Mastering your workflow: A guide for marketers
The bigger your marketing team grows, the harder it is to move quickly. Small inefficiencies pile up to create big headaches as you scale—you can’t rely on email and spreadsheets to keep track of project workflows when you have ever-multiplying drafts, approvals, assets, and analytics to keep in place. That’s where process—specifically, your workflow process—comes into play.
Investing in your workflow processes might not sound exciting, but strong workflows are the foundation of good marketing. Marketers typically have multiple types of stakeholders on any given project or campaign, ranging from designers to engineers to analysts to project managers. Your work is often public, meaning that a missed step can have outsized consequences. And modern marketing teams are under increasing pressure to move quickly—but nothing gets done without clear next steps.
If you think your workflow processes might be holding your team back, this guide will help you diagnose the problem, and learn how to build better solutions.
Solving the pain points of project workflow
If your team is struggling to get things done, legacy technology and processes might be the culprit. In particular, marketing teams generally suffer from the following pain points:
1. Siloed, disconnected processes.
You may feel pressure to move fast and innovate quickly, but struggle to keep all your team’s information organized and connected. Creating uniform workflow processes will keep your team, colleagues, and counter-parts aligned and moving in the right direction.
2. Inconsistent, inaccurate data.
As teams grow, teams form their own bespoke workflow processes—and their own ways of tracking and storing data. This makes it impossible to get an accurate view of where your team stands, let alone to report on success.
3. A lack of developer resources.
No single tool can accommodate every workflow need—so you may need to customize, or build entire systems, on your own. That means you need your dev team to prioritize your project...and marketing teams aren’t always first in line. As a result, you may end up shoehorning a solution or changing your processes altogether.
Sound familiar? It’s probably time to invest in your workflows.
What is a workflow process?
Simply put: a workflow process is how you get things done.
Within an organization, workflow processes are used by every line of business to meet milestones, produce deliverables, track metrics, hold teams accountable, and accomplish business outcomes. Without them, work would meander. Errors would accumulate. Ultimately, nothing would get done.
Workflow processes are so integral to work that it can be easy not to think about them at all. But if project workflows aren’t optimized—or if they’re handicapped by antiquated, subpar systems—business output, and everyone involved with the project, suffers.
Business workflows specific to marketing teams
Almost every marketing process involves tasks that require human creativity and intelligence...and tasks that you’d rather automate. Sorting those out, finding the right technology to do your busy work, and tracking it all through the lifecycle of a campaign—while collecting useful metrics—is smart project workflow.
Workflow process and campaign management
In larger organizations, it’s common to find big gaps between your tops-down marketing strategy and the work actually being done. Within a single campaign, for example, your social media team might be working with a creative brief that’s wildly out of sync with what the email marketing team is doing.
You can mitigate this by connecting every marketing stakeholder inside the same workflow process, which is possible if you’re using a relational database like Airtable. Information only has to be entered one time, and can be used and visualized in many different ways so that everyone’s working from the same set of underlying data. Messaging stays cohesive across all channels and every team. Even global campaign plans can be connected to the on-the-ground plans of individual teams. A strong process will give your team flexibility, without creating information gaps or duplicate content.
Workflow process and content management
Marketing organizations can inadvertently create a giant black box of content. No one knows what’s in there, because it’s poorly organized and hard to find items. Marketing stakeholders have trouble identifying gaps in content across marketing channels. They end up doing duplicate work and creating extraneous deliverables that can’t be fully leveraged across the marketing organization.
Airtable tracks all content in one database, with capability to upload all kinds of attachments, from text files to images to video. Content can be viewed in a list, sorted and filtered like in a traditional spreadsheet, or displayed in a visual gallery or kanban view. You can also attach metadata such as product line assignments and funnel stage to build a comprehensive, searchable library of content over time.
Workflow process and content performance
Most marketing teams spend a fair amount of time on reporting—tracking the success of campaigns and giving visibility to leadership. And because they’re using technology platforms and systems that aren’t interconnected, marketing teams also spend a lot of time duplicating work across different tools.
Airtable keeps everything in one place. Dashboards and Gantt charts auto-update. At any time, leadership can gain visibility into metrics and campaign performance. And Airtable’s API allows teams to publish content directly from the platform and pull performance metrics back in, so that Airtable can serve as a hub of productivity for the entire marketing team.
How to use Airtable to build better marketing project workflows
To work in an agile and efficient way, you need workflow tools that are flexible and robust, designed to accommodate all kinds of projects and workstyles.
Keep in mind that if you’re using Airtable, you can customize the platform to fit your team’s workflows, and view your data in the clearest possible way:
Grid view mimics a traditional spreadsheet view, with rows and columns that can be sorted and filtered, plus the power of a database
Gallery view is highly visual, for creative people who function best when records are arranged as words and pictures
Calendar view breaks down tasks and deadlines by date, so you can easily see who is due to deliver what, when
Kanban view gives you the flexibility to organize records by priority, ownership, or pipeline stage, so you get an instant view of what’s most important
Every view references a single one source of truth, so all internal stakeholders and external partners are on the same page. To get started, you’’ll first define your workflow.
Define your project workflow
1. Sketch out your marketing campaign workflow on paper, noting who does what at each stage of the process.
2. Next, get buy-in from your team and any decision-makers to solidify this process.
3. Make the sure tools you have—or the ones you plan to enlist—can handle the workflow exactly as you’ve laid it out.
Build your workflow into a template
Airtable’s templates are customizable, so you can use them as a base for your marketing campaign workflow planning. Here are just a few examples of how Airtable’s marketing templates can get you started.
Track a marketing campaign
The marketing campaign tracking template gives you a holistic view of all your marketing efforts. This template is flexible enough to be used by small companies and giant marketing teams, and allows you to track multiple components of your marketing, from digital advertising to email marketing.
Using sort features, you can check progress on various tasks within your pipeline as well as across different marketing platforms. You can use Airtable’s “rollup fields” for an easy summary of campaign success.
Create a content calendar
Content production is deadline-oriented and time-intensive, and it never seems to stop. Multiple team members and external partners collaborate on the production process, and there has to be a degree of flexibility in that process to allow for new types of content and other contingencies. Marketing teams tasked with producing abundant content on a tight schedule rely upon their content calendar to stay on track.
The Airtable content calendar template is useful for any team running a digital publication, managing in-house content marketing, tracking frequent social media posts, or trying to stay on top of a blog with multiple authors.
In calendar view, you can see looming deadlines. In kanban view, see the status of all ideas in the pipeline. You can also manage freelancer timesheets and your social schedule, all in one place.
Get started with custom workflows
Start with a template for your project workflow base. Then customize it to your team’s exact needs. Show users the different ways they can view data. And let your workflow process evolve as you go. It’s all possible with Airtable.