Over the past decade, the rise of digital platforms and content marketing has launched us (ready or not) into a new era — and project management has become critical to a marketing department’s success.
In fact, recent data from PMI reveals that companies with strong project management capabilities are far more likely to meet goals, stay within budget, and deliver content on time. They’re also far less likely to experience scope creep or project failure.
So we’re going to take a deep dive into marketing project management — what it is, what the stages are, and how you can get started right away.
Stages of marketing project management:
Determining the best marketing channel(s)
Creating strategies for each channel
Task delegation and scheduling
Delivery and evaluation
What is marketing project management?
Marketing project management is the process of guiding a marketing campaign from idea to finished product. It means organizing things in a way that maximizes both creativity and efficiency — enabling teams to consistently create content on time, on brand, and on budget.
Key stages of a marketing project management
In this section we’re going to go over the different stages in the marketing project management process, showing you how to take your team from idea to finished product like a pro.
1. Project definition
The first thing you need to manage when kicking off a new marketing project is the idea itself. Specifically, you need to transform it from something that’s glossy and vague into something specific and actionable.
Meet with your client and key stakeholders to determine the following:
Project goal(s) – Why are you taking on this project in broad terms? Example: To increase online sales.
Project objective(s) – What are some specific, measurable things you need to do to meet your goal? Example: Increase your conversion rate by 50% in 12 months.
Project strategies – How exactly will you achieve your objectives? Example: Implement an email marketing campaign to drive traffic to your website.
As you can see, it’s important to define your project in both broad and specific terms, answering questions of why, what, and how. This provides your client and team with a purpose while also identifying key indicators that will define success.
2. Determining the best marketing channel(s)
Once you’ve defined the project, the next phase involves choosing the best marketing channels to meet your objectives. When doing so, it’s important to consider both the project’s audience and type of business.
If you’re working with a B2B brand, for example, LinkedIn is the place to be. Consider these statistics:
LinkedIn drives 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs.
80% of all social media B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
Among executives, LinkedIn is the number one choice for professionally relevant content.
If you’re working with a B2C brand, on the other hand, marketing on LinkedIn doesn’t make much sense. Social platforms like Facebook and TikTok are going to be a better choice to reach B2C customers.
Beyond social media, here’s a summary of commonly used marketing channels that work for both B2B and B2C brands:
3. Creating strategies for each channel
Once you’ve chosen your channels, it’s time to create a strategy for each one. Ask yourself a few key questions to get this ball rolling:
What type of content does your audience normally consume on each channel? Do they watch videos, for example? Read white papers?
What does your audience need or want the content to do for them? In other words, what purpose should it serve?
How often should you reach out to your audience on each channel? What is considered reasonable and not spammy?
Then, you can create specific strategies for each channel based on your responses. Here are a few examples:
Type of content: Long-form blog articles
Purpose of content: Educational
Frequency: Once a week
Strategy: Create educational, long-form blog articles and publish to the website once a week. Distribute via SEO, paid ads, and organic social media.
Channel: Social media (TikTok)
Type of content: Short videos
Purpose of content: Entertainment
Frequency: Once a day
Strategy: Create short, entertaining videos for TikTok that can be posted daily
4. Budget planning
The next phase in marketing project management involves the budget. Oftentimes, the client or c-suite will give you a budget in the beginning and ask you to work within those parameters.
If this is the case, you’ll need to work backwards from the total allotment to create a specific budget. If you’re given $10,000 to work with, for example, then you have to look at the strategies you’ve developed and assign each piece its own line item in the budget.
When doing so, you may find that you need to trim down or eliminate certain parts of the project due to budget constraints. When this happens, it’s important to communicate with the client about any changes to the original objectives.
Other times, a client or executive will ask you to come up with a budget that would allow you to meet the defined objectives. In this case, you’ll work the other way around, tallying up the cost of each individual strategy until you have a complete budget and then pitching it for approval.
5. Identifying deliverables
Once you have an approved budget, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty — identifying specific deliverables.
As a marketer, you’re probably familiar with this term, but for any newbies out there, a deliverable refers to any output or product created as part of a marketing campaign. This includes things like blog articles, email funnels, video scripts, social media posts, and more.
You can identify specific deliverables for a project by breaking down your strategies into individual pieces. One of the strategies above, for example, was to create educational, long-form blog articles and publish to the website once a week.
If this was approved in the budget for 3 months, your deliverables would include 12 long-form blog articles. The other strategy was to create short, entertaining videos for TikTok that can be posted daily.
If this was approved in the budget for one month, your deliverables would include 30 TikTok videos.
6. Timeline creation
Ok, so now you know exactly what type of content needs to be created to achieve the project’s goals and objectives. The next phase involves creating a timeline — an organizational tool that helps you and your team see the overall schedule for your marketing plan.
Many marketers find this to be one of the hardest parts of marketing project management because there are so many different moving parts in any given campaign, each one dependent on the other. Scheduling it all is a challenge for even the most organized of people.
Madeline A. Veltri, Project Director at iXL Corporation gives this advice: “Don’t just make ‘To Do’ lists. Good project scheduling considers all tasks, their durations, and their dependencies. Dependencies are particularly important (…) because so much of the work of cross-functional teams is interdependent. Good project schedules are also resource-constrained (consider the availability of human resources and schedule accordingly).”
Because of these complexities, many marketers use project management software to put together the timeline — keeping everyone on the same page and streamlining an otherwise cumbersome task.
7. Task delegation and scheduling
Once you’ve worked out the overall timeline, you’ll need to delegate specific tasks to specific people and assign deadlines.
Some marketing departments have large in-house teams that handle the work of content creation and editing while others outsource it to agencies or freelancers.
Whichever bucket your organization falls into, the nuts and bolts of delegation remain the same: break each deliverable down into specific tasks and assign to appropriate. A blog article, for example, might look like this:
Keyword research – assign to content strategist
Develop the topic and outline – assign to content strategist
Write the article – assign to content writer
Add images or graphics – assign to creative director
Edit the article – assign to content editor
Approve the article – assign to content strategist
As with creating the timeline, this is a stage that’s ripe for using project management software. A good PMS (like Welcome 😉 ) will allow you to assign tasks to people and set deadlines, keeping everyone on the same page.
Now that all the planning and organizing is done, it’s time to get down to work and execute your strategy. Writers should be writing, creatives should be creating, and managers should be managing.
During this phase, communication needs to be very strategic. This is not the time for long pie-in-the-sky meetings or never-ending email chains. Your team needs the time and space to create.
They also need a straightforward way to collaborate with each other, since many tasks are intertwined. And managers need a way to monitor progress that doesn’t interfere with creativity. Enter: project management software (again, lol).
A good PMS will facilitate the flow of information during the execution process, keep users from multiple departments aligned, and track progress on every task.
9. Quality assurance
Once your deliverables are created, the final stage is quality assurance. When it comes to marketing campaigns, this means making sure all of the content that’s heading out the door is on-brand and aligned with the project’s goals, objectives, and strategies.
Most organizations do this by having a content strategist or someone in a similar role give their stamp of approval before content moves on to production or publication.
If you’re using project management software, you can set up workflows that automatically route content for approval — making sure nothing slips through the cracks.
10. Delivery and evaluation
At last! Your content is finished and it’s time to send it off to your client or publish it via your chosen distribution channels. Then you wait for the metrics to come in so you can evaluate performance in terms of the objectives you set back in the beginning.
Sometimes it’s tempting to skip the evaluation step, especially in busy marketing departments where there’s always another project waiting in the pipeline. But it’s critical to take the time to do it.
Evaluating the campaign’s performance based on actual data will give your team valuable insight for the next project.
How to get started with marketing project management software
If the thought of managing all of those stages makes your head spin, you’re not alone. That’s why so many organizations use project management software. Here’s how you can get started:
1. Define your needs
The first thing to do when considering a new software solution is to define your needs. This means taking a good hard look at your current processes. Where are your bottlenecks? What causes the most headaches? How are you communicating with your team?
Take the experience of SFI Health, for example. Their global content team was supporting affiliate and distributor markets all over the globe, each one with its own unique product portfolio and market restrictions.
They needed a solution that would streamline their efforts and make it easier for different stakeholders to produce on-brand content.
So they implemented a new marketing project management system (using Welcome’s software) and doubled their content output year over year. They were also able to unify their brand experience by creating a single content library for regional markets to leverage approved assets.
Cassandra Brill, Global Head of Digital at SFI Health, puts it this way: “We’re getting a huge volume of content out the door, and that wouldn’t be possible without the Welcome platform. Our projects are moving through and getting completed much quicker, and we’ve even been able to repurpose existing content — the wheel is turning a lot quicker than before.”
2. Consider your existing MarTech stack
Once you’ve clearly defined your needs, the first place to look for solutions is your existing MarTech stack. After all, marketing stacks are notoriously underleveraged and you may be surprised to find you already have a tool with project management features.
If that’s the case, compare the tool’s features with your list of needs. If it can tackle all of them, it’s certainly an option worth exploring. Be careful not to sacrifice long-term efficiency, however, for the sake of short-term convenience.
For example, if your existing tool isn’t specific to marketing project management, it probably won’t have all the features that an industry-specific tool would offer.
3. Evaluate software options
Now that you’ve identified whether you have any options in your existing stack, it’s time to take a look at other solutions on the market. As we mentioned, project management platforms that are specific to marketing are likely to offer the most in terms of efficiency.
Welcome‘s content marketing platform, for example, is designed specifically to enable large marketing teams to create faster, repeatable processes. Here are a few things you can do with our project management platform:
Keep a pulse on what’s going out across every internal and external channel. Our powerful-yet-flexible calendars allow you to easily visualize what’s going out, to whom, and when.
Centralize the way your team plans every campaign. Plan the effort, craft the communication strategy, and ensure everyone can help amplify the story using tools like shared campaign briefs, project workspaces, and collaborative content editors.
Create and proof content of all formats with our built-in editor. This allows you to author an original piece and upload content directly. That way, your team can create, proof, and version work — all in one place.
Invite internal and external contributors to create, review, and approve content. Whether you work with a staff of writers or an external agency, you can easily empower your team with the tools they need to collaboratively perfect every brand story.
4. Integrate with existing solutions
Once you’ve chosen your software, the next step is to hook it into all of your existing solutions, and vice versa. This makes everything work seamlessly and removes friction from the creative process.
If you’re collaborating on everything inside your project management platform, for example, you don’t want to have to hop outside of it once it comes time to distribute content.
That’s why Welcome acts as a centralized platform that integrates with the marketing tools you need most, from Marketo to WordPress to Jira and everything in between.
Marketing project management FAQs
Still have a few burning questions about marketing project management? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
What is the role of a project manager in marketing?
The project manager in marketing is the one responsible for guiding a campaign from idea to finished product. They oversee all the stages we talked about earlier, from defining the project to creating the timeline to evaluating results.
What skills do you need to be a marketing coordinator or project manager?
Any coordinator or project manager needs to be highly skilled in the areas of communication and organization, and marketing is no different.
You need to communicate with team members, executive leadership, clients, vendors, agencies, and freelancers. And you need to keep everyone on the same page throughout the various stages of the project, always aiming for the same goal.
You also need to have some expertise specific to marketing in order to understand the projects you’re managing. This can include everything from blogging to website design to product launches.
How do you become a project manager in marketing?
To become a project manager in marketing, you need to have a combination of education and experience. Most companies, for example, require at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communication, business, or management.
A master’s degree in project management is sometimes preferred and can help you stand out in a crowded field. You can also beef up your educational background with certifications.
In addition to the education requirements, you also need to have a certain level of experience in the field. Most companies typically prefer between two and five years of experience as a marketing manager, depending on the specific role.
Hopefully you’re feeling more confident about tackling project management within your organization. Here’s a quick recap of the stages so you can get right to work:
This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.
The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.
Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.
In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.
Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.
The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.
Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.
He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.
Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.
Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.
So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.
Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database.
The most important part of this step is asking these four questions.
What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us?
These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.
What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?
Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine!
What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service?
This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold.
If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say?
This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers.
Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.
When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase.
Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.
For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.