{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Process Development for Marketing Technology

{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Process Development for Marketing Technology

In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris walk through effective process development for marketing, especially marketing technology. Listen in as they work out the process for setting up a Twitter hashtag monitoring bot for Social Media Marketing World.


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{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Process Development for Marketing Technology

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Christopher Penn 0:17

In this week's In-Ear Insights, we are talking about process development, particularly when it comes to marketing, marketing automation and marketing technology.

So Katie, what is process development? It sounds just like I mean, the the, the adventurous coder and me sounds like it's overhead.


Katie Robbert 0:38

it isn't it isn't.

So process development is exactly what it sounds like it is the act of developing a process.

And so while you might think it's overhead, to me, it's repeatability and scalability.

And so, if you're not, and I'm looking at you specifically right now, Chris, if you're not documenting what you do, then you can never pass it off to someone else to do the way that you want it done.

So you will forever have to do the thing.

So that's not the only reason while you want to do process development.

But for you, specifically, I know that that hits home.

So that is the argument that I would give to you is you need to document the stuff that you don't want to do that so that somebody else can do it.

Christopher Penn 1:25


What about things that I want to do that I don't trust other people to be able to do as well.

Katie Robbert 1:34

I think that still valid because I, you know, process development is if you break it down to its most basic idea, it's writing down the steps of how something gets done.

And so let's say you know, whether you want to do it yourself, or you want someone else to do it, is sort of irrelevant.

So you know, I brought that up, because I knew that that would be like, Oh, if I write it down, that I can pass off the stuff that I don't want to do.

But regardless of who's doing the thing.

The reason you want to write something down is so that you can find where things are broken, and efficiencies.

And so it's part of the QA process, it's part of requirements gathering.

But primarily, the function that it serves is so that somebody else can test it to validate the thing.

And so if you, Chris are not writing down how a set of code works, then someone who isn't you, who is likely me who doesn't fully understand code, can't test it, because they don't know what the expected outcome is.

They don't know.

Okay, this, then this, then this, then this.

Okay, it's breaking, but I don't know why.

And then I hand it back to you.

And you go, yeah, I don't know, let me start completely over versus just pinpointing and focusing right at the spot where you can see that it broke.

Christopher Penn 2:54

What if I'm an insecure person who is, I'm dead.


Katie Robbert 2:58

know, I know, this is going that's exactly.

Christopher Penn 3:02

And I and I don't want to document it, because I'm afraid that my organization will have a need for me anymore.

Katie Robbert 3:07

I think you know, that is a really valid issue that comes up, I actually ran into that a lot, a few jobs ago with a data team, because the concern was that if people knew what actually went into analyzing the data, then they wouldn't be able to justify, you know, how many people they had or the salaries that they had.

And I think the onPC response to that is you kind of need to get over it.

Because the reason for that is because you will never then be able to get help.

You will always be bogged down by what it is that you're doing.

And I think that it kind of goes into that gray area of will the machines take my job, or will someone else take my job, documenting the stuff that you're doing, gives you more opportunity, it gives you opportunity to say, this is repeatable, I can automate this.

This is trainable, I can give some this to somebody else.

And then the opportunity is that you then have more time and critical thinking time to really dig into the insights to build relationships, to do that deeper thinking to skill up on other things.

But if you're forever bogged down because you're insecure that if people know what you did, that's like that's a whole separate episode.

Christopher Penn 4:33

Okay, so how do we get started with this? How do you how do you do process develop? Because I mean, obviously, I have my ways of doing process development, which is not terrific.

Yeah, I just kind of do things and then later on, I go, Well, good thing I wrote code because I would have no idea what I did otherwise.

But what's the better way to do that?

Katie Robbert 4:52

The better way to do that, unsurprisingly, is to start with some business requirements, and the easiest set of business requirements You can do if you don't want to get bogged down by paperwork is to use the five p framework your people, your purpose, people process platform and purpose.

Problem people

Christopher Penn 5:14

a lot.

Okay, so let's make up then one.

We know that next week is going to be as we're recording is going to be Social Media Marketing World, one of the larger conferences in our in our market and we want to be able to participate in the conversation even though we're not going to be there.

So I guess our purpose and our user story would be as a marketing agency, we need Twitter data about the social media market with hashtags so that we can meaningfully participate in conversations and build a network map of who's who.

Katie Robbert 5:51


So that's a purpose.


Christopher Penn 5:54

what do we need anything else on purpose?

Katie Robbert 5:59

Are there specific outcomes? So aside from participating in the conversation, other other outcomes that we as the agency would be after so that we can track those throughout the requirements? Do we want to drive traffic to our website, we want to demonstrate our skill sets.

Christopher Penn 6:17

Yeah, we want to want to drive traffic to our website with a network graph.

Katie Robbert 6:21


All right.

So that is the secondary purpose.

So the first purpose is to participate meaningfully on who's who and the second purpose is to drive traffic to our website.

So that's our purpose.

So then the next P is people.

So that's where you and I come in.

But it makes sense beyond you and I, um, you know, do we need help from Emily? Do we need help from John? So when you're thinking about the people, and this becomes part of your process development? Is who's doing the thing? Who needs to execute it? Who needs to QA it? Who needs to analyze it? Who needs to deliver it?

Christopher Penn 7:02

Okay, well, for this.

I think it's just me.

Katie Robbert 7:10

Okay, so in that context, that means that you, Chris, are responsible for collecting the data, you, Chris are responsible for analyzing the data, you, Chris are responsible for writing up the analysis of the data? And then you, Chris are responsible for posting and disseminating the data? Is that a correct assumption?

Christopher Penn 7:32

That's correct.


Katie Robbert 7:34

So that covers people.


Now, there

Christopher Penn 7:37

are parts, I guess, theoretically, we could delegate, like the social media posting part we could delegate, but otherwise not really

Katie Robbert 7:45

well, and delegating just for delegating sake to have more people involved isn't necessarily a good option, you know.

And so if you're writing up the analysis, you're writing it, because we've done this before, I know that you'll be writing it in the form of a social post.

So you literally just have to open up the social posting platform, cue it up and post it, versus giving it to someone else to do the exact same thing.

Like that's not a good use of delegation.

Because it's not really saving you any time, because you're already doing the thing.

Christopher Penn 8:22


Well, so I guess that takes us to process then of how of how we're going to do the thing, or does that take us to platform

Katie Robbert 8:29

it takes you to? Well, you know, you don't have to do process and platform in a certain order.

So in order to understand the process of how we probably should understand which platforms we'll be using.

So the first question is, you know, what data? Are you using to answer the question?

Christopher Penn 8:50

Right, we should this case, we're pretty predominantly Twitter data, because it's the most visible but well, actually, that's a very good question.

Should we also since we have the ability of the technology, should we also set up monitoring software for Tiktok? I don't know if anybody's going to be publishing on the hashtag bear or not?

Katie Robbert 9:12

Well, if we have the ability, well, okay, so for the sake of discussion, let's add it in.

So let's say your data sources are Twitter and Tiktok.

So you know, your data sources, once the data comes out of those systems, where does it

Christopher Penn 9:29

go? into my laptop?

Katie Robbert 9:34

Where specifically in your laptop, are you setting up a spreadsheet? Are you setting up a database? How does it get from A to B?

Christopher Penn 9:42

So what happens is there's a piece of code in our that essentially scrapes both services via their API's, and turns the output into CSV files, Comma Separated Value files.

These are essentially texts, essentially texts spreadsheets of sorts.

Then, after the data is downloaded a different part of the script, turns it into the nodes and edges that you need to make a network graph.

So using network graphing software that will then builds essentially, to more spreadsheets, do more tables that then go into visualization software.

That visualization software then visualizes the construction of the network cloud, and then spits out an influencer list as well as the visualization.

So you get a nice PDF.

And so the question I was asking my Tiktok, two that got me thinking was this year as part of our process for publishing our podcast, we've started taking video excerpts of the show and publishing it to Tiktok and Instagram and LinkedIn as video shorts.

And John losses shorts, we may want to start doing that with YouTube at some point, but the process of creating the network map itself can be visual, I mean, watching network graphs, or assembly itself is actually one of the slightly more interesting things to see.

And so that raises the question that from a platform and process part for requirements should a 32nd video snippet be part of the end product.

Katie Robbert 11:19

So again, for the sake of conversation, let's go ahead and say yes, yes, we are going to create the snippet because even if all of those people if we're using Tiktok.

For example, even if all of those people aren't on Tik Tok, we can still represent the process in which the data came together on tick tock on LinkedIn, on Instagram, even though all of the data is coming from Twitter.

So it sounds like in terms of platform, so you have the platforms themselves.

So you have Twitter and Tik Tok as your data sources.

You have our as where the code is being hosted, essentially, you have your database, which is where all of the data is going.

So let's call it a SQL database for sake of conversation.

And then, so it goes, Twitter, our SQL Tableau, or something.

What is the visualization software?

Christopher Penn 12:20

It's called Gaffey.

It's an open course.

Okay, so that's our table to

Katie Robbert 12:25


Right? Okay.

So that's your platform, those are your platforms.

But then in addition to that, you've just mentioned your video editing software.

And so I think for you, that's Adobe.

And then I think all of the different social media platforms where you would be posting all of these videos, and then also the output.

So you would have LinkedIn, Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram, YouTube, all of those places.

So those your platforms.

So when you go back to process, basically, what we've described, you know, what I'm going to summarize is that the process starts with Chris, Chris has decided that this is the purpose.

So this is why he's doing the thing, Chris then needs to set up all of the systems to collect the data, those systems need to be set up with specific hashtags, it needs to be set up with certain commands so that the systems know what it needs to be collected, the code itself needs to be written if it's not already written, or it needs to be validated that it's still working.

So this is how you start to develop the process is you literally go step by step of starting with the person doing the thing, what needs to be done in order, so you validated that the code is working.

So then you start to set the timeframes of when as the data being collected, collected, every hour is collected every 24 hours, you make sure that the data is going into the database, and then you know, you push it from the database and to get the the visualization.

So that's how you start to build out the process.

Because you've identified the purpose, you've identified the people, you've identified the platforms, and then you can start to articulate and right out, here are the steps a process is just a set of steps in how these things need to happen in order to get to the outcome of which is what you're establishing your purpose.

Knowing Who's Who Who are the influencers, and posting the outcomes on social to drive traffic to our website.

So then part of that process would be setting up probably a Data Studio dashboard to see are the is this particular social post driving traffic to our website?

Christopher Penn 14:44

Okay, yeah, cuz we'd have to, well, I mean, we will definitely want the network graph, the HTML visualization to be attractive, but we also want to see the engagement on social itself, especially we're gonna start doing videos because people will probably watch the video and perhaps not even bother clicking through to the, to the interactive visualization, especially on a mobile device.

Katie Robbert 15:09

Well, and so that gets into, you know, it goes into performance.

But these are things that you would have wanted to understand in the purpose.

So going back to purpose, not only are you wanting to drive traffic to the website, but you're also wanting to understand the engagement on different social media platforms.

And so that wasn't something we initially stated, I think it was more of an implied in assumed.

But now if we're stating it directly, then we also need to add to our process and platform, a way to track measurement.

So if we're using Google Data Studio, or if we're using super metrics to connect these different social platforms, to our reporting suite, and then when we get into performance performance is what is the success measure? How do we know we did the thing? And so are we getting engagement, how much engagement how much traffic and so we can set? For the purposes of this, we can set sort of those general like traffic goes up 5%, or we get, you know, 20 people clicking on the thing, and they come to our site, or we get, you know, 5% engagement, whatever the numbers are, you kind of want to establish at least some kind of goals to track against otherwise, who cares? Right.

Christopher Penn 16:31

Okay, so what do we want to decide for? for that? I mean, in the past, those, you know, network graphs have done reasonably well for attracting people, they oddly also attract a decent mass search traffic too, which is interesting.

So do we want to say like 100 visitors to the Social Media Marketing World page? I mean, it seems like I'm pulling a number out of the air, but I don't have a good basis for post, post pandemic, what, what events are going to look like?

Katie Robbert 17:05

Well, I think what we could do, you know, what we would do, and what we would advise our clients to do is to look, so we've obviously done this before.

So this is not a new activity, a new campaign that we'd be running.

So we would look at historical, with the caveat, that this is one of the first post pandemic in person, bigger events.

And so understanding that the numbers might be lower than expected, they might not be all what we expect.

But we can at least say, historically, this is what we can expect.

And so that then sort of becomes our benchmark of, you know, all things considered, you know, this is what we could expect this to do.

Christopher Penn 17:48


And then from the business outcome perspective, what do we think the, the more tangible result of this will be?

Katie Robbert 18:00

So the way that I started to think about it is, you know, if we're starting to see, you know, newsletter signups, if we're starting to see, you know, people subscribing to the podcast, if it's helping with retention, and so I try as if you're asking me, specifically, I try to weigh that against, how much time is it taking you to do this, versus what are we getting out of it in terms of a business outcome, and sort of, you know, the, the ROI of it, if you will.

And so if this is an activity that takes you 20 hours, for example, start to finish, and we're only getting three people to visit the website, and then you know, only one new follower on Twitter, then in terms of a business outcome, it's not good.

It's not something that, you know, we should continue to do.

Ideally, you know, if I'm being completely honest, it would always lead to someone deciding that they want to buy our services, or work with us or partner with us, in some way, shape, or form.

That's always a business outcome.

But not every campaign can be that direct.

So this is really an awareness campaign.

This is an engagement campaign.

And so if it helps nudge people down the line, to buy something, that's great, but that's not the goal of this campaign.

Christopher Penn 19:16


So we look then at something like branded organic search as well to see if people are searching for us more by name, after the event for like a, say a seven day period afterwards, see if we got more awareness.

Katie Robbert 19:31


So if people are searching for us, if our if the platforms that we're posting on, are growing at all, if the engagement for that, you know, it's sustained growth, so it's not just that bump that spike, but then those numbers stay up.

And that's how we know that the awareness is working because, okay, we've created the thing people engage with the thing, but then they stuck around to continue to see what else we're doing.

Christopher Penn 20:01

Okay, so that's a pretty comprehensive plan.

It sounds like we've got, we know what we want to do.

We've got some clear outcomes.

We have idea what the technology is we know who's doing it for the process itself.

How do we draft that? So that it's usable? A for me, because this time next week, I'm like, what are we talking about last week? And be to your point, if somebody else would just try and take it over? What would they need to do?

Katie Robbert 20:30

So this is where you and I differ in terms of how we learn and understand information.

So you tend to lean more toward video and audio, I personally tend to lean more towards written.

And so I like written stuffs, and you like to watch the video.

And so in this situation, what we could do, what we would do is you and I would sit down together and literally walk through it as a test run.

And so we're recording the video, we have the steps, and then you would have the output of that would be you would have a video walkthrough.

But then you would also have the transcript, so that someone like me could read it and go, Okay, step one, login to this system, step two, login to this system.

Step three, push this button.

And so as you're walking through it, you want to be calling out those steps like that.

So, you know, in this part of the project, I am collecting the data, here's how I collect the data so that you have those cues written down when the transcript comes out.

And that's the way that you would approach starting the process development of the documentation is, you literally have to go through it step by step in order for that documentation to

Christopher Penn 21:48



Well, I guess we can do that at some point.

I don't know if it's if this is the right task to do that for.

But it certainly might be eye opening for folks to be able to to see that behind the scenes someday.

Katie Robbert 22:02

I think we can absolutely record it and publish it for people.

I don't I think there's a harm in that, because we're gonna find out things about the process that we may not have been aware of one of the reasons why you want it again, sort of going back to the first question, why you want to document it step by step is so that somebody else can test it, invalidate it, and get the exact same result as you so in this instance, that stuff that we're working on, is not public software that other people besides us would necessarily be using.

But in the event that we are creating something that would then be available for public use, you would want to have that more stringent QA process, so that people are getting the exact same experience that you were when you were using the software when you are walking through the process.

And so those set of instructions would need to exist for someone who isn't you.

Christopher Penn 22:57

Okay? How, how simplified or, or in depth? Do you go with some of the stuff because I mean, some of the things like I already know, with the code, we're gonna need to make some revisions to the code, like using it as is does work.

I was willing, so other scripts this morning.

But for what we just talked about with the requirements gathering, now it's a slightly different animal.

Now it's going to change from what I've been using to something a little more complicated, because we want to be able to use it on multiple platforms.

And because we want to be able to be more flexible with the output?

Katie Robbert 23:33

Well, I think it really depends on the intention of some against someone who isn't you using the process? And so is the intention that someone like me would, do it start to finish, including maintaining the code? Or would you still own maintaining the code, and then I would literally just be pushing the buttons that gets the data from A to B into the visualization.

And so those are business decisions that we would have to make to say, you know, Katie, I know that you don't know how to code in R, but we're gonna make you do it as part of this process.

So good luck kid.

Or Chris will still own and maintain it, but you will know where it lives.

And so if it breaks, you know, who to go to, to fix it.

And so those then become those roles and responsibilities part of the process.

And so a process, you can own a process start to finish or there could be multiple people who are involved in a process.

And so in this case, if you are delegating this network graph to me, my assumption is that you would still own part of the process in terms of the coding and maintaining that stuff.

Christopher Penn 24:43


And then you would get through the data, and then do the visualization.

Okay, that makes sense.

Katie Robbert 24:48

And that goes into the people part of it of like, who's doing what, how do

Christopher Penn 24:53

you deal with things that are judgment based? So I'll give you an example in the visualization process itself.

Depending on the quality of the data and how many interactions there are there, there are different steps you can take to assess the strength of the network.

There's different algorithms, like eigenvector centrality, harmonics, closeness centrality between this the Trouty, etc.

And there's some data cleaning, refining that is purely judgment based when you as the the data analysts look at the data and say, Okay, well, we've got 60% of State has no interactions at all can be safely removed from the network graph, or it's a small enough graph, like actually, those interactions might matter, let's keep them in.

And that really is very situational and judgment based it can vary from it can actually vary from network graph to network graphs, at the start of an event, you may keep choose to keep all the data and by the end of the event, you may be pruning out two thirds of it because a lot of its noise or you know, someone's bought farm got ahold of the event hashtag.

How do you accommodate that in process development, when it says is purely up to the judgment of the individual doing it?

Katie Robbert 26:01

Well, you know, it's interesting, because as you were talking it through, you were describing different scenarios.

And so what you can build into your process development is those, you know, if then statements, so if you're at the beginning of the event, you know, you might see less data.

So you know, you can sort of, you know, have those rules, if you will, you know, if you're on day one, keep all of the data and because there's likely not enough for if you see less than this threshold of data points, keep everything in, you know, and so you can build in those rules or scenarios to say, if you see this, then this would be the next logical step.

You know, but also, you know, but also talk with your team, if it's just if it's human judgment base, if there's no hard and fast rules, then that's when it's a good time to do that peer review, like, Hey, this is what I'm seeing, does this make sense to you as well, kind of thing.

So I think that that might be one of the most the one of the biggest misconceptions about a process is that it's it has to be completely black and white, there's no flexibility with it, which is why people don't like to do it.

Like, it's that you can't tell me what to do mentality.

Like, yeah, that's what a process is for.

However, if you build a process correctly, you can build in for those scenarios you can build in that flexibility of if the output is x, bring it to your team to take a look at you don't have to do things solely in a vacuum.

Christopher Penn 27:38



Well, that covered a lot of ground on process development.

And thanks, I think we have a good template.

And if folks are interested in seeing the behind the scenes of this, let us know join our free slack group, go to trust insights.ai/analytics remarketing and reference this episode of the show if you want to see us get into the blood and guts of our scripting and network graphing and stuff like that, with the caveat that we're probably not gonna pull any punches.

We're just gonna dig straight into the code.

If that's of interest, let us know in the free slack group.

And of course, you can feel free to ask and answer questions from you and 2200 other marketing professionals and wherever it is that you watch or listen to this show.

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