Inbound Marketing Success: Why Strong Project Management Skills Should Drive your Next Campaign

An Experienced Project Manager is your Guide / Troubleshooter / Friend / Taskmaster

I can just about guarantee that any successful project manager has been on a journey with many twists and turns in the road to get them to the place where they are today… and that’s a good thing, especially in today’s digital marketing environment.

It is becoming increasingly necessary for those leading your marketing strategy and the project manager making sure it all comes together (quite often the same person) to be a hybrid-generalist marketing specialist, and when you start to look closely at what today’s successful marketing campaigns entail, it’s not hard to see why.

Here’s just a quick list of factors that need to be considered for most digital marketing campaigns:

  • Technical website audit and strategy
    • Analytics in place and working correctly
    • Marketing pixels in place
    • Goal tracking
    • Marketing automation
    • Security
  • Funnel optimisation
    • Buyer/Customer persona creation and updates
    • Identification of content requirements for each persona at each stage of the funnel
    • Gap analysis
  • Content audit and strategy
    • Keyword research
    • Content creation
    • Backlink procurement
    • Publishing calendar
  • Social media strategy
    • Profile optimisation
    • Social post frequency and scheduling
  • Image/video/audio creation
    • Sourcing stock images
    • Creation of new images
    • Video creation
    • Audio creation
    • Image/Video/Audio file upload and management

…and everything else

It is critically important that your Marketing Strategist and Project Manager have a competent understanding of each of those elements so that they can effectively strategise and manage every moving piece. They don’t need to be an expert in every area, but they need to know the ins and outs of each process so they guide and work closely with the people doing those tasks (the ones who are the experts).

Over the last couple of years, there has been a shift from Content Marketers pushing out as much content as possible as part of a digital campaign towards creating high quality content that achieves a purpose. No longer is it just about getting ‘found’ by google, you need to consider how to best reach multiple audiences and further specific actions within your sales funnel. The PM needs to manage outsourced experts (some may even be overseas, in multiple time zones), multi-media requirements (image, video, podcasts), tool integration, even things like drone photography flyby’s can come into play in order to achieve the desired marketing results.

Managing a successful project is a process… one that involves many moving parts and lots of integrated pieces.

You need to make sure that the person managing your marketing campaigns has a grasp of the full picture and can successfully guide everyone to the goal line.

Questions that you need to ask your Digital Marketing Project Manager

Q. What PM Methodology do you use?

There are lots of different project management methodologies you can use to run a marketing project… any are better than none, but some can be better than others depending on your exact circumstances, so make sure that your Marketing Specialist / PM is sufficiently trained in the one you’re using before you begin.

In very broad terms, methodologies can be broken down into either ‘Traditional’ or ‘Agile’ where the basic difference is Traditional forms (e.g. Prince2, PMBoK) define what you want the end product to look like and you then follow a specific process to complete each element. Agile (e.g. Scrum, Kanban) involves more of an iterative approach where you start creating the bits of the project that you can sufficiently define now, before everything else is 100% locked in.

Both forms can work very well… and both forms can work very badly. Your team, project managers, stakeholders, resources, time – are all critical factors in a marketing projects success. Using one methodology over another won’t necessarily impact on that success, but ignoring standard methodologies altogether certainly will.

As a consultant, choosing the PM methodology being used isn’t something I rely on having input on – whatever the organisation is currently using for their PM methodology is nearly always the right choice to make (business acceptance and buy-in, stakeholder familiarity etc. are significant issues). I’ve used most of the major ones in my time, but if I do get the option – I usually choose Scrum for most marketing projects, I feel it gives the ideal blend of structure vs flexibility for most of the challenges we come across.

Q. What is your Project Governance structure?

Project Governance means everything from how and what you document, to approval and review processes, to communication with your team and stakeholders. Having some formal structure around project governance becomes a necessity as the team / project / organisation size increases.

At the very minimum, the PM should have a plan (whether documented or not) on how to deal with:

  • Communication
    • internally within the project team
    • to stakeholders
    • to vendors
    • outbound to customers
  • Approvals process
    • Who signs off on creatives?
    • How do marketing messages get published?
    • How do new tools get evaluated/selected/introduced?
    • How is new content reviewed/approved?
    • Who signs off on changes to budget? or scope?
  • Dealing with project issues and risks
  • Requests for additional budget or resources
  • How scope changes and/or updates to existing creatives/messages are managed
  • Analysis/Review of completed work and incorporating lessons learned

A good PM is going to have all these areas under control and should be able to both show you examples and talk you through how they see project governance working. These need to fit in with any existing company and stakeholder governance requirements (usually dictated by the PM methodology used by the company) as well as cover any additional requirements of your marketing project (e.g. content publishing processes).

Q. What Project Tools do you use and can we access them?

If you’re hiring a PM from a digital inbound marketing agency, their question right back at you should be ‘Well… what tools do you already use, and can we have access to them?’.

Having an effective technology stack that assists with managing the project and the project team, and feeds into your existing business technology and marketing technology stacks go a long way towards the smooth running of your project. Ideally, each tool should be integrated within your company and part of your everyday workflow.

Any PM who has been around for awhile would have used most of the PM-centric tools out there, and if they haven’t used the specific one you’re already using, then the concepts and process will still be mostly the same, making any learning curve quite easy to pick up. If you don’t already have sufficient tools in place, then your PM can help select and integrate those you need to fill in gaps. In most cases, there are ‘best of breed’ tools, as well as cheap (or even free) alternatives.

Here are the main categories you’ll want to consider:

  • How do we communicate the current schedule and tasks?
  • How do we share documentation and ideas between team members?
  • How do we track, measure and analyse our progress?
  • How do we record issues and risks and make sure they are communicated/monitored?
  • How do we all communicate when we aren’t all in the same room – or even the same city/country?

Change management and user uptake is a very real concern, so try to use what’s already chosen by your organisation if possible.

Note: These tool categories cover off most Project Management aspects, but you might want to use this time to talk about your entire marketing technology stack… ask questions like ‘How do we track visitors? How do we identify and evaluate leads? How do we analyse the success of our campaigns? How do we create images, videos, audio? How do we automate our marketing? Can we segment and retarget our customers?…

How can an Inbound Marketing Agency help you?

That’s a lot to take in. Marketing project manager’s have a lot of balls in the air at once and it’s important that the person leading you knows how to juggle!

Most Agencies have experienced Project Managers who can help navigate all these issues for you. They’ve been there before and experienced it with multiple businesses, in many different industries and can help elevate your team to reach their new goals. They know how to find the right people at the right time to get those difficult tasks done and take responsibility for finding solutions to key problems that might lie outside of your teams regular skill set (such as key technical issues, tool integration and training).

If they do their job right, they make everyone in your team look like heroes as your marketing ROI goes through the roof. Increase your chances for success – make sure your project manager has the right experience and drive to get you to where you want to go.

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