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How to Set Up an Efficient Marketing Department

By: Guest Author — January 03, 2020

Collaboration happens everywhere and all the time for marketing teams. But marketers face so many bottlenecks—for instance, disorganized team members, misunderstandings in communication and the flow of information, and inefficient processes.

To optimize your marketing team, coordination is a must. As the core of collaboration, it helps organizations operate at peak efficiency.

The good news is that coordination and efficiency are achievable for any marketing team with the right structure and tools. In this guide, I’ll discuss the right processes and workflow to set up an efficient marketing department.

But first, it’s worth discussing the issues that plague marketers today.

Today’s Greatest Marketing Challenges

Marketers are overwhelmed and overworked.

Time is constantly wasted through tedious tasks, faulty processes, and the lack of supporting technology. As a result, employees are left feeling exhausted and unmotivated.

In fact, one in three marketers considers multitasking to be their biggest waste of their time and according to a study by the Hudson Group, 44% of marketers face burnout. Ad-hoc work, poor organization, constant notifications, and too many nights and weekends spent on work can lead to stress overload.

Next, there’s talent—another wasted resource.

Marketing teams tend to bury valuable talent in tedious, monotonous tasks, reports, and meetings. Ironically, this is the same talent that businesses fight so hard to win over.

As a result, instead of working for the best creative results, employees spend time managing clients, making reports, and mindlessly copy-pasting information.

Now that we understand what’s happening, it’s time to talk about solutions for improving efficiency in our industry. Without further ado, let’s dive into how to optimize your marketing team.

Marketing Team Structure & Roles

First, you need to lay out your organization’s current marketing department structure, including approval stakeholders, freelancers, and any agencies you work with.

The core marketing team should consist of everyone who directly contributes to execution, such as:

  • Marketers
  • Content strategists
  • In-house or freelance writers and editors
  • Others responsible for planning and executing content

Other extended team members of your marketing department may fall into any of the following categories:

  • People who depend on content. These people need content to fulfill their duties. For instance, salespeople need content to get leads and present it to prospects. They may also need dedicated pieces of content for different markets and industries they’re pitching to.
  • Those who need to review it. These people have insight marketers might not. For instance, perhaps they interact directly with customers and prospects, and thus have a more nuanced understanding of client objectives, questions, needs, obstacles, etc. They help ensure the content team’s communication is on brand or, as in the case of legal departments, they help keep marketers out of trouble.
  • Subject-matter experts. Whether it’s about your product or different customer segments, these people help to ensure accuracy. There’s nothing more embarrassing than a business that claims something untrue about their industry or product. Your audience just might mock and laugh at you.

Action Plan:

  1. List all of the members of your marketing team.
  2. Describe their roles in the marketing department.
  3. Make a list of all extended team members and stakeholders.
  4. Describe their role in the marketing department.
  5. Coordinate with team members about the role and involvement of each team member (both internal and external).
  6. Record these in a document for transparency.

Ownership

It’s easy to step on someone else’s toes when performing marketing operations. For instance: you have a sudden idea and want to quickly execute it, whether it’s sending an outreach email, posting on social media, writing a blog post, or something else. However, it’s essential to keep the rightful owners in the loop as it’s their territory, and they know all the best practices on making a specific action most impactful.

The owner of a marketing segment or activity is the teammate responsible for it and who should “own” all of the information flowing about it. It doesn’t mean that the person is alone in their work; in fact, any team member can get involved, help, and contribute to the marketing project. However, the owner is the one who will report the success of this initiative.

Action Plan:

  1. Ask yourself: what are your main marketing initiatives? Who should be involved? Who assumes ownership of this operation?
  2. Record these in a document.

Effective Marketing Processes

Coordination in content marketing can’t be achieved with weak methods. An efficient marketing team needs robust workflows and the right tools. After all, today we demand everything to be accessible from our phones, and we keep everything within our mobile reach.

Enter “command centers.”

With remote work and freelancers becoming more ubiquitous, marketers waste time putting information and data together. That’s where a command center comes in; businesses need command centers in order to cope with industry changes and to stay agile.

Let’s look at one particular example where a command center could actually help save lives.

The American Red Cross created a digital operations center to gather information about emergencies happening on the ground. Based out of Washington D.C, its team scours the internet looking for any relevant information to the organization or anyone tweeting for help.

How to Build a Command Center

An effective command center is built around three core elements: unity, visibility, and flexibility. Done well, it provides a space where borders, time zones, and distance do not exist or matter. Instead, everything comes together.

Here’s how to do that:

Build a dashboard, a central place of your information that’s available to every marketing team member. At Planable, we use as many as 15-18 marketing tools and platforms. However, we’ve centralized all the details in one single tool called Inner Trends that helps us answer any team member’s questions about conversion, optimization, marketing funnels, and anything else. Inner Trends connects the information from all of the tools we use, including Intercom, Stripe, Google Analytics, Segment, Personizely, and Firstpromoter.

Inner Trends screenshot

Analytics products like Mixpanel or Kissmetrics are extremely expensive. For a more affordable command center, build a spreadsheet that’s connected through all the APIs you need. Alternatively, you can find ready-to-use templates and dashboards from FYI, Data Studio, and Notion.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for every team. A dashboard worked for us at Planable, but you might have goals and KPIs that don’t fit neatly into a single dashboard. Regardless of what approach you take, a command center should unify all of the information your team needs, including:

  • Website analytics, like traffic and conversion data
  • Monthly recurring revenue, average revenue per account, and trial to paid conversion rates
  • Paid marketing spendings and their conversion data
  • Churn rate

Automation

We can’t talk about efficiency without taking automation into account. When implemented correctly, automation can drastically change business results and team dynamics.

The trick is in choosing what should be automated.

I advise choosing tasks that can be automated without affecting quality; for example, lead nurturing, email campaigns, and affiliate payments. Another way to approach this is to think about the functions that could be executed similarly, if not better, by existing technology using tools such as Hubspot, Intercom, Sendgrid, First Promoter, and many more.

Why automate?

  • It’s cost-effective. Automating can save up to $4 million worth of time each year. According to WorkMarket, more than half of employees say automation could save them as much as two hours per day. Over time, these hours add up as a financial resource of their own.
  • Automation provides a competitive edge. The time saved from automation could be better spent on strategic and creative work. Each extra minute spent on brainstorming and solving problems could mean better results for your business, giving your company a competitive advantage that’s hard to match.
  • It reduces the likelihood of mistakes made from performing repetitive tasks. Firstly, automation reduces the need for performing repetitive tasks. This can translate into two advantages: fewer mistakes and higher motivation. Human error is impossible to avoid, especially when tasks are repetitive. We get distracted and turn on autopilot, which generally makes us more prone to mistakes.

Automation ultimately provides marketers with respite from time-consuming work, allowing them to focus on strategy, research, experimentation, and execution instead.

Action Plan:

  1. Build your new marketing processes.
  2. Analyze who manages the back and forth of these processes and how much time they spend on them.
  3. Assure that the repetitive tasks are handled.
  4. Take a close look at how communication travels.

The Collaboration Tools of an Efficient Marketing Department

Technology has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, especially with the development of new marketing industries like affiliate networks and social media.

Given these changes, it’s only right for marketers to use technology that’s suited to their creative work.

With that in mind, identify the tools and platforms your team will find the most value in. When choosing a SaaS tool, be mindful of the following criteria:

  • Collaboration and Transparency – How easy is it to exchange feedback and communicate?
  • User Interface – How clean and comfortable is it to use?
  • Pricing – Does it use a monthly, yearly, or contract model? What is the refund policy?
  • Training and Support – Does the platform require training and on-boarding sessions? How is the tool’s customer support team?
  • Updates – How often does the product get updated with new features and add-ons?
  • Maturity – How old is the product and how long has it been on the market?

Your primary tools should have everyone and everything in one single place—the people, the content, the feedback, and the approval. Here are some of my personal favorites:

  • Ahrefs for keyword research
  • Chanty for team conversations
  • Compose.ly for outsourcing content creation
  • Figma for collaboration on visual content and multimedia
  • Grammarly for proofreading and editing
  • Monday for project management
  • Personizely for lead generation
  • PixTeller for creating graphic images & short animations
  • Planable for social media collaboration
  • Zoom for meetings and communication

Action Plan:

  1. Discuss your current software needs with your team.
  2. Identify the most critical tools to meet these needs.
  3. Compare them with other vendors.
  4. Test different platforms to identify the best software tools for your business.
  5. Decide on the right tools and start inviting your team members to use them.
  6. Repeat this process when new challenges are discovered.

Conclusion

Start by cleaning up your processes and implementing better tools to make your marketing department more efficient. Meet with your team members to outline any weaknesses like inefficient processes, expensive tools that you aren’t actively using, and things you’re not performing well.

Afterward, set up follow-up meetings with the right stakeholders to discuss how you can improve the workflow of your analytics, data, paid, social media, and content marketing teams. Outline everyone’s responsibilities, clarify any points of overlap, and give team members access to performance data for maximum transparency.


About the Author

Vlad Calus founded two non-profits at the age of 16 before dropping out of college and moving to another country with two of his friends. At 19 years old, he built Planable and became a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree just three years later. Vlad has been featured as a guest writer on multiple publications including Social Media Examiner, Entrepreneur, and WeRSM.


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