Marketing project management is a methodology used to keep marketing campaigns on track and stakeholders informed throughout the project lifecycle. It provides clarity among teams, keeps your projects within scope, and helps team members meet customer needs. In this piece, we’ll discuss the challenges of marketing campaigns and explain how marketing project management can help you succeed.
Marketing initiatives can be crucial to your business plan because they give you the chance to tell your brand story and send leads down the sales funnel. Without effective marketing, you may struggle to bring in revenue and secure loyal customers. A focused marketing plan ensures that your message resonates with your audience so you can walk away from every campaign feeling proud of the work your team put in.
Marketing project management is a methodology used to keep marketing campaigns on track and stakeholders informed throughout the project lifecycle. It provides clarity among teams, keeps your projects within scope, and helps you meet customer needs.
To manage marketing projects, you’ll start with the same project management principles that other teams and industries use. But marketing project management differs from the traditional project management approach in a few ways, which we’ll cover below.
The five project management phases are:
In marketing project management, you’ll add a marketing strategy phase where you’ll gather market research and data and use your findings to set your project plan in motion.Free marketing strategy template
Marketing project management is important because how you manage a project impacts everyone involved with the marketing campaign. When you use the right methodology, others will follow your lead and reap the benefits of your strong leadership.
Picture yourself at the center of the project. As the circle expands, more people get involved in the project. Once you realize you’re only the first person in the project life cycle, it’s easier to see why project management is so important.
It takes a village to manage a marketing project. The three most important stakeholder groups are:
The marketing project manager: As the leader and facilitator of marketing campaigns, you’re at the center of everything that happens during a marketing project. This includes things like project timeline delays, email marketing troubleshooting, and KPI monitoring.
Internal stakeholders: Internal stakeholders are team members within your organization who have a stake in your project. These people may include executives, sales representatives, creatives, or technicians. How you manage your marketing campaign affects internal stakeholders. They’re often either involved with the marketing campaign, impacted by the campaign’s deliverables, or informed about your overall goals.
External stakeholders: External stakeholders are people outside of your organization who have a stake in your project. These people may include vendors, end users, clients, or investors. You’ll need project management skills to keep external stakeholders informed and satisfied with your project deliverables.
The marketing project management methodology has 10 key steps. While your marketing agency may tackle complex projects in niche areas like SEO or social media, you can use these steps as a general framework for most marketing campaigns.
You can divide the 10 steps below into five project phases. These five phases resemble the traditional project management phases, but they also include additional marketing strategies to ensure you’re setting yourself—and your marketing project—up for success.Read: What is marketing operations? 4 steps to creating a marketing operation strategy
The goal of the objectives and analysis phase of marketing project management is to focus on planning your marketing campaign. This involves defining the project’s end goals and outlining success metrics.
Define end goals: Make your end goals clear at the beginning of every project you work on. That way, team members know what to strive for during project execution and stakeholders know what to expect.
Identify success metrics: It’s critical to identify KPIs at the beginning of your campaign so you can use these metrics to monitor your progress throughout the project lifecycle.
Use your project objectives from phase one to drive your marketing strategy. During this phase, you’ll also use market research and data to find the most effective way to achieve your strategic goals.
Pinpoint your audience: Identifying your target audience is the first step to achieving a high ROI. Your target audience is the group of people who are most likely to resonate with your brand. If you can reach this audience, you increase your chance of selling your product or service.
Set message and CTAs: Determine the message you want to send to your target audience. Your message should include strategic calls to action for your product or service.
Your marketing campaign may require creative assets and a detailed plan of how and where to distribute these assets. During the project scheduling phase, establish a team to assist you with asset creation.
Clarify scope: Clarify your project scope so everyone knows the limitations of your project timeline, resources, and budget. It's also important to ensure stakeholders are aware of the project scope to limit change requests.
Delegate tasks: Delegating work is crucial if you hope to stay organized and avoid duplicate work. Create a project timeline and assign tasks to team members. Use a Gantt chart or other task management tool so team members can visualize project milestones and dependencies between tasks.
After you’ve scheduled your campaign, the action begins. This is the phase when your team develops your creative assets and sends them out to the masses. This part of marketing project management is exciting because you get to see your strategy in motion.
Create project deliverables: Produce deliverables that will outshine your competitors’ and wow your audience. Employ a team of writers and graphic designers that can deliver your message using strong copy and impressive visuals.
Distribute across marketing channels: Determine which marketing channels will help you reach your target audience and when they’re on them. Place your deliverables across these channels so you get as many eyes on them as possible.
Use the success metrics you set during the project planning phase to monitor your project progress. Once you’ve tracked your progress, you can also use your performance results to learn lessons for future projects.
Monitor results: Use project management software to monitor your KPIs in real time. Once you’ve launched your marketing campaign, you can assess how well your campaign performed and what adjustments you should make to your future marketing strategy.
Set future standards: Use any lessons you learn from monitoring your campaign to set standards for future projects. For example, if your campaign performed poorly with a specific age bracket, set audience limitations on this group for future campaigns.
Many marketing teams face challenges when implementing their marketing campaigns. Luckily, the most common challenges are preventable or easily mitigated with marketing project management.
Use the solutions to the challenges below as part of your marketing project management workflow.
Marketing campaigns experience risk in many areas, and it’s difficult to predict what these risks will be or when they’ll occur. But if you’re not prepared to mitigate a project risk once it takes hold, the problem can affect project quality. Some common areas of project risks include:
Technical risk: Technical risk can particularly affect email or digital marketing campaigns. Security incidents, cyberattacks, password theft, or service outages could delay a marketing campaign or derail it completely.
Market risk: These are risks that affect the entire market. These may include risk of recession, margin risk, interest rate risk, and currency risk. While these risks are uncontrollable, your team can prepare for them so you can react quickly if they do happen.
Organizational risk: Organizational risk occurs from issues with internal operations. Events that fall under this category include reputational damage, communications failure, lawsuits, and supply chain disruptions.
Solution: Use project risk management to prevent and mitigate risk in your marketing campaigns. During the planning phase, set up a risk analysis to assess which project risks are most likely to occur, as well as which risks are of highest priority. Then, use insights to shape your campaign and prepare for potential mishaps.Read: 4 P's of marketing: How to achieve the perfect marketing mix
Scope creep occurs when your marketing campaign expands beyond the initial expectations you set. Marketing campaigns often suffer from scope creep because teams don’t establish clear requirements during project planning. If you don’t communicate your limitations to stakeholders, they may request changes that your project team has trouble keeping up with.
Solution: Define project objectives during the initial stages of your marketing campaign and share these objectives with your stakeholders. Maintain clear lines of communication so your stakeholders understand your project requirements, including the limits of your project timeline and budget. If necessary, you can also establish a change control process to regulate change requests.
Poor communication with stakeholders is a challenge many marketing teams face . You can see above that this challenge has consequences, with scope creep being just one of those consequences. Other consequences of communication issues include:
Unclear project expectations
Inconsistencies in goals and results
Reduced team morale
Insufficient project funding
Solution: Use project management software to establish a strong line of communication with stakeholders. Share real-time updates with everyone involved in your marketing campaign, and encourage stakeholders to provide feedback along the way. Set project milestones as checkpoints for collective evaluation of the campaign.Read: 12 tips to effective communication in the workplace
Marketing teams that rely on face-to-face, email, phone, or video chat to communicate with stakeholders will experience challenges when managing their marketing campaigns. You shouldn’t retire these traditional forms of communication, but they don’t offer essentials like:
Real-time status updates
Central source of truth
Your marketing strategy should be transparent to all stakeholders. Transparency strengthens team communication and improves project quality.
Solution: Use project management software as your single source of truth. There are many types of project management with varying levels of functionality. Some tools compile your project information, while others compile information from outside sources. Use a tool like Asana to customize project views and keep everyone—from team members to stakeholders—on the same page.Read: What are the benefits of project management?
Marketing project management can eliminate some of the common challenges faced by marketing departments. When you use a structured management methodology, you’ll improve communication flow and streamline your work process. Use project management software to promote collaboration among stakeholders and to establish a single source of truth.Free marketing strategy template