It doesn’t matter how much marketing knowledge you have — you’ll always need to rely on tools and software to some degree.
The same goes for whether you’re managing a big or a small project. Despite your campaign size, project management will always be central to your campaign’s success.
Marketing project management tools are a quick and easy way to plan out projects in a way everybody can access, interact with and understand.
As a marketing manager, you’ll no doubt have a master plan formed in your mind.
The issue with this is, your team members and clients aren’t mind readers.
They can’t see a tick list being checked off or imagine the progression of a timeline. At least, not in the same way that you do.
That’s why you need a safe, public place to store all of this information.
This is where marketing project management tools come into play.
Why Marketing Managers Need Project Management Tools
If it isn’t obvious already, marketing managers need project management tools to keep everybody involved in the project on the same page.
Setting tools in place to manage projects avoids:
- Confusion about project progression
- Disgruntled clients
- Stagnant campaigns due to staff sickness
- Campaigns that lose focus
- Mixed or vague communication
- Hazy project timelines
- Consistently missed deadlines
- Unproductive work
- Poor budgeting
These are only a few of the sticky situations marketing managers can find themselves in if there is no structure to a project.
Campaign messages dilute as individuals work on a project in isolation. Clients become dissatisfied as they struggle to make sense of their campaign.
All of these scenarios are serious red flags when it comes to project management.
Some of these scenarios can cause the complete cancellation of projects, hurting your client retention rate and your reputation in the process.
This makes project management tools vitally important for the following reasons:
As a marketing manager, you must grasp how a project is progressing at a glance.
Project management tools allow you to do this, saving you the hassle of having to track down multiple employees for feedback on their input. Plus, you’ll want to avoid being caught out on a client call if they ask a simple question about the project that you can’t answer.
Marketing manager or marketing mediator — the two job roles are pretty much the same. As a marketing manager, your job is to essentially manage the expectations of your external stakeholders while overseeing the productivity of your internal stakeholders.
Project management tools allow you to facilitate this more effectively by putting all types of stakeholders at ease. You can give your clients the quick answers that they need while giving your team members the kind of structure and platform that peaks productivity.
Accurate Reporting and Analysis
Most of your job as a marketer will be to report on project progress and measure project success — not necessarily directly contributing to the creation of the project.
You’ll need an objective overview — automated by software — to reference so that you can make accurate reports.
Which Project Management Tool Should You Pick?
Enough about why you need project management tools. When you’re on board with getting a project management tool, your next question will be about which one you should invest in.
And trust us, there are a lot of different tools on the market.
The following five tools are those that appear on “best project management tools” lists most often, famed for their superior features and affordable pricing.
But just a quick disclaimer before we delve into each individual tool.
Really, there’s no definitive answer as to which tool to pick. Instead, you’ll need to figure out the features most important to you, as well as how much you’re willing to pay each month for a software subscription.
The fact that our team is remote and often works on the same templated tasks factored into our decision-making. For you, one of the other tools on the list could be a clear winner.
Free Trial? Yes — you can get a 30-day trial of Asana’s premium service and access their basic package.
Price: Premium from £9.49 P/M
- Gantt-style timelines
- Ability to automate processes
- Easily submit work requests
Good for: In-house marketing teams, partially remote teams
Free Trial? Yes — you can access Teamwork’s “Free Forever” plan with a maximum of two projects.
Price: Pro from $9 P/M
- Create customised workflows
- Centralises information
- Works with integrated apps like Google Drive
Good for: Partially remote teams, remote teams
Free Trial? Yes — you can access Trello’s free version for one user.
Price: Business Class from $9.99 P/M
- Built-in automation “Butler”
- Syncs to any device
- Works with integrated apps like Slack
Good for: Individuals, small teams
Free Trial? Yes — get a 14-day free trial.
Price: Work Organiser Growth from $40 P/M
- Range of products to form a “marketing suite”
- Accurately gauge capacity
- Define employee priorities
Good for: Large teams, high-level marketers
Free Trial? Yes — get a 14-day free trial.
Price: Basic from £35 P/M
- Customisable project “board”
- Visualise work data
- Link emails to tasks
Good for: Data-driven marketers, those managing global campaigns
Free Trial? Yes — 30-day free trial or use Basecamp Personal at no cost.
Price: Basecamp Business from $99 P/M
- In-built messenger and group chat
- Project pinboards
- Share project docs and files
Good for: New and established remote teams
Aside from project management software, there are so many other tools every marketing manager needs. Most benefit projects in some way.
Here are just a few of the related tools that might help:
Slack — To manage project communication.
Dropbox — To send large files and attachments.
Google Hangouts — To take group project calls.
Hubstaff* — To track individual productivity.
Quickbooks — To manage a project’s budget.
How Often and When Should You Use These Tools?
As you’ll have noticed, most project management tools are built to become the backbone of the campaign.
In other words, they give your projects a solid foundation to rely on.
So, it makes sense to use these tools continuously for large and small projects, as well as ad-hoc tasks.
Most of our Ninjas access our tool of choice every single day, as they review what tasks they need to complete and when they need to be completed.
As a manager, you might do internal checks using your tools weekly, biweekly or monthly.
The frequency of checks depends on the urgency of the task, the volume of staff you have and how much of a tight ship you like to run.
You should be able to see at a glance whether a project is on time and which (if any) employees are slacking. In most comprehensive project management tools, you’ll also be able to view data in different ways to give you a real understanding of the project’s progress, ROI and productivity level.
From this perspective, project management tools do far more than manage projects.
They also help us to evaluate which projects are most worthwhile and should be repeated. By using a project management tool, you can take a look at the bigger picture, making decisions about whether you should add or remove a particular service.
Other Things to Note
You’ve learnt about project management tools, heard the benefits and are hopefully in the process of signing up for your perfect tool.
Before you click off this training and turn your attention to playing with your new piece of software, there are a few things you need to know:
Always Write Tool Training — As you’re playing with that software and begin to get to grips with its functions, you’ll want to take note of how to best navigate the system and make a training guide for your employees. This avoids hiccups when you eventually roll it out to your team.
Consistently Review Packages — You’ve chosen a tool, but your relationship with the said tool is not till death do us part. Like any other subscription fee — broadband bill, TV subscription or mobile contract — you’ll want to periodically evaluate whether you can get a better deal elsewhere.
Take Advantage of Free Trials — A small portion of you might still feel on the fence about a few of the tools on the list. To this, we say take advantage of free trials to help make your final decision. Just be aware of automatic subscription payments once the free period is over.
Think about the Future, as Well as the Now — You’ve likely chosen a tool with your upcoming project in mind. But will this tool sustain the project ambitions you have for the future? Is it scalable, adaptable and flexible? Remember, these are some of the most important characteristics in marketing — not just in terms of personal skills but also in terms of product.
*Some links within this article are affiliate links which Exposure Ninja receives a fee for promoting (these links are not sponsored). Exposure Ninja only promotes services we already use within our marketing stack