10 Signs your Team needs Marketing Approval Workflow Software

By Jodie Byass


No one can deny the challenges of producing marketing content. Despite this, many marketing professionals still rely on traditional tools to handle their approval workflow, which can be time-consuming and expensive, as stated by Adweek. However, the landscape is changing with the proliferation of marketing solutions and workflow management software. In a 2023 report by the Content Marketing Institute, it was revealed only 28% of marketers say their organization has the right technology to manage content across the organization.



If your team has yet to find and implement the right marketing approval workflow solution, here are ten indicators that suggest you are ready for a change:


1. Your approval workflow is still paper- and email-based

• Manual and slow processing: Project briefs and documents submitted in physical or handwritten format result in manual processing, delays, and potential loss of documentation.

• Incomplete briefs and lost documentation: Lack of comprehensive briefs and misplaced documentation necessitate multiple follow-ups, causing inefficiencies and errors.

• Endless feedback cycle: Approvals managed through email lead to a continuous cycle of feedback, late changes, and constant updates to artwork.

Summary: The reliance on paper-based and email-driven approval workflows hinders efficiency and productivity. Physical documents and handwritten notes can easily be misplaced or misinterpreted, leading to delays and errors in project execution. Email-based approvals often involve long email threads and lack clear visibility, making it difficult to track changes and ensure everyone is aligned. These outdated methods make it challenging to streamline the workflow and maintain accurate records, wasting valuable time and resources.

2. Staff cut corners in the approval process

• Lack of accountability: Absence of mechanisms to hold the team accountable for following the defined approval workflow, leading to skipped steps and inadequate final approvals.

• Premature content release: Final feedback on artwork is implemented without obtaining final approval, resulting in incorrect or flawed content being published.

Summary: When team members bypass essential approval steps, it undermines the integrity of the process and increases the risk of errors or oversight. Lack of accountability can result in the premature release of content that hasn't undergone necessary reviews, leading to quality issues and reputational damage. Without a robust approval workflow solution, it's difficult to enforce consistent and thorough processes, leaving room for mistakes and oversight.


3. Tracking creative projects is time-consuming

• Outdated tracking methods: Reliance on outdated spreadsheets or informal communication channels hampers real-time project tracking and necessitates additional efforts to obtain project updates.

• Communication gaps and delays: Incomplete project tracking leads to delays in obtaining project status updates, requiring time-consuming inquiries and phone calls to various stakeholders.

Summary: Relying on manual tracking methods, such as outdated spreadsheets or informal communication channels, poses significant challenges. It becomes time-consuming to gather up-to-date information on project status, as it requires reaching out to multiple individuals and consolidating their responses. This lack of real-time visibility hampers effective project management, leading to delays, miscommunication, and difficulties in prioritizing tasks.


4. Approvals stall at various touchpoints:

• Incomplete briefings and missing information: Inadequate information provided during the briefing stage leads to delays in obtaining critical details, prolonging the approval process.

• Overdue approvals and lack of follow-up: Delayed approvals and team members forgetting to follow up contribute to approval bottlenecks and extended project timelines.

• Prolonged design iterations: Slow feedback delivery during the design stage leads to frequent updates to artwork, increasing project duration.

Summary: Inefficient approval workflows result in frequent delays and interruptions throughout the process. Incomplete briefings impede progress and necessitate additional time to gather the necessary information. Overdue approvals, caused by miscommunication or oversight, create unnecessary waiting periods and hinder project timelines. When feedback is not promptly provided or consolidated, it leads to prolonged design iterations, slowing down the entire workflow and impacting productivity.


5. High artwork revisions are a regular occurrence

• Conflicting feedback and lack of transparency: Conflicting suggestions from stakeholders and insufficient visibility into feedback result in numerous revisions and errors slipping through the cracks.

• Late stakeholder involvement: Overlooking stakeholder input early in the process leads to delayed feedback, necessitating additional revisions.

• Assumptions and handwritten feedback errors: Assumptions made based on unclear handwritten feedback contribute to artwork errors and subsequent revisions.

Summary: Without a streamlined approval workflow, it becomes difficult to manage feedback effectively, resulting in frequent revisions. Lack of transparency in the feedback process makes it challenging to identify and resolve conflicting suggestions, leading to prolonged iterations. Inadequate documentation and communication channels can contribute to misunderstandings and errors, prolonging the approval process and hindering the timely completion of projects.


6. Resources are floundering under chaotic processes

• Lack of resource visibility: Inadequate visibility into resource allocation leads to inefficient task prioritization, pulling resources away from urgent projects, and causing delays.

• Inflexible task reassignment: Difficulties in reassigning tasks when someone is absent result in work backlogs and increased pressure on resources.

• Increased errors and pressure: The high volume of artwork changes and rushed tasks under pressure lead to mistakes and decreased quality.

Summary: In the absence of an efficient approval workflow solution, resource management becomes chaotic and haphazard. Without clear visibility into resource allocation, it becomes challenging to prioritize tasks effectively, leading to delays and inefficiencies. The absence of a streamlined process for reassigning tasks when someone is unavailable exacerbates the problem, causing bottlenecks and further delays. The resulting high workload and pressure contribute to errors, jeopardizing the quality of work and team morale.


7. No one has visibility over anyone else's work

• Lack of cross-departmental understanding: Limited awareness of workload across departments results in unrealistic deadlines and insufficient coordination.

• Unclear objectives and collaboration: Team members' uncertainty about each other's work impedes effective collaboration and goal-setting for efficient task management.

Summary: Limited visibility across departments inhibits effective coordination and collaboration. Without a centralized system or workflow solution, stakeholders from other departments may lack awareness of existing workload and ongoing projects, leading to unrealistic expectations and added pressure. The lack of transparency within the team hinders proper planning and resource allocation, making it difficult to establish realistic deadlines and prioritize tasks effectively.


8. Brand assets are often difficult to locate

• Disorganized asset storage: Projects and artwork saved across various folders make it challenging to locate the correct and approved files.

• Ambiguity in file versions: Multiple versions of artwork without clear indications of the final, approved file lead to confusion and wasted time.

Summary: In the absence of a structured approval workflow solution, organizing and retrieving brand assets can become a time-consuming and frustrating task. With files scattered across different folders, it becomes difficult to locate the correct version of artwork or approved files, leading to wasted time searching for assets and potential errors when outdated or incorrect files are used.


9. Your department is under pressure to deliver poorly executed marketing campaigns

• Delayed campaigns and decreased quality: Inefficient approval workflows cause delays in campaign launches and compromise the quality of output, leading to dissatisfied stakeholders and customers.

• Budget overruns and resource limitations: Inefficiencies result in exceeding the budget, leaving limited resources for upcoming projects and adding financial pressure.

Summary: Inadequate approval workflows hinder the timely execution of marketing campaigns, resulting in delayed launches and missed opportunities. As a result, the quality of the output may suffer due to rushed or incomplete work, negatively impacting customer satisfaction and the overall effectiveness of the campaigns. Exceeding the budget due to inefficiencies further strains resources and affects the profitability of the department.


10. You know it's time to invest in approval workflow software

• Recognizing signs of inefficiency and negative impact of current approval workflow processes
• Understanding the need for change and improvement in managing the approval workflow

• Realizing the potential time and cost savings, as well as the retention of talented staff

• Acknowledging that investing in approval workflow software offers a better solution for streamlining the approval workflow and achieving positive outcomes for the marketing team.

Summary: After evaluating the challenges and limitations of the current approval workflow, you have come to the realization that investing in a dedicated approval workflow software solution is essential. The software can address the identified issues by streamlining processes, centralizing information, improving communication and collaboration, and providing real-time visibility into project status. By implementing a robust approval workflow software, you aim to enhance efficiency, reduce errors, meet deadlines consistently, improve resource allocation, and ultimately drive better results for your marketing initiatives.