage more powerful features, you can opt for the $15 per agent/month, $29 per agent/month, or the most popular $49 per agent/month package.

Getting started with customer engagement platforms

As with any tool, there is a learning curve associated with using customer engagement platforms effectively. To avoid pitfalls and maximize your investment in these tools, watch out for these common mistakes:

Mistake #1 Using customer engagement platforms as a glorified customer support tool

Customer engagement platforms are sometimes thought of as nothing more than glorified user support tools. CEPs are designed to help you build relationships with your customers and foster loyalty and retention. And while user support is an integral part of that, it’s not the only thing you should be using them for.

Engagement platforms offer a variety of features that can facilitate engagement with customers, such as social media integration, community management, lead capture, data analysis, and more. Each of these features offers unique value and should be leveraged to get the most out of your investment.

Mistake #2 Only tracking online customer interaction channels

All too often, businesses make the mistake of only tracking online touchpoints, missing out on valuable data from offline customer interactions. CEPs are designed to give you a complete view of the customer journey, so don’t limit your focus to online interactions.

Here are some ways you can integrate offline customer touchpoints into your customer engagement platform:

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  • Dynamic QR code generators. Dynamic QR codes (quick response codes) are a great way to bridge the gap between offline and online customer interactions. These codes can be used to track how customers interact with your offline marketing materials and give you valuable insights into their customer journey. You can use them in print ads, on products, or even in-store. All you have to do is generate a dynamic QR code and link its analytics to your customer engagement platform.
  • Custom discount codes. You can also use custom discount codes to track offline customer interactions. For example, you can place a unique discount code in each print ad. When customers enter the discount code online, you’ll be able to track where they saw the ad and what action they took.
  • In-store survey solutions. In-store surveys are another great way to collect data about offline customer touchpoints. You can use surveys to collect data about customer experience, product satisfaction, and more. Like QR code generators, survey tools can be easily integrated into your customer engagement platform.

Mistake #3 Not leveraging data

The data collected from a CEP can be extremely valuable for enhancing customer engagement, but all too often businesses fail to take advantage of it. This data is useless unless you know how to utilize it properly, so take the time to understand how to use the information your CEP provides.

Some ways you can use data to enhance customer engagement include:

  • Analyze customer behavior. If you aren’t hitting it out of the park with your customer engagement, it could be due to a lack of understanding of your customer base. Use data from your CEP to analyze customer behavior and understand what they want and need. This will help you develop targeted engagement strategies that are more likely to succeed.
  • Identify customer trends. Your CEP can also be used to identify customer trends. This information can be used to improve engagement strategies, develop new products and services, and more.
  • Improve customer segmentation. Data from your CEP can be used to improve customer segmentation. This will help you target engagement strategies more effectively and improve the overall customer experience.

Mistake #4 Failure to bring top management on board

A lot of times, the top management doesn’t give importance to customer engagement, thinking that it’s the job of the customer support or the marketing team. This is a huge mistake because when the leadership isn’t committed to customer engagement, it reflects in the overall organizational culture.

The first step to getting top management on board with customer engagement is to make them realize the importance of customer engagement. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Show them the numbers. Use data from your CEP to show top management how customer engagement impacts business metrics. This could include metrics like customer retention, customer satisfaction, and more.
  • Get buy-in from other departments. This is especially important if customer engagement is going to require a cross-departmental effort. Get buy-in from other departments by showing them how customer engagement can help them meet their goals.

If you want to create a customer-centric organization that truly values its customers, you need to start at the top, making sure it’s incorporated into all aspects of the business, from product development to marketing to customer support. In fact, if possible, make it one of the key aspects when constructing leadership development plans for young leaders or growth plans for current leaders. Only then will you be able to create a customer-centric culture that’s focused on providing the best possible experience for your customers.

Industries that benefit from CEP

Customer engagement platforms can be an invaluable asset for any business that wants to foster better customer relationships. Still, certain industries can benefit from them more than others. Here are a few industries where CEPs can be especially helpful:

  • E-commerce. In the fast-paced world of online retail, without customer engagement, businesses can easily get lost amidst the chaos. CEPs can help e-commerce businesses stay ahead of the curve by providing insights into customer behavior and preferences. Companies can then utilize this data to construct a more comprehensive personalization framework — one that accommodates the unique needs and preferences of every customer base.
  • Marketing or creative agencies. Agencies in the marketing and creative space must often juggle multiple projects, clients, and campaigns. With so many demands on their time, customer engagement can quickly become an afterthought. To avoid this, agencies can leverage CEPs for an improved understanding of customer preferences to create more meaningful customer experiences. For example, digital marketing agencies from Minneapolis can use customer data to design more personalized pitch decks and presentations, making their proposals more compelling and driving greater customer engagement. Applying the same strategy to other parts of their business can help agencies better serve their clients and build long-term relationships.
  • Travel/ Hospitality. No industry depends more on customer engagement than the travel and hospitality industry. For these businesses, customer engagement is how they differentiate themselves from their competitors. Here, a CEP can help companies to gather insights into customer preferences, provide personalized offers and discounts, and create a seamless overall experience. All of these can lead to better customer engagement and increased revenue for the business.
  • Financial Services. Financial institutions must abide by complex regulations, making customer engagement a challenge. CEPs hand financial services companies the necessary business insights to engage customers in a compliant and meaningful way, helping them better understand their customers and build long-term relationships.
  • Coaching/mentoring. Cracking the code for successful customer engagement is often the most challenging part of running a coaching/mentoring business. But CEPs can help coaches create tailored, personalized programs for their clients. By using data from the CEP, coaches and mentors become more familiar with their customer segments. And this awareness will enable them to develop more relevant and functional signature coaching programs, resulting in better customer engagement and, ultimately, better business outcomes.
  • Consultancy firms or freelance groups. The gig economy is booming, and freelancers and consultants are at the forefront of it all. But since many of these firms are lean operations, customer engagement can often take a backseat. With CEPs, freelancers can use data-driven insights to proactively recognize their clients’ needs, refine their services and pricing structures, and develop better relationships with them — that too without engaging external resources or increasing their workforce. So, the next time you submit a copywriting portfolio or prepare a UI/UX design presentation, leverage data from CEPs to create more compelling, personalized pitch materials that will win you more clients.

Step up your customer engagement game

Engagement is key to success for any business, particularly for businesses that rely on customers to keep them afloat. The best customer engagement platforms provide a way to directly connect with your target audience, fostering two-way communication and building relationships that can lead to conversions and long-term loyalty. So, if you’re a customer-oriented business looking for a way to improve your customer engagement, then a CEP is definitely worth considering.

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5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

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5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Welcome to Creator Columns, where we bring expert HubSpot Creator voices to the Blogs that inspire and help you grow better.

I’ve tested 100s of psychological tactics on my email subscribers. In this blog, I reveal the five tactics that actually work.

You’ll learn about the email tactic that got one marketer a job at the White House.

You’ll learn how I doubled my 5 star reviews with one email, and why one strange email from Barack Obama broke all records for donations.

→ Download Now: The Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing [Free Ebook]

5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Imagine writing an email that’s so effective it lands you a job at the White House.

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Well, that’s what happened to Maya Shankar, a PhD cognitive neuroscientist. In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs asked her to help increase signups in their veteran benefit scheme.

Maya had a plan. She was well aware of a cognitive bias that affects us all—the endowment effect. This bias suggests that people value items higher if they own them. So, she changed the subject line in the Veterans’ enrollment email.

Previously it read:

  • Veterans, you’re eligible for the benefit program. Sign up today.

She tweaked one word, changing it to:

  • Veterans, you’ve earned the benefits program. Sign up today.

This tiny tweak had a big impact. The amount of veterans enrolling in the program went up by 9%. And Maya landed a job working at the White House

Boost participation email graphic

Inspired by these psychological tweaks to emails, I started to run my own tests.

Alongside my podcast Nudge, I’ve run 100s of email tests on my 1,000s of newsletter subscribers.

Here are the five best tactics I’ve uncovered.

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1. Show readers what they’re missing.

Nobel prize winning behavioral scientists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky uncovered a principle called loss aversion.

Loss aversion means that losses feel more painful than equivalent gains. In real-world terms, losing $10 feels worse than how gaining $10 feels good. And I wondered if this simple nudge could help increase the number of my podcast listeners.

For my test, I tweaked the subject line of the email announcing an episode. The control read:

“Listen to this one”

In the loss aversion variant it read:

“Don’t miss this one”

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It is very subtle loss aversion. Rather than asking someone to listen, I’m saying they shouldn’t miss out. And it worked. It increased the open rate by 13.3% and the click rate by 12.5%. Plus, it was a small change that cost me nothing at all.

Growth mindset email analytics

2. People follow the crowd.

In general, humans like to follow the masses. When picking a dish, we’ll often opt for the most popular. When choosing a movie to watch, we tend to pick the box office hit. It’s a well-known psychological bias called social proof.

I’ve always wondered if it works for emails. So, I set up an A/B experiment with two subject lines. Both promoted my show, but one contained social proof.

The control read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws

The social proof variant read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws (100,000 Downloads)

I hoped that by highlighting the episode’s high number of downloads, I’d encourage more people to listen. Fortunately, it worked.

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The open rate went from 22% to 28% for the social proof version, and the click rate, (the number of people actually listening to the episode), doubled.

3. Praise loyal subscribers.

The consistency principle suggests that people are likely to stick to behaviours they’ve previously taken. A retired taxi driver won’t swap his car for a bike. A hairdresser won’t change to a cheap shampoo. We like to stay consistent with our past behaviors.

I decided to test this in an email.

For my test, I attempted to encourage my subscribers to leave a review for my podcast. I sent emails to 400 subscribers who had been following the show for a year.

The control read: “Could you leave a review for Nudge?”

The consistency variant read: “You’ve been following Nudge for 12 months, could you leave a review?”

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My hypothesis was simple. If I remind people that they’ve consistently supported the show they’ll be more likely to leave a review.

It worked.

The open rate on the consistency version of the email was 7% higher.

But more importantly, the click rate, (the number of people who actually left a review), was almost 2x higher for the consistency version. Merely telling people they’d been a fan for a while doubled my reviews.

4. Showcase scarcity.

We prefer scarce resources. Taylor Swift gigs sell out in seconds not just because she’s popular, but because her tickets are hard to come by.

Swifties aren’t the first to experience this. Back in 1975, three researchers proved how powerful scarcity is. For the study, the researchers occupied a cafe. On alternating weeks they’d make one small change in the cafe.

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On some weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar was full.

On other weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar only contained two cookies (never more or less).

In other words, sometimes the cookies looked abundantly available. Sometimes they looked like they were almost out.

This changed behaviour. Customers who saw the two cookie jar bought 43% more cookies than those who saw the full jar.

It sounds too good to be true, so I tested it for myself.

I sent an email to 260 subscribers offering free access to my Science of Marketing course for one day only.

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In the control, the subject line read: “Free access to the Science of Marketing course”

For the scarcity variant it read: “Only Today: Get free access to the Science of Marketing Course | Only one enrol per person.”

130 people received the first email, 130 received the second. And the result was almost as good as the cookie finding. The scarcity version had a 15.1% higher open rate.

Email A/B test results

5. Spark curiosity.

All of the email tips I’ve shared have only been tested on my relatively small audience. So, I thought I’d end with a tip that was tested on the masses.

Back in 2012, Barack Obama and his campaign team sent hundreds of emails to raise funds for his campaign.

Of the $690 million he raised, most came from direct email appeals. But there was one email, according to ABC news, that was far more effective than the rest. And it was an odd one.

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The email that drew in the most cash, had a strange subject line. It simply said “Hey.”

The actual email asked the reader to donate, sharing all the expected reasons, but the subject line was different.

It sparked curiosity, it got people wondering, is Obama saying Hey just to me?

Readers were curious and couldn’t help but open the email. According to ABC it was “the most effective pitch of all.”

Because more people opened, it raised more money than any other email. The bias Obama used here is the curiosity gap. We’re more likely to act on something when our curiosity is piqued.

Email example

Loss aversion, social proof, consistency, scarcity and curiosity—all these nudges have helped me improve my emails. And I reckon they’ll work for you.

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It’s not guaranteed of course. Many might fail. But running some simple a/b tests for your emails is cost free, so why not try it out?

This blog is part of Phill Agnew’s Marketing Cheat Sheet series where he reveals the scientifically proven tips to help you improve your marketing. To learn more, listen to his podcast Nudge, a proud member of the Hubspot Podcast Network.

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The power of program management in martech

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The power of program management in martech

As a supporter of the program perspective for initiatives, I recognize the value of managing related projects, products and activities as a unified entity. 

While one-off projects have their place, they often involve numerous moving parts and in my experience, using a project-based approach can lead to crucial elements being overlooked. This is particularly true when building a martech stack or developing content, for example, where a program-based approach can ensure that all aspects are considered and properly integrated. 

For many CMOs and marketing organizations, programs are becoming powerful tools for aligning diverse initiatives and driving strategic objectives. Let’s explore the essential role of programs in product management, project management and marketing operations, bridging technical details with business priorities. 

Programs in product management

Product management is a fascinating domain where programs operate as a strategic framework, coordinating related products or product lines to meet specific business objectives.

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Product managers are responsible for defining a product or product line’s strategy, roadmap and features. They work closely with program managers, who ensure alignment with market demands, customer needs and the company’s overall vision by managing offerings at a program level. 

Program managers optimize the product portfolio, make strategic decisions about resource allocation and ensure that each product contributes to the program’s goals. One key aspect of program management in product management is identifying synergies between products. 

Program managers can drive innovation and efficiency across the portfolio by leveraging shared technologies, customer insights, or market trends. This approach enables organizations to respond quickly to changing market conditions, seize emerging opportunities and maintain a competitive advantage. Product managers, in turn, use these insights to shape the direction of individual products.

Moreover, programs in product management facilitate cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing. Program managers foster a holistic understanding of customer needs and market dynamics by bringing together teams from various departments, such as engineering, marketing and sales.

Product managers also play a crucial role in this collaborative approach, ensuring that all stakeholders work towards common goals, ultimately leading to more successful product launches and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Dig deeper: Understanding different product roles in marketing technology acquisition

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Programs in project management

In project management, programs provide a structured approach for managing related projects as a unified entity, supporting broader strategic objectives. Project managers are responsible for planning, executing and closing individual projects within a program. They focus on specific deliverables, timelines and budgets. 

On the other hand, program managers oversee these projects’ coordination, dependencies and outcomes, ensuring they collectively deliver the desired benefits and align with the organization’s strategic goals.

A typical example of a program in project management is a martech stack optimization initiative. Such a program may involve integrating marketing technology tools and platforms, implementing customer data management systems and training employees on the updated technologies. Project managers would be responsible for the day-to-day management of each project. 

In contrast, the program manager ensures a cohesive approach, minimizes disruptions and realizes the full potential of the martech investments to improve marketing efficiency, personalization and ROI.

The benefits of program management in project management are numerous. Program managers help organizations prioritize initiatives that deliver the greatest value by aligning projects with strategic objectives. They also identify and mitigate risks that span multiple projects, ensuring that issues in one area don’t derail the entire program. Project managers, in turn, benefit from this oversight and guidance, as they can focus on successfully executing their projects.

Additionally, program management enables efficient resource allocation, as skills and expertise can be shared across projects, reducing duplication of effort and maximizing value. Project managers can leverage these resources and collaborate with other project teams to achieve their objectives more effectively.

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Dig deeper: Combining martech projects: 5 questions to ask

Programs in marketing operations

In marketing operations, programs play a vital role in integrating and managing various marketing activities to achieve overarching goals. Marketing programs encompass multiple initiatives, such as advertising, content marketing, social media and event planning. Organizations ensure consistent messaging, strategic alignment, and measurable results by managing these activities as a cohesive program.

In marketing operations, various roles, such as MOps managers, campaign managers, content managers, digital marketing managers and analytics managers, collaborate to develop and execute comprehensive marketing plans that support the organization’s business objectives. 

These professionals work closely with cross-functional teams, including creative, analytics and sales, to ensure that all marketing efforts are coordinated and optimized for maximum impact. This involves setting clear goals, defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuously monitoring and adjusting strategies based on data-driven insights.

One of the primary benefits of a programmatic approach in marketing operations is maintaining a consistent brand voice and message across all channels. By establishing guidelines and standards for content creation, visual design and customer interactions, marketing teams ensure that the brand’s identity remains cohesive and recognizable. This consistency builds customer trust, reinforces brand loyalty and drives business growth.

Programs in marketing operations enable organizations to take a holistic approach to customer engagement. By analyzing customer data and feedback across various touchpoints, marketing professionals can identify opportunities for improvement and develop targeted strategies to enhance the customer experience. This customer-centric approach leads to increased satisfaction, higher retention rates and more effective marketing investments.

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Dig deeper: Mastering the art of goal setting in marketing operations

Embracing the power of programs for long-term success

We’ve explored how programs enable marketing organizations to drive strategic success and create lasting impact by aligning diverse initiatives across product management, project management and marketing operations. 

  • Product management programs facilitate cross-functional collaboration and ensure alignment with market demands. 
  • In project management, they provide a structured approach for managing related projects and mitigating risks. 
  • In marketing operations, programs enable consistent messaging and a customer-centric approach to engagement.

Program managers play a vital role in maintaining strategic alignment, continuously assessing progress and adapting to changes in the business environment. Keeping programs aligned with long-term objectives maximizes ROI and drives sustainable growth.

Organizations that invest in developing strong program management capabilities will be better positioned to optimize resources, foster innovation and achieve their long-term goals.



As a CMO or marketing leader, it is important to recognize the strategic value of programs and champion their adoption across your organization. By aligning efforts across various domains, you can unlock the full potential of your initiatives and drive meaningful results. Try it, you’ll like it.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business

Before we dive into the second way to assume power in your business, let’s revisit Part 1. 

Who informs your marketing strategy? 

YOU, with your carefully curated strategy informed by data and deep knowledge of your brand and audience? Or any of the 3 Cs below? 

  • Competitors: Their advertising and digital presence and seemingly never-ending budgets consume the landscape.
  • Colleagues: Their tried-and-true proven tactics or lessons learned.
  • Customers: Their calls, requests, and ideas. 

Considering any of the above is not bad, in fact, it can be very wise! However, listening quickly becomes devastating if it lends to their running our business or marketing department. 

It’s time we move from defense to offense, sitting in the driver’s seat rather than allowing any of the 3 Cs to control. 

It is one thing to learn from and entirely another to be controlled by. 

In Part 1, we explored how knowing what we want is critical to regaining power.

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1) Knowing what you want protects the bottom line.

2) Knowing what you want protects you from the 3 Cs. 

3) Knowing what you want protects you from running on auto-pilot.

You can read Part 1 here; in the meantime, let’s dive in! 

How to Regain Control of Your Business: Knowing Who You Are

Vertical alignment is a favorite concept of mine, coined over the last two years throughout my personal journey of knowing self. 

Consider the diagram below.

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Vertical alignment is the state of internal being centered with who you are at your core. 

Horizontal alignment is the state of external doing engaged with the world around you.

In a state of vertical alignment, your business operates from its core center, predicated on its mission, values, and brand. It is authentic and confident and cuts through the noise because it is entirely unique from every competitor in the market. 

From this vertical alignment, your business is positioned for horizontal alignment to fulfill the integrity of its intended services, instituted processes, and promised results. 

A strong brand is not only differentiated in the market by its vertical alignment but delivers consistently and reliably in terms of its products, offerings, and services and also in terms of the customer experience by its horizontal alignment. 

Let’s examine what knowing who you are looks like in application, as well as some habits to implement with your team to strengthen vertical alignment. 

1) Knowing who You are Protects You from Horizontal Voices. 

The strength of “Who We Are” predicates the ability to maintain vertical alignment when something threatens your stability. When a colleague proposes a tactic that is not aligned with your values. When the customer comes calling with ideas that will knock you off course as bandwidth is limited or the budget is tight. 

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I was on a call with a gal from my Mastermind when I mentioned a retreat I am excited to launch in the coming months. 

I shared that I was considering its positioning, given its curriculum is rooted in emotional intelligence (EQ) to inform personal brand development. The retreat serves C-Suite, but as EQ is not a common conversation among this audience, I was considering the best positioning. 

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She advised, “Sell them solely on the business aspects, and then sneak attack with the EQ when they’re at the retreat!” 

At first blush, it sounds reasonable. After all, there’s a reason why the phrase, “Sell the people what they want, give them what they need,” is popular.

Horizontal advice and counsel can produce a wealth of knowledge. However, we must always approach the horizontal landscape – the external – powered by vertical alignment – centered internally with the core of who we are. 

Upon considering my values of who I am and the vision of what I want for this event, I realized the lack of transparency is not in alignment with my values nor setting the right expectations for the experience.

Sure, maybe I would get more sales; however, my bottom line — what I want — is not just sales. I want transformation on an emotional level. I want C-Suite execs to leave powered from a place of emotional intelligence to decrease decisions made out of alignment with who they are or executing tactics rooted in guilt, not vision. 

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Ultimately, one of my core values is authenticity, and I must make business decisions accordingly. 

2) Knowing who You are Protects You from Reactivity.

Operating from vertical alignment maintains focus on the bottom line and the strategy to achieve it. From this position, you are protected from reacting to the horizontal pressures of the 3 Cs: Competitors, Colleagues, and Customers. 

This does not mean you do not adjust tactics or learn. 

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However, your approach to adjustments is proactive direction, not reactive deviations. To do this, consider the following questions:

First: How does their (any one of the 3 Cs) tactic measure against my proven track record of success?

If your colleague promotes adding newsletters to your strategy, lean in and ask, “Why?” 

  • What are their outcomes? 
  • What metrics are they tracking for success? 
  • What is their bottom line against yours? 
  • How do newsletters fit into their strategy and stage(s) of the customer journey? 

Always consider your historical track record of success first and foremost. 

Have you tried newsletters in the past? Is their audience different from yours? Why are newsletters good for them when they did not prove profitable for you? 

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Operate with your head up and your eyes open. 

Maintain focus on your bottom line and ask questions. Revisit your data, and don’t just take their word for it. 

2. Am I allocating time in my schedule?

I had coffee with the former CEO of Jiffy Lube, who built the empire that it is today. 

He could not emphasize more how critical it is to allocate time for thinking. Just being — not doing — and thinking about your business or department. 

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Especially for senior leaders or business owners, but even still for junior staff. 

The time and space to be fosters creative thinking, new ideas, and energy. Some of my best campaigns are conjured on a walk or in the shower. 

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Kasim Aslam, founder of the world’s #1 Google Ads agency and a dear friend of mine, is a machine when it comes to hacks and habits. He encouraged me to take an audit of my calendar over the last 30 days to assess how I spend time. 

“Create three buckets,” he said. “Organize them by the following:

  • Tasks that Generate Revenue
  • Tasks that Cost Me Money
  • Tasks that Didn’t Earn Anything”

He and I chatted after I completed this exercise, and I added one to the list: Tasks that are Life-Giving. 

Friends — if we are running empty, exhausted, or emotionally depleted, our creative and strategic wherewithal will be significantly diminished. We are holistic creatures and, therefore, must nurture our mind, body, soul, and spirit to maintain optimum capacity for impact. 

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I shared this hack with a friend of mine. Not only did she identify meetings that were costing her money and thus needed to be eliminated, but she also identified that particular meetings could actually turn revenue-generating! She spent a good amount of time each month facilitating introductions; now, she is adding Strategic Partnerships to her suite of services. 


ACTION: Analyze your calendar’s last 30-60 days against the list above. 

Include what is life-giving! 

How are you spending your time? What is the data showing you? Are you on the path to achieving what you want and living in alignment with who you want to be?

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Share with your team or business partner for the purpose of accountability, and implement practical changes accordingly. 


Finally, remember: If you will not protect your time, no one else will. 

3) Knowing who You are Protects You from Lack. 

“What are you proud of?” someone asked me last year. 

“Nothing!” I reply too quickly. “I know I’m not living up to my potential or operating in the full capacity I could be.” 

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They looked at me in shock. “You need to read The Gap And The Gain.”

I silently rolled my eyes.

I already knew the premise of the book, or I thought I did. I mused: My vision is so big, and I have so much to accomplish. The thought of solely focusing on “my wins” sounded like an excuse to abdicate personal responsibility. 

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But I acquiesced. 

The premise of this book is to measure one’s self from where they started and the success from that place to where they are today — the gains — rather than from where they hope to get and the seemingly never-ending distance — the gap.

Ultimately, Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan encourage changing perspectives to assign success, considering the starting point rather than the destination.

The book opens with the following story:

Dan Jensen was an Olympic speed skater, notably the fastest in the world. But in each game spanning a decade, Jansen could not catch a break. “Flukes” — even tragedy with the death of his sister in the early morning of the 1988 Olympics — continued to disrupt the prediction of him being favored as the winner. 

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The 1994 Olympics were the last of his career. He had one more shot.

Preceding his last Olympics in 1994, Jansen adjusted his mindset. He focused on every single person who invested in him, leading to this moment. He considered just how very lucky he was to even participate in the first place. He thought about his love for the sport itself, all of which led to an overwhelming realization of just how much he had gained throughout his life.

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He raced the 1994 Olympic games differently, as his mindset powering every stride was one of confidence and gratitude — predicated on the gains rather than the gap in his life. 

This race secured him his first and only gold medal and broke a world record, simultaneously proving one of the most emotional wins in Olympic history. 

Friends, knowing who we are on the personal and professional level, can protect us from those voices of shame or guilt that creep in. 


PERSONAL ACTION: Create two columns. On one side, create a list of where you were when you started your business or your position at your company. Include skills and networks and even feelings about where you were in life. On the other side, outline where you are today. 

Look at how far you’ve come. 

COMPANY ACTION: Implement a quarterly meeting to review the past three months. Where did you start? Where are you now? 

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Celebrate the gain!

Only from this place of gain mindset, can you create goals for the next quarter predicated on where you are today.


Ultimately, my hope for you is that you deliver exceptional and memorable experiences laced with empathy toward the customer (horizontally aligned) yet powered by the authenticity of the brand (vertically aligned). 

Aligning vertically maintains our focus on the bottom line and powers horizontal fulfillment. 

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Granted, there will be strategic times and seasons for adjustment; however, these changes are to be made on the heels of consulting who we are as a brand — not in reaction to the horizontal landscape of what is the latest and greatest in the industry. 

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In Conclusion…

Taking back control of your business and marketing strategies requires a conscious effort to resist external pressures and realign with what you want and who you are.

Final thoughts as we wrap up: 

First, identify the root issue(s).

Consider which of the 3 Cs holds the most power: be it competition, colleagues, or customers.

Second, align vertically.

Vertical alignment facilitates individuality in the market and ensures you — and I — stand out and shine while serving our customers well. 

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Third, keep the bottom line in view.

Implement a routine that keeps you and your team focused on what matters most, and then create the cascading strategy necessary to accomplish it. 

Fourth, maintain your mindsets.

Who You Are includes values for the internal culture. Guide your team in acknowledging the progress made along the way and embracing the gains to operate from a position of strength and confidence.

Fifth, maintain humility.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of humility and being open to what others are doing. However, horizontal alignment must come after vertical alignment. Otherwise, we will be at the mercy of the whims and fads of everyone around us. Humility allows us to be open to external inputs and vertically aligned at the same time.

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Buckle up, friends! It’s time to take back the wheel and drive our businesses forward. 

The power lies with you and me.


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