How Project Managers Succeed in a Changing Marketing Industry
Marketing is changing. Well, really it’s already changed. Where once marketing managers had to scrounge data from monthly reports, project leads are now inundated with data from numerous sources inside the same department.
Three online marketing project challenges
First, consider the challenge of correctly structuring a website’s architecture so that Google can appropriately index your site. Secondly, factor in that simply building a site with Google’s needs in mind is no guarantee that you’ll rank well in search results. And thirdly, if you manage to climb enough rungs on the rankings ladder to get consistent traffic, you’ll need to optimize the site’s design for conversions, a practice known as conversion rate optimization, or CRO.
Each of these three massive projects has subtasks upon subtasks to complete, and each requires decisions backed with data from user behavior or Google’s algorithm. And we haven’t even covered email marketing, content marketing or pay per click (PPC) marketing.
Needless to say, the marketing mix now has deep roots, and it’s only growing more complex. To keep up, marketing managers not only need to be literate in most of these fields, they also need to coordinate their department with sales, development and IT.
Sounds like a lot, right? Here are three rules marketing project managers live by to succeed in their roles.
Methodology is good. Iteration is better.
Digital marketing moves at the speed of light—which is to say that it moves at the speed of the audience. And the audience is fickle, so iteration is a must.
Marketing project managers are finding that the more traditional project management methodologies (i.e., Waterfall) no longer play well with the deadlines they’re expected to meet. Therefore, they’ve found ways to increase the speed of development or innovation by using other, more recent approaches.
Agile has grown particularly popular for its focus on sub-tasks and small teams over lethargic assignments that involve large teams. Changing the workflow from a top-down approach to democratic assignments helps break down the amount of dependent work and give everyone the opportunity to quickly complete their part of the project.
Lean methodology also expounds on the power of the minimum viable product (MVP) which works well for marketing teams that are trying to innovate and test quickly—such as when implementing new features for a website, or testing a new marketing medium.
Both of these approaches help save marketing teams time by eliminating backlog and reducing the amount of resources contributed to a project before the project receives any feedback from customers or users.
Regardless of which methodology you implement, it’s important to avoid being too rigid in your implementation. Do you really need a burn down chart for your team of four? Perhaps not.
However, the introduction of working in iterations remains incredibly valuable. With the aforementioned mountain of data pouring in from multiple streams, it’s critical to constantly test and change what’s not working.
Build a team of versatile specialists
Versatile specialists? Yes, they exist. If we return to the increasingly complex branches of marketing, successful project managers will identify which specialties are most relevant to your organization and develop or hire talent who can propel you to success in search, email, online marketing, etc.
The catch is to make sure these team members can contribute in other areas as well. This is one of the major perks of developing talent in-house: you’ll be able to identify someone’s natural abilities firsthand, and then prime them for success in a new, more specialized field. And you’ll still be able to use their other abilities throughout the lifecycle of a project.
For example, if the task of writing blogs is constantly getting backed up, you’ll be able to call on the redundant abilities of your SEO specialist who is also a strong writer, and power through your backlog. Or perhaps your best writer grew into a position where he handles social media because of his natural understanding of people and passion for the medium. He can take his understanding from social interactions with customers and use it in his next writing assignment.
While it’s unreasonable to expect the entire team to be multifaceted, it will pay dividends to have a couple of cross-functional team members who can contribute to different areas.
Use project management software that tracks metrics
Whatever it is you measure—from raw productivity and changes in ROI, to resource allocation and deadlines—marketing managers need to produce their own data on how their team performs.
To do this, you’re going to need the right software. Whether that means a platform with a kanban board for easy visualization, or a product with granular time tracking capabilities depends on the characteristics of your team and your project goals.
Either way, marketing managers need project tools to simplify their increasingly complex job. And agile project management software is one of the most powerful weapons in their arsenal.
So while marketing is growing increasingly complex, project managers are finding ways to thrive in this environment of customer-centric change. Iterating has now become a central theme, and your team, tools, and approach must embrace and support the almighty constant of change.