Every company—big or small—thrives on building a high-performing digital marketing team. And that’s only possible if everybody in the team can work together toward a common goal.
“None of us is as strong as all of us.”
Building such a culture becomes easier to some degree if your team is sharing a physical office space.
But in a remote setting, aligning your digital marketing goals and building a thriving culture does have its challenges. Your team members will be miles away from each other and may even be working in different time zones.
While it’s obvious that remote working is a growing trend, the challenge still remains: How do you align your entire digital marketing team in a remote environment?
Before we go ahead and tell you how, let’s first answer the following question.
Can Digital Marketing Be Done Remotely?
Of course! All you need is a computer that has access to the internet. Once that’s covered, the next step is to set up a combination of standardised processes, guidelines, and collaboration tools to help your team work better together. Thanks to the pandemic, many companies have embraced this new style of working together and are slowly adjusting to it.
Bear in mind that the emphasis here is on the phrase “adjusting to it” because you just can’t switch to something completely radical in a short amount of time and hope that it works perfectly.
Digital marketing teams all over the world are still learning the ins and outs of creating a collaborative remote environment. So it’s no surprise that there will be challenges that teams need to overcome.
We’ve rounded up four common challenges every remote digital marketing team faces.
4 Common Challenges Every Remote Digital Marketing Team Faces
Challenge 1: Remote Team Communication
In a remote team, communication happens in two ways—synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Synchronous communication is when communication happens in real-time. A team member sends a message across, and the other team member responds immediately.
Examples: Video calls or instant messaging via services like the RingCentral App
Asynchronous communication is simply when communication doesn’t happen in real-time. There will be a significant delay between the sent and received messages.
Examples: Communication via email or project management tools like Asana, Trello, etc., or collaboration tools like Google Docs, GitHub, etc.
Slow response time is a challenge in remote work. Having said that, it can be very stressful on your time and attention if you’re drowned in responding to messages, emails, and calls all day long without getting any actual work done.
Teams that are new to remote working may face an imbalance between these two types of communication, which ultimately results in low productivity, campaign delays, long working hours, and burnout.
Challenge 2: Hiring the Right People
Hiring the right people is hard. Hiring the right people who can collaborate remotely is even harder.
When you’re building a remote team, you can’t follow the same hiring process that you normally do for an in-office setting.
A lot of things change.
The way you source candidates changes. The way you evaluate them changes. The way you onboard them once they’re hired also changes.
While hiring, your emphasis will not just be on how good they are with SEO, or writing, or Google Ads, etc. You should also place emphasis on their adaptability and collaboration skills, as it’s a big difference-maker for remote work.
With that said, you’d need to redo your hiring process to not make mistakes.
Challenge 3: Building Trust
Due to the current state of the world, managers have been forced into developing a new skill of managing their teams remotely rather than doing it face-to-face. Some have adapted to it, and some haven’t.
When you’re new to managing a remote team, you may express concerns like:
“How can I tell if my team trusts me and each other?”
“How do I know they’re being genuine or feel pressured to force it?”
“How do I keep them (and myself) from growing isolated and detached from the mission?”
It’s not uncommon to have these concerns when you have no experience managing a remote team.
But, according to a survey conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management, 62% of employees said they’re afraid to be perceived as lazy or not productive by their colleagues and bosses while working from home.
Such a lack of trust in your team can lead to micromanagement, overworking, and overall bad company culture.
Challenge 4: Keeping Everyone Moving Toward One Goal
For any digital marketing team, setting a common goal and keeping everyone motivated to achieve it is extremely important.
It’s already a challenge to achieve that in an in-office environment. But without a standardised process in a remote environment, it becomes even more challenging.
Say your team manages a bunch of key accounts in your company. Since it is those key accounts that keep the lights on for you, your overall business goals would align with the goals of these key accounts.
As a result, you would want your team to put extra attention on them.
On the other hand, it’s your responsibility to keep them motivated to get the job done. If not, your team can feel disconnected from their work and may even struggle to see how their day-to-day work is helping the business achieve those goals.
This kind of “I don’t know if I’m making an impact” thinking leads to demotivation and low morale.
Now, don’t get overwhelmed. These are some serious hurdles, but you can jump over them.
We offer you the solutions below.
Solutions to Common Remote Work Challenges
Solution 1: Streamline Team Communication
Zapier’s co-founder, Mike Knoop, says,
”The biggest drawback you have to overcome with remote work is communication. Once that is taken care of, the rest gets pretty easy.”
Always keep in mind the end goal of your team (it can be increasing revenue by X%, or improving reach by Y%, or anything else) while structuring your team communication. Whatever your ultimate end goal is, your copywriters, your SEO team, your designers, your account managers, etc., should all move in that same direction.
With that end goal in mind, work backward to set up your remote communication guidelines.
When Should You Incorporate Synchronous Communication?
In situations that need faster decision-making, or socialising, or catching up on important updates, synchronous communication is perfect.
When Should You Incorporate Asynchronous Communication?
Asynchronous communication is suited for team announcements, regular updates related to any campaigns or projects, general feedback—any kind of communication that doesn’t need an immediate response.
Asynchronous communication is proclaimed as the key to remote team productivity, and with good reason.
Remote Communication Best Practices for Digital Marketing Teams
- To make faster decisions, have a quick video call or an instant chat conversation rather than communicating over a long and delayed back-and-forth email. But everybody who’s involved here needs to be available at the same time. Always plan such calls and meetings ahead. Invite only those who are important to the conversation.
- If you’re setting up meetings with people from different time zones, make sure it’s not too early in the morning or too late in the night or a weekend for them. A tool like Timezone comes in really handy for such instances.
- Have shorter, quicker conversations and only when necessary. If it can be said over chat, never have it over a call.
- To minimise delay, have a window where everyone can be online at the same time (you can skip this if your team members work in time zones with large time differences).
- Have established response times for different topics.
- Have your team members share their updates at least twice a day.
- Have timely feedback calls with your team.
- Communicate alerts or important notifications (like a sudden drop in traffic or an increase in PPC spend above a certain number) on time to your team.
Solution 2 – Create Standard Processes for Hiring and Onboarding
Every new employee or client that gets started with you needs to stay engaged for the long term. Of course, the journey differs for both of them. You need to create standard operating procedures separately.
Granted, it doesn’t happen overnight. But with multiple iterations, you can set up a process that can be replicated for all of those who come on board thereafter.
When you hire a new employee, it can be challenging (and require a pileup of emails) to get them everything they need for a smooth transition. It includes paperwork, industry training, knowledge transfer, etc.
In the same way, when you onboard a new client, you need to keep that initial momentum going and start off on the right note. There’s a list of steps involved here. It starts with signing the contract, receiving marketing and media resources, researching and brainstorming campaign ideas, setting up follow-up calls, etc.
For both of these cases, the processes won’t be organised. So having them tracked in a project management tool like Asana or Trello eases things for your employee or your client.
At Optmyzr, we have a standard onboarding process that we track on Asana for every new employee or client that starts working with us.
And if your team runs PPC campaigns for multiple clients, you can go a step further and set up Account Blueprints to help you plan, standardise, and scale workflows across all your accounts.
They help you design entire PPC campaigns, including tasks you do within Optmyzr as well as outside it. It’s purpose-built project management for PPC to help you build the best version of your team.
Solution 3 – Set Up Automated Workflows
When you’re working remotely, everything becomes ten times more important.
You need to make sure your entire team is on the same page. You need to make sure that no campaign is overspending. You need to make sure that there is no sudden drop in KPIs. You need to make sure that as products run out of stock (in case you have an ecommerce client), you don’t keep advertising them.
Sounds overwhelming. But it need not be.
Your team can easily stay on top of everything if you assemble a system that sends each other regular updates. In an asynchronous environment like that of a remote team, this gives you more time to do actual work and saves you time on manual communication.
You can delegate roles to everybody in your digital marketing team and assign them ownership of different aspects of work.
For example, your SEO team should be responsible for any technical issues with the client’s website or app. Or if there is a sudden drop or spike in traffic by a significant amount, they should be in the know. Let them set up alerts for specific points that need immediate attention.
Or, if you’re a regular Zapier user, you can connect an account blueprint to your favourite project management software (like Asana) to sync all your team’s tasks in the tool where all your work is tracked.
Solution 4 – Monitor Accounts Regularly
If running any digital marketing campaign is one thing, monitoring it regularly to make sure that things are moving in the right direction is another.
Because you can’t beat Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.
Without a good setup, the task of monitoring your clients’ accounts can be very exhausting and time-consuming.
You can take the help of some smart automation to keep things smoother.
If your PPC team regularly wants to keep an eye on account performance, set up alerts in the collaboration tool your team uses.
But setting up alerts is just the start. Because, here’s the thing: When you’re setting up a PPC campaign for the first time, you’ll have to run experiments initially to understand what’s working and what’s not.
As you do this over a period of time, you should pause at a checkpoint to perform a thorough PPC audit. This is to ensure there are no foundational issues in your campaign setup.
Now, monitoring is only half the job. The other half involves acting accordingly to the audit results to make sure that they fall in line with your campaign objectives.
Keep in mind that there is a lot of competition out there. To rise above all of them, you need to rely on data, remove the guesswork, monitor regularly, and execute well.
Rome was not built in a day.
It’s going to take some time, effort, and patience to align your digital marketing goals in a remote environment. But that’s not a challenge that so many companies across the world haven’t been able to solve.
For starters, the solutions discussed in this article will help you.
Remote working is here to stay. Hire the best talent irrespective of location and then equip them to succeed together. Invest in your team communication, set up processes and workflows that will save you time, and monitor performances regularly.
Your team will thank you for it and work well together no matter where they are.
Originally published Sep 16, 2021, updated Jan 17, 2023