What’s the Secret to Managing Digital Nomads and Remote Teams?

For businesses that want access to the best marketing talent, it’s nearly impossible to look past freelancers and digital nomads. But learning how to manage them efficiently can prove to be a significant challenge.

For businesses that want access to the best marketing talent, it’s nearly impossible to look past freelancers and digital nomads. But learning how to manage them efficiently can prove to be a significant challenge.

Who Are the Digital Nomads?

If you’re a business owner or CEO, you better get used to working with digital nomads and remote workers. Studies suggest that more than half of the workforce will work in a freelance capacity by 2020. And if you’re operating in a digital industry like marketing, that percentage will likely be much higher.

But before you can manage these remote workers, you need to understand who they are, how they think, and what sort of management styles and structures they respond well to.

According to HubSpot, “Digital nomads are remote workers who usually travel to different locations. They often work in coffee shops, co-working spaces, or public libraries, relying on devices with wireless internet capabilities like smart phones and mobile hotspots to do their work wherever they want.”

The average digital nomad is a Millennial between the ages of 22-35 who is tech-savvy and in hot pursuit of optimal work-life balance. In fact, scheduling flexibility is often more important than salary. They want the ability to live life on their terms, rather than being chained to a desk for 40 or 50-plus hours a week.

4 Management Tips

Some of the most talented people in today’s workforce are freelancers and digital nomads. And if you want to reach these people, you must be able to manage them well. So, without further ado, here are some techniques and strategies you may find helpful:

1. Hire the Right People

You’ll do yourself a huge favor by adopting a meticulous approach to hiring. In fact, you’ll make or break your ability to successfully manage digital nomads by how and whom you hire.

In the search process, look for candidates who possess high levels of self-discipline and motivation. Speak with past employers and clients to see how well a candidate adheres to deadlines. You’ll also want to consider how responsive a candidate is.

2. Set Clear Priorities

There shouldn’t be any question about what’s expected of your team. Whether an individual spends part of the time in the office or operates remotely on a full-time basis, they should understand exactly what your priorities are for their time, effort, and responsibilities.

For example, do you expect team members to be available during certain hours? Are there mandatory meetings that require attendance? Is there a certain approval process for requesting time off or extending the deadline on a project? These aren’t questions you want to answer on the fly. It’s best to have them established ahead of time.

3. Stay in Touch

When managing remote employees, communication is supremely important. Stay in touch with your team and don’t let distance create separation in how you work. There are lots of free and/or cost-effective tools to make remote communication seamless. Learn what works for your team and utilize them!

“Instant messaging tools can be more efficient than email for quick questions. However, if there is a complex problem, it is worth bringing relevant freelancers into the office to talk through the challenge together,” entrepreneur Peter Johnston writes. “If they are based abroad, this would be the time for a phone call or video conference.”

4. Be Transparent

One of the more challenging aspects of managing a remote team is helping them feel connected to the business. There’s no office or water cooler to gather around, which means employees and contractors can feel isolated.

One of the top ways to enhance the corporate culture and identity within the company is to be transparent with your leadership. Let your team know what’s happening and allow them to suffer through challenging times and celebrate big wins. Keeping everyone in the loop will strengthen the trust your team has in you as a leader.

Don’t Lose Control

If you’re going to work with digital nomads, freelancers, and remote employees, you have to be cognizant of how you’re managing them. You don’t want to micro-manage, but there’s danger in not keeping a close enough eye on what they’re doing. It’s imperative that you establish some structures and parameters so you don’t lose control.

3 Pressing Marketing Tech Questions — And How to Get Answers

What worries you about marketing technology? With All About Marketing Tech right around the corner on March 15, we’ve been putting the finishing touches on the program, and that question has been top of my mind. This year, three issues are at the forefront.

What worries you about marketing technology? With All About Marketing Tech right around the corner on March 15, we’ve been putting the finishing touches on the program, and that question has been top of my mind. This year, three issues are at the forefront.

1. How Do You Make Marketing Technology Part of Your Strategy?

This is the big one. We’ve gone through years of picking up whatever shiny new technology seemed to be working. But now that customers have made so many channels a part of their lives, it’s really less about the tech and more about your overall marketing capability. How does the technology enable your strategy? That’s the real question.

To answer that, Andy Markowitz, former general manager of GE, will sit down to talk about “Why Marketing Organizations Win or Lose in the Age of MarTech-AdTech Convergence.” If you want to know the difference between organizations that use technology to enable their strategies and organizations that waste their time and budget chasing shiny objects, this is the keynote for you.

2. How Do You Find the Talent to Use It?

Perhaps the most overlooked challenge of the marketing technology era is the people problem: How do you find the personnel who know how to get the most out of all the technologies and execute your strategy?

It’s one thing to find people who excel in single channels, but another to find the people who can create omnichannel experiences.

In “How to Find Great Marketing Tech Talent,”  Marketing recruiter Jerry Bernhart will talk about the key considerations in making a great, tech-savvy marketing hire.

3. How Does GDPR Impact Your Tech Stack?

The biggest new worry for 2018 has got to be the EU’s upcoming General Data Protection Rules (GDPR). Requiring marketers who have EU citizens in their files to account for a host of new rights — including the right to erasure, which requires you to erase all data about a customer on request — GDPR raises many questions about your tech stack. Are any of your tools going to be a problem for GDPR compliance?

In “GDPR and Your Tech Stack,” we’ll talk about those concerns, and what you should do about them.

Plus, hear from six new marketing technology startups, Campbell’s Soup, Flexjet and more! Registration is open, just head over to aamt.targetmarketingmag.com to sign up today!

Who Are the People Moving Marketing?

With the new technology at the disposal of both marketers and their audiences, being successful today often comes down to having people on your staff who have the vision to see how things fit together in a way others can’t. How do you recognize those people? Who’s moving your marketing?

The people moving marketingWith all this new technology at the disposal of both marketers and their audiences, being successful today often comes down to having people on your staff who have the vision to see how things fit together in a way others can’t. How do you recognize those people? Who are the people moving marketing in your company?

For our September/October issue, we want to recognize those marketers. Traditionally, that issue has been reserved for our Target Marketing Marketer of the Year. This year, while we’ll feature our one Direct Marketer of the Year on the cover, we also want to recognize the visionaries who are moving marketing forward, and the young, up-and-comers who are changing the business in their own right.

Make a Nomination

Who have you worked with who fits those descriptions? Someone who you’d count among “the people moving marketing”? We’d like to know, and ideally we hope to be able to include them in the next issue.

Click here to nominate someone to be recognized as our Marketer of the Year, a marketing Visionary or an Up-and-Comer.

The People Moving Marketing

What sets these marketers apart? I think each category is a little bit different.

The Marketer of the Year, of course, should be a force within the company. To me, that’s someone who can guide a business to success, while also finding time to be a part of the wider marketing community and move the department forward.

A Visionary could be like the marketer of the year, perhaps without all the boxes checked. Or a Visionary could be someone who figures out how to get the most out of a new technology in your marketing department, or someone who can see how the market is changes and gets your company ahead of it.It’s someone who sees things other people don’t, and can make them happen.

An Up-and-Comer, to me, should be someone who’s really having a greater impact on the company and the marketing department than their years would indicate. That person probably came into the company with a skill set (perhaps on social media, or video) that other members of the staff just don’t have, or at least don’t have in that same way. We’re looking for marketing wunderkinds, but we’d consider a Nancy Drew.

We will be listening to the comments on this post, and to my email. But the best way to nominate someone is simply to click on that link above and fill out the nomination form.

I hope to hear from you!

5 Steps to Customer Data Hygiene: It’s Not Sexy, But It’s Essential

Are you happy with the quality of the information in your marketing database? Probably not. A new report from NetProspex confirms: 64 percent of company records in the database of a typical B-to-B marketer have no phone number attached. Pretty much eliminates phone as a reliable communications medium, doesn’t it? And 88 percent are missing basic firmographic data

Are you happy with the quality of the information in your marketing database? Probably not. A new report from NetProspex confirms: 64 percent of company records in the database of a typical B-to-B marketer have no phone number attached.

Pretty much eliminates phone as a reliable communications medium, doesn’t it?

And 88 percent are missing basic firmographic data, like industry, revenue or employee size—so profiling and segmentation is pretty tough. In fact, the Netprospex report concluded that 84 percent of B-to-B marketing databases are “barely functional.” Yipes. So, what can you do about it?

This is not a new problem. Dun & Bradstreet reports regularly on how quickly B-to-B data degrades. Get this: Every year, in the U.S., business postal addresses change at a rate of 20.7 percent. If your customer is a new business, the rate is 27.3 percent. Phone numbers change at the rate of 18 percent, and 22.7 percent among new businesses. Even company names fluctuate: 12.4 percent overall, and a staggering 36.4 percent percent among new businesses.

No wonder your sales force is always complaining that your data is no good (although they probably use more colorful words).

Here are five steps you can take to maintain data accuracy, a process known as “data hygiene.”

1. Key enter the data correctly in the first place.
Sounds obvious, but it’s often overlooked. This means following address guidelines from the Postal Service (for example, USPS Publication 28), and standardizing such complex things as job functions and company names. But it also means training for your key-entry personnel. These folks are often at the bottom of the status heap, but they are handling one of your most important corporate assets. So give them the respect they deserve.

2. Harness customer-facing personnel to update the data.
Leverage the access of customer-facing personnel to refresh contact information. Train and motivate call center personnel, customer service, salespeople and distributors—anyone with direct customer contact—to request updated information at each meeting. When it comes to sales people, this is an entirely debatable matter. You want sales people selling, not entering data. But it’s worth at least a conversation to see if you can come up with a painless way to extract fresh contact updates as sales people interact with their accounts.

3. Use data-cleansing software, internally or from a service provider, and delete obsolete records.
Use the software tools that are available, which will de-duplicate, standardize and sometimes append missing fields. These won’t correct much—it’s mostly email and postal address standardization—but they will save you time, and they are much cheaper than other methods.

4. Allow customers access to their records online, so they can make changes.
Consider setting up a customer preference center, where customers can manage the data you have on them, and indicate how they want to hear from you. Offer a premium or incentive, or even a discount, to obtain higher levels of compliance.

5. Outbound phone or email to verify, especially to top customers.
Segment your file, and conduct outbound confirmation campaigns for the highest value accounts. This can be by mail, email or telephone, and done annually. When you have some results, decide whether to put your less valuable accounts through the same process.

Do you have any favorite hygiene techniques to add to my list?

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.