Why digital marketing agility was crucial to one global B2B’s Covid-19 response
As the Covid-19 crisis continues to evolve, companies are having to react quickly to a changing and uncertain world. Organizations of every size and in every industry are looking at the macro economic conditions and making tough decisions to ensure they not only weather the current storm but position themselves for success.
In our recent webinar, “Maximizing Digital Marketing Agility: Practical Lessons from a Global B2B Organization,” I talked with Frank Zare, Associate Director, Web Development at JAMS, the world’s largest private alternative dispute resolution provider, about why speed and agility is critical to their approach.
At JAMS, Crownpeak’s agile, SaaS CMS, and low operating cost model has been proven out over the last four years (view JAMS’ Digital Transformation story here). When the Covid crisis hit, they had the technology in place to react and adapt quickly – successfully transforming their business overnight from an offline, face-to-face provision to a digital-only business.
I talked to Frank about the unique challenges JAMS has been facing during the crisis, why speed is of the essence, and how making smart technology choices now and continuing to invest in the right projects is vital to supporting business throughout lockdown and ensuring its future beyond.
Key takeaways from our conversation are below. To check out the webinar in its entirety, watch it here.
What unique challenges are you facing during the COVID Crisis?
“Just like every other business and industry, it has directly affected us. Once the order of ‘stay home’ came in, we literally had to shut down all of our offices, send everybody home and start developing practices and ways of working remotely. We conduct our business at our resolution centers where everything is done pretty much face to face. That evaporated overnight and we had to pivot to a completely new business model. We had to come up with new ways to conduct our business virtually, over platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
“There’s been a learning curve and a teaching curve for all of our panellists as well as our employees. The first week was a shock factor, but now its normalizing and everyone’s accepting the new terms. It’s starting to work.
“We’re one of the lucky industries, in that we’re still able to conduct our business and maneuver through it, versus some industries which can’t function at all and have basically just evaporated.”
How is the marketing team managing through this period?
“The whole team has worked as hard as I've ever seen them work. We literally had to embrace a new model overnight. Our national marketing team put together new messaging across the board. The team had to create new content, new landing pages, new materials, new e-campaigns, new social media posts, you name it, across all of our channels. We had to start pushing our new messaging out there: ‘Hey, we're here, we're open for business, we're able to conduct our cases virtually.’ The team worked around the clock – the first two weeks we probably had four hours of sleep just to just get things going, making changes and updates, and revamping everything.
“And it's working. I'm looking at the analytics and I can see everyone is now reading and interacting with the new content. It's happening. That's great news for us.”
Team structure across IT and Marketing must be critical. How have you organized your teams?
“It was a moment of crisis, right? Everyone was hands on deck. Our IT team did an amazing job – setting up hundreds of laptops, shipping them out to the employees at home and training them on the new platforms. So now they're starting to be able to function remotely.
“And then cross that with our marketing. We literally had to revamp the contents on the website to address the crisis. One of the great things was that Crownpeak’s CMS gave us the capability to push things live rapidly. I have about 10 different users on my backend that manage and edit content. With Crownpeak DXM, they’re able to go in there and make changes and tweaks: Change the wording, change the messaging, change the language, put in a new banner, revamp the homepage. We can move things forward in a matter of days versus what would have been weeks on a traditional platform. It saved us a lot of time and resources.”
Moving faster is critical – can you tie it to business outcomes?
“Like I mentioned earlier, we had to pivot to a different model. We had to educate our clients that we're conducting business but with new rules and procedures. All that messaging had to be portrayed on the website, fast. We’re noticing that the traffic is changing. People are now understanding that we can move forward with their cases. We can submit a demand for arbitration and start a mediation case virtually. This is huge for us. With Crownpeak, we're able pivot and push live within a day.
“Another example? Right now, it’s really important to gain ranking on a whole new set of keywords. In addition to the traditional keywords that we already rank highly for because we're a reputable company, we now need to rank for things like ‘virtual mediation,’ ‘online mediation’ in the legal sector. So we're creating all these landing pages. The great thing about Crownpeak is that we're able to embed all these keywords within minutes – in the body, in the tags, the titles, the H1s, the H2s, etc. We were able to gain ranking from being in the 99th spot up to the second spot on Google. That was a benefit of having Crownpeak, being able to pivot fast.”
How should organizations prepare for cost reductions?
“This is an interesting question. There are always blueprints for a moment of crisis. You know that certain events happen, and you want to preserve cash and think ahead. But there's not much of a blueprint for a pandemic. It's something that is new for all of us. But at this moment you have to think: What are the high priority projects? What are the projects that will bring us revenue and impact the bottom line?
“So, in our case there are a couple of projects that we’re expediting because they help our operations. We’re trying to figure out how to make it easier to accept cases, process payments, to digitize and eliminate paperwork where possible.
“We will have a new normal, whatever that may be. Everyone has a different opinion. I'm an optimist. Hopefully, within the next quarter or two, we will normalize this. We will have treatments and vaccines and we will go back conducting our day-to-day life, and the consumer will come back. But meanwhile, you have to be smart and focus on the projects that are critical, that help your bottom line.”
How quickly can organizations adopt Crownpeak?
“I’ve built hundreds of websites, and when I’ve had to move a website from one platform to another platform there's a nightmare of transitioning things over and re-developing things. Everyone is comfortable with the old platform – even though it might not be that good it’s something that you’re used to. There is a whole learning curve involved in transitioning.
“With Crownpeak it was just a smooth transition. The engineers and developers we worked with understood the website better than anyone else. They architected the website, all the correlations, all the databases, all the things you need to worry about when building the new templates, and how they're all connected to each other. They made the process extremely smooth. We anticipated a struggle, a nightmare transition that we would need to micromanage. And, it was so much easier. We knocked it out within 60 days.
“We were up and running initially with our existing look and feel – which was outdated at the time – and then we revamped the whole site. Again, the original time anticipated was 18 - 24 months to do this complete redesign. NMQ, a partner of Crownpeak, came on board helping us redesign the website. We were able to finish the whole thing in six months, do some final testing and just go live with it, in one third of the time we’d anticipated. You can't go wrong with that. It was a great transition for us for sure.
“When we originally moved to Crownpeak, we were looking at all CMS, some at very high budgets. For me as a technical person, I'm into the details. Once you go line by line to see the features, what you guys at Crownpeak have to offer is pretty much equivalent to some of the most high-end, expensive platforms out there. So you're getting way more bang for your buck using Crownpeak. That was very beneficial for us.”