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Getting marketing teams to adopt new software isn’t easy.
Even if your current toolset is substandard, sometimes people get comfortable with what they have. But, when fear of the unknown is allowed to prevent positive change, teams run massive risks, including:
Using substandard tools puts businesses at risk for poor performance. But, changing means pushing people out of their comfort zone, which is definitely easier said than done. So, what’s the solution?
Implementing a smart user adoption strategy.
By showing your team a better future and strategically easing them into new processes, you can increase your odds for success dramatically. Best of all, it also makes onboarding your marketing department onto a new tool a lot easier.
“User adoption strategy” is a corporate-sounding term for “getting people to use a new piece of software, consistently.” If you want to successfully onboard your team onto any new tool, having this kind of strategy will be essential.
Putting this together involves a few things:
Let’s dig in.
Makeshift marketing is one of the biggest reasons marketers look for new tools.
Essentially, this means using tools for marketing tasks, that weren’t designed for marketing teams. In practice, it often looks like:
So, these are some common problems new tools are often meant to fix. Or, maybe you’ve heard yourself drop one of these quotes:
These are all problems. And problems need solutions.
Here’s where implementing solutions gets tricky: your current processes and tools might not be broken. Rather, they might just not work as well as they should. You’ve gotten used to minor annoyances, and maybe even prided yourself on learning hacks to work around problems.
This also can make it tough to get an entire team on board with using a new tool. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right?
Well, sure, if you think successful companies settle for “good enough.”
That’s status quo thinking, right there. And even if things are “good enough” right now, they probably won’t be over the long haul. You’re literally leaving money on the table every minute you spend working the hard way, just because the hard way technically still works.
For example, walking across America could get you from New York to LA, but an airplane is going to be a lot faster.
For marketers, getting the right tools, for the right job, can feel like switching from walking to discovering the miracle of manned flight.
Before you get your team to share that “a-HA!” moment though, you’re going to run into resistance. Let’s take our walking vs. flying example:
“But I’m used to walking everywhere!”
“Walking cross-country builds character.”
“Are you saying there’s something wrong with my feet?”
Now, you might think these objections sound ridiculous.
But to the people throwing them at you, they’re connected to deep-seated fears and tendencies. It doesn’t matter that they’re irrational. If people are committed to doing what they’re comfortable with, even if they don’t realize it’s actually back-breakingly more difficult, simply pointing out that they’re wrong isn’t going to change their mind.
But an understanding of change management might.
According to Nathan Ellering, the Demand Generation Lead at CoSchedule successful marketing change management hinges on three things:
This is where you apply the research you gathered in step 1.
Take the performance data you collected, showing how much faster work gets done with the new tool. Or, if the task you’re working on is completely impossible without the tool, show the gap in your workflow that exists without the new software.
As you can tell, the workflow on the left is a lot more complicated and time-consuming. Workflow #2 solves both those problems and yields these benefits:
Then, to support this claim, this marketer could use their time-tracking data to show exactly how much time gets saved:
To do this:
When you have data that shows the new process and tool are better, you’ll have more than just opinion to lean on when building your case. It’s hard to argue with facts.
Now, it’s time to share what you did to drive the increase in performance, and show others how they can do the same.
In short, this is where you look like a hero to your team, and a genius to your boss.
To do this effectively, you’ll need to do the following:
Let’s tackle each of these one at a time.
By now, you have the data and research to build a case for your new tool.
The next step is to get decision-makers on board (if you don’t have that authority yourself).
Here’s how to get this done.
Send a calendar invite to your boss with a clear meeting description and the reason you’d like to speak with them:
Go into the meeting with a plan. Outline an agenda like this:
Before you present the new tool to your team, plot out when the change will happen. This should include:
This doesn’t need to be complicated, necessarily. Just document these items for yourself. You’ll need these to complete the next step.
To make this easy, we’ve created a free marketing tool presentation template you can use with Google Slides. Click File > Make a Copy to create your own copy. Then, fill in each slide, and add any theme or design elements you’d like (we’ve intentionally left it unstyled):
Next, create another meeting with everyone who will be impacted by the new tool. Check off the following things:
If you haven’t given a presentation in a while (or ever), you might feel a little nervous. Maybe even intimidated. That’s okay! Go through a few practice rounds of your presentation. This quick video will also give you some basic pointers:
Now, if all goes well, you’ve won over your team and they’re thanking you for making their lives easier.
In the real world, though, odds are you’ll get some pushback. That isn’t necessarily because people want to be disagreeable. It’s just because they’re likely to have legitimate inquiries. If you’re going to ask people to change how they work, it’s fair for them to ask “why” and “how.”
Before giving your presentation, think on the following questions, and prepare some answers. This will help you avoid getting caught without a response:
So, you’ve got buy-in, and your team is on board. Now, the challenge is to keep them on board.
Depending on the complexity of the tool you’re implementing, there are some roadblocks you might run into. Those include:
Fortunately, these are all things you can get in front of.
To avoid communication breakdowns derailing getting your tool implemented, come up with a messaging plan. It should look something like this:
We’ve made a quick communication matrix template using Google Sheets that you can steal, too. Click File > Make a Copy to create an editable copy for your own purposes (the original needs to be kept intact). Edit each field to fit your own needs (the existing text is just instruction and placeholder).
The purpose of getting this documented is to ensure you know what each stakeholder needs to know (if anything) about the new tool, and more importantly, the process changes it’ll support.
Now, it’s time to actually get your team onto your new software. Follow these steps to get your team rolling:
Most software tools should have instructions to make this easy. Here’s an example of a user onboarding guide from CoSchedule, and another more detailed guide to turn beginners into advanced users.
Finally, if you’re purchasing an advanced tool with powerful capabilities, check if they offer robust ongoing training and support. This can help take an enormous weight off your shoulders when it comes to training (and ensuring your team can be successful with the new software).
If you follow this process, you should have no trouble getting your team set up with your new software. Let’s recap what we’ve covered:
At this point, you’re ready to be a hero, saving your company from poor processes, broken workflows, and underpowered tools. Now, go be a champion for your team’s success!
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