Is your marketing team spread way too thin?
Endless email chains. Missed deadlines. Frustrated team members. Unhappy clients.
Ah, the classic signs of insufficient marketing project management. We know them all too well.
There’s a reason why marketers that are proactive about project management are three times more likely to report “success.”
Are you struggling to exceed client expectations without totally burning your team out? That means it’s time to rethink your approach to marketing project management.
In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about marketing project management:
Ultimate guide to marketing project management
What is marketing project management?
5 phases of the marketing project management process
How project management helps teams to communicate
How to instill project management skills and responsibilities into a marketing team
The benefits of a project-managed approach to marketing
Project management tools and platforms
Project management built for marketing teams
Collaborate more effectively and deliver great campaigns on time.
What is marketing project management?
Simply put, marketing project management is planning, overseeing, and delivering marketing-related projects. A project manager, owner, team lead, or head of marketing typically owns this process, and the specific steps and methodologies of project management vary by agency. That said, managing projects usually involves the following:
Defined phases: From planning to delivery. This step is based on a predetermined project timeline and budget to better track project progress.
Specific outputs or project deliverables: A deliverable is the "finished product" that a client gets at the end of a project — whether that's an individual blog or something less tangible, like a new marketing strategy.
Manageable chunks: This includes task lists, tasks, sub-tasks, and project milestones.
Big-picture business context: For marketing, specifically, this might be part of a business initiative such as a re-brand or content marketing push.
A project management solution: Project management software is a digital workspace used for task management. It empowers teams to streamline processes, efficiently collaborate, and be more productive.
Ideally, you can apply the project management framework to any marketing activities or campaigns, like pay-per-click (PPC), email marketing, SEO, content marketing, product marketing, and brand campaigns.
For example, you can use project management in a brand campaign to divide work between different marketing roles: graphic designers, copywriters, market researchers, strategists, etc
Why project management is a necessity for marketing
Transparently planning and executing a project (complete with assigned stakeholders, measurable milestones, and a way to identify roadblocks) is the only way marketing teams can control the outcome. Project management is a roadmap that everyone involved can use to keep themselves on task. It also provides a priceless format for sharing information, collaborating, and addressing workflow obstacles.
When done right, a PM framework empowers project teams to complete their work on time and within budget. Without a strong project management system, projects can easily get bogged down, team members can lose focus, and important information can fall through the cracks.
What exactly does a marketing project manager do?
A marketing project manager's role is dynamic. They wear several hats, depending on the needs of the day. Successful project managers are researchers, communicators, and marketing experts, with day-to-day duties that vary from one team to the next. However, there are a few priority tasks that most marketing project managers commonly handle:
Defining project goals, objectives, and target outcomes
PMs help spell out why a campaign is necessary.
Marketing pushes shouldn't happen "just because." If someone requests a re-brand or outreach campaign, there need to be specific outcomes as a result. PMs can determine these outcomes through their research and discussions with the rest of the marketing team, c-level colleagues, and clients.
For the sake of accountability and ensuring that the target outcomes actually happen, marketing projects are tied to project metrics and KPIs outlined by the PM. This might include:
Sales and revenue
Engagement rate (Likes, comments, and social media interactions)
Share of voice
Researching best practices and tactics for marketing campaigns
There are endless variables involved when it comes to marketing project management.
PMs rein in the chaos by defining the scope of work and project budget. This influences the fine details regarding tactics, duration, and tools needed to make the project a reality.
Let’s say someone’s interested in a content marketing campaign.
Okay, how long is the campaign going to last? How many writers are involved? What are the specifics of the deliverables in terms of length, SEO, and overall project lifecycle?
PMs can confidently answer every inquiry based on available resources and conversations with stakeholders. What makes them even more confident? Knowing exactly how much work is assigned to the entire team and what's assigned to each team member through resource allocation reports.
Organizing people and resources to get a project moving
Breaking down organizational silos is one of the top challenges for today’s content managers. Project managers need to be proactive and attentive to maintain the project schedule.
PMs often liaise between clients, the C-level, and marketing teams to ensure projects run smoothly. This involves:
Providing instructions to project participants
Establishing deadlines for deliverables
Communicating with collaborators and stakeholders
Setting expectations for all the above
Overseeing projects once they’re in progress
PMs must be meticulous about meeting project deadlines within budget. They also need to manage the client's expectations. Meetings, check-ins, and progress summaries comprise a significant portion of your average PM’s schedule.
5 phases of the marketing project management process
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to managing marketing campaigns. However, we can break down most marketing projects into a five-phase project lifecycle. Below is a high-level look at this process using a marketing project management software like Teamwork.
Phase 1: Planning
To kick things off, key project stakeholders define and agree on the project goals and objectives. This often includes team members and other internal stakeholders, but if you’re part of a marketing agency, your client will also be part of this process.
Fifty-two percent of marketing experts struggle to talk strategy with people that are not marketing-savvy. This is why breaking down projects into specific goals, objectives, and deliverables is helpful.
Goals represent big-picture accomplishments such as “improving our customer experience” or “increasing brand awareness.” Objectives represent more specific tasks and initiatives required to meet those goals, like “increasing our NPS” or “creating more blog content.”
Goals and objectives form the basis of a project charter. The project begins when all the leading stakeholders sign this document and everyone is on the same page.
From here, the project manager must determine what’s needed on a granular level to meet the goals above. The project then moves into its next phase.
Phase 2: Organization
With goals established, the team can agree on a budget and identify the deliverables.
Again, a deliverable is anything produced for a project that’s necessary for completion. The most common deliverables for marketing projects are campaigns themselves, as well as crucial pieces such as ads, graphics, or blog posts.
After defining the project’s deliverables, the team formulates a marketing project plan made up of several tasks. The more complex the project is, the more tasks are required.
Each task is then allocated to a team member. Sometimes leading stakeholders assign tasks to team members. In other cases, team members might self-assign their own tasks. This varies from team to team.
Below is what assignments look like in Teamwork. Each task is tied to a specific team member along with its respective due date, time budget, and priority. These assignments create a sense of visibility and urgency that are crucial for moving any given project forward.
The organizational phase is also where the project scope is defined. In short, this is the extent of work involved in the project. Defining the scope of work ensures that teams don’t too much and likewise stay within the budget of the project – or avoid the dreaded scope creep.
Creating a project schedule is another priority task at this point. Here’s where you'll define the chronology of activities required for the project.
This can be represented visually through tools like Gantt Charts, which can be updated in real-time to highlight a project’s process. With an established timeline, teams are ready to get started with the actual project itself.
Phase 3: Execution
This is the phase where the team puts its plan into action.
During execution, project leaders are responsible for outlining expectations for the team's task management. This involves tracking and reporting on task progress, creating new tasks as needed, and taking action when projects aren’t moving forward.
Visualizations such as kanban boards are a popular way to track your team’s progress, giving participants and stakeholders an “at a glance” view of a project’s status.
Kanban boards are ideal for marketing project management as they clearly highlight the stages involved in a campaign (think: drafts, revisions, and so on). When a task progresses to the next stage in the process, its task card is moved to the appropriate column.
Tools like kanban boards also create a sense of accountability and autonomy for team members. This is a win-win for project managers and participants alike: the former always has the pulse on their projects while the latter is empowered to work without being micromanaged.
And hey, that leads us to the next phase of marketing project management.
Phase 4: Control
Once a project is in motion, you need to make sure that everything’s on-schedule.
Are team members hitting headlines? Are there any hold-ups or missing deliverables?
Fact: less than half of people (42%) say that they understand what other team members are working on at any given moment. Piggybacking on the point above, visibility is crucial to a successful project.
This speaks to the value of a tool like Teamwork where you can see everything.
If a project is running behind time or over budget, the project manager is responsible for identifying issues and intervening. They should also provide status updates among stakeholders and project participants alike.
Doing all of the above quickly and efficiently means consolidating communication. This is yet again where Teamwork can save the day, providing an all-in-one platform to provide updates, assign new dates, and set fresh due dates as-needed.
Phase 5: Delivery
Finally, we reach the end of the project.
What happens here largely depends on the nature of the marketing team’s relationship to the project. If the project is a one-off marketing campaign, it could be considered finished once it has been delivered to the commissioning stakeholder.
But if you’re a marketing team or agency working on a retainer basis, the final phase of the project lifecycle will likely involve an evaluation process. This includes not only client feedback, but internal analysis of the project.
For example, in Teamwork, you can assess the timing, budget, and individual teammate performance to define success in the detailed profitability report.
This final piece of the process encourages you to refine your project management approach and find the best way to empower teammates in the future. This is a win-win for you, your teammates, and clients alike.
The benefits of effective marketing project management
Proactively managing every aspect of a project, from the timeline to the resource allocation to the potential bottlenecks, is challenging but worth the effort. Investing in and making marketing project management a top priority allows marketing teams to reap several significant rewards, including:
Greater consistency in processes
Effective marketing project management requires building repeatable processes. Once developed, you can use these in future projects. Set processes encourage more consistent work regardless of the project, team, or client involved.
For example, project stakeholders can participate in meetings to keep them on track and discuss any potential obstacles. Once you establish a successful cadence of meetings and check-ins, you can apply it to future projects.
Enhanced team collaboration
Savvy project managers understand that information should flow throughout each project step. Teammates who are encouraged to work together keep projects moving forward faster. Project management tools can facilitate communication among team members, project managers, and stakeholders outside the marketing department.
For example, messaging apps help team members share information, ask questions, and provide updates. Since everything is stored inside the app, it can serve as a single source of truth, so nothing falls through the cracks or gets overlooked.
A clear, well-defined project plan ensures everyone involved knows what they should be doing and when it needs to be completed. This transparency and visibility make it easier to understand who’s on-task and who might be struggling.
An example of this is if tasks are going undone. Using check-ins and viewing the project management tool dashboard, the project manager can see which team member is getting behind. The PM can proactively work with the team member to get them back on track and avoid project bottlenecks.
Effectively managing projects means less guesswork and fewer check-ins for both the manager and the team members. It also prevents double work and deliverables from getting lost.
For example, if the project manager uses a project management tool to lay out the entire process, it optimizes the organization. This approach allows for fewer check-ins because all the information is within the platform. Fewer meetings free up stakeholder time and lets them focus on their assigned tasks.
More thoughtful planning
Instead of planning one portion at a time, savvy project managers use an end-to-end plan that provides a birds-eye view of the project. Putting each piece of your project under the microscope results in more meaningful projects versus just winging it.
An example of thoughtful planning would deal with automation. During the planning stage, the PM may pinpoint areas that can be automated. Eliminating tedious tasks saves everyone time and keeps the focus on the project’s main objective.
How project management brings marketing teams together
Food for thought: 92% of marketers believe that collaboration with their teammates could be improved.
This speaks to the importance of marketing project management software that encourages more proactive communication. This includes:
Commenting on tasks for the sake of providing updates and asking questions
Tagging other team members to bring them into the conversations ASAP
Being able to see conversations, questions, and answers throughout the entire project lifecycle
With tools like Teamwork and integrations like team chat, you can do all of the above seamlessly. Regardless of specific features, a project management platform facilitates all team collaboration in one place.
While emails, phone calls, and Zoom catch-ups can lead to resolutions, a project management solution speeds up the process and keeps communication consolidated.
What are the key project management skills for marketing teams?
To implement project management effectively, you need to:
Develop project management skills within your organization.
Assign specific management-related responsibilities to your team.
Some marketing teams are better served by sharing project management responsibilities among themselves rather than employing a designated project manager. This approach is cost-effective and provides an opportunity for more individual team members to level up.
If you do take on project management in-house, you’ll need an accessible project management tool and process that addresses your organization's specific needs.
An effective way to divide project management responsibilities among a team is to rotate leadership roles between projects. One team member leads on one project; another leads on the next.
Here are four of the most helpful project management skills:
Your project management platform can automate many organizational tasks. That said, skills like time management and task prioritization are critical to the project's success.
Team members and other stakeholders should feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback. If not, the whole process falls apart. Building a collaborative culture is a must. This means freely sharing information and updating progress during meetings, email, and through tools like Slack.
Identifying, researching, and resolving problems is crucial for running a project effectively. When left unresolved, even small issues can turn into big delays that cause projects to finish way past the original deadline and way over budget.
Project management best practice knowledge
Good, old-fashioned know-how is a must for managing projects successfully. Understanding existing project management methodologies and what makes a productive project also helps model your teammates’ behavior. How marketing project management software facilitates team workflows
Employing marketing project management software gives teams an effortless way to streamline their workflows and make more progress, faster. Some of a project management software’s most important features are customizable dashboards, pre-built templates, task automation, and real-time and asynchronous update abilities.
Teamwork is an intuitive project management software solution. It offers a robust array of features that help marketing teams plan, execute, communicate, store, problem-solve, and deliver projects on time and within budget. Take a tour of our product to learn more.
Marketing management tasks flow smoothly with software
A smoothly operated workflow keeps everyone involved productive and hitting milestones. With its visual boards and charts, project management software keeps progress flowing. Even if there are bottlenecks, they’re easier to spot and resolve before they become big issues. This keeps team members from getting held up trying to work out obstacles and avoids having the team members waiting on the deliverable further down the line.
Do you really need marketing project management software?
The short answer? Yes!
Sure, the idea of adding more tools to your marketing stack might be daunting.
But ensuring a seamless process, engaged teammates, and high-quality projects means having a dedicated tool to make it happen. There’s a reason why brands and agencies alike rely on marketing project management software.
The good news? A tool like Teamwork allows you to manage all of the moving pieces of your campaigns in one place.
You can do so without sacrificing your current marketing stack, too. For example, Teamwork has tons of baked-in integrations with many of your current tools like HubSpot, Slack, MS Teams, and Chatify.
Getting started with project management software now represents a long-term investment in your business. From better collaboration to fewer missed deadlines, having a defined process consolidated into a single tool is the best way to boost your efficiency ASAP.
Manage your marketing projects with Teamwork
Marketing projects need a framework to keep everyone informed, smooth the workflow process, identify bottlenecks, and set important milestones. By understanding the skills project managers must possess and investing in the right marketing project management software, companies can increase their marketing teams’ efficiency and the success of their project management initiatives.
Organizations that need a better way to encourage collaboration, automate time-consuming processes, and gain a better bird's-eye view of project progress should turn to Teamwork. Our easy-to-use system lets you automate your processes and centralize your collaboration, so you can dramatically increase your project efficiency. Sign up here to get started for free!