Marketers are always searching for ways to maximize results from their efforts. This often leads us to look for “hacks” or shortcuts to help our organizations grow more quickly.
But, what if the most powerful thing we can do is to get organized? Could something so simple actually be more effective than the latest productivity trends we read about?
That’s exactly what this recent study shows.
According to a survey of more than 2,000 marketing teams, marketers who said they were organized were 397% more likely to report being successful.
So, the numbers say organization is powerful.
But, how can digital marketers put processes into place that keep them on track, without getting overburdened with the kind of bureaucratic overreach that kills great work?
It all starts with putting some simple planning and organizational practices into place.
What’s the Real Cost of Being Disorganized?
The damaging effects of disorganization start at the top and work their way down.
It precedes poor communication and collaboration. That leads to wasted time and effort, which translates into missed deadlines, underperforming campaigns and blown budgets.
Collectively, this all puts your job in jeopardy. If you can’t work effectively and under-budget, you might find yourself first to go when budget cuts come around.
So, tilt the odds in your favor.
Success in digital marketing takes a combination of sound strategy, expert execution and smart measurement, but everything starts with your ability to keep organized from start to finish. It’s the one thing you can do that acts as a multiplier on the effectiveness of every other part of your marketing operations.
Start With the Right Tools for the Job
A plumber wouldn’t fix pipes with a table saw. Nor would a mechanic fix a radiator with a garden hose (though if they could, that would be impressive).
So, why would marketers use tools for jobs they weren’t designed to complete?
If you have the choice, using the right tool for your work usually gets better results than using whatever you have lying around.
However, marketers often depend on spreadsheets and generalist office productivity software for everything. Your company probably already uses them, and you don’t have to secure budget or get permission to use them.
Instead, put together tools to keep your digital marketers organized and collaborative:
Marketing software suite built to get teams organized
Collaborating on notes and documentation
Organizing and tracking your links’ performance (+ proving your work’s value)
Tracking your time so you can better estimate how long work will take (for free)
Collaborating with your team while minimizing messy email threads
While you won’t be able to get rid of spreadsheets for everything, do your best to use them for tasks that spreadsheets were actually built to execute (like data analysis) instead of things they don’t do as well (like building digital marketing calendars).
Next, Put Some Simple Planning Processes Into Place
Proper planning plays a massive role in getting organized.
In fact, research shows that marketing teams that proactively plan projects and campaigns are 356 percent more likely to report being successful.
So, use the tools listed above to help you execute all your digital marketing projects and campaigns with this basic process for planning work and projects.
Get Your Strategy Documented
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of documenting your marketing strategy before. There’s a good reason for that, too; marketers who take the time to do it are 313 percent more likely to report being successful.
This doesn’t necessarily need to be as difficult as it sounds. While in-depth strategic planning can be a deeply involved matter, taking an agile approach can help you get started putting together an effective strategy without a large investment.
Some resources to check out here include:
– 30 Marketing Plan Samples and 7 Free Templates to Build Your Strategy (CoSchedule)
– 7 Steps to Documenting Your Content Marketing Strategy (TopRank Marketing)
– How to Create a Marketing Plan With These Free Templates (Hubspot)
That should be plenty to get you up and running with documenting your strategy.
Kick Off Projects With a Creative Brief
Start every project with a clear and documented reason for why it needs to exist and what results you hope it will produce. This is a document that includes the following:
Project SummaryTwo or three sentences describing the project
Target PersonaIf this project involves producing a piece of prospect-facing content, who is it targeted toward?
How does this project solve a problem for your team or potential customers?
Goals & KPISWhat should this project achieve, and which metrics will you select to prove performance?
TeamWho needs to be involved?
TimelineWhen will key steps in the project need to be completed, and when will it be shipped, launched, or published?
What this document looks like is less important than its substance, but there are lots of templates available with a quick Google search (try “creative brief templates” or “project brief templates”).
Give Every Project and Task a Deadline
Then, break down that project into a list of tasks. Give each of those tasks a deadline based on each team member’s best estimate of how long each task will take.
At first, this might feel like a guess for the team.
And that’s okay. Do your best to get as close as you can, and keep in close communication as work progresses if you think timelines will need to be adjusted.
One way to get in front of this is to add a day or two to each estimate. This will help provide some buffer in case something comes up, so you can still finish your project on time, even if something comes up or individual tasks are slightly delayed.
To make estimates more accurate over time, have your team track and log their time spent on tasks. By tracking your time in a spreadsheet with a time-tracking tool like Toggl, you’ll be able to generate an average amount of time spent per task that you can use to more accurately estimate work.
Map Those Deadlines to Checklist-Based Workflows
Once you have a list of tasks and deadlines assigned for each one, map them to a checklist.
Following a checklist for each project makes it easy to deliver work that is consistent, without missing steps or ambiguity around who is doing what, and when they’re expected to get it done.
Here’s how to do this:
– Open up an app capable of building checklists. CoSchedule, Evernote, Google Tasks, most popular project management platforms or whatever you’ve got.
– List each task in order. Start from planning and go all the way through measurement.
– Next to each task, note its deadline. Add a little bit of extra time between tasks as a contingency plan against unexpected setbacks.
In the next step, you can start dropping all those deadlines into one place where the entire team can see them.
Put All Your Projects on a Digital Marketing Calendar
Once you have your projects planned, place them on a dedicated marketing calendar. This helps improve transparency and collaboration by providing global visibility to the team.
This helps everyone on the team see:
– Which work they’re responsible for. Seeing this in one place is helpful.
– When that work needs to be done. Be diligent about deadline enforcement.
– What their other team members are also working on. This helps the entire team feel plugged into what’s happening.
Make Regular Standup Meetings a Habit
Agile marketers will be familiar with regular or even daily standup meetings. These are meetings held each morning.
Everyone on the team shares:
– What they did yesterday. A quick summary will do.
– What they’ll do today. Highlight top priorities.
– What’s blocking them from completing their work. If there’s anything preventing work from being completed, bring it up so the issue can be resolved.
Keep the meeting short (15 minutes or less). If members of the team have deeper items to discuss based on what’s shared during the standup, have them talk about it afterward.
Measure Your Results
Shifting marketing operations from chaos to something resembling order yields plenty of benefits, from feeling less stressed, to getting more work done in less time.
But, if those benefits don’t translate directly into measurable performance increases, proving its value beyond general quality-of-life improvements will be difficult.
So, what’s the answer?
When executing your digital marketing strategy, track every link possible. Whether you’re creating email marketing newsletters, social media content, guest blog posts or other digital content, a secure and robust link management platform can make it infinitely easier to prove what’s working and connect traffic and engagement with profitable action.
Do the following:
– Create trackable links for projects and campaigns with Bitly. It’s easy, and you can learn more about how to do that here.
– Use Bitly in conjunction with Google Analytics. This makes it easy to track the performance of your links (from email, content, social, etc.).
– Configure Google Analytics to track your most important metrics and KPIs. You’re probably already using Google Analytics, but there’s a chance your account could use some tweaks or optimizations.
There are lots of guides on how to get the most from Google Analytics, like this one from Jeffalytics that smartly breaks things down into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced steps. Get this done and you’ll be on your way toward proving your efforts are paying off.
Organization + Proactive Planning = Digital Marketing Success
You now have everything you need to do the following:
– Organize your work and processes. This provides a solid foundation for productivity.
– Plan your projects and campaigns. Remember, teams that do this are 356 percent more likely to report successful marketing.
– Prove your work is driving better digital marketing results. Bitly and Google Analytics can go a long way toward quantifying the value of your work and showing that worth company-wide.
Best of all, you can do it all without drowning in red tape. All you need are some simple processes, a small amount of patience to spend time planning and the will to do better work.
Ben Sailer is the Content Marketing Lead at CoSchedule. His specialties include content strategy, SEO, email marketing, project management, and more. When he’s not hard at work helping people do better marketing, he can be found cross-country skiing with his wife and their dog.