Marketing operations teams are increasingly pressured to produce more with less. Messages and requests fly in from Slack, email, and every other possible angle. What’s the priority? P1. When is this due? ASAP. Without a systematic way to manage new work requests, it becomes a challenge to set expectations with your stakeholders, identify work priorities, and drive change management to increase efficiency over time. Whether you need to empower a small team to make a large impact or standardize processes for a larger organization, companies of all sizes can level up their campaign production with a streamlined campaign intake process.
What Is a Marketing Campaign Intake Process?
We think about campaign production in four stages: Intake, Build, Quality Assurance, and Launch. Intake is the first, and often the most overlooked stage in a campaign management process. Integral to a campaign demand center, intake is the stage at which a campaign request is submitted for production (request), reviewed (triage), and assigned to a build specialist (assignment).
This stage will:
- Clarify expectations on deliverables and timelines
- Reduce time wasted in wrangling stakeholders and managing communications
- Reduce build process delays
- Reduce rounds of edits and approvals prior to the launch
Ownership over the Intake stage is best managed by a campaign production lead who is capable of fulfilling the request themselves but who is also aware of other incoming requests and total production capacity. When demand for campaign production exceeds either the number of target audience communication limits or production capacity (pain points for all organizations seeking to scale aggressively) sprint planning and project management are required.
Let’s break down each component of the intake stage to understand its benefits.
Intake Stage 1: Marketing Campaign Request
A request is anything that requires time to review & respond to. There are typically two types of requests in the campaign production process: planned marketing campaigns & ad hoc requests. A marketer submits a work request that adheres to a defined process that clearly scopes the needs and provides all necessary information to complete the work.
With a defined process, the requester knows what to submit, how long the campaign production will take, and what they will receive when the campaign is complete. This empowers marketers to plan campaigns with the full scope and timeline in mind.
At all levels of organizational maturity, it’s a best practice for requests to be submitted through a project management tool. Depending on the tool and its capabilities, submissions can be done through a form, task templates, or a clonable task. Identify who needs to be responsible for accepting new requests and managing the form within the tool.
Identify the commonly requested campaign types. These campaigns require the same information every time and assume the same service level agreements (SLAs). Examples might be Web Content Download, Webinar, or Newsletter. Create a content submission document for each campaign type that outlines all necessary components of the campaign, including timelines, links, email, landing page copy, and campaign audience details. This document will identify minimum viable production (MVP) requirements that will be required upon submission. This content submission document will be filled out and linked with the request, acting as a single, living document for all required content.
You can still leave room for ad hoc requests: these are unplanned requests that hit the intake queue and are outside of the stakeholder’s planned marketing initiatives. It includes work like platform maintenance, troubleshooting, investigative work, answering technical questions, documentation, data pulls, etc. Having these separated out from typical campaigns allows you to identify production capacity, since these ad hoc requests may require different SLAs.
Intake Stage 2: Triage in Marketing Campaign Operations
The triage phase is the period of time in which ownership of a request is assumed by a production lead who validates the request by ensuring all required information is provided to complete the task. If not, the requestor is notified and asked to update the request before it can be considered submitted. The date of submission starts the clock on production SLAs.
By taking time to review the request, any missing information can be identified and submitted as quickly as possible. This prevents the campaign builder from starting a task, only to have to stop and wait for new information to come in. It also helps campaign builders adhere to SLAs. Ignore the triage phase, and you might end up with “TBD” in every request form section.
To optimize your triage, use your project management tool’s built-in features to help clarify needs and set expectations. Set up swimlanes for each production stage and task statuses that identify if a request is accepted or incomplete. An example of different statuses might be Request Pending Review, Request Incomplete, Request Accepted, or Request Assigned.
Intake Stage 3: Ticket Assignment in the Tool of Record
Assignment concludes the Intake stage in the production process. Ownership is assigned to campaign builders for fulfillment and final due dates are applied to each task.
The request and triage processes have laid the groundwork for a clearly defined campaign that is ready to execute. Because of this, the assignment phase can focus on how the campaign aligns with concurrent initiatives, and who has the capacity to execute the request. And when all assignments funnel through the project management tool, expectations are set in a transparent and measurable way.
In high-complexity organizations, assignment is done as part of the sprint planning process where a campaign production lead works with business stakeholders to determine build schedules and launch dates, based on estimated sprint points and production capacity. In low-complexity organizations, the campaign production lead might take ownership of a large percentage of requests for direct fulfillment without additional planning. The time between the conclusion of the Intake stage and the start of the Build stage will vary depending on the process i.e. sprint planning and assignment method.
Implement a Campaign Production Process, and Define your Campaign Intake Process first
If you find yourself or your team struggling with a production process hindered by missing information, compressed deadlines, and haphazard communication, consider how adding more time at the beginning of the process can save a lot more time and effort throughout the rest of it. Your campaign production team will earn a great reputation when they can deliver accurate, consistent campaigns on time and with clear communication. Your campaign intake process is the first step to getting you there.