Tips for Managing a Digital Marketing Project
Digital marketing is essentially a creative field, and like any large scale artistic production, requires the influence of multiple skillsets. Promoting your business online therefore requires collaboration.
Furthermore, since your audience (or target audiences) don’t just hang around in one online channel (or even just online), you need to cover all bases and be everywhere where they might have an information need. Your job as a digital marketer is to meet as many of your niche relevant needs as you can. This is not just going to be in search, but across social channels, email, above the line press and online digital PR. Unless your business is very small at this stage, it is unlikely one person can manage to produce and maintain both content for the websites and social channels and manage paid search and social accounts too. If your business is still small you’ll probably want to grow anyway and that might involve an intermediate step of employing freelancers or digital agency services somewhere between ‘doing all of the things’ yourself and employing your own in-house team. Again, that requires collaboration and a joined-up cross channel and often cross-organisation (external suppliers and yourself) approach.
It is impossible for one person to proficiently undertake everything that is required to effectively market a business online. You need technical knowledge of SEO, an eye for design, an understanding of web architecture, the ability to curate content and a flair for writing sales copy as well as informational content too.
And that’s even before you get round to social media marketing and general public relations – which has a whole new skillset of its own. Social posts are entirely different beast as well and engaging an audience is much more challenging than one might think, particularly if you’re looking to build a growing band of brand advocates over time, and a strong community.
Your promotional dream team should therefore consist of web developers, designers, copy writers and marketing/public relation specialists.
Building a proficient team may be difficult for some firms, both on a financial level and a lack of office space. Fortunately, the digital arena enables specialists to work from remote locations so firms can work directly with digital marketing agencies who already have their quota of specialists.
But once you have assembled your team, you need to be able to co-ordinate its members so that everybody is batting and everybody is bowling at the same time.
Communication between team members is key
To pull everything together, projects need a manager who disseminates information to all parties. This takes excellent communication skills so that every member of the team know the precise goals and how they will be targeted. For organisations without resource to employ a dedicated project manager this role is likely to be taken initially by the business owner or in-house digital marketing manager in collaboration with various suppliers and agency resources. Some agencies also have dedicated account manager / client services which often doubles up as a form of project management.
Once a strategy is in place together with a timeline, all members will be set their own tasks. But do not leave individuals to furrow ahead if their work will have an impact on another party’s work. At the same time, be mindful too that roadblocks presented because people are working at different speeds with different skillsets can be problematic. Not only will the project be delayed, but it is very easy for a team member to lose track of where they were up to on a project, and obviously, to lose momentum and concentration, as well as enthusiasm (and could even lead to discord within the team).
Encourage communication and discussion – Create a vision
Encourage communication between your team and discuss ideas and build on inspiration. Everybody needs the same vision every step of the way. Small milestones will really help to keep things inching along at a uniform pace, but at the same time clear expectations should be set, with confirmation that both the team member tasked with the element of the project, and the whole project team are clear on what is expected as deliverables and by when. Setting these expectations is really akin to the TAC part of Paul Smith’s digital marketing SOSTAC framework, with T, A and C referring to tactics, actions and control. The tactics are the elements of the strategy, the actions is the who does what, when and where, and the control is the measurement and focus part of that framework. The control element could mean regular team meetings, zoom calls, conference calls, project updates at various milestones, or simply a check in on an analytics platform such as Google Analytics to see that everything is going in the direction intended at the strategy formulation part of the project.
For those unfamiliar with Paul Smith’s SOSTAC digital marketing framework, the elements are as follows:
S – Situation Analysis – Where are we now? What is the current situation with regards to several factors. Competitive landscape, financial and economic landscape, current situation and progress of the business (resources and capabilities, and so forth), current traffic and reach. There are many more areas involved in carrying out a full situation analysis which are beyond the scope of this paragraph (PEST and SWOT) usually make up part of this analysis), but ultimately this can be boiled dow to “Where are we now?” Understanding where you are starting from will provide you with a good idea of which team members need to be involved in the collaborative project and also which external influences or suppliers will be impacted.
O – Objectives – Where do we want to be? Here is where the SMART objectives are set. SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Framed. Therefore, you need where you want to be (your goals) specifically defined, with numbers ideally rather than simple percentages which are open to interpretation and totally relative. Your goals need to be achievable so that they stretch the boundaries from where you are, but at the same time they need to be realistic. They also need to have an ‘end-date’ or a point in time where they are checked to see whether they have been achieved, or whether adjustments need to be made to bring things back on course and then a reset of objectives, or micro-objectives.
S – Strategy – How will we get there? What’s the big overall plan? Are we going to use an acquisition strategy (i.e. acquiring new business / customers), or do we need to focus on retaining customers and preventing church (retention strategy)?, for example. The big strategy is not about the tactics at this stage, but about what the overall approach should be.
T – Tactics – What are we going to do to get there? Tactics are more specific than strategy. It’s the ‘What are we going to do to get there?’ An example of this could be ‘set up a PPC campaign’, ‘create a social media campaign’, or ‘create an email campaign’.
A – Actions – What is the detail of the things we are going to do to get there? – Actions are even more specific than tactics since these are come down to the detail of who does what, when and how, and with whom. An example of this could be ‘Organise creative for an email outreach campaign, acquire the data from a data source or by cleansing and segmenting your own current database of customers, decide which email platform you will use to send the campaign, decide at which stage of an email workflow the email will be sent, decide when the email will be sent, decide the calls to action and desired outcomes for the recipient and the business.
Actions are detailed and granular and are almost at the level of instructions. Here collaboration across channels, teams and organisations is paramount since it is often at this stage where the whole plan can fall apart. Attention to detail is key and clarity of instruction in delegation vital.
C – Control – Did we get there? The control part of SOSTAC planning relates to justification and measurement of progress, and keeping stakeholders and team members informed as to whether the digital project is on track via the use of dashboards, reports and regular meetings. The old adage, “if it isn’t measurable, it isn’t manageable really comes into plan in the control part of the plan, and reviews should be undertaken at regular, periodic intervals.
Use team project management software
There is a fair choice of management software programs on the market that enable you to set up individual projects and invite members into the circle. This type of software makes it easier for the project manager to keep track of the timeline and ensure deadlines are being met. Some of the more popular project management team software include the likes of Monday, Trello, Basecamp, Teamwork, Nifty, Atlassian and Jira, One, lesser known, and free project management suites, which we like to use on projects here at Bertey, is Freedcamp. The bonus is that it’s free, but it is very simple to use, which is something often lacking in other tools, particularly as their software teams start to build out the offering. Whilst Freedcamp does have options to expand out the complexity such as Gantt charts and Kanban flows, there is also a very simple task list option.
Face to Face is important even when you are remote working
Collaboration across teams can be more challenging when there are many parties not working in the same physical location so finding solutions to build rapport and collaborate effectively must be sought. The recent rise in tele-networking has been unprecedented and can be embraced to build an effective project team. Look to solutions like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet to emulate a strong working environment and keep in touch via the likes of Slack channels and Whatsapp.
Be prepared to change the original plan
Note that changing plans does not necessarily mean changing the goal of the final vision. However, in large scale projects, theories and ideals cannot always be executed.
For example, you may find that your preferred option is out of your budget so you have to backtrack and come up with another solution. If this ever is the case, you and your team have to be flexible and find an alternative solution.
Create a community environment
People are more dedicated to their work when they feel involved. The software management tools gives you the opportunity to build a community and actively encourage communication between parties during big projects.
A sense of community is an important piece of effective collaboration, especially when your team are isolated from each other in remote locations. They need to be able to feel they can contribute ideas and comment on the ideas of others.
It is of course human nature to bite back when bitten and it is easier to do this with strangers in remote locations. As project manager, you therefore may want to keep a rein on how ideas are shared.
Collaborating with a digital team can be an exciting and cost-effective proposition, but if it is not managed well can also be fraught with difficulties. Therefore select your team carefully, or work with an agency you feel you can build a strong rapport with.