According to a Hubspot survey, the average marketer spends around 16 hours a week on routine tasks, assuming they have 45-hour workweek, because while we are being honest here – what marketer reallyworks a 37-hour week? No one.
That means that the average marketer spends almost a third of their time completing repetitive tasks, and the two biggest offenders? well, creating and sending e-mail, and collecting, organizing, and analyzing marketing data from different sources.
And although every marketer and company is different, it is no secret that the technology that is available to us as marketers, and the size of the team, budget and our number of tasks, has a huge impact on how our time is spent.
Thus simple routine tasks can go from, well.. routine to being the thing that make us rework our entire schedule and postpone deadlines.
Luckily, there are simple shortcuts that can help us save a lot of time, so when the tides run high – we will still be right on schedule with everything else.
We have collected these shortcuts and present to you 21 ways for you to make a shortcut and save time as a marketer. So if you want to work a little smarter and keep your workflow going as planned, without having to postpone one deadline ever again, then keep reading.
Tip #1: Tone down your creativity
Yes. We said it and we are not sorry. One of the big offenders when it comes to stealing time from marketers according to Hubspot is e-mail marketing. As we said – every marketer is different so whether it is the copy itself or the design of the mail – we have a solution for you. Let’s begin with the copy (we will get to the graphics later).
The solution: Get less creative. We know it is controversial, but it’s true. You can save a lot of precious time reusing text from the landing page in the e-mail. Moreover, make little tweaks to subject lines that have previously shown to work great with your audience. Incorporating changes like these thoughtfully, frees up so much time and eliminates the feeling of having to reinvent the wheel every single time you are about to hit ‘send’.
However, this does not mean that you should decrease the level of personalization in your e-mails – just work smarter, and use the content you already have. It might also ease the process of reading for your audience, and make them reach that ‘decision stage’ a bit faster.
Tip #2: Use what you can – especially other peoples’ templates
As promised – the graphics. When it comes to content on social media, e-mails, blog posts, guides, and white papers the layout or design is almost just as important as the content itself. Each piece of content has to reflect your brand, fit the channel it will be distributed on, and be so visually pleasing for the audience that they’d want to engage with it.
And designing your content so it does just that, is probably one of the most procrastination-tempting, time consuming, and frustrating tasks that ALWAYS seems like a good idea at the time, but ten minutes in and 5 Canva templates later – not so much.
The solution: Search for template kits that match your content type and channel. There exists a gazillion creative templates for each kind of channel that serves different purposes, and the primary thing you’d have to consider when acquiring these templates is the design, and whether it can be edited in Photoshop or Canva (or any other tool to your liking). Just change the colors so they fit your brand and insert your pictures and boom – you have a post in 36 sec (-ish).
Better yet – get entire branding-kits! Some of these kits contain up to +150 different designs, which you can use to make your feed look amazing across all channels.
Another solution is hiring a graphic designer to create templates for you.
Tip #3: Make sure everything you need is in one place
We all grew up with Microsoft Office. It has been our holy grail for decades, served us well and made our lives easier in so many ways, but regardless if you used Excel, Word, Powerpoint, one particular question seemed to repeat itself – who has the latest edition?
Along with the digital age and a more fast paced work life, new needs has emerged, and we no longer have time to search for the latest edit of a Word-document – did we ever really?
The solution: Use Google drive and centralize all of your and your company’s documents gathered in one place. Make subject-specific folders or even folders within the folders to structure your work so you’ll always know where to look. This will save you and your colleagues a ton of time, as you’d only have to log in to your Google Drive, to get access to the latest edition of everything.
Tip #4: Prioritize your social channels
Social media takes time – actually, it takes A LOT more time than that.
The reason for this is that each social channel satisfies different audience-needs as they are designed to host certain kinds of content more than others. This means that they each have unique requirements, different kinds of user bases and user expectations, which again means that you can’t post the same kind of content on each channel and expect engagement-miracles to happen.
Let’s take Facebook – here videos, blog posts, and curated content often perform the best. Whereas Instagram is a highly visual social media platform, which means that photos, short videos, creative graphics, and a general visually pleasing feed, performs well and usually attracts followers,
Ok, so I think you get the point – different media calls for different content. So the question is how do you save time?
The solution: Prioritize your most valuable channels, and focus on them when the tides are high. Choose the ones that either have the highest engagement rate, drive more website traffic from your audience or lead to more purchases.
Knowing when, where and how to push content is not only important to save time when you are busy, it is not only strategically smart, but also a great help. You can make your prioritization list in your marketing plan or content plan as a note or add it to the name of the channel.
Tip #5: Automation, automation, automation..
You know this one. Manual labor is almost a deadly sin in the digital marketing world or at least reason enough for a 2 min time-out.
The solution: There are plenty of your marketing efforts that can be automated but the most popular of them all is e-mail – and why not after having been dubbed one of the most time consuming marketing routine tasks by Hubspot?
But in reality there are a lot more things that can be automated and help both your team and you save time.
For example you can use marketing automation to improve team communication f.x. with a tool like Zapier. You can also use automation tools like Hootsuite to handle social media updates, or automate the segmentation of e-mail sign-ups and “Abandoned Cart” reminders with ActiveCampaign or Sleeknote. The possibilities are many, so get cracking!
Tip #6: This is a one stop-trip
Let’s try something fun – go get a pen and paper.
Now, try and write down all of the tools you use to manage your account and campaigns. And if you work at an agency then write down all of your clients, the tools they use, and the ones you use to manage their accounts and campaigns.
Not so fun, huh?
I get you. Honestly, by the time you have included social media profiles, email marketing software, CRM, analytics accounts, marketing automation platforms, the website credentials, blog, CMS login, time tracking tools, file management, and project management tools that list will be close to endless.
This is the root cause for all of our headaches as marketers. It is no wonder our time vanishes with the speed of light, and that we are ALWAYS behind on our tasks, when we have to navigate all of these tools, platforms and systems. To be honest I’m afraid to even know how much time I spend on it.
The solution: Centralize your tools. Can you even do that? Yes you can. Investing in (yet) another piece of software (yes, i know) will help you win back the time you spend on navigating in and between the majority of your tools.
It will take all of your ..
- Data from your social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc.
- E-mail marketing data
- E-commerce/CMS data
- Customer service data
- Google Analytics data
- Data from your ad-platforms like Facebook Ads or Google Ads
… and present all of it to you in 1 dashboard, and just like that you went from spending time navigating and researching +6 platforms to 1.
It can also take your insights from these platforms and present them through a single customer view, so you can see what your customer is up to, and how they interact with you on a 1:1 scale. It’s a literal one-stop-shop for all of your data across multiple platforms – from a complete bird’s view of your business all the way to a 1-on-1 playdate.
“Oh my god! What is this magnificent beast of a software called?”
I’m so glad you asked!
It’s called a Customer Data Platform. We know we are biased, but honestly.. It’s pretty cool and it WILL save you and your team a ton of time. Try it for yourself. You won’t regret it.
Tip #7: Make time for SoMe
As if you weren’t busy enough as is then your audience/followers has the audacity to talk to you as well. Oh well – it’s what we are aiming for. Earning likes, comments and shares among our audience is hard work, and every interaction is a stamp of approval and thus VERY valuable and important. But despite the hard work we do in order to earn the love from our audience, our work does not end there, and we have to engage with them when they reach out – but what do you do, when you are up to your neck in work and the comments section is blowing up?
The solution: You set a time during the day, where you check your socials, respond to messages and comments, share other peoples stories, like comments etc. Prioritizing this makes it easier to plan the rest of your day and all other tasks.
In other words – you’ll go from “oh, god! I don’t have time now – is it important?” *checking* *responding to messages* *realizing you lost your focus on the other task* *feeling annoyed* to “I can focus on this task because in one hour I’ve planned to check the socials, so I will let it be for now”.
Another time-saving-shortcut you can use is using prewritten/pre-saved replies and hashtags if you experience that a certain type of question repeats. But please remember that nothing can replace the feeling of talking to a human, which is vital for your followers. Especially also due to the increased demand for personalized experiences among consumers.
Tip #8: Make Go-to spreadsheets for you KPIs
To some, setting KPIs can take some time, because it can be difficult to figure out what would be relevant to measure, when, and on what channels.
The solution: help yourself and your team by making a go-to spreadsheet for KPIs, so everyone knows what to keep an eye on and when. Looking at unnecessary or less useful metrics/performance data takes both time and energy which could’ve been spent focusing on actual relevant metrics and decision making.
Tip #9: Delegate or outsource tasks to freelancers or agencies
Depending on your budget and if you choose to go with an agency over a freelancer, this can be either very expensive or the best investment ever.
If you have a smaller budget we suggest that you find an amazing freelancer that you trust, and work on a price with them – they are usually very keen on negotiating if it’s a long term engagement.
Tip #10: Prioritize time to make a strategy and stick with it
Way too often companies – even the BIG ones, and I mean even the ones you didn’t expect, don’t have a strategy or a plan and just make stuff up as they go. And if that’s the case for your workplace too, theni’ll suggest that you settle on a strategy and execute on it.
This will free up so much time for you because you’ll know exactly what to do, when to do it and how to do it, which makes it easier to make other decisions as you go.
Tip #11: Reuse your evergreens
Reusing your content is the hottest thing in content marketing these days.
Content reuse is all about taking your best performing content after an appropriate amount of time/posts has passed, and reposting it.
I’ll suggest that you give it a tweak with either a new colour, font, picture, use it in another context, on a different platform, as a story instead of a static post or exchange one word with another. But ultimately you can also reuse your content as is – no one will know – and if they do, you have my word that they don’t care, as long as it has been a while since you posted it the last time.
Tip #12: Use one day a month to make content for the following month
Content creation is crazy time consuming, and it can knock the wind out of you if you are trying to figure it out as you go, and ultimately lead to burn out.
Do yourself, your creativity and your precious time the favor of prioritizing one or two days a month solely to planning and writing content for the month to follow. This will be the best gift you’d ever give yourself.
Tip #13: Set Time Limits
Setting time limits can be very effective, the only thing that can complicate things is your ability to keep them, and I’m sorry my friend, but I have no remedy for that!
Working with time limits can mean two things …
- “I have two hours to complete this task and if I can’t make it, I will continue until I’m done and reschedule the other tasks for tomorrow”
- “I have two hours and two hours only to complete this task no matter how the quality turns out”.
Setting time limits can be a great way for you to learn how to manage your time in the future, because you gain valuable knowledge about how much time you need to write a blogpost, do social media audits, write e-mails or setting up ad campaigns, and this information will help you create a better and less stressed workflow/schedule in the future.
Tip #14: Try to avoid multitasking
Multitasking can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. When it is at it’s best it can help you handle an important work-call while reading your kids homework or save them from falling down the couch. When it’s at its worst it can kill all focus, leave you slightly confused, stressed and without a sense of what to do next.
And much as multitasking can be a gift in certain situations, reality is that scientists have now proved that our brain works best when it focuses on one thing at a time, and that it can take you twice as long to get back into the groove.
We know this can be hard to do when working with marketing and communication, but try training your non-multitasking-skills with one or two tasks and work your way “up”. It might even help you focus in general and increase speed and productivity.
Tip #15: Eliminate as many distractions as you can
Whether you work at home, in an open office space or in a closed office, the distractions are many; sounds, people, food in the fridge – the list is long. And even though we don’t feel that these elements are obviously distracting, the thing is that our brain still absorbs them and is taking away precious energy, focus and time. I therefore suggest trying …
- Closing the door.
- Noise cancelling headphones
- Switching your phone to airplane mode or night shift or set it to do not disturb for a period during the day.
- Shutting down other apps on your computer – including Slack etc.
- Book a meeting room for some peace and quiet, when working on certain tasks
Tip #16: Track Your Time
Do you honestly know how much time you spend on each task throughout the day? Most of us kid ourselves and it is almost a part of our job to underestimate the time each task takes. Therefore I suggest you start tracking your time, so both you and your team have a better understanding of how much time you spend on your routine tasks.
It will help you with planning your work schedule and keep a consistent flow. It can also help you with implementing necessary changes, i.e. choose which to outsource, or re-delegate in your team.
Tip #17: Use a Password Manager
As we already established in #6 it’s highly likely that you are logging into a load of tools each and every day, and each one of these require unique user credentials or passwords in a less fancy word. And to be honest – the chance of forgetting one is anxiety inducing as heck and the amount of passwords you accumulate over time is concerning.
But fear no more, all of this can be handled with a password manager tool like LastPass to store all of your passwords in one place. It will save you a ton of time searching for the right password and save some of your brain cells from overworking trying to remember passwords.
Tip #18: Rules for communication and delegation of tasks post meetings
We all know this. You have a great meeting, a new initiative has been born and everyone feels confident about it, but there is juuuust one little thing – who runs with each task? And what’s the deadline?
Do yourself a favor and make it a habit to make sure everyone knows who will take notes, who is the lead on different tasks, who’s on which team etc.
Tip #19: Dedicate a day to the most time consuming tasks
Every marketer has that one or two tasks that grabs them by their throat – either due to time or the task itself. My best advice to handle this is by dedicating a day to just get them over and done with, and to the extent you can – ask not to be distrurbed. At least for a portion of the day. This also includes the handling of your e-mails – set a time during the day to go over them.
Tip #20: Join marketing forums and ask for advice
There exists a plethora of marketing forums across all social media platforms, they can either be the best thing ever or a portal to hell. But despite that, I can HIGHLY recommend joining some of these groups. They are a great help when it comes to problem solving, nerdy insights and offer great advice on both tasks, jobs, clients, salaries, tech stuff etc.
Tip #21: Settle on what is urgent and what is procrastination
Prioritization is an absolute necessity and holy grail to save time and make sure you continuously move forward. The secret behind it is to figure out which things weigh more than others.