The user experience is everything on the web. But what sets your marketing function apart from your competitors? Hint: it’s not the tech skills.

I like to say that when it comes to online, experience has an echo. If you don’t get it right, not only do you lose that sale, but maybe also that customer, and that customer’s friends, family and even LinkedIn contacts, or strangers who read a review on the internet.

What does that have to do with leadership?

Leadership sets expectations for excellence. It does that by rewarding behaviour that takes the organisation closer to its goals. The problem is that for marketing technology (martech) departments, the goal hasn’t shifted. It has evaporated.

We are used to rewarding an ideal marketing outcome such as a successful commercial, or an excellent campaign. We use phrases like “right first time.” But that approach is 180 degrees away from implementing a successful digital campaign. And leadership has to shift to accommodate the change.

I spoke in my last blog post about the Agile framework and how marketing departments are adapting this tool from the software development world.

That adaptation can only come from a deep leadership commitment to changing the way the martech function is organised, rewarded, and run.

The Agile framework rewards effort as well as results. This is not only effective in delivering excellent outcomes fast; it also echoes the research of Carol Dweck, who found that rewarding students for effort produced much better results than rewarding them for getting As on their papers.

The way Agile does this is by structuring the work in two-week “sprints”. The project leader, in conjunction with the end user and the team, produces a prioritised list of actions that can reasonably be achieved in one sprint.

The team then uses a tool called a kanban board to track every member’s progress towards completing the tasks. The kanban board is visible to all the team members, all the time. There are no silos. The team is a cross-functional group of a maximum of 10 people, all working on the sprint.

To make sure everybody is focused on what needs to be done and nothing else, the team meets every day for a 10-15 minute “scrum” meeting.

After two weeks, the sprint is finished and the completed work is delivered to the end-user. The end-user provides feedback, and that is incorporated into the next list of actions for the next sprint.

You’ve spotted the leadership challenge immediately. Who gets to be the project leader? Who decides who will be on the team? How do you arrange to get feedback from the customer? How on earth do you run reward or performance management systems with this kind of process in place?

The leadership challenges are real. But so are the benefits. This approach has been proven to deliver excellent results fast in the world of software development, by incorporating user feedback at every step of the way and adjusting as you go.

We are seeing how the approach can be adapted and implemented in the martech environment.

The truth is that something has to change. When the user experience constantly needs to be tweaked and improved, the old way of delivering one completed user experience is just not the right tool for the job.

The martech function needs a new way of working so that it can keep up with the users’ feedback and with trends in the market. The Agile framework is a way of doing that.

Accenture has produced an interesting report on how the martech function is changing. If you would like to know more, I invite you to download it here.