What is marketing work management?

There is a heightened need for marketing work management software and many of the platforms available are involving to incorporate AI.

What is marketing work management?

Marketing work management platforms help marketing leaders and their teams structure their day-to-day work to meet their goals on deadline and within budget constraints, all while managing resources and facilitating communication and collaboration. Functions may include task assignments, time tracking, budgeting, team communication and file sharing, among others.

Before the pandemic, many marketers had already been accustomed to working on initiatives that involved collaboration with people outside their own offices since many brands operate across regions or around the globe. Additionally, marketing projects — whether they’re campaigns or websites or whitepapers or videos — regularly involve working with outside resources, whether it’s an agency or a contract designer or photographer.

All of that has heightened the need for marketing work management software, which documents and optimizes the processes, workflows and projects undertaken by digital marketers, often integrating with other systems like digital asset management (DAM) or creative suites.

For various reasons, marketing is an ideal use case for these tools. 

Benefits of marketing work management tools

Marketing leaders face increasing and complex workload challenges. Enterprise marketing work management tools can offer significant benefits that help marketers get a handle on their work and better communicate with colleagues, including the following:

  • More efficient management of global operations. Marketing work management tools can help distributed employees coordinate with each other, allowing for accountability and consistency across markets. Some tools specifically support collaboration and approval processes geared toward marketing collateral.
  • Ease and transparency of reporting. Though it’s possible to use manually updated spreadsheets to manage projects, they don’t offer the native reports and dashboards provided by marketing work management tools. Many of these platforms include highly customized reporting capabilities that are widget- and wizard-driven to make reporting faster and easier. These reports are often shareable and can be exposed to executives at the VP- and C-levels, giving all stakeholders a view of progress across multiple initiatives.
  • Visualizations that aid in planning and resource allocation. Most marketing work management tools provide visualizations that allow marketers to see numerous projects at a glance, enabling them to adjust schedules or tasks as necessary to avoid overtaxing, or underutilizing, resources.
  • Improved coordination with clients and other stakeholders. Many marketing work management platforms allow “guest” access or other flexible permission structures that enable the sharing of some information while other aspects are hidden. This is especially helpful for marketers working at agencies or as outside consultants because they can document what they need to within the tool, without being concerned about appearing less than professional when the client logs in and sees their own view.
  • Digital asset management and file sharing. Most marketing work management tools allow users to upload files or link to them in cloud storage, serving as something of a DAM “lite.” Some are even integrated with a full-fledged DAM or creative suite, allowing creatives developing marketing assets to do their work, and obtain reviews and approvals, while also tracking the status of work for other stakeholders.
  • More seamless communication with development team and other groups. Digital marketing initiatives often include a technological aspect that calls for the talent of developers. When marketers and developers are in different functional departments, but utilize the same marketing work management tool, their work together runs with fewer hitches. The same applies for any other department with which marketing interfaces.
  • Easier tracking of billable hours and human resource management. Many marketing work management platforms track the time that has elapsed while an assignee works on a task, enabling agency account managers to easily tally up the number of hours spent on a particular client’s projects. This feature can also help managers keep an eye on employee productivity levels.
  • Clear accountability that keeps tasks from slipping through the cracks. The heart of most marketing work management tools is some version of a to-do list where discrete tasks can be assigned to the person or group that is responsible for accomplishing it. By using dependencies functionality and tracking these tasks, managers can eliminate hold-ups and miscommunication about what is expected.
  • Automation of repetitive tasks. Many marketing work management platforms include the creation of templates or reproducible sets of tasks that can help avoid tedious repetition. If an agency has an onboarding process, or a regular check-up process, that it follows with each one of its clients, a manager can create the structure for that process once and re-use it every time the use case arises. Additionally, some tools include recurring tasks that can be used to document processes that occur at regular intervals.


Relationship with agile marketing

To keep up with the pace of change, some marketing organizations have adopted agile marketing, a philosophy and workflow pioneered by software developers. Though it’s been around for a while now, the pivot to agile marketing workflows appears to be accelerating.

The practice of agile marketing doesn’t require any particular software, but marketers adopting this methodology are likely looking for tools that mesh with their new philosophy. Many marketing work management vendors offer reports and interfaces geared for agile, such as Kanban boards and a place to input backlog items. 

Complexity is driving the adoption of these solutions

The complexity of marketing work itself has grown exponentially. What used to be a face-to-face office meeting is now more likely to be multiple conversations over email, chat tools and video calls. A recent Salesforce State of Marketing survey found that marketers have adopted an average of four collaboration technologies to facilitate digital-first communication and unify their global marketing teams. Even so, it’s become increasingly difficult for marketing managers to track the status of various tasks and campaigns: 69% of marketers say it’s harder to collaborate now than before the pandemic, according to the State of Marketing survey.

Such factors have heightened the need for marketing work management platforms, which document and optimize the processes, workflows and projects undertaken by digital marketers, often integrating with other systems like digital asset management (DAM) or creative suites. In an article called “The ‘how’ of transformation,” McKinsey analysts noted that “70% of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals.” One part of the remedy, they concluded, is the adoption of more sophisticated work management tools.

Interest in marketing work management solutions is also being spurred by a desire to keep digital transformation initiatives on track by providing transparency and accountability, and helping marketing managers, as well as C-level executives, keep work on track whether employees are at home or in the office.


Marketing work management will be impacted by AI

How and where people work has shifted dramatically in the past several years, with remote and hybrid work becoming more commonplace. The introduction of ChatGPT has reverberated through the workplace, inspiring much experimentation with generative AI and a rethinking of many well-established workflows.

The marketing function has been at the forefront of both of these trends since much marketing work can be done without regard for physical proximity and also because generative AI is expected to have an outsize impact on marketing.

The tools broadly known as project or task management platforms — which we call marketing work management platforms because we’re focusing on their utility to marketers — have responded to these trends by quickly developing new functionality to aid remote workforces and incorporate generative AI features.

Use cases for AI in marketing work management platforms include:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning functionalities to smooth workflows such as summarizing task status or activity or anticipating automation needs.
  • Generative AI to aid in creating text (and perhaps images) to facilitate internal communication
    or for use in writing copy for campaigns and other creative.
  • Use of AI capabilities to manage the high-volume creation of assets such as visual and textual content, websites, video and digital events.
  • AI-powered automations that reduce the amount of manual work required to move projects from one state to another.


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About the author

Pamela Parker


Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media’s Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.