Automation and approval workflows: ways to drive efficiency across your marketing processes
By Jodie Byass
Put simply, across most brands, marketing assets and campaigns will need to be reviewed and ultimately approved by various stakeholders at some stage. That's just the way of the land, but manage the process is entirely up to you. This can be as simple as a management seal of approval all the way up to multi-department checks that often end up being time-consuming and counter-intuitive, especially when it comes to nimble and agile digital marketing.
As the online revolution continues to evolve, digital marketing is also growing by more streams each year as well. For example, what started out as blogging has expanded to include video campaigns, podcasts, e-books, whitepapers, an ever-growing number of social media platforms, forums and apps; the creative outlets just keep coming. When each of these different streams requires its own approval process, it is easy to become bogged down in the pursuit of signatures over the creation of successful content and campaigns.
There are also legal requirements to consider across all marketing campaigns and any mistakes in the process can lead to expensive non-compliance issues that can cause major headaches for you and your clients. Ultimately, these can be avoided.
We are here to help. With these three strategies, you can slice through the red tape and achieve rapid approvals, develop streamlined processes and get your hot creative marketing campaigns launched faster than ever. Cut the red tape and get those projects live without a hitch.
Using software to improve your marketing approval workflow
We know what you are thinking: Oh no! Not more software suggestions.
We get that your home screen is probably littered with them. You have managers for your management software, you are juggling multiple social media accounts across multiple social media platforms, potentially dozens of them ? and an inbox full of startups trying to peddle you the next big thing in marketing software.
We encourage you to sit back and look at the creative workflow management software aspect of your process if you haven't already. These resources are essential in managing many of the challenges that stand between your marketing campaigns and successful approvals, including:
- Poor, incomplete project briefs that mean constant revisions and delays
- Stakeholders overlooked in the process (which can also be a legal problem, see our last point on compliance)
- Missed deadlines that can have a major impact on your reputation and your brand
- Projects that go over time and over budget that eat into your profits and your business
- Outdated software and tools such as email that fail to recognise modern-day approval processes and;
- Lost assets that consume even more time to relocate or replicate.
Creative workflow management software assists you manage many of these challenges and ensure you have a clear visual on project briefs, key dates and deadlines, stakeholders and every other part of the marketing and approval workflow to streamline the entire procedure. With a suite of tools built-in, there are also plenty of ways you can streamline the way your team works during this journey. For example, you can utilise:
Checklist to manage and streamline your marketing processes
- The ability to request notifications from all stakeholders
- Compare revisions online to speed up these processes
- Online proofing tools that are accessible by multiple stakeholders
- Automated reminders that will reduce lag or delay during the project
- Reserve buttons so that team members can reserve work when working as a part of a team such as legal
- Digital asset management integration in the cloud to make access simple and to ensure assets are not lost.
- Reporting tools for all parties and stakeholders and; easy, remote cloud access on a range of different internet-connected devices.
The good news, you will notice an immediate change in your marketing approval processes by rolling out the likes of this kind of software. For example, most businesses notice a 30 per cent ROI in the first year of implementing creative workflow management software. Over half of the Fortune 500 companies are using solutions like these within their everyday operations, and it is rapidly becoming essential if you want to remain competitive. It could even be the make or break for your ability to dominate the market over a competitor.
We are not going to try and hard sell you a specific brand of software here, we just want you to be aware of this type of software and the benefits it offers. There are many options available, so look for the one you find the easiest to use, that manages all of the file types that you utilise, meets your budget and can be scaled to add more users or clients if required. Additionally, consider how much training will be involved in rolling out software like this across your company. Eventually, you'll find the perfect fit, and once your business is up and running with it in tow, you'll notice a massive difference in accountability, productivity and deliveries.
Templates to help your approval workflow dominate
First of all, we know that the word "templates" can leave a bad taste in the mouths of many creative types. Many believe that these restrictions suck the creativity right out of projects and deliver cookie-cutter results, often bordering on corny and cheesy. We understand the hesitation, but templates do have their time and place in this marketing world, and can really change the way your teams work (for the better).
We are not talking about the types of templates designed to strip away your imagination, but more those that improve your workflow immeasurably. We are talking about the ones that won't even touch your creative paths, only the gateways to streamline them and speed up the process.
These templates can organise the order of approvals so marketing campaigns move through the right channels automatically as they are ticked off, going from marketing to the artwork team to legal to the client, for example. Each stakeholder is automatically assigned a role in the process before a progresses.In the end, you have a clearly visible list of completed approvals and well-rounded, compliant project management.
Some of these layouts also provide multiple, pre-set approval paths allowing you to select the appropriate one as required. Let the software take care of the rest. There?s no need to manually add stakeholders, managers and approvers; enjoy the ability to eliminate manual tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming and keep you away from your creative campaigns.
Not only do these templates improve the approval process, but they also help ensure that the whole journey is handled correctly; human error can be costly if stakeholders are missed along the way. Seek out the right workflow templates that have all of the options that you need and you will be able to speed things up, ensure consents are handled correctly and get more campaigns out in the wild instead of being bogged down with repetitive tasks.
Checklists to help you achieve marketing compliance
Now we get down to the serious part: marketing compliance. There is a reason we are seeking these approvals in the first place and it has little to do with the final choice of colour pallet or logo placement (well, not entirely, anyway).
Marketing legislation in Australia is covered under Australian Consumer Lawand is enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to help protect customers from unscrupulous businesses. And yes, there are companies out there that rather cut corners, which is why there are checks and balances required under law to ensure that customers are not being misled.
Overall, this is a huge part of why the approval process even exists, especially when it comes to legal and management approvals, ensuring that you are compliant under all legislation and regulations and to protect your customers and clients. It also highlights why marketing approvals are so important because not following the right process can lead to non-compliance which can lead to large consequences.
On top of government legislation, there are also industry regulations that need to be adhered to so overall there are several important layers of compliance that can be challenging to navigate but far too important to ignore or get wrong. That is why admation has put together Approval Checklists to ensure you are literally ticking every box required to meet compliance.
It works very simply: ensuring that all stakeholders in the process are prompted throughout the marketing compliance and approval process to sign off on their part, so you can be assured every single level of compliance is met. The automated process also means that stakeholders receive their part of the marketing project when it is ready, so there are no delays with requests sitting with stakeholders when the work is not yet complete.
This Approval Checklist is not only useful for adhering to legislation, regulations and compliance, it will also help streamline your operations and reduce delays. The features included in admation's Approval Checklist platform include:
- Improved compliance and a reduction in potential human errors due to meticulous checking
- The elimination of tiresome, repetitious revisions as reviewers have an exact list of requirements that they need to check off before providing feedback or approving deliverables
- Reduces confusing or inaccurate feedback that can lead to mistakes going public and expensive fines if they breach marketing compliance
- Decreases bottlenecks that eat into precious creative time and budgets
- Resources aren't overloaded with relentless artwork changes caused by incorrect feedback
- Fewer delays, faster turnarounds and better budgeting on marketing projects
- Better ROI for your business with improved marketing compliance
By combining all three of these strategies, compliance through approval checklists, templates to automate processes and software to automate the repetitive administrative tasks you can ensure all of your marketing approvals are correct, compliant and handed over in a rapid period of time leaving you to the task of creating strong, engaging digital marketing campaigns.