AdWords, retargeting via Facebook custom and lookalike audiences, publishing epic content, SEO, social media, email marketing, landing pages... you've heard (and maybe done) them all—marketing strategies to entice people to a website so conversion rate optimization (CRO) can run its course and push them to the next stage of the sales pipeline.
As the company's prospect and client list grows, so does the need for better conversions. For marketing teams, time becomes even more precious, and the tolerance for error shrinks. What's a team leader to do?
One idea is to take a long and hard look at how your marketing team works—how data and information are passed along, how tasks are carried out, how effective the team's communication strategy is, and so on.
In team-based endeavors, collaboration and coordination are imperative. Adopting a project management approach to marketing and conversion optimization helps prevent tasks from falling through the cracks and compromising important processes.
Consider the following five signs your marketing team is in need of better organization, and what you can do to improve the situation.
1. Constant Deluge of Work Requests
"So much to do, so little time" is a constant refrain among marketers. Despite having your team's activities and weekly and monthly plans mapped out, on-the-fly work requests from your CEO or CMO certainly can't be ruled out. And then there are the impromptu briefings that are normally not brief, and strategy and brainstorming sessions... the list can go on.
When you're "in the zone" but you're suddenly yanked out of it because of frequent outside demands, it can get pretty challenging to get your mojo back, as proven by research from Microsoft ("A Diary Study of Task Switching and Interruptions").
Indeed, as productivity experts often say, the only way to get things done is to have other people stay out of your hair so you can focus on the task at hand.
The duty of a team manager is to protect the sanctity of your team's "zone" while keeping a healthy balance between scheduled and unscheduled tasks that need to be completed.
What You Can Do
While there's normally no reason to stall addressing marketing or CRO situations identified as emergencies, for requests that are not time-critical or project-threatening, status indicators—e.g., Active, Busy, Away—of communication apps such Skype or Microsoft Lync do a great job conveying a person's current work status.
Then again, those work only if everyone diligently updates status notifications to reflect what's truly happening. How many times have people left their Skype status to Away even when they're not really away and are available to take on more tasks?
A better alternative is the Gantt chart functionality found in project management software, which renders a quick snapshot of the actual project status, including the amount of work assigned to team members, their open time slots, if any, whether tasks are on track to meet deadlines, and so on.
Such functionality enables you to accurately pinpoint team members' availability and properly delegate urgent unscheduled work requests.
2. Never-Ending Rework
Because conversion optimization involves measurement, a considerable amount of research, and testing to uncover what works and what doesn't, not everything your team does will hit the nail on the head the first time.
On top of the urgent tasks to be accomplished, some things have to be redone, relaunched, and rethought.
However, if the rework isn't a strategic spin to a previous CRO initiative but a byproduct of miscommunication or task handoffs not defined clearly enough, you have some serious thinking to do as a team manager.
Some Points to Ponder
If people keep on making the same mistakes, there might be a problem with the instructions given to them. Or perhaps they're hesitant to ask questions because they see you as an uptight manager. The latter isn't something a tool can fix, but ensuring you send out well-defined instructions is a start at eliminating guesswork and running around in circles.
Similarly, be clear about task assignments, descriptions, handoffs, and point persons. Again, a project management tool is useful here, particularly when it supports transparent communication via one-on-one and group chat sessions, activity streams, threaded comments that are saved for future reference, and document and file uploads to identify the team's go-to persons and more explicitly describe team and individual tasks and dependencies.
3. The Email Debacle
Email overload isn't unheard of, and stalled decisions because email threads spin out of control or important people are left out of conversations aren't new news, either.
The moment email becomes a barrier to efficiency instead of a catalyst, a change in how you communicate with your team is in order.
Some Email Tips
For team members:
While inbox zero is certainly a nice thing to have, checking your email every so often is a productivity killer. Remember, you can only get things done when you actually work on them, instead of losing your focus to a myriad of distractions.
- Schedule a time for email checking, such as in the morning or after lunch.
- If you can't afford to pay a live virtual assistant to take care of your emails, use an app that can sort them according to priority. (SaneBox is a good app to try.)
- Unless you're doing some sort of help desk activity via email or the situation doesn't fall into the emergency category, when you reply to an email and the sender immediately emails you back, resist the urge to turn your inbox into a chat box.
For internal communication, consider looking into the ways an enterprise social network may help. Unlike social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, enterprise social networks are specifically built for organizations, and communication is in the context of work.
4. Shifting Priorities
As in any dynamic initiative, shifting priorities are to be expected when marketers work to boost conversion rates. Just as there are no hard-and-fast rules, only best-practices, to attracting people to a website, conversion testing prioritization may change depending on what the actual data tells you.
Aside from a team's ability to quickly adapt, prioritization may involve assignment revamps and other adjustments that would have to be effectively communicated.
Those are situations when a team using a project collaboration solution with adequate communication features flourishes. Moreover, systems with automated priority-based planning features allow managers to easily manage shifting priorities; once changes are made to either task priorities or resource assignments, the project plan is automatically rescheduled accordingly.
5. Lost or Forgotten Work
Your copywriter emails to tell you that the approval for the copy he sent you last week is due today.
Wait, what copy?
When you start forgetting deadlines, either your task tracking process or app is out of whack or you've somehow lost your touch. Either way, it's time to consider alternative ways to efficiently manage your team communications, deadlines, tasks, and resources.
What to Do
If being assaulted with a barrage of requests on top of the things you already have planned for the day constitutes a normal work day for you, expect to forget a thing or two. To ensure your brain doesn't suddenly go foggy when you need it at its sharpest, remember that most project management tools have built-in task tracking features that allow you to...
- Keep an up-to-date calendar
- Manage your to-do list
- Push SMS or email notifications for looming deadlines
Effective communication, explicitly laid-out plans, task-people compatibility, deadlines, and task dependencies clearly understood by everyone—these and more are things project management tools can help CRO and marketing teams with, eliminating chaos and wasted time, and increasing team efficiency in the long run.
Instead of worrying about seemingly mundane tasks such as alerts and notifications that aren't directly tied to the tasks your team needs done, a project management approach, alongside the tools that make project execution easier, affords you more time to tackle the more important aspects of your job: going full throttle on your marketing and conversion rate optimization efforts every single day.
Take the first step (it's free).
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