Successfully shifted campaign production in-house from an external agency to streamline production and reduce costs
Increased campaign execution to 120-150 per month via operating efficiencies — 2.4 times the initial capacity of 50-70 campaigns per month
Saved 389 workdays —1.5 years’ worth of full-time work—by centralizing communication and automating steps in Asana
Use Asana Reporting to quantify team performance and individual workloads to identify automation opportunities and strategically invest resources
As the largest newspaper publisher in the United States, Gannett’s award-winning portfolio includes the 40-year-old USA TODAY and over 200+ local newspapers across the US and UK. As Gannett transitions from print to a digital-led subscription business, its Marketing Operations team fuels subscriber growth by running campaigns via email, direct mail, onsite ads, and other channels.
Led by Director Steven Tai, the Marketing Operations team was created when Gannett brought campaign production in-house from an external agency. The new team could initially handle 50 to 70 campaigns per month across 200 markets, and their goal was to find operating efficiencies to scale up the number of projects with the same resources.
To increase campaign volume, Marketing Operations looked for opportunities to streamline and automate their workflow. They started by reviewing their production process, which relied on a mix of emails and software platforms to get work done. With information spread across apps, it was sometimes challenging to set timelines, track campaign progression from start to finish, and measure how resources were being used.
The Marketing Operations team wanted a central place to collaborate where they could see all projects in flight. So they began the search for a work management platform that would help resolve some of these challenges.
The team evaluated several work management platforms where they could execute campaigns from request to delivery. Their higher-level objectives were to establish ways to measure success as an Operations team, to quantify in real time which teammates had capacity, and ultimately to streamline campaign management so they could produce more in the same timeframe.
Gannett chose Asana for its versatility and potential to scale with the team and their workflows. They also decided to work with Asana’s Professional Services team for support on the initial design and roll-out, to ensure adoption and set their new team on the right course.
The Marketing Operations team met with their Asana Professional Services Consultant to review needs and prioritize the ten most frequently run campaigns to develop into Asana project templates. According to the Anatomy of Work Index, one of the top causes of missed deadlines for knowledge workers is unclear processes, and Asana templates would directly combat this by laying out best-practice procedures.
The team ended the Professional Services engagement with 20 templates — twice their goal — and teammates participated in basic and advanced Asana trainings. They found that the best part of the engagement was having an outside perspective to coach them on best practices, share resources, and reassure them that they were heading in the right direction.
Rather than squeezing people into a specific work methodology during the Asana rollout, the team focused on the opportunity for discussion and self-reflection. They adopted the motto, “What we build today isn’t permanent,” meaning they could iterate on their Asana workflows at any time. This helped people understand there is no wrong way and no bad suggestion – it’s more about having these conversations to find what works best for the team. They listened to individuals’ concerns and feedback, which helped them identify roadblocks and improve team morale.
The Marketing Operations team’s business partners looked forward to the new visibility Asana would bring. Business partners who previously weren’t in their workflow were excited they’d be able to participate in the projects, which created optimism toward Asana.
Today, Asana is the official platform Gannett’s marketing team uses for end-to-end campaign management. A business partner can request a campaign by filling out required information in an Asana Form, and the submission goes to a “campaign request” project in Asana where the Marketing Operations team reviews and approves it.
A traffic manager activates the campaign with one click — selecting from one of 40+ project templates the Gannett marketing team has designed — and adjusts timelines and task assignees as needed.
Each marketing campaign has its own Asana project, and the whole department can see how work unfolds:
To keep information about a campaign in one place, they attach documents to tasks instead of emailing them. They also use the Asana for Outlook integration to attach emails to a task as a comment, making sure conversations don’t get lost.
Business partners who requested a campaign are added to the Asana project as collaborators, giving them visibility into campaign plans, status, and discussions.
To track additional metadata about campaigns, they use custom fields — for example, to indicate which sub-team is responsible for certain tasks.
Asana projects map out dependencies so the sequence of work is clear. When the team wants to iterate on a template or create a new one, they use Workflow Builder to visualize how a project will move through phases.
This creates a single source of truth for all campaign work, which keeps everyone on the same page — Marketing Operations even references Asana during their daily standup meeting.
Centralizing information also helps the team zoom out, report on their performance, and spot opportunities to be more productive. Asana Portfolios — and nested Portfolios — provide a high-level view of work by grouping campaigns by type, such as channel.
With all data in Asana, Marketing Operations can now use Reporting to optimize resource allocation in multiple ways:
Assess and communicate campaign status on a monthly and quarterly basis using Portfolios.
Quantify demand for their services by reporting on the Asana “campaign request” project, which shows the number and type of requests received from business partners.
Run reports on data across all campaigns using custom fields.
See team capacity and individual teammates’ workloads in real time.
Like turning on a light in their virtual workshop, Gannett gained an understanding of how they operate and where they can improve — empowering them to make shifts that more than doubled their productivity.
The Marketing Operations team now produces 120 to 150 campaigns each month to drive subscriber growth — 2.4 times their previous capacity of 50 to 70.
Steven says, “If we didn’t have Asana, we would have had to make concessions or increase our workforce to tackle the rapid increase in projects. Asana helps us handle our workload by putting us all on the same platform and giving us access to the same information quickly and in real time.”
With new efficiencies that let them do more with less, Gannett has been able to save an estimated 389 workdays per year, equivalent to 1.5 years of a full-time employee’s work.
Their time savings derive from features such as comments to consolidate discussions and reduce context switching between apps, forms that speed up requests management, templates with pre-vetted workflows to kick off campaigns in one click, and rules to automate steps like routing requests, scheduling due dates, and assigning tasks.
Leadership can now measure individual bandwidth, see where teams lack resources, and notice where projects get stuck — then make calculated decisions about where to invest in growth or automate a process. Steven says, “We didn’t have that capability in the past, and Asana opened our eyes to it. It’s a big game changer that furthers our ability to do more with less time and fewer resources — we’re able to accomplish much more.
Transparency has also strengthened the partnership between Marketing Operations and the rest of the organization. Steven says, “We gained the confidence of the team, and many more campaigns have been brought in-house as a result.”
As Gannett grows its digital subscriber base and optimizes its print business, the Marketing Operations team will continue running campaigns in Asana to bring them closer to their quarterly and annual subscriber goals.
What was built in Asana yesterday is never permanent, so marketing can continue to iterate on processes and find powerful new ways to connect with subscribers. Gannett's reach is already unmatched. By enabling a digital transition, Marketing Operations is ensuring the continued success of Gannett’s mission to strengthen communities on a local and national scale.
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