One of the biggest challenges we see as an agency when brought on board to help a client transition to a new CMS platform is getting the marketing and IT departments on the same page.
One would think companies would be united across several fronts when approaching an agency to assist in the design, development, and deployment of their website. However, the gap between IT departments and marketing is more often than not the largest internal challenge our customers face during the process of choosing a new CMS platform.
At their core, both organizations are often looking out for the best possible scenario for their company. However, the motivations and priorities of both IT and marketing personnel are not usually aligned. To come to a consensus, it’s most important to understand those motivations and how each team comes to the project from their perspectives.
Information Technology / In-House Tech
IT departments approach their projects with a different set of priorities than a marketing team. Most IT departments are concerned about the same key concepts, so learning what they are and how your choice of a CMS will fit into these concerns is essential to receiving any level of buy-in from the team.
Therefore, marketers should consider doing some research with their IT department before moving too far along with their process of choosing a CMS platform.
There is almost never a time in the history of IT that in-house tech isn’t worried about the security of any potential piece of software being deployed in the enterprise.
With that said, it’s important to pay attention to security concerns when choosing a CMS platform. Many systems are vulnerable to attack, or coded in such a way that they are unacceptable for corporate usage. It is not at all unusual for the most popular platforms in use on the web today to not be acceptable due to security reasons. When working with internal IT, be sure to discuss what the specific concerns are so you can research what CMS platforms would be acceptable.
There are literally hundreds of different CMS platforms available that work on a variety of different technology “stacks”. From Java to .Net to PHP to Ruby, there are many different options and internal IT will have a say on what platform is acceptable.
But, it is important to have an honest dialogue about who will be managing and maintaining the website in the future. If marketing is taking over the website and will perform maintenance with an outside vendor, for example, it isn’t unheard of for IT to release some of their technology concerns.
It is also important for marketing to “vet” the technology recommendations of their own IT team to some degree. Most of the people that marketing will talk to will be tech heavy and they may recommend new or up-and-coming platforms that are not yet proven to be helpful or flexible for marketing-driven websites.
So, we recommend that when choosing a CMS platform, you evaluate the long term and past performance of the platforms your internal tech folks recommend.
Internal technology groups are very worried about predictability meaning they are not interested in being caught by surprise with problems or crises. Therefore, expect to be able to show and display to them that you have considered worst case performance, scaling or uptime possibilities.
Also, have a plan in place to be able to assuage their fears of being put in a position to deal with fires they didn’t start, at inconvenient and unpredictable times.
Many corporations have standards in terms of technology, procedures, ownership of code, etc. It’s important to make sure marketers are aware of these procedures and restrictions before going too far in their mission to choose a new CMS platform.
We see this often with SAAS companies where in-house tech is not primarily IT-focused but also product focused. In this case, it is essential marketers work to “reclaim” the marketing website from their internal tech team.
The primary reason is that in these scenarios the internal team typically sees the marketing website as an inconvenience. They are more focused on product development and support so marketing and lead generation simply isn’t their primary focus.
In this case, the best way for marketers to win cooperation is to convince their tech team that giving up control over the website will make their lives easier, in addition to helping marketing achieve their goals. Typically, this ends up to be a resolution beneficial to all parties.
Of course, this list isn’t meant to cover 100% of the possible concerns that an internal technology services group may have about choosing a CMS platform. However, these are very common causes for concern and should serve as a foundation to have a detailed, knowledgeable conversation with tech professionals about the project.
Marketing / Sales Teams
Marketers have a completely different list of priorities versus tech professionals. And, different personalities too (which is not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation!).
Freedom & Agility
Marketing professionals require the flexibility and agility to do their job. To them, that means the ability to make the changes they want to make, when they want to make them. Hence, a chief concern is freedom–a CMS that makes it difficult to change certain content, or control specific aspects of the website–or even worse not allow those changes at all–will inhibit their ability to do their job.
Metrics & Measurement
Marketing today is all about analytics. Websites need tracking of many different metrics–not just hits and pageviews. Today, marketers need systems that allow them to track user flows, view user sessions, track conversions, and other valuable metrics.
Because digital marketing is so data driven these days, it may not make sense precisely why marketers ask for what they do. But, there is usually a reason and therefore these concerns and requirements will most likely be top of mind.
Marketing today requires many systems to work together systematically and collaboratively. “Martech” (or marketing technology) is streamlining many of the tasks marketers perform. It’s essential they can take marketing automation tools and sync them to their website not only for tracking but also for lead generation.
Similarly, it’s important that these systems integrate with CRM systems or sales pipeline tools. Without a marketing technology stack, marketers can’t track key performance indicators and as a result, judge the quality of their campaigns.
Speaking of key performance indicators–this is what marketing is all about. Results. Any system that for a second can be thought to impede the ability of marketers to reach their goals and achieve their desired results will ultimately be rejected.
Time is money. And downtime is lost money. Marketers can’t afford for shoddy technology and infrastructure problems that result in downtime or load issues. Most marketers don’t know what the fix is, but they know they can’t afford to lose any eyeballs during an extensive loss of service. It’s important whatever solution they eventually base their web presence on has a strong level of redundancy and scalability, if necessary.
Bridging The Gap
With all motivations and priorities identified, how can marketing and technology begin to bridge the gap to work together? We’ve identified 3 things that more often than not bring these two critical groups back into a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Mutual Convenience: IT is overworked. Marketing needs flexibility. IT giving up control of the website to marketing and their vendors is a mutually satisfactory way to please both parties. With this common goal in mind, the process of choosing a CMS can become a mutual enterprise.
- Collaboration: It is our position that marketing teams should always own all freedom and flexibility for their lead generation website. However, it must be within the confines of company tech requirements. In this way, close collaboration between teams is essential.
Using the guide above, this will be a bit easier. When choosing a CMS platform, not including the relevant technical parties could be a disaster and make the gap between groups even wider. Work to include your technical team as often as possible, starting during the initial discovery and requirements phase where their concerns can be addressed before you are too deep into the process of deciding on a platform.
- Goals: IT doesn’t understand what marketers really do. They think it's all trade shows, Facebook updates, and fun events. In reality, if IT had a sense of the actual metric goals marketing was being held accountable for, there would be a better collaborative understanding of what marketing does.
Rather than simply saying “we need a new website and a CMS to control it”, it is better to explain in more detailed terms (these are tech folks, after all!) such as “We need to drive more conversions, so it's important that our new CMS allows for the ability to integrate forms and landing pages that connect directly to our marketing software. Ideally, we are trying to increase our lead flow from X leads per day/week/month to Y.” This is a more detailed request which provides a detailed glance into what you need and why you need it.
Remember both teams are essential to the success of your enterprise. Work together for a mutually beneficial outcome and the result will be a smooth operating marketing ecosystem and a more collaborative work environment.