When you run a marketing team, you have to juggle numerous moving parts.
Add the many challenges of managing remote employees – from time zone differences and varying cultural backgrounds to communication hurdles and inconsistent internet connections – the job can be rather daunting.
However, it’s worth overcoming the challenges associated with managing a virtual marketing team thanks to the various benefits a remote workforce can offer:
You can hire anyone from anywhere in the world to get the best talents with the right skillsets for your projects.
As more people are looking for flexible work arrangements, remote working helps increase employee satisfaction, reduce turnover rate, and the cost associated with it.
You can save on overhead costs so you can do more with a smaller budget.
Thankfully, as more organizations are recognizing the benefits of remote working, there are also more tools and resources to support the optimal performance of virtual teams.
Here’s how to lead a stellar remote marketing team so you can reap the benefits while mitigating the challenges:
1) Use the right collaboration and communication tools:
Marketing is a highly collaborative discipline and using the right cloud-based platforms is key to making sure team members can work together effectively from anywhere and at any time.
They allow your team to share information on a centralized location in real-time to minimize errors and delays due to miscommunications.
Some of these tools include project management software, unified communications platform, file-sharing system, and messaging application.
Slack, Wrike and Scoop.it are all examples of platforms that allow disparate teams to communicate and collaborate on projects, no matter where they are in the world.
You should also look for features that help foster innovative perspective and creative thinking.
For example, team members can use Discourse to start a conversation, riff on ideas, and share early thoughts about a project.
2) Improve visibility:
Many applications, such as Trello and Slack, enable asynchronous collaboration among team members from different time zones.
This also means that everyone has to work autonomously and do their jobs at their own time while making sure that all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.
Planning your projects and tasks ahead of time (e.g., at least one week in advance) can give team members visibility to their workload so they can manage their time efficiently and take advantage of the flexibility offered by remote working without compromising deadlines and deliverables.
This is particularly helpful for tasks that require multiple steps, collaboration with other teams, and advanced scheduling.
You can reduce last-minute issues and minimize their impact on other teams while ensuring better quality work.
3) Implement a communication plan:
While all the collaboration tools you have put in place can boost productivity, too much of a good thing can cause confusion.
Therefore, you need to make sure that team members are using the right channel for the right purpose.
To avoid miscommunications and frustration, create a communication plan and ensure that everyone on your team is following the processes.
The plan should indicate which channel to use for what kind of communication, the expected turnaround time, and how to deal with urgent matters.
For example, use Slack messages for short internal conversations, post project management-related comments on Basecamp, and use phone or text messages for urgent issues that need immediate attention.
4) Automate workflows:
Automation allows you to increase cost-efficiency while minimizing time-consuming and error-prone manual and repetitive tasks so your team can focus on strategic and creative work.
If you want to link up multiple platforms, you can use automation software to route completed tasks and eliminate bottlenecks or instances when a task doesn’t get passed along right away just because a team member is in another time zone.
To get the most from these technologies, start with manual tasks that need to be repeated frequently, are prone to human errors, and take up a lot of time (e.g., re-keying information from one system to another.)
5) Communicate proactively:
Communication is key to success for remote teams and you should lead by example by proactively reaching out to every team member.
Have in-depth conversations so you can get to know them better, understand their strengths, and connect with them on a personal level.
Schedule regular check-ins with your team members and look for potential warning signs that could indicate stress, burnout, falling behind on deadlines, or having conflicts with other team members.
Move in-depth conversations from messaging apps (e.g., Slack) to video calls so you can capture nuances through verbal and non-verbal cues such as tone, inflexion, facial expression, and body language.
6) Share progress and celebrate wins:
A weekly team meeting helps everyone stay on the same page and be informed about what others are working on.
Have everyone share the status of all projects, ask questions, and get fresh perspectives from colleagues.
Don’t forget to praise achievements and celebrate wins to keep team members motivated.
While a tight agenda is often more efficient when you have a lot to cover, a less structured approach with just a simple outline can help facilitate free-flowing discussions that can increase employee engagement and build camaraderie.
Carve out time and space for water cooler conversations in the virtual workspace to foster a supportive team culture that encourages creativity and innovation.
For example, you can create community “spaces” by setting up a Slack community or a weekly Twitter chat.
7) Provide comprehensive onboarding:
Remote employees need to work autonomously and make decisions independently to keep projects moving along.
Not to mention, all the tools and software are only effective if your team can utilize them properly!
During the orientation process, make sure new hires understand internal processes, have access to all the information they need to do their jobs, gain good command of the communication tools, and become familiar with the software in your martech stack.
Set expectations on work schedules, review team communication plan, and clarify specific time blocks that team members need to be online and available (e.g., for team meetings.)
All the information should be clearly documented and accessible on a centralized platform.
7) Develop a solid grasp of your brand:
Your marketing team needs to have a solid understanding of your target audience, brand identity, and marketing objectives so they can be empowered to take initiatives that align with your business goals.
New hires should learn about your brand story, buyer personas, customer expectations, industry trends, and KPIs during orientation so they can hit the ground running and become productive as quickly as possible.
You should also have a style guide and all brand assets accessible from a centralized location.
This will not only make it easy for team members to do their jobs but also allow them to easily share the information with content partners, guest authors, PR firms, and freelancers to maintain quality and streamline workflows.
It also helps align the voice and tone of all your marketing materials and project a consistent brand image across all customer touchpoints.
Share your company’s mission statement during orientation and reinforce the key points in all employee communications.
If your company has a physical location, try to schedule an in-person component for the onboarding process to create an immersive experience.
You can also set up periodic in-person meetups, e.g., during company retreats or at the start of a big project.
Besides talking shop, don’t forget to incorporate elements that will enable team members to build trust and relationships so you can set the stage for better collaboration in the future.
9) Provide IT support:
From content production and email marketing to SEO and analytics, every marketer needs the latest digital tools to do their jobs effectively.
Make sure your remote marketing team has the proper IT support to utilize all the applications in your martech stack.
Since most of today’s marketing platforms are cloud-based, employees need fast, reliable, and secure internet connections so they can access the online software while ensuring that sensitive data and customer information stay safe to avoid the high costs associated with data breaches.
Insecure browsers can compromise endpoint security on users’ devices and increase the chances that hackers can access your company’s sensitive information and customer data through an employee’s computer or smartphone.
To effectively lead a marketing team, you need more than a collection of software applications and a remote working policy.
You have to cultivate and nurture a virtual team culture that fosters innovation, collaboration, proactive communication, as well as open, honest, and productive conversations.
Your marketing team starts with your people – consider personal traits that align with your company’s culture and soft skills that are essential for success as remote workers when hiring team members.
With the right people, processes, and tools in place, your virtual marketing team can collaborate seamlessly.
This will allow you to take advantage of a remote workforce while minimizing the potential challenges to optimize your results.