November 15, 2017

by: Marcus Varner, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Workfront

The most successful marketers spend 39 percent of their budget on content marketing and 70 percent of marketers say they are creating more content than they have in recent years.

Content marketing is effective and it’s here to stay, even though what it looks like is constantly shifting.

Review and approval is one of the biggest hurdles many marketers face, because it’s a part of the process they don’t have complete control over. From planning to setting goals and assigning tasks, marketers can, for the most part, drive a project through each step.

But, once it’s time for content to be approved, things can slow down and even come to a standstill, jeopardizing campaigns and inhibiting returns on investments. Miranda Barnard, communications director at Sorenson Media, can testify to the dangers of the review and approval process. “If there’s a roadblock involved with the approvals, it can stall the project to the point it’s no longer relevant,” she says.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

In 2015, Workfront polled Content Marketing World attendees and found that 92 percent confessed to being victims of the review and approval phase. That’s a huge majority, and things likely haven’t changed since then.

Instead of letting your projects get bogged down, use these seven steps to accelerate your review and approval process to speed things up and keep projects on track.

  1. Make a Template

Create and follow a template to establish the structure necessary to avoid roadblocks during review and approval.

A typical template might outline exactly how many days should be spent on pre-review, review round one, revision round one, review round two, revision round two, and distribution.

Keep in mind your template will be based on your company’s specific needs and will likely evolve over time.

  1. Avoid Reviewer/Approver Bloat

Too many businesses operate under the assumption that including more reviewers will increase quality of content. This can lead to including people who are unqualified, un-invested, or unavailable to review content, holding your project back and even causing damage.

Instead, limit the number of reviewers and approvers to those who are qualified, available, and can provide valuable and helpful feedback.

  1. Reduce Rounds

Having too many rounds of reviews usually signals a problem in the process, not the content. Avoid this slowdown by making sure teams have all the details they need before they start content creation so fewer rounds of revision will be needed.

Jonathan Burgoyne, marketing director at NOMATIC, would agree. About his team’s efforts to improve their content creation processes, he says, “We have tried to get folks to think through the entire process by using a creative/project brief. Though not perfect, this has helped get things moving in the right direction.”

  1. Get Commitments on Deadlines

Sometimes reviewers see themselves as casual observers rather than active participants, so they aren’t invested in the content and struggle to make deadlines.

Change this by sitting down with reviewers before you start a project to discuss what the project will entail, help them understand their input is crucial, illustrate the necessity of deadlines, check their availability, and then get them to commit to meeting specific deadlines.

  1. Educate Reviewers/Approvers on Consequences

If reviewers aren’t aware of the consequences of missed deadlines, they won’t feel the sense of urgency that keeps projects moving. Communicate to reviewers how missed deadlines or requested changes will have an impact on the current project, future deadlines, and other goals.

For example, tell reviewers that if they request a specific change to an ebook, it won’t be ready in time for the company’s big trade show.

  1. Enable More Specific, Informed Feedback

You’ve heard it before: “the layout needs to be changed,” “please rewrite this paragraph,” “edit the video to remove the part where she laughs.”

Vague, non-specific feedback isn’t helpful. It slows things down and definitely doesn’t improve the quality of content.

Burgoyne says, “Having to redo work because of poor communication is de-motivating to the team. And the project typically turns into, ‘Let’s just do what we need to to get so-and-so off our backs,’ instead of, ‘Let’s create something amazing.’”

Help reviewers give better feedback by providing context for content and making sure they have the tools they need, like a work management platform and a digital proofing solution.

  1. Perform a Post-Mortem

Take some time after each project to diagnose what worked, what didn’t, and what actions you can take to improve your next project. Included in this discussion should be an assessment of your review and approval process.

It’s easy to keep moving on to the next project without ever improving the way we work, which quickly becomes a recipe for mediocrity and chronic underperformance. Take the time for a post-mortem, and you’ll be surprised how, over time, many of the problems within your content creation process begin to vanish.

With these seven tips, you will find many of the roadblocks you used to face are no longer issues and your content creation is streamlined, efficient, and capable of supporting an overall marketing strategy.

About Workfront

Workfront is a cloud-based Enterprise Work Management solution that helps marketing, IT and other enterprise teams conquer the chaos of excessive email, redundant status meetings and disconnected tools. Unlike other tools, Workfront Enterprise Work Cloud is a centralized, easy-to-adopt solution for managing and collaborating on all types of work through the entire work lifecycle, which improves team productivity and executive visibility. Workfront is trusted by thousands of global enterprises, like Cars.com, Cisco Systems, Comcast, iProspect, Schneider Electric and Trek. To learn more, visit www.workfront.com or follow us on Twitter @Workfront

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