The Evolution of a Global Demand Center
"When we started this team almost 8 years ago, we were just trying to easily automate our email conversations and scale globally. Looking back on it now, I can see the phases of development to our current model. And, I can see where we are headed."
When we started this team almost 8 years ago, we were just trying to easily automate our email conversations and scale globally. Looking back on it now, I can see the phases of development to our current model. And, I can see where we are headed.
Phase 1: Punt it over the wall and pass it out: Distributed Model
Back then Corporate and US/Canada were one entity. All content was created with the corporate lens, but for the US/Canada market. At the time, they literally passed the information to us and we’d package the emails and automated programs and send it to the regions for pick-up. We explained the value and why regional teams should leverage this instead of re-creating local content, but all pick-up was optional. If the content was adopted, it was usually highly localized and was changed in many ways.
- Creating standard packages so regions easily knew what information was provided: Name of project, file path, goals, overview of the message, CTAs, segment/ filter information, metrics, recommended send dates, final content.
- Developing lines of communication. We set monthly calls with each region (which continue to this day) and having one main point person into the team, so they knew who to contact with questions.
- Sending emails, as-needed, on behalf of regions which had limited resources.
What didn’t work:
- Mandating this information. At this time all regional offices operated at an independent level. We had to gain their trust first and prove our knowledge and willingness to support their initiatives.
Phase 2: Start taking some ‘orders’ and help out when needed
As our trust developed in the regions, the requests for help increased. We built highly modified automated programs to support their needs and specific requests. For a smaller high-growth region we agreed to send their monthly newsletter - this was a localized version of our global newsletter which they sent to 7 countries in the local language. For regions planning for employee’s maternity leave, we offered to send for them during that time. We developed standardized practices and SLAs to help streamline these processes and requests.
- Keeping our word on SLAs and being proactive when we heard that someone needed help. We came to the regions with ideas on ways we could help and offload some of the tasks they faced each day. This helped develop more trust.
- Providing ‘tests’ to help drive efficiency. If we were sending the emails, we had the opportunity to ‘test’ strategies and help improve them. For the newsletter, we showed that sending in English was as effective in sending in those 7 languages. After several months of these results, the region transitioned to a localized-English version. Eventually they stopped the local version and relied solely on the global version.
- Developing a standard calendar process and review guidelines for these requests.
What didn’t work:
- The stress on our own resources to create and send these highly localized and modified items.
- Global times. There is a 24hr/day turnaround time on questions with a global audience. We had to bake this into our SLAs.
- There was a lack of consistency and it was hard to plan. We were basically in reaction mode to requests.
Phase 3: Begin to build a regional account team
As our global trust grew and the requests became larger, we grew our team and developed regional account owners. These experienced employees worked directly with Europe or Asia and eventually LATAM/Americas. They became the regional experts, knew the local strategy and knew what was adopted, what worked and where the pain points were. They also helped bridge the corporate strategy and became more strategic instead of reactionary.
- High trust with their regions and regional expertise. We received high praise for the specialized knowledge and support from corporate. We became the leading global team in the organization.
What didn’t work:
- We were providing strategy as well as automation building or email sends. Ultimately, the team started doing redundant work. We had 2-3 people creating the same email program (but for different regions at different times), having the same conversation and doing the same tasks. This was not scalable past a certain point.
- Because of the high volume of modification in our automated programs, it was hard to track consistent metrics and business impact. We knew we were helping the regions, but we couldn’t easily prove our program’s effectiveness.
Phase 4: Transition to a demand center model with specialization: Centralized Model (mostly)
As the organization grew the team grew and changed. We moved beyond regional support and developed three global areas of specialization: Strategy, Automation/Technical, and Analytics. We developed frameworks for global scalability and efficiency. This is when we started seeing the true makings of a demand center. The regions adopted more programs - without changing them - and information became clearer as everyone started using the same language, frameworks and strategies. We planned for maintenance phases of our information, not just for launches. We started tracking business metrics and not just open/clicks. We moved beyond reaction into strategy.
- Models and frameworks of automation. Everyone started used the same terminology. And, the same programs, touches and message were adopted throughout the regions.
- Reporting and metric consistency. This is HUGE and we are able to show value in a way we couldn’t before.
- Specialization. We could hire based on the role. Different skills are needed for strategy vs. technical vs. analytics. Our team changed and diversified.
- Leadership alignment - this is one of the main reasons for success. We are all focused toward the same message and goal.
What didn’t work:
- Change can be hard. Our vision changed, our models changed and that meant our team needed to change. Some team members handled it better than others.
- It took a lot of conversations with the regions and the other business units to explain the changes. I thought this would have been faster and smoother.
Now, as we move forward, the Global Demand Center is expanding. The value of this model has been proven and we’ll expand our global marketing automation strategy beyond email automation. This will take integration of our broader business units, which will mean more change for the organization. However, with the models and structure we have in place, I’m confident we’ll be able to make it happen.
For those that have been through this type of change I’d love to hear your stories and experiences. Please share your comments below.