Effective project management, especially if you have a large team from various departments involved in the project, quickly becomes a nightmare. Marketing, including digital, often involves any number of simultaneous projects going at the same time. Ensuring that each project is done on time and completed satisfactorily requires coordination across not just marketing professionals but others from the design department, digital advertising, social media, customer service, listening, and web design. To make project management more effective, you need the right tools and today we would like to discuss one of those tools – a flow diagram.
The concept of a flow diagram, or flowchart, emerged in the 1920s. In the early days, flowcharts were commonly used for various business operations and, it wasn’t until in the 1940s that flowcharts found their way into computer programming to simplify a supposedly complex program. Since then, flowcharts became the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning diagrams, and it’s not an overstatement to say that they revolutionized how businesses work on complex systems.
However, as usual, some people find it hard to believe that a simple diagram can bring a lot to the table. Unfortunately, if you’re not using a flow diagram to make your marketing strategy more efficient, you’re missing out on a serious advantage that might drive more sales and better customer service.
On the bright side, it’s never too late to adopt flow diagrams into your business. To prove this point further, here’s a closer look at the advantages of using a flow diagram.
What is a flow diagram?
First, to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s take a look at a flow diagram as well as some examples of flow diagrams useful in more efficient marketing operations. Below you’ll find 2 examples of a marketing flow diagram. These are both templates you can adapt for your business operations and, if you would like more templates, simply Google “marketing flow diagrams” for more options.
Now, here are some ways you can use flow diagrams to ease your marketing projects.
Identify unnecessary steps in a process
Redundancies are pretty detrimental in a complex system. They add to operating costs, without necessarily helping to improve the overall business process. For instance, looking at the analytics or conducting surveys helps a business identify the customer demographics, but once you perform one of these options, there’s no longer a need to do the other. And, since web analytics is fast and free (in most cases), you should employ this option as it also allows you to monitor changes in demographics over time by setting up a dashboard containing these metrics. Identifying these unnecessary steps are relatively hard to notice, that’s why there are flow diagrams.
Flow diagrams visualize a process, and by doing so, you can more easily spot unexpected problems and unnecessary loops within a system where standardization improves efficiency and reduces costs. The term ‘standardization’ might be unfamiliar, but it’s something you must know going forward.
Simplify website planning
Website planning is perhaps one of the most time-consuming, complex, and challenging projects your business does. Not only are there multiple steps necessary in building your initial website, but you must consider usability and other aspects of how users employ your website to satisfy their needs. Moreover, managing the various departments involved and building or editing your website requires coordination, especially given your need to have all of the processes completed at the same time.
Using a flow diagram containing a timeline and identifying the critical pathways, you don’t have to worry about bottlenecks, especially now that you have something to remind you of what you need to do, indirectly making website creation is a lot easier. If you find it hard to believe, here are the findings outlining the benefits of flowcharts regarding website planning. Besides, even after the website’s creation, you’ll find other use for flow diagram.
Standardize the marketing process
Standardization involves ensuring all your employees perform the same steps as everyone else when completing a task. For example, if you want to standardize your social media posting process, you may want to ensure your employees use the same format, get their images from the same source, and optimizes posts using post length.
While it may look easy at first, standardizing a process is actually quite challenging, especially if you have employees that aren’t keen on complex systems. The good news is that flow diagrams can simplify this process and make it a little easier to comprehend, allowing you to standardize your marketing process more efficiently.
Troubleshooting registration and sales flow
When a user registers on your website, it’s a massive win for the business, as you now have the means to contact them and build toward a sale – called lead nurturing. As such, when a user enters your website, provide an incentive to register or subscribe to your email marketing program. Usually, the user registration flow goes like this:
- A user enters the website, they’ll see a freebie such as an eBook, called a lead magnet.
- If the user clicks on the offer, the login page pops up. If they don’t, they can simply close the offer box.
- If they’re not already a member, the login page offers an option that takes them to the registration page, where they fill out the form, and on that point, they’ll become a registered member of your website.
It may sound complex at the first glance, but that’s precisely the point. If you feel like your visitors aren’t registering to your website, you can easily find the problem without any guesswork by tracking how visitors move through your website using your analytics platform and comparing that to your flow diagram. At what stage do they lose interest? What can you change to overcome these exits? Answering these questions is easier for you when you have a flowchart showing each step of the way.
The same is true for monitoring the sales process. Commonly, the sales process involves 4 steps: putting something in the shopping cart, providing a shipping address, setting up a payment option, and confirming the order. By tracking performance using your analytics platform and comparing that to the flow chart diagramming the sales process you can see where problems arise, which is the first step towards fixing these problems.
Determine the flow of market surveys
A market survey involves investigating the current state of your market, analyzing the needs and wants of consumers, and making changes within the business accordingly. Your goal is to ask a series of questions to the respondent where the order of questions is logical and maximizes the chances that respondents will complete the entire survey. For instance, including demographic questions at the end of the survey increases the response rate since these questions tend to make respondents uncomfortable. By putting them at the end of the survey, respondents often feel like they’re already invested in their answers and more readily provide this personal information.
Often, constructing a survey involves a series of branches depending on how a respondent answered a certain question. For instance, if you ask a respondent which of several products they use, you must take them to specific questions involving that product rather than forcing them to read through questions about products they don’t use.
A flow diagram’s role is to ensure that you’re asking the right questions, the flow makes sense, and there’s nothing you skipped that might make the survey results harder to interpret or, worse, makes the results unusable.
Prepare for an unexpected response
A sales process is any process that aims to turn a potential lead into sales. Completing a sales process and successfully generating sales is challenging no matter how good you are as a salesperson. That’s why numerous companies employ flow diagrams to make it simpler—separating the sales process into different steps, such as:
- Handling Objections
- Follow Up
This is what salespeople call a 7-step sales process and, although it’s a pretty effective way to look at the sales process, there are times when a lead makes an unexpected response, creating a feedback look within the process or branching outside this neat flow. Perhaps along the way, the lead told you that they’d think about making a purchase. The beauty of a flow diagram is that it prepares you for all kinds of responses, such as this. If the lead is currently busy, if they want to buy the product, or if they can’t afford it, there’s a corresponding reaction that you build into the flow diagram to handle the objection, find a solution to the problem, or plan a future contact.
Flow diagrams might consist of simple shapes and arrows, but there’s no denying their efficiency in simplifying the complex process. Besides, there’s no harm in using flow diagrams, so you might as well give it a try. Who knows, it may become a crucial tool in all your future business operations.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.