Are you one of the marketers who have a fine-tuned marketing workflow? If not yet, then stay tuned — we’ll guide you to one!
Workflows help marketing teams stay on track with their tasks, align with the strategy, and organize the living chaos of robust marketing activities. In this article, we’ll cover what is a marketing workflow and how to build one that works.
What is a marketing workflow?
A marketing workflow is a structured sequence of tasks and processes that guides a marketing team in planning, executing, and managing everything from strategy development to performance analysis. It ensures coordination, efficiency, and consistency in achieving marketing goals.
The core idea of marketing workflows is to streamline your teamwork and build a smooth pipeline for every marketing activity. The devil is in details, and so are the inefficiencies — you might not notice them, but they’re there, affecting your speed, quality, and, eventually, the results you’re getting. Clear marketing workflows help you track those issues and eliminate them.
A great marketing workflow is:
- Logical because its whole point is to streamline all the marketing efforts into an easy and comprehendible step-by-step flow.
- Transparent, meaning all the steps are clear, documented, and well-communicated to the team.
- Flexible because your marketing workflow is expected to change slightly over time as you add new tools, team members, or functionalities.
Why awesome marketing managers work with marketing workflows
Building a spot-on marketing workflow might sound dire. Why overcomplicate things? Just do the work! However, successful marketing teams know that well-structured marketing workflows simplify processes, make marketing efforts more meaningful, and get more tangible results.
So, here’s what a marketing workflow does.
A marketing workflow ensures the quality of creative deliverables by providing a systematic approach to marketing. It helps establish transparent processes, standards, and guidelines for the team to follow.
Also, it saves some room for additional checkpoints and reviews, allowing teams to assess work quality, identify improvement areas, and make necessary adjustments to optimize results.
I’m a marketing workflow nerd, no doubt about it. Without a clear plan, we risk missed chances, messed-up tasks, and lackluster campaigns. I’ve seen it happen firsthand. When we started planning meticulously, we instantly saw it in our results.
Take our promotions for example. We used to wing it, like, “Let’s post on social” or “Send a newsletter.” But we’d forget stuff or be late. Our product-centric webinars? Barely 30-40 registrants. Then we put together a solid workflow, and guess what? The last one? Over 300 sign-ups.
Miruna Dragomir, CMO @ Planable
Delivering relevant content is much easier when you’re not constantly on the clock. Strategizing and planning are vital parts of the marketing workflow, which supports content marketing as well as PR, advertising, and other initiatives.
Having dedicated time and a system to assess and plan content helps marketers stay consistent in their posting schedule and avoid gaps or overlaps in the content plan.
Levels up communication
The most successful workflows always put efficient communication in the spotlight. A workflow provides a structured framework that fosters clear and robust collaboration among team members. The defined roles, responsibilities, and timelines are here to ensure everyone is on the same page.
If done right, marketing workflows reduce communication barriers, promoting better coordination and timely feedback within the marketing team.
Eases time management
Your project manager will definitely get on board with a marketing workflow idea. Workflows gather all your marketing efforts in one place, providing a holistic overview of every running thing in the company.
It makes tracking time and resources spent on each task more transparent, which allows for more efficient planning.
Eliminates double work
Marketing workflow means no more repetition. With a well-structured workflow, marketers can easily track marketing tasks across the team and avoid redundant work by understanding who is responsible for what, and when it will be ready.
So if the design team has already created an asset to promote the company’s speaker on social media, internal communications can also use that asset instead of creating a task for another image.
Boosts marketing campaigns
A marketing workflow establishes a foundation for cohesive and consistent marketing efforts across all channels and touchpoints, enhancing the overall brand experience for the audience. This benefits the marketing campaigns management process and ensures that all new projects align with the marketing strategy and bring the company closer to the desired outcome.
Marketing workflow types for different teams
There is no single unified approach to workflows. Instead, there are multiple types of marketing workflows that suit different team activities and aim to solve various issues. Depending on your team’s focus, you can choose which type of workflow to prioritize for implementation — or start with all of them and adjust iteratively, according to your experience.
Although most workflows share the same primary stages, like planning, creating, editing, and reviewing, there are more specific steps for each workflow.
Content marketing workflow
The content marketing workflow is all about quality content. Its sole goal is to make the content creation process smooth and uninterrupted and ensure the final content finds its audience. A content workflow can be quite massive, especially if it’s blog-oriented: in this case, it would also incorporate a whole SEO workflow.
So when creating a brief for a blog post, include this simple checklist for SEO in your workflow:
- Perform keyword research to identify relevant keywords and topics you can explore in your blog.
- Choose the keywords you’re targeting in the article based on search intent and keyword difficulty.
- Identify the internal links you can add to your article: related pieces in your blog, landing pages, ebooks, or white papers.
- Add on-page optimizations: check that the article has a meta title and meta description, alt texts for the images, and keywords in the headings.
Social media marketing workflow
This marketing flow concentrates on the brands’ presence on social networks. Like any content, social media requires careful planning and strategizing to align your messages with your goals.
But TikTok content and blog content are two very different stories, and they need different approaches on a deeper, more detailed level. So specific steps involved in the social media workflow could be:
- Choosing social media channels for distribution according to audience research to ensure you’re preaching to the right crowd.
- Creating a media library to maintain a cohesive brand appearance in visual assets. Planable, for instance, has a media library for images, videos, and GIFs to store any branded content in one place.
- Researching influencers and opinion leaders to ensure more successful social media campaigns.
Email marketing workflow
Email marketing campaigns are a part of the direct marketing domain: it’s as close as you can get to knocking on your customer’s door. Email campaigns can be highly efficient if you cook them right, but the workflow would also differ since emails are different from ads or blog posts.
An email marketing workflow example could look like this:
- Establish the communication’s goal (promote a product, push the customer down the funnel, inform on a sale, etc.)
- Define your target audience and segment your base: is it an email for cold sales, recurring customers, or those with an item hanging in their cart?
- Write and edit the copy: ensure the email is concise and has a hooky subject. Remember the UTM parameters for all the links (that’s important) and a CTA! Planable’s Universal Content allows collaboration on written content in real time to polish your copy in a blink.
- Gather your email’s layout and brand it: add a header, footer, and other media elements.
- Hit send and watch for analytics: check the open rate, calculate how many people visited your website from this email (that’s where you need the UTMs), etc.
Collaboration is always essential to working as a team, but it’s most vital for outsourcing: agencies or freelancers.
Usually, the weakest spots of the workflow for outsourcers are handing over and approval, so pay extra attention to making these parts as smooth as possible and automate your workflow where possible.
- Create detailed briefs for your freelancers or agencies, so they know what you expect from that specific marketing project.
- Carefully review content with your colleagues and leave comments for freelancers at the editing stage. Having different roles, permissions, and internal/external notes helps a lot if you use workflow tools.
- Use marketing automation tools for the approval process: some tools (like Planable, just saying) provide multi-level approval with auto-publishing after the final green light. That way, you can build a custom approval workflow and keep relevant people in the loop.
8 steps to your custom marketing workflow
There are no one-size-fits-all marketing workflows: many elements will depend on your team size, main focus, and goals. However, best practices for building a workflow of your own are there. Let’s cover our eight-step plan for creating a marketing workflow for your team.
1. Establish your goals
As usual, it all starts with the marketing strategy and setting your goals. What are the objectives you want to reach through your marketing projects? Depending on your goals, you can prioritize certain workflows and anticipate possible pitfalls to prepare a workaround beforehand.
Whether working on email marketing campaigns or kickstarting social media, clearly defined goals will help you build a steady pipeline and outline your next steps.
2. Define responsibilities
To keep your marketing workflow straight and transparent, ensure each teammate knows what they’re doing and what other team members are up to. Setting roles and defining responsibilities makes it easier to assign tasks and track pieces of the marketing puzzle.
So to save time for your marketing team, establish roles beforehand. Here are several areas of responsibilities to cover with your team members, regardless of the marketing workflow you’re creating:
- Strategy and planning: it can be a marketing manager, content strategist, or content manager.
- Creative deliverables: pass it to a graphic designer or a Jack-of-all-trades social media manager.
- Edit, proofread, and approve: build the pipeline from editor to your team lead or run your final asset by other teams like legal or brand.
- Delivery: whether it’s email, blog article, or social post, define a team member responsible for the last mile delivery — perhaps, a content manager.
3. Determine your team’s capacity
Some time-consuming tasks require more resources than other, more routine and quick, tasks. Keep that in mind when planning your team’s scope. Hold a headcount: how many people are on your marketing team working on each specific marketing task?
If you only have one graphic designer, don’t commit to a daily email digest or custom illustrations for social media — or consider outsourcing a part of the workload. On the other hand, if you have five content writers available, increase the number of weekly blog posts. Knowing your team’s capacity allows allocating resources more efficiently and helps tweak your marketing workflow accordingly.
4. Choose your marketing workflow tool
Marketing automation significantly speeds up the process and makes marketing workflows more transparent. Choose a marketing workflow tool that will benefit your marketing processes and increase efficiency across the team members.
You can find a suitable tool for any marketing workflow examples we mentioned before. The essential features may differ from workflow to workflow, but here are some common things to look for in a marketing tool:
- Choose an onboarding process template
- Intuitive interface
- Collaboration features
- Flexible and customizable setup
5. Plan out your activities
Planning and strategizing are among the crucial steps involved in creating a marketing workflow. Here are three core things you’ll need to consider when laying out your marketing undertakings (even when you’re using a marketing planning software):
Define your target audience
All marketing efforts are aimed at your audience and have little to no outcome if you’re barking at the wrong tree. Establish your audience and study it: what are their likes and dislikes, content consumption patterns, preferred channels, problems, and motivation? Armed with this info, you’ll know exactly where to aim with your marketing campaigns.
Brainstorm content ideas
Crawl through Quorra and Google Trends, explore target keywords, study competitors’ resources, and follow industry trends to find something that could work for your new project. Gather all content and campaign ideas in one ideation bank and polish them until they make sense to your goals.
Create a posting schedule
Or an email calendar. Or ads campaign calendar. Regardless of the marketing affairs in question, having a content calendar helps stay consistent and keep track of tasks and projects.
6. Create your content
It’s time to create content to push down the marketing workflow pipe. Content is a means to communicate and engage with your audience, delivering your brand message and value proposition effectively.
The marketing collateral you need to produce will differ depending on the marketing project you’re working on. To ease working on different types of content, come up with checklists for each, covering the most tricky parts. For instance, if you’re kickstarting a paid search workflow, set a task template for each ads platform that would include the required size for the assets, the symbol limit for the promo message, and the ad brief for the user acquisition team.
7. Review and approve
An approval process is a stumbling block for many marketing workflows. It’s a time-consuming part that can significantly postpone content going online. On the contrary, a sound approval process quickly ensures your content conforms to the guidelines and brings no harm to your brand.
Multi-level approval allows multiple people to review and greenlight the piece before publishing it. Say, a marketing manager checks the asset first to see if the message is engaging, but then the legal team tags along to ensure nothing’s amiss. Put an option for multiple automated approvals in your workflow and publish content safely and timely.
8. Measure performance
Analytics is the best friend of any marketing manager. Regardless of the type of marketing campaign you’re holding, evaluating its performance is vital to understanding whether you’re doing it right.
By tracking and analyzing key performance indicators, you gain valuable insights into the success of your marketing campaigns, enabling you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your marketing strategies.
3 helpful marketing workflow management tools for CMOs and marketing managers
Marketing workflow management is easier with the right tool. Here are three time-proven tools to organize your marketing activities in the best way possible.
Planable allows you to create, plan, and collaborate on any written content, including blog articles, social posts, and emails. It is where all marketers meet: the tool has features to suit all marketing workflows for teams of different size and focus.
- For content writers: you can create any piece of written content using elements like lists, images, videos, embeds, internal notes and comments, collaborative writing tools, and real-time editing.
- For social media marketers: plan, create, and schedule social media posts for all major social platforms from one dashboard. Customize, approve, and polish them — all from one place to rule all social deeds.
- For freelancers and agencies: use roles and permissions to divide clients from team members, freelancers from in-house specialists, and approvers from creators.
- For CMOs and marketing team leads: leverage custom one-button approval workflows and gain a holistic overview of the marketing efforts through a clear calendar with color-coded labels.
As a part of the social media workflow, Planable supports auto-publishing to Instagram (including stories!), Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google My Business, and TikTok. One of Planable’s recent updates is an AI writing wingman, which helps marketers greatly: when you run dry on ideas or want to repurpose your content for other channels, Planable’s AI gets the creativity back on track.
Teams who want to try it first can use Planable’s free 50 posts and upgrade for as little as $11/month per user. Give it a try, for free.
Planable has no built-in analytics for marketing campaigns and can only directly publish posts for social media platforms.
Planable is a multi-tool suitable for email marketing, social posts, blog management, and any other marketing workflow. If you’re looking for a multi-tool to ease content management for any written content, Planable is your choice.
Trello is a popular project management and collaboration tool that teams can utilize for their marketing workflow. Imagine Jira, but make it less complicated and multi-layered: in its heart, Trello is a straightforward Kanban-like task tracker.
Among its core features for establishing a marketing workflow are:
- Task boards that visually represent your marketing workflow: teams can customize columns to represent different stages of the task. You can drag and drop tasks and cards, assign team members, set due dates, and prioritize work.
- Automation tool Butler allows you to build your workflow and automate part of it: for example, automatically move the task to Done once the checklist is completed.
Trello has a free version suitable for individuals or small teams. Three paid plans begin at $5/month.
Trello doesn’t have specific content-related features and mostly remains on the project management side.
Trello is up for the job if you want a unified way to manage your marketing tasks across the team. Check out this guide on the difference between Trello and Monday.com (another project management tool that’s growing in popularity).
Mailchimp is a comprehensive marketing automation platform offering many tools and features for managing marketing workflows effectively. Mailchimp empowers marketers to automate tasks, engage with their audience, and analyze campaign performance.
Here are three core features of Mailchimp:
- Email marketing: create personalized and targeted email campaigns, segment your base for more relevant and impactful messaging, and handle email sequences based on user actions.
- Landing page builder: compose visually appealing and high-converting landing pages without coding. These pages can be used to capture leads, register for events, promote products, or any other marketing campaign.
- Social media control room: Mailchimp integrates with popular social media platforms, so you can share your campaigns on social media, schedule posts, and run ads.
Mailchimp has a free version and three paid plans starting at $13/month.
Mailchimp may be costly for businesses with larger subscriber bases or advanced marketing needs.
Although Mailchimp has multiple marketing solutions, its strongest suit is email marketing. With CRM integrations, base segmentation, and A/B testing, Mailchimp helps the marketing team master emails in a beat.
Let’s get down to workflows!
Building a sound workflow for your marketing efforts might look hard at first. But it comes naturally with the right tool at hand — perhaps, Planable will be your gateway to organized marketing.