What is marketing workflow management?
Are you tired of your marketing team always asking you the same questions, over and over?
Is your team constantly complaining about not knowing where a certain project is in your pipeline, or who’s working on what?
Are you noticing missed deadlines, or catch yourself thinking, “Why is it taking them so long to complete this task?”
Do you have a nagging sense that things could be more efficient, more productive, and more streamlined?
If any of the above issues — from communication breakdowns to missed deadlines, frustratingly long timelines, or disjointed workflows — make you want to bang your head against your desk, you and your team need one thing: better marketing workflow management.
With marketing workflow management, the right people will always know the right information, and your team will understand exactly what to do and when to do it. Everyone will have the clarity, knowledge, and data they need to execute your marketing strategy with greater speed, precision, and effectiveness.
Don’t wait for an angry client or a disastrous deadline mishap to kick your butt into gear. It’s time to explore the ins and outs of marketing workflow management, plus specific examples of how it can transform your business.
Marketing Workflow Management 101
What is a Marketing Workflow?
Think of your marketing workflow as a series of steps or operations that tell people what to do and when to do it in order to meet a set of rules or requirements and complete a specific marketing task.
A marketing workflow can look different from company to company or even from task to task. It could be:
- A simple checklist or steps
- A flow chart that provides “If A, then B” guidance to your team.
- A visual diagram or spreadsheet
The workflow can also be as granular or as high-level as you and your team need.
For example, a marketing workflow for onboarding a new marketing client to your agency might get into the nitty-gritty details of ensuring specific accounts are created, exact contract templates are sent, and specific payment deposits are made.
But a workflow for brainstorming a rebrand for a client might be more ambiguous and abstract while still outlining a specific sequence of strategy steps that you and your team need to complete.
It’s really about tailoring the workflow to the needs and requirements of the task, rather than shoehorning your team into a one-size-fits-all model.
Whatever your marketing workflows might look like, all workflows have three things in common.
Better Work Management: 3 Foundational Principles to Optimize Your Marketing Workflow
For optimal results, every marketing workflow that you craft will need to be:
- Logical: Workflows are only as good as their uptake. If no one uses them, they’ll only add to the project gridlock. Each step will need to be straightforward, easy to understand, and make logical sense.
- Visible: Don’t fall into the trap of making operational documents that never see the light of day. The workflows must be incorporated into your team’s daily tasks, starting from the moment you train new employees or colleagues.
- Living: Your marketing workflow management must involve updating your workflows as systems change, strategies evolve, or new insights are learned. The more you use them, the more you’ll notice specific things that could be improved on. Learn, iterate, rinse and repeat.
What Are the Benefits of Marketing Workflow Management?
Whether you’re a project manager overseeing a team of five or 500, brands and companies of all sizes will see significant improvements in several key areas when they incorporate better workflow management.
The improvements are:
- Better Team Cohesion
- Higher Quality Team-Driven Output
- Better Business Performance
Better Team Cohesion
Workflows help break down some of the internal silos that often arise when there isn’t enough communication between teams or team members.
When everyone is using the same set of workflows, each team member can see what they need to do and when they need to do it by, as well as who comes before them and after them in the process.
You’ll never have to worry again that someone didn’t loop in your graphic designer until it was too late, or that the social media team wasn’t alerted about a time-sensitive marketing campaign.
Higher Quality Team-Driven Output
Marketing workflows invite more collaboration and create opportunities for teams to build a consensus about a best practice, a specific strategy, or how a project should be executed. You get to tap into the expertise and insights of each team member at every stage of the process.
This, paired with creating clear processes and parameters for a marketing project, eliminates the confusion, ambiguity or uncertainty that often creates unnecessary stress and tension for your team. It gives them permission to do their best work, with the confidence that they have all the information and data they need to make it a success.
The result? Higher quality design, hard-hitting content marketing, and marketing success that thrills you and your clients.
Better Business Performance
Teams that manage their marketing workflows well tend to notice:
- Less time wasted on meetings, edits, bug fixes, etc.
- Enhanced collaboration and a more constructive team culture
- Faster automation of time-consuming tasks
- More creativity and idea generation
- Improved productivity and efficiency
- Increased revenue, higher profitability, and better business outcomes
How to Create a Workflow Management Process and Manage Your Marketing Workflows
Here are the steps for creating a workflow management process:
- Define your tasks, processes, and deliverables
- Identify who is involved in all of the processes you defined
- Define and map out specific responsibilities
- Assign the task and execute
1. Define Your Tasks, Processes, and Deliverables
Collaborate with your team to identify the core processes and tasks that are repeated daily, monthly, or quarterly.
Think of those standard projects that you’re constantly working on, such as:
- Onboarding a new client if you’re a marketing agency or service provider
- Publishing ongoing quality content marketing, such as articles and blog posts on your website
- Launching regular events, such as group consultations or webinars
- Launching new products, whether those are digital or physical
- Engaging your email marketing list with email campaigns, weekly e-newsletters, etc.
- Reviewing and updating corporate web copy and landing pages
- Posting to social media and responding to social media comments and messages
2. Identify Who Is Involved In All of the Processes You Defined
Once you and your team have assembled a list of common tasks and processes, work with your team to label each project with who is involved.
Don’t be surprised if there are more people than you may initially realize. That’s the value of workflows: it creates more exposure and visibility for all the different steps between point A and point B.
For example, publishing a blog post might not just involve your in-house content marketer. They might also need:
- A data analyst or Google Analytics expert to provide high-value keywords
- A graphic designer to create images
- A web developer to publish the post
- A social media team member to share the blog post on all of your social media platforms
- The email team to promote the new blog post in an upcoming email
The best people to identify the necessary roles are often those who are currently doing the work.
3. Define and Map Out Specific Responsibilities
Now that you have a list of tasks as well as who works on each task, break the task down into specific steps and attach one person (i.e., the owner) to each step.
Keep in mind that the person who currently does that task may not be the best person for the task going forward. This is your chance to discuss the overall process and fine-tune it.
No matter how detailed or high-level you’re aiming for, you should be mapping out:
- The full list of tasks to complete the project
- The exact individual who needs to get each task done
- An estimate of how long each step will take to complete
That last point is critical because the entire workflow will come down to how accurate these time estimates are. Start with a rough guesstimate based on historical records or based on what the individual task owner thinks.
Then, as you use these workflows in the future, constantly revise and update as more accurate data comes in.
For example, a project manager managing the marketing flow for a blog post might have the following mapped out:
- Task: Generate idea (Content strategist, 30 days before the publish date)
- Task: Do keyword research (SEO strategist, 25 days before the publish date)
- Task: Create blog post outline (Blog writer, 20 days before the publish date)
- Task: Approve outline (SEO strategist and marketing stakeholders, 15 days before the publish date)
- Task: Write final draft (Blog writer, 10 days before the publish date)
- Task: Create images or infographics (Graphic designer, 5 days before the publish date)
- Task: Schedule social media promotions (Social media manager, 4 days before the publish date)
- Task: Publish post and review live version for bugs (Blog writer, day of publishing)
4. Assign the Task and Execute
It’s game day. By now, everyone will know what needs to be done and who needs to do it.
Identify a way for your team to collaborate and communicate. This could be via:
- Traditional emails in platforms like MailChimp
- An Excel spreadsheet
- Physical whiteboards or charts, like a kanban board
- A cloud-based messenger service, such as Slack
- A project management, CRM, or workflow platform like Welcome or Hubspot.
Whatever approach you use, managing the marketing workflow will involve:
- Starting the new project using your new workflow
- Notifying each task owner when something has been assigned to them
- Clearly communicating the deadlines for each task owner
- Reminding the task owner when his or her task is almost due (e.g. 24 or 48 hours before the deadline)
- Ensuring the right approval process is occurring
- Monitoring and watching for tasks that aren’t completed and following up with them immediately
For the best results, use a platform that automatically alerts and assigns the next step in your workflow to the next person when the previous task owner has completed their step.
The more that you can automate your digital marketing workflow management, the more you can focus on higher-return tasks and projects.
Once you’ve gone through this process a few times, review and assess. Were there specific breakdowns in communication? Was there a chronic area where deadlines were often missed, or were there any surprising metrics?
Dig into the why, and discuss with your team. Then revise your workflow to proactively get ahead of such problems and bottlenecks.
Often, these scenarios are because:
- A step is missing somewhere in the process
- The wrong person is being assigned a specific task
- A timeline estimate for how long a project takes is too short or too long
Use your workflows as a living, evolving tool, and watch as your marketing transforms and your team works more productively.
Start Managing Your Marketing Projects With Welcome
Say goodbye to your old-fashioned project management platforms, and welcome Welcome into your life. It reimagines project management specifically for the marketing crowd.
With Optimizely, you can build and oversee your marketing workflows effortlessly so you can get out of the administrative nightmares of running your business and focus on the creative execution.
- Content Marketing Workflows: You’ll streamline your content creation process from ideation to execution to optimization.
- Creative Services: Empower your creative team to do their best work by automating project intake, creative briefs, and assignments.
- Product Marketing: Curate detailed launch plans and boost sales.
- Marketing Communications: Create a cohesive content marketing strategy and voice across all of your channels.
Ready to give it a try? Get started with a free account today!