6 essential collaboration tools behind every great marketing team
No marketer is an island. Having a great team of people on your side is one of the most important things you can do to set your business up for marketing success, but in order to maximize your team’s efficiency, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page. This is especially significant because today’s marketing teams have to juggle a huge amount of moving parts. Keeping track of multiple campaigns, projects, and individual workloads can be daunting, especially if you’re working across several products or teams. So how do you ensure that your marketing team stays on top of everything, and that nothing from your prodigious to-do list falls through the cracks? Enter collaboration tools, the marketer’s best friend (move aside, childhood neighbours!). The right collaboration tools can help you to streamline your workflow, simplify communication, and manage deadlines, all while enabling increased transparency and accountability. With that in mind, we’ve identified the 6 tools that every marketing team should have in their arsenal to empower seamless, harmonious collaboration.
1. Project management
A great project management tool is the bread-and-butter of an efficient, effective marketing team. An adaptable, easily-adoptable project management tool will see you through everything from content creation to product launches to event planning, and will make sure that every team member is up-to-date, every step of the way. Using a project management tool helps you to keep your most important milestones front-and-center, so you can ensure that everything you do contributes to your ultimate objectives, while enabling you to chart – and measure – everything you need to accomplish in order to reach those goals. Marketing teams have a diverse set of needs, so, instead of turning to multiple tools for campaign management or event planning, look for a PM tool that’s flexible enough to do everything you need in one piece of software. When gauging a tool’s suitability for a multitude of requirements, there are a few things to look for that can make any marketing project easier, no matter what you’re turning your hand to. In particular, look for the ability to add templates to simplify recurring processes; options to add collaborators and freelancers; versatile but robust privacy settings, so you can control who sees what; a space to upload – and comment on – shared resources; and, ideally, multiple workflow options, so you have the option of using task lists or kanban boards, depending on the particular project at hand and your own preferred methods. No matter how you like to manage your projects, having the right tool to help you is essential for mapping and tracking your workflow. We love: Teamwork, of course!
2. Instant messaging
Email is important for relaying sensitive, formal, or lengthy information, but it’s less useful for the so-called small stuff, like getting prompt answers to simple questions that can easily get overlooked in a heaving inbox. When you’re working on a project, however, the small stuff quickly becomes the big stuff. Having immediate, open lines of communication between your team means that everyone has quick access to the people with the answers they need, and everyone can be quickly apprised of important updates. Instead of cumbersome email threads and endless Reply Alls, make the switch to an instant messaging platform. You can create different groups to keep the relevant people for each project up to date, and can use it to facilitate real-time communication between your in-office staff, your remote employees, and any agencies or freelancers, no matter where, or when, they’re working. You can also reduce noise: instead of everyone needing to respond to an email, most apps allow you to quickly use a reaction to acknowledge receipt of a message, or quickly express your agreement. For extra efficiency, look for an IM platform that integrates with your project management software, too, so you can add tasks and keep track of to-dos directly from your chat app, and ensure that nothing gets lost along the way. Less formal than an email and less time-consuming than a phone call or Skype session, IM allows your marketing team to be more economical with their words and their time, without sacrificing their quality of communication. We love: Slack, but we luuurve Teamwork Chat because it’s totally free (and integrates perfectly with Teamwork).
3. Video calling and screen sharing
For those moments when you need something more instant than instant messaging, there’s video calling. Whether you’re having a team meeting with remote workers or liaising with freelancers, video communication software brings you as close as possible to being in the same room. There are some conversations that it’s better to have face-to-face – but if that’s not an option, face-to-screen is a solid runner-up. Giving feedback, whether positive or constructive, is often better done over a video call than via instant message or email. This is particularly true if you need to have a difficult conversation, as text can be more easily misconstrued than an “in-person” conversation. As well as adding a personal touch, you can also use video to share your screen, or leave video messages if your schedules (or time zones) aren’t syncing up. This is super useful when you need to give quick updates on what you’re working on, more productively troubleshoot a problem, or just want to save time by quickly saying what you would otherwise have to slowly type. It’s important for your team to feel like they’re more than just words on a screen; being a face on a screen might feel like a small upgrade, but it makes a big difference. We love: Google Hangouts for, well, hanging out (and meetings); Loom for recording and sharing your screen.
4. Design prototyping
To paraphrase the artist William Morris: “Have nothing in your marketing collateral that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Good design is intrinsic to a great product, not only because it creates a more enjoyable user experience, but because it can make you stand out in an oversaturated marketplace. Whether you have in-house designers or you’re working with an agency, the design process is complex, usually requiring lots of back-and-forth with multiple stakeholders to get it right. Using a design prototyping tool allows you to share and discuss prototypes before they become final products, so that you can guide the development, get feedback as you progress, and make sure your designs are picture perfect. We love: InVision (and Wipster for video).
5. Collaborative document editing
Sometimes, having your team be on the same page means having your team literally be on the same page. Using a collaborative, cloud-based editing tool means that, no matter where in the world you are, you can write, edit, proofread, comment, and ask for suggestions. The relevance of tools like this for content creation is a no-brainer, especially when you’re collaborating with freelancers, agencies, or proofreaders – but they’re also useful for behind-the-scenes things like outlining (and agreeing on) your marketing strategy, launch plans, and SOPs. The ability to tag someone in a comment allows you to quickly ask the right people for feedback or approval, and you can chart a document’s history to see where, and why, changes were made. Having a Single Version of Truth that you can rely on – and that everyone on your team can access, collaborate on, and ultimately get behind – keeps you all aligned and on-track. We love: Teamwork Spaces; Google Docs.
6. Customer service software
Managing your correspondence with clients can be tricky, particularly when you have multiple people working with them across different stages of a project. Replies can get lost between personal inboxes, and you don’t want to be spamming clients if your colleague has already responded to a request – but you also definitely don’t want emails to go unanswered. Using customer service software, such as a helpdesk tool, can help you to streamline your client communications by serving as a central hub for all correspondences. Email threads are all located in one place, so your entire client history can be kept together, and anyone who needs to can jump in or out and see where things stand with a client. For marketing teams in particular, having one central communication platform also allows you to make sure your messaging is always on-brand, and you can even create canned responses to ensure consistency. Look for a tool that enables you to leave internal notes on a thread – “Reminder: this client loves orcas so include orca references where possible” – and upload any supplemental information that might be useful behind-the-scenes, so that you have everything you need for successful client communication together in one place. We love: Teamwork Desk; Acquire. Using the right tools can help you to massively ramp up your marketing team’s productivity. (One digital agency found that they scaled 1000%!) Want to see how collaboration tools can work for you? Sign up for a free trial of Teamwork or join us at one of our webinars.