Why are marketing workflows such a hot topic at the moment? The question can be answered just by looking at some of the challenges facing marketing teams all over the world, according to Wipster marketing and partnerships manager Andre van den Assum, who joined Simple’s chief marketing officer Sara Gonzalez in a recent webinar: Turns Out, Workflow Matters: How Leading Brands Do More With Less.
There are three main trends impacting marketing teams that are putting pressure on the workflows they may have employed in the past:
- More channels to market
- More content is required to feed these channels
- More tools are required to manage all these processes.
“We’ve fought so hard as marketers to touch every channel,” Simple’s Sara Gonzalez says. “When do we step back and look at our teams and how we’re working?”
“Old workflows just aren’t going to cut it,” van den Assum says. “A lot of these tools solve niche problems that marketers are having. But there are so many of them. How are they all working together?”
What is a marketing workflow?
So what is a marketing workflow? It’s a sequence of interdependent tasks or actions that together define a repeatable marketing process.
Marketing workflows can be created for any part of the broader marketing team to define a process involving many different actions, personnel, teams or departments. They are of most value when a process is repeated many times, making efficiency a key concern.
Watch our on-demand webinar about how leading brands are getting more done by improving their marketing workflows.
Or just read on to find out the 13 ways you can use technology to improve your marketing workflows.
1. House your marketing workflows in the cloud
Managing your marketing workflows in a marketing workflow tool in the cloud will ensure always-on access to all the jobs in your pipeline for everyone involved in the process, as well as ensuring everyone is looking at the most up-to-date version.
This facilitates better collaboration across geographic borders and timezones, and between siloed teams.
Emailed versions are quickly out of date, and require valuable time to look back and capture everyone’s feedback. And physical versions are not an option if all team members are not co-located, someone is out of the office, and speed is important.
2. Document, streamline and automate your workflows
Documenting your workflows in a workflow tool, removing unnecessary tasks, taking out the ‘busywork’ and consolidating each step around meaty actions will streamline and speed up your marketing processes. Consolidating tasks has the dual effect of focusing minds on significant steps and reducing the time wasted when people switch between tasks.
Automating your workflows with a tool that triggers the next step once the previous one is complete will speed them up again.
3. Make your workflows visible
Standardising your workflows in a central location or tool makes them visible to the entire team – and when everyone can see the status of all your jobs, there’s a massive time-saving that can result. Suddenly there’s no need to run around chasing people to find out where they’re up to: just look and see.
Better visibility into all work in progress alone generated a 12% time-saving for one of Simple’s customers, Children’s Hospital Foundation.
4. Intelligent briefing
Many marketing workflows will begin with an ideation process involving a brief. Briefing intelligently and supplying all the information and insights required for the job at hand is an essential part of an efficient marketing workflow, Simple’s Sara Gonzalez says. If your marketing workflow tool can capture briefs, help people fill them out, and surface audience data or the most effective insights to improve your briefs, so much the better!
Briefing right the first time saves teams hours spent following up missing information by email or message, and it saves creative teams masses of time that would have otherwise been wasted on misaligned work. Agencies complain on average that 30% of their resources are wasted due to poor communications from the client! And Simple’s research shows that one in two marketers struggle with briefing.
5. Identify the bottlenecks
When you have documented your marketing workflows, analyse how they’re working to see where the bottlenecks are. If one manager never has time to review the work that needs reviewing, look for alternatives. Replacing or removing that person from your workflow is one option, reducing the number of workflows in which they’re involved is another. For some teams, a regular creative review committee could be the way to go, while batching all your approvals in one or two sittings is another option. If your workflow tool offers data on where the bottlenecks are, that will make this process easy.
6. Triage your requests to prioritise the most important
Documented workflows on a centralised, cloud-based platform mean it’s easy to triage or prioritise jobs based on the most important, the most urgent, or the jobs with the biggest potential benefit.
Making this process transparent will focus your team’s limited resources on the most important tasks and reduce the random time-wasters that prevent so many marketers from being as effective as they could be. Marketing workflow tools with a centralised planning calendar or backlog view of work make this easy to manage.
7. Allocate your resources efficiently
More efficient allocation of resources comes from being able to see what needs to be done, who’s responsible for getting it done, and identifying and solving any problems that may arise in a particular workflow.
In particular, if your jobs are all centralised in a particular workflow tool, you can see if someone is away and their work can be handed off to a team member without the panic of trying to get access to their inbox or hard drive to retrieve all the work that’s been done on the project so far. Simple’s customer, Sportsbet, uses Simple to prioritise, allocate and collaborate on more than 400 pieces of marketing content a month!
8. Improve collaboration
Encouraging team members from separate departments to collaborate on the same workflow tool breaks down the communications barriers and improves the speed and efficiency of collaboration.
Leave email collaboration behind forever. Annotate and compare old and new versions, as well as reviewing everyone else’s comments — all in one central location.
9. Get multiple streams of work happening at once
Once your team gets used to allocating your resources effectively, and everyone is confident with their role in the process, team members will be more confident about starting new projects before the previous one is complete because they know it’s moved to the next stage in the workflow.
That will make your team more agile before you’ve even thought about adopting an agile process.
10. Play well with other tools
Your marketing workflow tool should be able to integrate easily into your marketing technology stack and work with other platforms by handing off content or data.
11. Pick up the pace
Once your documented workflow is working well, and you’ve taken out the unnecessary steps, removed the bottlenecks, and you’re managing work more efficiently across multiple streams at once, you can pick up the pace.
For one of Wipster’s customers, Shimano, the time it took to get feedback on videos decreased from three months to a week – a 10x faster turnaround.
12. Pump up the volume
When everyone is clear on their roles and your workflows are humming, you’ll be able to increase the volume of work you process.
Another of Wipster’s customers, Sephora Studios, reported a 40x increase in the number of videos it was able to create over a 4-year period after overhauling its workflows!
13. Test, learn and optimise to create better-performing content
If you build a test, learn and iterate loop into your marketing workflow, not only will you be able to create more content, faster, you’ll be able to ensure it’s better-performing content by improving it along the way. But you’ll need access to the data on which you’ll act, and creative resources to fine-tune the work quickly.
Xero uses Facebook to test creative with particular audiences, and once a video initiative has been launched, the creative team has data within 2 hours to enable it to make any necessary changes to optimise performance.
Bonus: 14. Build a competitive advantage
Companies such as Ford, Toyota and McDonald’s all built a competitive advantage from revolutionary workflows, and your marketing team can too.
For Sephora, workflows have been critical to the development of an audience of 30 million across all channels that is not easy for competitors to copy.
So use technology to fix your marketing workflows and create a competitive advantage that it’s hard for your rivals to replicate!
Simple’s marketing resource management system helps enterprise marketing teams to plan, review and optimise their marketing activity and manage workflows to create exceptional customer experiences across all channels. Book a Demo to see how it works.
Wipster is a video review, collaboration and publishing platform for brands. Find out more.