OK, so there are *loads* of reviews of marketing project management software – why should we write another one?
Well, we studied a number of the most popular and in-depth reviews and, whilst we’re not suggesting foul play, we suspect that there may be a teeny weeny bit of bias in some of them.
For example, in a review of 13 Marketing Project Management Software Solutions the ClickUp team came to the (shocking) conclusion that “ClickUp is by far the best marketing project management software”.
Similarly, in a recent review of 30 Marketing Project Management Tools, against all the odds, the ProofHub team concluded that “ProofHub tops the list”.
Given it seems unbiased opinions are hard to come by, we’ve taken a slightly different approach.
This article contains:
- What to look for in a good marketing project management platform
- The problems to be aware of with marketing management software
- An unranked and uncurated list of marketing project management tools
What to look for in a good marketing project management software
First of all, we believe a good marketing project management platform should be light on features. The goal should be to minimise (not maximise) the amount of time users spend in your app. The best marketing project management platforms get out of the way and enable team members to focus on execution.
That being said, we believe the following functionality is essential to support modern growth marketing teams.
1. Goal tracking
Set clear goals and keep everyone aligned
The primary goal of your marketing project management software is to set and track your marketing goals and KPIs (be that traffic, MQLs, revenue, or whatever). Strategy and execution must be aligned to ensure the right work is prioritised and teams are working on the right initiatives. Everyone should understand team goals (see the north star metric), and the software should assist ensuring the team remains on-course to achieve the desired results.
2. Custom dashboards
Know how your metrics are trending
A dashboard view enables everyone to quickly and easily gather performance insights at a glance. This should bring together important metrics and indicators in one place whilst keeping the big picture in focus, and tracking team progress towards the goal. Typically, this is in the form of visual widgets that turn data into insights, and may include aggregating data from 3rd party tools (such as HubSpot, Pardot or Google Analytics).
3. Idea repository
Capture all marketing ideas in one place (not in people’s heads)
The first goal of any growth marketing team is to capture all marketing ideas in a central repository so that opportunities can be analysed and prioritised. Your marketing opportunities should be stored in a consistent format which clearly explains the expected outcome (for more information, see marketing hypothesis best practises) of the activity in order that they can be scored and prioritised accurately.
4. Idea scoring
Prioritise work that impacts goals and revenue
The biggest growth levers a marketing team has at its disposal are team productivity and efficiency, this comes down to ensuring everyone is working on the most high-leverage opportunities at any point in time.
The ability to accurately score and prioritise ideas enables teams to make strategic work decisions and to focus on this high-leverage work. Scoring marketing opportunities (see the ICE framework) ensures you and your team are confident in maximising marketing resource by working on the right work, at the right time, and prevents human biases negatively influencing team priorities.
5. Agile experimentation
The days of marketing projects taking 3 months to deliver are gone. Modern marketing teams need to be nimble with a bias for action – in other words, they need to be agile.
Your marketing project management system should encourage your team to break-down large projects into smaller testable ideas that can be improved upon and scaled after they have been proven to be successful. Running marketing activities in an agile manner and employing iterative processes has become an essential characteristic of modern growth teams.
6. Custom reporting
Demonstrate results, without needing Excel
Reports should provide you with a 360 degree view of everything that matters allowing you to gather and visualise what you need – quickly and easily. Generate reports for individuals, teams, managers and stakeholders to demonstrate work in progress, what’s coming next, team efficiency, KPI tracking and more. Zoom out for the big picture and zoom in for the nitty gritty.
7. Sharing & collaboration
Engage business stakeholders
Engaging and collaborating across silo’d teams, as well as with stakeholders and third parties is an essential part of any marketing function. However, this knowledge and information sharing shouldn’t be manual, time-consuming or constrained to siloed tools like email.
Secure sharing and collaboration features are an efficient way to keep everyone on the same page and up to date with your teams progress.
8. Pre-built templates
Jumpstart your growth without needing an agency
Are you building a new growth marketing team from scratch and want to hit the ground running? Do you have an existing team but need some inspiration for new ideas? Do you need to jumpstart the growth culture within a more traditional marketing team?
A pre-made templates library can be used as inspiration to kick-start your marketing projects, ideas and experiments. In some cases these ideas and experiments are based on real-world experiments.
Connect the tools you use
There are typically 2 marketing platforms take in terms of integrations:
- Integration of metrics – integrating metrics from third party tools such as HubSpot, Pardot, Salesforce, Google Analytics and more.
- Integration of products – connecting and/or replacing products that are already in use by the marketing or growth team, such as Slack, GitHub, Google Drive, Outlook, Figma, Zoom, Google Analytics etc.
We believe the first of these is much, much more important than the latter. We don’t believe in the need to centralise all project data in one place, and to force new interfaces and workflows onto a team (the dangers of marketing project management platform feature bloat, and the problems inherent in building jack-of-all-trades software are discussed further below).
Avoid lengthy meetings and never miss a beat
Keep your entire team updated as things change, no matter where they are. Stay up-to-date and informed and increase your visibility over tasks, all whilst avoiding hours of phone calls and meetings. Notifications will find you even when you’re not at your desk.
12. Building a growth culture
Build a growth mindset and an experimentation culture in your team and company through:
Workflows & Playbooks
Reduce time-consuming work and minimise human error by optimising and refining repeatable processes. Executable on repeatable tasks easily and quickly using ready-made templates.
Search – Everything you need at your fingertips & Simplify onboarding
Full-text search allows your entire team to find the details of any previous experiment or idea in seconds. By keeping historical context, processes, and work all in one place onboarding new team members becomes quick and easy.
Empower your team
The goal of any marketing project management platform is to empower the team through ownership and accountability, not to enable micro-management.
The problems to be aware of with marketing project management software
We observe 3 main problems that typically occur when marketing teams decide to implement project management software:
1. Outputs over outcomes
The biggest problem with traditional task management solutions is that quickly employees fall into the output versus outcome trap. “Work” quickly becomes focused on creating and assigning tasks, responding to notifications, joining team calls, communicating status updates and discussing the next sprint cycle. Before you know it, high impact work gets replaced with work about work, and goals start shifting towards outputs as opposed to outcomes – because they’re easier to measure.
According to a 2021 study of 10,223 global knowledge workers, workers now spend 60 percent of their valuable time on work about work, or metawork, as its become known. That’s equivalent to spending January to mid-August on work that doesn’t really move the needle.
When choosing your next marketing project management system, keep in mind that the goal should be to use it as little as possible. The goal of marketing project management software is NOT to “plan, collaborate, and track the delivery of marketing projects” (here’s looking at you Toggl). The goal of marketing project management is to increase the impact marketing has on sales and revenue.
In a review of marketing project management software the Digital Project Manager team open the article saying “Creative agencies, in-house digital teams, and studios all have one thing in common: pumping out the best creative work”. And yet in our experience, for the vast majority of in-house teams “pumping out creative work” is a terrible measure of marketing effectiveness.
2. Feature bloat
We believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to project management and that “project planning software for everyone” (we’re looking at you ProofHub) is a terrible idea. The needs of a modern marketing team (for example) are vastly different to the needs of an architectural practice. And yet, most project management tools are completely industry agnostic – jack of all trades, master of none.
As a result, a race for feature parity has resulted in ever-increasing complexity and feature bloat. Work about work features such as custom fields, annotation, proofing, resource allocation functions, workload distribution reports, AI auto-scheduling, timesheets, time tracking, message boards and auto check-ins adds enormous complexity and does very little (if anything) to improve business outcomes.
Keep in mind the goals of the platform provider may not be aligned with yours. For venture-backed software companies, the higher the engagement with your app, the more dollars available for their next funding round, yet this is completely at odds with your team spending more time doing actual work.
Keep it simple! Focus on outcomes and business results – not work about work.
3. Jack of all trades, master of none
However, this results in lots of very average “jack of all trades” software:
- Mediocre file storage, not Box/DropBox
- Mediocre task tracking, not Trello
- A mediocre chat solution, not Slack or Teams
- Mediocre video calling, not Zoom
- Mediocre document storage and collaboration, not Microsoft Office or Google Docs
- Mediocre image editing, not Photoshop
- Mediocre version control, not Jira or GitHub
We believe in the right tool for the job, and one built for modern marketing teams.
However, if you’re looking for “clunky awful and slow” project tracking software, one that enables “micromanagement to an extreme” with search that is “absolute trash” Jira may be worth a look (note: all quotes and real courtesy of https://ifuckinghatejira.com/).
An unranked & uncurated list of marketing project management software
Without a systematic process, managing a marketing team is at best unproductive, and at worst chaotic. This applies equally to a marketing team of 1, or a marketing team of 100.
Below is a list of marketing project management tools, categorised and tagged – so that you can make up your own mind.
Note: there are 2 tables below, the first is all marketing project management tools, the second is generic project management tools.
Marketing project management software
Generic project management software
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