The time when project management was considered a discipline that applies to just a few industries is gone. In 2019, wherever you look, you will find its traces.
When Project Management Institute, the leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project management profession, researched and analyzed trends for 2017-2027, they found that the world is already project-oriented; even in nontraditional industries like health care, professional services, and publishing.
Marketing has typically been ahead of this project management curve, which makes total sense. No matter what campaigns you’re running, advanced planning and keeping track of progress is crucial to bringing in profits.
When managed properly*, marketing campaigns can be game-changers for your business, leading to:
- Increased traffic
- Email signups
- Visitors performing target actions
*This is what we’ll be covering today!
In this article, I will not discuss ways to optimize your website. You can find a great explanation and a step-by-step guide on how to do that here.
Instead, I will cover the topic of efficient campaign management and the tools needed for this, using website optimization as an example. Along the way, I’ll loop in advice from several experts in the space.
First, let’s talk about a general framework you can follow.
How To Efficiently Manage Any Marketing Project
Like any other campaign, when you manage a marketing project you’ll go through the traditional phases:
- Defining the scope of a project
- Evaluating how everything is developing, identifying any risks, and removing them
- Assessing whether goals were reached or if efforts fell short
However, website optimization projects have a lot of moving parts that make them especially complex to manage. Next we’ll cover how to set the wheels in motion for success.
How To Efficiently Manage A Website Optimization Project
To efficiently manage the website optimization process, project managers should take the following steps:
1. Set SMART goals
As you start drafting your website optimization plan, you have to set certain goals the campaign should achieve. Without goals, there’s no way of knowing whether your campaign is successful or not.
We recommend that you use a highly efficient method of goal setting called SMART.
SMART is an acronym that is formed by the initial letters of:
Relevant/Realistic/ Results Focused
One great thing about the SMART goals model is that it doesn’t require any training or knowledge of specific tools.
Let’s walk through a few examples of how each step in SMART helps you manage your website optimization project – in this case we’ll say it’s to “Produce more high-quality content.”
- Specific: Define what you need to do
Incorrect: Write a few articles each week.
Correct: Write three long-form articles each week based on newly researched long-tail keywords.
- Measurable: Define what metrics you will use to measure progress and success.
Incorrect: Write a few articles each week.
Correct: Write three long articles each week that will increase the number of newcomers from Google by 500 unique visitors at the end of this month. Progress monitoring will occur in Google Analytics.
Think about whether there’s an audience for the topic you’ll be writing about. Is your goal of 500 unique visitors within reach if you just put in the effort?
- Relevant/Realistic/ Results Focused
Take into account resources, skills, etc. that you need to realistically achieve your objectives. Do you need additional help or tools that you can easily obtain?
Define deadlines for tasks or decide when an objective can be achieved.
Incorrect: Write a few articles this month.
Correct: Write ten long and five short articles by July 1, 2019.
2. Break down the project into smaller tasks
Website optimization projects can take months, and it’s often daunting when you look at the starting point and compare it to the finish line.
To make it easier to reach your final objective, you should divide the whole project into shorter phases with milestones. Then break them up once again into smaller tasks that take just a few days or a week to fulfill.
Clear goals and deadlines are always more manageable, and having a stream of smaller deadlines that move the campaign forward makes it easier to achieve progress and reach any final objectives.
3. Use project management software
This is the most crucial component of managing a project.
Website optimization requires dozens of tasks within different time frames, featuring multiple participants and resources, with various metrics to track.
Without a system where everything is structured and organized, there will be chaos that at the end of the day, will lead to project failure.
Fortunately, modern project management solutions offer task management and progress tracking features, as well as time tracking, resource management, and team collaboration tools.
Getting An Expert Opinion: Website Optimization Pain Points and Tools of the Trade
Each marketing project is unique, but many share the same characteristics.
We’ve asked a handful of experts to weigh in on how they manage their website optimization projects, and what tools they use to take the pain out of the process.
Edward White, Digital Marketer & Strategy Consultant at WebMechanix
Your marketing efforts may drive lots of high-intent, relevant traffic, but if the landing page or website is poorly optimized, you’re going to have suboptimal outcomes.
When looking at a website to find elements to test, the first thing I do is go into Google Analytics and find the highest traffic landing pages. A great next step is looking at a more qualitative analysis and deciding what elements to test.
These should help to identify things like barriers or areas that confuse people (ex. someone fills out a section of a form twice).
After that, I try to review some of the following questions:
- What do I want my site visitors to do on this page?
- Are people able to easily identify what I want them to do?
- Is the copy for the CTA, button or form personalized & enticing?
- Is the form easy/simple enough to fill out?
- Does the language clearly explain what they need to do to accomplish the goal?
- Does it redirect to something misleading?
- Could it be said better/clearer?
- Does it look outdated?
Our agency uses Asana for the majority of our project management needs. The platform is flexible for collaboration and integrates with a variety of services that make workflows seamless.
We work using Agile, sprint-based periods to complete work, and Asana works effectively for this.
Paul Baikovski, SEO Specialist at XB Software
When speaking about Website optimization, one should also remember how critical it is to focus on search engine optimization. Actually, this is one of the most important components of Web marketing.
In my work, I emphasize three main components:
- User behavior
- Link building
When you work on content, you should understand the user’s intent and give people high-quality material that will solve the problem they seek the solution to.
I always recommend paying more attention to what your visitors want, and less to search engine manipulation.
It’s crucial to build a structure and design that will help your visitors find what they are looking for as soon as possible. The more content you can get people to read on your site, the more likely it is they will take your target actions.
When you think about external links, think about their quality. One link from an authoritative resource with an overlap in your target audience will beat out 10 low-quality links any day.
Tracking every action you make and connecting it with a SERP can be painful. To understand what changes have been made and how they affected results, you should create a plan and record each action with the results.
As a team, we plan all our actions using Gantt Pro’s online chart software. Everything we need for successful project management, we’ve found there: tasks, resources, costs, date management, progress tracking, and team collaboration.
It offers a great intuitive interface so even new people in our team need just a few minutes to understand the chart.
Lewis Ellis, Marketing Consultant at Hussel Marketing
Many businesses simply throw money into advertising and pushing products onto consumers by getting in their face, and then wonder why they convert at such low levels.
The answer is generally very obvious: they haven’t optimized their website to receive that traffic.
I approach web optimization the same way I would approach any marketing campaign. I tend to start with mapping out the persona of who the visitors will be to the site. I want to understand:
- Who are they?
- What are they looking for?
- How do they shop?
- What objections might they have?
- What point are they at in their buying journey (research phase, comparing between a couple of potential brands, ready to buy now)?
Here is a persona template that I find very helpful.
Once we know who they are, I’ll go through the website from their point of view.
Do I find what I’m looking for?
Do I struggle anywhere?
Am I left feeling confused?
Are there competitors that do it better?
I generally analyze other top performing websites as part of the process to give me an idea of what works well already, alongside areas for a potential competitive edge. I then make changes.
The most painful part of planning is the fact that statistics, shopper behavior, and data is an ever-changing beast. What was relevant for one client may not be for another; what was true yesterday may not be today.
To cope with these issues, I use the following tools:
Harvest/Forecast for planning campaigns out, estimating time, and keeping on top of hours.
Basecamp for communicating with the team and having all the information in a readily available location (occasionally I’ll give clients access to add/view information).
Bryce Liggins, director of Marketing Strategy at Brolik
Website optimization is a cornerstone to a successful marketing strategy.
If your site’s user experience isn’t intuitive, no amount of traffic-driving initiatives are going to lead to success.
When I am going to optimize a website, here are the steps I follow:
- The first step is to identify the target goal and the funnel of steps needed to take place for the user to reach that goal.
- Next, you need to assess current performance. If there is no success at the start, you can’t start optimizing the last step of the process. I look to identify where I can make the most improvement with the least amount of time as a guiding principle on prioritization. In other words, identify where your funnel is losing the greatest amount of users and start there.
- Once you know where to start, you need to build your test. Identify what metric you’re trying to improve, define the way you are going to try to improve that metric, establish your multivariate test, implement your tracking mechanism, launch, and assess.
The most painful moment is when a lack of product-market fit is identified. You found the ideal audience, you’ve run several multivariate tests, but all of the data points to a lack of interest from the audience.
This is always difficult to identify, but with the right mix of session recordings and qualitative feedback from the audience, it can be uncovered.
For project management purposes, we use Asana. With a cross-functional team working on different projects and coming from different backgrounds, it’s vital to have a centralized, easy to use organization and communication system.
Asana provides all the flexibility we need to organize our projects and enough rigidity to ensure they are done on time and on budget.
Proper management can significantly boost your website optimization projects, if you follow these key steps:
- Set SMART goals. They will help you specify objectives and be aware of what you need to achieve.
- Break your marketing project into small chunks and shorter time intervals to make deadlines manageable.
- Choose a project management tool that will cover your needs. Luckily, the market offers dozens of them.
About the Author
Andrew Stepanov is a content writer and communication specialist at GanttPRO. When he is not writing, he spends time with his family, listens to rock music or watches sports games.