Workflows: Best Practices for Automating Today’s Marketing Department


In the age of content marketing, PPC campaigns and mobile apps, antiquated tools like pen and paper have no place in today’s dynamic marketing landscape. However, time and time again, marketers return to outdated tools for their vital processes, leaving campaigns vulnerable to error and miscommunication.

Implementing automated workflows is one of the smartest ways to weed out these inefficiencies. With better tools in place, marketers can pinpoint and automate their most repetitive, cumbersome tasks, minimizing the risk of errors and creating a safety net to prevent documents from being lost in an inbox. By streamlining workflows, marketers get hours back in their week to plan and execute detailed campaigns faster and more efficiently.

Automation is a simple starting point to push common activities, from creative concept reviews to budget approvals, into the future. However, no transformation is without its challenges. These are two of the main pain points organizations encounter when moving forward with workflow automation, and how marketers can navigate around them:

  • Education: Successfully adopting workflow automation technology depends on having the support of the full department (or, organization). Innovative technology – and automation especially – has sparked concerns about job security since the industrial revolution. This anxiety, which often stems not from the technology but from simple fear of the unknown, can derail adoption before it even begins. The more marketing leaders educate their teams about the value of automation, the easier it will be to alleviate the stress of change.At the start of the education process, automation needs to be positioned as a tool that eliminates the undesirable elements of marketers’ jobs, not as a machine that will replace the individual. Automation’s role is to remove the menial tasks like long email chains throughout an approval process. Role-specific demonstrations or coaching sessions are one way to let employees see firsthand the ways their work day will improve. Quantifying the time and effort staff will save on common duties like reviewing creative edits or contract approvals gives marketers a much more tangible grasp on how the technology will impact their day-to-day.

    But education can’t end with a half-day meeting or training. Allowing users to learn at their own pace through one-on-one coaching sessions and online resources empower marketers to take charge of the adoption process. On that note, marketers should be closely involved when developing these resources. While the decision to go digital may come from the top down and the IT department will likely be the ones to develop the workflows, marketers will ultimately know their use cases and project needs best. Creating learning materials tailored to the marketing department’s specific activities instead of IT jargon gives end users a reason to be more invested in the adoption effort.

  • Defined Processes: The “garbage in, garbage out” rule wholly applies to workflow automation. Automating a broken or poorly defined manual process won’t fix the underlying issue. Before workflows can be digitized, marketing departments must be able to codify their processes to ensure initial tasks trigger the appropriate sequential actions. While most companies understand their workflows in general terms, these processes typically include a number of seemingly small steps that are taken for granted and often forgotten during the digital transition.For example, marketing departments typically seek multiple copy edits on a single piece of collateral before moving to the print phase. However, the steps taken towards sign off and the parties involved in the editing process can differ greatly across multiple departments. If marketers are able to codify the unique process for each task then establishing a workflow is a simple process.

    Automating any business process requires a deep understanding of the steps, people, and governance involved to avoid ambiguity that can negatively influence the final outcome. As workflow technology is put into action, marketers should be critical in examining the effectiveness of automated processes compared to their manual counterparts. In the best-case scenarios, workflow automation is an iterative effort that helps marketing departments constantly improve.

Endless Opportunities

Establishing automated workflows could be the starting point of a larger digital transition within the workplace. Marketing departments are often held hostage by slowed and inefficient workflows leaving less time for campaign planning and implementation. Automation, when thoroughly planned for and implemented with full knowledge of the challenges that may arise, is a step in the right direction. Once workflows are in place and running smoothly, marketers can begin enjoying the increased productivity and collaboration that comes with defined automated workflows.

SpringCM Workflow Designer

SpringCM Workflow Designer provides a modern user experience to set up workflows for actions taken on a file, folder, or even from external systems like Salesforce. Automate administrative tasks, kick off advanced workflows, or tag documents and reports. For example, you can create rules to automatically route an individual document or a group of related documents to a specific folder. Or define searchable, custom tags that sync with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and automatically link to certain documents to aid in tracking and reporting.

SpringCM Workflow Template

Smart Rules allow you to do significant process automation with little or no coding. Automatically route contracts or documents to people inside or outside of your team. Advanced workflows are especially useful during contract or document generation when you can use predefined data to reduce human error, automate distribution for approval, and archive approved versions with minimal user interaction.

Accurate searching enables users to quickly track down a document by searching for metadata such as contract start date or customer name. You can define how to tag documents according to their specific business needs. These tags can sync with CRMs to keep sales teams working with the same customer data and they can be leveraged to track contracts containing non-standard or negotiated clauses.

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