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How Microsoft manages marketing activities at scale

By Microsoft in Business Team on October 13, 2017

Filed under Microsoft in Business

Focus on: Empower Employees, Optimize Operations

In a company like Microsoft, which is filled with brilliant minds and innovative thinkers, disparate marketing systems are bound to crop up. It’s inevitable: marketers come to the company with different backgrounds, different levels of experience, and different loyalties to various marketing programs. One of the hardest parts of being a marketer at Microsoft is learning how to change your routine to adapt to various processes, rules, and compliances. Often, you’ll catch a marketer muttering under her breath, “If only there was a team in place to manage all of this routine work…”

It turns out, this marketer has a solution to her woes. Microsoft has a team in place called the Central Controls and Compliance Program, also known as 3CP, and they are dedicated to the execution of the routine tasks Ms. Marketer would have liked to offload to increase her productivity.

Beginning in 2014, the 3CP team began building what would eventually become a flawless marketing engine to alleviate the headaches that came from campaign set-up, execution, and reporting. The marketing engine quickly grew to encompass event support by 2016 – which is when the big marketing services transformation really began. With event support came assistance in building registration and landing pages; webinar planning and execution; contact list pulls; and event results. To manage the volume of event support that was needed, the team needed a structure in place to efficiently manage all requests that came through.
Leveraging Marketing as a Service

3CP’s solution was a “Marketing as a Service” model – or MaaS – that essentially runs the back-end marketing automation systems. This service includes reporting, event logistics, release form tracking, and event registration. These background activities allow the Microsoft marketer to focus on strategy and connecting with customers.

The way MaaS works is through different costs for specified outputs, such as social engagement, social selling, marketing automation emails, in-person and virtual event set up, advertising, and more. The cost for MaaS also includes strict Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) for each step in the process, ensuring the marketer requesting a service is kept up-to-date on the progress. When a marketing service is complete, the marketer who submitted the request receives a performance report on how their event, email, webcast, or other activity performed. A bi-product of MaaS is the general consistency of marketing output across all areas of Microsoft, no matter which product group, segment, or industry team submits the request.
Structuring the marketing organization

What’s incredible about this organization is how deeply incorporated it is into Microsoft’s marketing structure. “3CP isn’t an additional service group within the company – it is an extension of the entire marketing arm,” says Murray Oxley, 3CP senior lead. Having a team of 70 employees readily available to learn and adapt new technologies on behalf of the entire marketing organization also takes a load off marketers’ shoulders. It’s yet another area where marketers are able to home in on what they know best: reaching customers with engaging campaigns.

3CP also ensures that the outputs of each campaign within Microsoft, regardless of which team the results are delivered to, are consistent. How many times have you received two different reports on the same topic, only to see two completely different sets of results? That used to be a familiar issue to Microsoft employees, but since the 3CP team began centralizing reports across the entire company using Microsoft Dynamics 365, data and messaging have become more consistent.

According to Oxley, “the way we position [Maas], is we now have a plug-and-play infrastructure. The infrastructure’s based upon controlled, compliant processes – and the marketing needs can be plugged into that. The distinction of marketing and events, and controls and compliance is critical because the single infrastructure of a single controls and compliance group has the core processes that can support and manage all the different activities.”

The plug-and-play infrastructure still needs assistance in order to allow our team to manage marketing activities at scale.
“The only way we can [manage the plug-and-play structure] is because we have the Dynamics 365 tool to assist us and allow us to scale,” says Oxley.

Campaigns are also more efficiently executed: the go-to-market timeline is significantly reduced when a team of highly trained employees are working day in and day out on the same procedural stuff. They are such a finely tuned machine that the room for error is significantly decreased and campaigns are launched with far fewer flaws than if they had been launched by an overworked and busy marketer.

This finely tuned machine has also led to led to 3CP’s marketing services being more cost-effective. According to Oxley, through automated programs like Dynamics 365, Office 365, and Power BI, internal vendor resource costs are reduced. The centralized CRM system in Dynamics 365 also keeps all information in one place, which saves cost on redundant, disparate software solutions. The 3CP team is largely located in Fargo, which, by way of cost-of-operation, travel, and expenses has decreased the budget needed to manage the team.
How controls and compliance can boost all marketing teams

The core of 3CP is to oversee and document the various steps needed to launch a secure, compliant marketing activity. “Today’s society is very much dependent upon working in a controlled and compliant manner,” says Oxley. “If I was going into an organization that was struggling with achieving marketing results because they couldn’t scale and they didn’t understand the background, I could actually go in there and reengineer their processes to simplify and draw efficiencies to make their whole marketing department work more effectively.
“People and process come first. Afterward, implementing Dynamics 365 is important to allow the group the capability to see the SLAs, commitments, and also to have dashboards to see the progress of what they’re doing,” Murray concludes.
Keeping the marketing business in check

The life of a digital marketer moves very fast. The level of customer interaction new digital programs like webinars and e-books afford means the marketer needs to be both efficient and compliant in order to keep the marketing engine running. Luckily, with a team like 3CP in place to manage landing page construction, webinar builds, and compliance checks, the marketer has more time to focus on creating engaging content and informative campaigns for their audience to consume.

 


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