The ultimate guide to creating a successful marketing workflow
How do marketing teams stay organized and manage a range of different activities under one umbrella? With email, content, public relations, advertising campaigns, demand generation, and everything in between–how do you create a marketing workflow that can handle the minutiae of every project?
It can be a headache trying to remember what needs to happen and when–especially when you get into the small details or the overarching goals of each activity. Imagine streamlining all your efforts and keeping everyone on the same page throughout all projects.
This is why creating a marketing workflow for your organization is so critical.
What is a marketing workflow?
A marketing workflow is an organizational tool you create that consists of a simplified series of steps to build a marketing campaign or dedicated project.
A successful marketing workflow will cover both the overall aims of your marketing efforts, but also drill down into the separate activities that build up the bigger picture. This could include things like your email marketing campaigns or your content schedule.
Using a workflow (rather than applying the very popular but very ineffective scattergun approach) allows you to set an order to operations, understand what needs to be done and when. It also lets you measure the results of each campaign.
A well-planned marketing workflow doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, you can use a simple checklist or a bulleted list of steps to get started.
If your team regularly overlaps on tasks, struggles to know what happens next, and loses documents and assets, a marketing workflow is a must-have. You’re already well aware of the challenges marketing teams face, including hefty client demands, breakdowns in communication, and confusion over multiple project calendars.
Marketing workflows help you eliminate most of these challenges.
Why you need marketing workflows
Aside from tackling the annoying small challenges organizations face, marketing workflows are baked with another layer of benefits. For starters, they can help with:
Keeping everyone in the loop. Workflows ensure all team members and stakeholders see the project’s status and what's needed to move forward.
Creating your best work. Through consistent tasks, you ensure every single asset doesn't get overlooked.
Planning your time better. Meet deadlines by knowing every task that needs to happen and when it needs to happen.
Avoiding duplicate work. Enough time-wasting by searching for information and assets in thousands-deep email threads.
Increasing the success of your campaigns. Identify opportunities and consistently monitor the results.
How to Define Your Marketing Workflow
Your marketing workflow needs to be essentially split into two layers:
Your overall marketing efforts
Each individual marketing workflow
The first maps out all the activities you plan to undertake–whether it's for your own brand or clients. But the second drills down into the details of each smaller aspect of your workflow that makes up your entire effort.
For example, your overall goals might include PPC campaigns, Instagram ads, a content strategy, and email sequences. Each one of these tasks will then be broken down into another workflow, so you’ll have an individual workflow for PPC, one for Instagram, one for content, and so on.
How to map out a marketing workflow for all your goals
To map all your marketing efforts, here are a few tips to make sure everything is included and tracked:
Identify the activities you want to run. List out the different types of marketing tasks you want to do.
List out who completes each task and define responsibilities. Noting down your resources and team members will help you determine who needs to be involved in each project. For example, you might need designers and SEO specialists involved in your content efforts.
Determine how long each task takes. Ask your team what timeframes they’re looking at for each part of a marketing campaign. Track the time on past efforts to get real-life data rather than estimates. Pull each task into a spreadsheet and add the time there so you quickly map out a timeline for each project.
Implement a responsible party and a project management tool like Teamwork. Bring a manager on board to keep a track of your marketing efforts and to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Teamwork lets you keep track of projects, assign tasks to team members, and keep all relevant assets and communication in one place.
How to create an effective marketing workflow
Once you’ve got the basics covered for your overall marketing efforts, it’s time to hone in on creating different workflows for each activity.
For the purpose of this, we’ll use email marketing as an example.
Step 1: Understand the objectives and scope
Once a client requests the work, it’s time to lay out the objectives of the campaign and the scope. At this point, you need to get a good understanding of:
The scope of the work and what’s involved
Goals and objectives of the project
Deliverables that are needed
The timeframe the client has in mind
Send out a client brief to gather this information, which will form the basis of your marketing workflow.
For example, an email marketing campaign might look something like this:
Scope of the work: Create two welcome email sequences that speak to different audience segments.
Client expectations: Create two 6-part email series that turn cold subscribers into buyers.
Goals and objectives: Increase conversions by 30% each month on new product lines.
Deliverables that are needed: Create two 6-part email sequences, including market research, email copy, subject lines, and accompanying graphics.
Timeframe: Needed in two months.
Step 2: Plan your efforts and assign tasks
Next, breakdown everything that’s involved in the project, including initial meetings, drafts, and activities that lead up to the finished product. This is also where you’ll assign a team member to each task and map out when it should take place in the project timeline.
Again, using the email marketing example, it might look something like this:
Market research carried out by data analysts
Writers to create an outline of the content
Editors to fine-tune the copy
Designers to create accompanying assets and layout emails
Analysts to track and measure email campaign results
Step 3: Create and execute activities
When you’ve mapped out what needs to happen in chronological order, you can get started on creating everything you need to execute the campaign.
This is where the magic happens.
It’s when the writers, designers, social media strategists, videographers, and all other creative parties really come into their element and bring the project to life. Keep the marketing workflow streamlined by providing a central place for everyone to upload their completed assets.
This makes life easier for your team members to easily access important documents and stay on track. With Teamwork, it's a cinch to add critical assets directly to the task details to truly empower your team to work togther.
Step 4: Review and approve
The approval process is a key element of creating a marketing workflow. As well as an internal approval process, where assets are checked by other team members, there should be an external approval process that allows clients to have their say too.
Again, it helps to have all assets stored in a central place so they’re easy to find and all edits are made to the same final documents. The approval process should also trigger invoices and the final stages of the project.
Examples of marketing workflows
We’ve given a few examples of marketing workflows above, but there are many possibilities. It really depends on what kind of results your clients want, who they’re targeting, and the platforms they’re already seeing success on.
As a general rule, here are the main marketing workflows you can expect to come across:
Social Media Workflow: Develop campaign ideas, create a posting schedule, write the content, create accompanying graphics, approve messages, schedule posts, and monitor results.
SEO Workflow: Dig into website analytics, optimize on- and off-page SEO, update content, perform keyword research, evaluate results, and monitor algorithm changes.
Paid Search Workflow: Pinpoint audience research, budget, identify keywords, write copy, create landing pages, design graphics, conduct tests and experiments, and track results.
Email Marketing Workflow: Segment audiences, outline content, write content, create accompanying graphics, and track results.
Best practices for marketing workflow management
Creating and managing a marketing workflow can be a challenge. But if you know how to get it right, you’ll have lots of success.
Here are some tips to making sure your workflow is the best it can be.
Keep your workflow fluid
Workflows should align with the needs of a project. There’s no point trying to cram a square brick into a round hole.
Instead, learn from your past workflows to identify what works and what doesn’t, and cherry-pick the aspects you think each individual project needs.
Don’t be afraid to switch up your workflow every now and then too; what used to work might not be as effective anymore.
Get everyone involved
The most successful workflows happen when everyone is invested in making them work. Make sure every team member understands their role in the process and what’s expected of them and when (this includes clients and other stakeholders too).
Keep it simple
Complicated workflows that twist and turn rarely get the job done. Instead, they’re confusing and can lead to duplicate assets and miscommunication.
Keep your workflows as simple as possible by outlining the major steps and assigning team members and resources to those steps. It really can be that simple.
Get started on your marketing workflow
If you don’t already have a marketing workflow in place, chances are you’re struggling to finish projects on time and are having difficulty meeting client expectations.
Avoid these challenges by putting a simple workflow in place for each of your clients’ marketing activities, whether it’s email marketing campaigns, PPC ads, social media scheduling, or content marketing.