What is marketing work management?

Marketing work management platforms help marketing leaders and their teams structure their day-to-day work to meet their goals on deadline and within budget constraints, all while managing resources and facilitating communication and collaboration. Functions may include task assignments, time tracking, budgeting, team communication and file sharing, among others.

Before the pandemic, many marketers had already been accustomed to working on initiatives that involved collaboration with people outside their own offices since many brands operate across regions or around the globe. Additionally, marketing projects — whether they’re campaigns or websites or whitepapers or videos — regularly involve working with outside resources, whether it’s an agency or a contract designer or photographer. The COVID pandemic brought all of that to a fever pitch, as projects needed to be completed by a workforce largely isolated in their home offices.

All of that has heightened the need for marketing work management software, which documents and optimizes the processes, workflows and projects undertaken by digital marketers, often integrating with other systems like digital asset management (DAM) or creative suites.

For various reasons, marketing is an ideal use case for these tools. 

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Benefits of marketing work management tools

Marketing leaders face increasing and complex workload challenges. Enterprise marketing work management tools can offer significant benefits that help marketers get a handle on their work and better communicate with colleagues, including the following:

  • More efficient management of global operations. Marketing work management tools can help distributed employees coordinate with each other, allowing for accountability and consistency across markets. Some tools specifically support collaboration and approval processes geared toward marketing collateral.
  • Ease and transparency of reporting. Though it’s possible to use manually updated spreadsheets to manage projects, they don’t offer the native reports and dashboards provided by marketing work management tools. Many of these platforms include highly customized reporting capabilities that are widget- and wizard-driven to make reporting faster and easier. These reports are often shareable and can be exposed to executives at the VP- and C-levels, giving all stakeholders a view of progress across multiple initiatives.
  • Visualizations that aid in planning and resource allocation. Most marketing work management tools provide visualizations that allow marketers to see numerous projects at a glance, enabling them to adjust schedules or tasks as necessary to avoid overtaxing, or underutilizing, resources.
  • Improved coordination with clients and other stakeholders. Many marketing work management platforms allow “guest” access or other flexible permission structures that enable the sharing of some information while other aspects are hidden. This is especially helpful for marketers working at agencies or as outside consultants because they can document what they need to within the tool, without being concerned about appearing less than professional when the client logs in and sees their own view.
  • Digital asset management and file sharing. Most marketing work management tools allow users to upload files or link to them in cloud storage, serving as something of a DAM “lite.” Some are even integrated with a full-fledged DAM or creative suite, allowing creatives developing marketing assets to do their work, and obtain reviews and approvals, while also tracking the status of work for other stakeholders.
  • More seamless communication with development team and other groups. Digital marketing initiatives often include a technological aspect that calls for the talent of developers. When marketers and developers are in different functional departments, but utilize the same marketing work management tool, their work together runs with fewer hitches. The same applies for any other department with which marketing interfaces.
  • Easier tracking of billable hours and human resource management. Many marketing work management platforms track the time that has elapsed while an assignee works on a task, enabling agency account managers to easily tally up the number of hours spent on a particular client’s projects. This feature can also help managers keep an eye on employee productivity levels.
  • Clear accountability that keeps tasks from slipping through the cracks. The heart of most marketing work management tools is some version of a to-do list where discrete tasks can be assigned to the person or group that is responsible for accomplishing it. By using dependencies functionality and tracking these tasks, managers can eliminate hold-ups and miscommunication about what is expected.
  • Automation of repetitive tasks. Many marketing work management platforms include the creation of templates or reproducible sets of tasks that can help avoid tedious repetition. If an agency has an onboarding process, or a regular check-up process, that it follows with each one of its clients, a manager can create the structure for that process once and re-use it every time the use case arises. Additionally, some tools include recurring tasks that can be used to document processes that occur at regular intervals.

Dig deeper: Questions to ask marketing work management vendors

Relationship with agile marketing

To keep up with the pace of change, some marketing organizations have adopted agile marketing, a philosophy and workflow pioneered by software developers. Though it’s been around for a while now, the pivot to agile marketing workflows appears to be accelerating.

The practice of agile marketing doesn’t require any particular software, but marketers adopting this methodology are likely looking for tools that mesh with their new philosophy. Many marketing work management vendors offer reports and interfaces geared for agile, such as Kanban boards and a place to input backlog items. 

agile marketing workflow

Catch up on the Agile Marketing Navigator series!

  • Aligning on a Guidepoint
  • How to hold a successful Brainstorm session
  • How to determine the minimally viable launch
  • Creating a blueprint
  • Building a Marketing Backlog
  • The Daily Huddle
  • Cycle Planning
  • The Team Showcase
  • Team Improvement
  • Customer Stories
  • Story Points
  • Work in Progress Limits
  • Cycle Time
  • Waste Removal
  • Partnering
  • Teams
  • Marketing Owner
  • Agile Champion
  • Supporting cast
  • Practice Lead
  • Stakeholders

Complexity is driving the adoption of these solutions

The complexity of marketing work itself has grown exponentially. What used to be a face-to-face office meeting is now more likely to be multiple conversations over email, chat tools and video calls. A recent Salesforce State of Marketing survey found that marketers have adopted an average of four collaboration technologies to facilitate digital-first communication and unify their global marketing teams. Even so, it’s become increasingly difficult for marketing managers to track the status of various tasks and campaigns: 69% of marketers say it’s harder to collaborate now than before the pandemic, according to the State of Marketing survey.

Such factors have heightened the need for marketing work management platforms, which document and optimize the processes, workflows and projects undertaken by digital marketers, often integrating with other systems like digital asset management (DAM) or creative suites. In an article called “The ‘how’ of transformation,” McKinsey analysts noted that “70% of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals.” One part of the remedy, they concluded, is the adoption of more sophisticated work management tools.

Interest in marketing work management solutions is also being spurred by a desire to keep digital transformation initiatives on track by providing transparency and accountability, and helping marketing managers, as well as C-level executives, keep work on track whether employees are at home or in the office.

Dig deeper: Does your organization need marketing work management?

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