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by Matt Shealy | April 10, 2020

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Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of the global workforce that worked remotely was steadily on the rise. Now, more companies than ever have moved to a remote work model in a collective effort to “flatten the curve”. It remains to be seen how the pandemic will shape the global workforce after it has abated, but the current situation is certainly testing the efficacy and sustainability of a remote work model.

As far as the benefits go, remote working is very cost-efficient for many organizations. It reduces overhead while helping improve employee satisfaction and retention. In particular, remote working is beneficial for highly specialized disciplines such as marketing. It helps you attract high-quality talents without being constrained by geographic location.

You can tap into a larger talent pool and attract experts with the right knowledge and skillset. Hiring marketers from different countries can also help you gain valuable insights into the local markets — this gives you an edge if you want to establish a presence in today’s global marketplace.

However, new business models also come with new challenges. Running a remote marketing team is not without its pitfalls and there are some unique challenges you need to overcome:

  • Lack of in-person relationship-building opportunities makes it more difficult to nurture a collaborative team culture.
  • Time zone and location differences can make coordinating real-time collaboration more challenging.
  • Different cultural backgrounds among team members can affect communications, leading to errors and delays.
  • Insufficient cross-departmental communications can result in a siloed structure that negatively impacts the customer experience.
  • The virtual working environment makes it harder to foster a cohesive company culture and rally teams around the company’s long-term vision.

To maximize the benefits of a remote marketing team while mitigating the potential downsides, you need to have the right systems and processes in place. Here are five tips to help you build your remote marketing team.

1. Hire the Right Team Members

Besides knowledge in specific marketing disciplines, an understanding of consumer psychology, and the ability to turn data into actionable insights, you need to hire team members that have the right personality traits and skills for working in a remote setting.

Look for candidates that have a track record of working in a virtual team environment. They should also be able to use various communication and collaboration tools productively.

Remote team members should be able to stay motivated on their own, take initiative proactively, work autonomously, and make decisions independently under a flexible and low-touch management style.

When you interview candidates, don’t overlook the importance of their communication style, as well as how their personalities and values complement your company culture.

In addition, the ideal candidate should be knowledgeable about your industry and products. They should know about your market and be able to share unique insights about your audience.

2. Implement a New Hire Onboarding Process

When onboarding a remote marketing team member, you need to go beyond paperwork and policies. Be sure to share your company’s vision and brand value, which are the foundations of any effective marketing campaign.

By understanding your brand value and long-term objectives, remote team members can be empowered to work autonomously and take on initiatives that align with your organization’s values.

Communicate your company’s principles and objectives during the employee onboarding process. Create a mission statement that highlights the organization’s long-term goals and set clear expectations on how employees should conduct their work.

Also, instill a culture of productivity and incorporate regular check-ins with management to encourage accountability. These check-ins allow supervisors to ensure that new hires are getting the right support so they can be as productive as possible.

3. Establish Procedures and Streamline Workflows

To improve collaboration with other departments and external partners, you need to implement transparent processes and set clear expectations so your remote marketing team can work efficiently without constant supervision. This can help avoid miscommunications and bottlenecks, which can lead to unnecessary delays and frustrations.

All the workflows and processes should be clearly documented and accessible in one centralized location. Proper permission levels should be granted to team members and tracking should be implemented to record approval.

To ensure adherence to procedures and make sure projects are on track, schedule regular checkpoints, organize virtual meetings, and build a culture of open communication. Also, solicit ideas and feedback from your team members so you can constantly improve the processes.

Furthermore, standardize and automate as many workflows as possible to manage the many moving parts involved in marketing campaigns. This will not only reduce bottlenecks and improve cost-efficiency but also minimize the chances that something will fall through the cracks.

4. Use the Right Cloud-based Software Applications

Your marketing team needs to communicate and collaborate seamlessly to generate creative ideas and turn them into successful campaigns.

Cloud-based communication and collaboration platforms allow employees to work from anywhere while ensuring that everyone has access to the same information in real-time to minimize errors and miscommunications.

Use a unified communication platform for voice and video calls, file sharing, screen sharing and more. It allows your marketing team to communicate effectively with colleagues, partners, vendors, and customers via a single interface.

Other cloud-based applications you should use include a CRM platform, customer data management platform, asset management tool, project management software, document sharing tools, e-signature applications, and password management tool. Many of them integrate with other popular applications so your team can manage their workflows all in one place.

Provide the proper training so team members know how to utilize these tools efficiently. Also, set guidelines on how each channel should be used and the expected turnaround time to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

5. Implement IT Security Policies

A marketing team often needs to collect, process, and access sensitive customer information. With the increasing prevalence of cyberattacks and the skyrocketing cost associated with data breaches, it’s important that your remote marketing team follows the latest cybersecurity protocols.

Make sure team members are using a VPN service to securely connect to the company’s network. Provide the proper IT support so their devices are set up with the right endpoint security measures, such as firewall and anti-virus software.

Team members should log into your network and online tools with strong and unique passwords, which shouldn’t be used for their personal online accounts. Also, set up two-factor authentication for accessing both your internal system and other online applications whenever possible.

Implement access control on all cloud-based software applications so each employee can only access the information they need to do their job. In addition, automate security log monitoring so you can identify suspicious patterns and respond to malicious activities immediately.

If you allow team members to use their personal devices for work, implement a BYOD (bring your own device) policy. Also, provide employee education on cybersecurity to prevent phishing scams, equipment theft, etc. 

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