Visualizing Inbound Marketing With Gantt Charts

Aug 18th 2014

Visualizing Inbound Marketing With Gantt Charts

SEOs and Inbound Marketers are pretty confident about the actions that need to be completed to be successful online. We strategize, we hypothesize, and we develop plans of action to produce success for our businesses and our clients. Where we often get hung up is when a web developer hasn’t finished a page element, or a web designer hasn’t finished those graphics we need, or when the writer hasn’t finished our content piece on time.

How do we organize these tasks, explain the inevitable dependencies and timeframes to project stakeholders, and make sure things get done?  The most effective visual tool we use to create alignment and visualize our progress is Gantt charts.

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Image Attribution: Deliverables List, Project Plan Templates by IvanWalsh.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanwalsh/3925008656/in/photostream/  CC BY 2.0

Lists Aren’t Bad, Gantt Charts Are Better

The only thing I love more than lists is checking things off of them. During my darkest days, I create lists unnecessarily for the sole purpose of checking things off. But sometimes lists aren’t the best way to present complex data. Project managers understand this. Inbound marketers understand this.

Between your editorial calendar, on-site and technical SEO projects, outreach, link building, and all the projects in between being handled by multiple stakeholders, lists start to appear long and unwieldy.

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Time & Dependencies With Gantt Charts

Gantt charts are a powerful tool for managing the time and dependency aspects of projects. It’s difficult to judge how long tasks will take, but even more difficult to estimate when a dependent task will be started and finished. Gantt charts are critical for estimating timeframes, and when you’re on the hook for deliverables, timeframes are crucial.

For example, we can’t launch a blog contest corresponding to a sponsored event if the blog is producing a 404 error. The contest is dependent on the blog being active and found by potential contestants, and the whole project is time-sensitive due to a real-world event. This “project” involves web development work, a writer, graphic design, and marketing department coordination. Each contributor needs to know what has been done, what’s yet to be completed, and where the project has progressed  in real time.

Inbound Phases & Tasks

We like to break down our initial inbound marketing projects into “phases,” complete with dozens of individual tasks. Phases require high-level strategy and are worked on by multiple team members, complete with brainstorming and meetings. Phases can include on-site SEO work, content strategy and PR/link acquisition. We wouldn’t start PR/link acquisition work if the website had major canonical issues, and we wouldn’t start outreach without first addressing the business’ content strategy. Tasks within these phases can be assigned to and completed by specialized team members. By “chunking” our work into phases, projects, and tasks, we are able to map it out in our minds. Once it’s been entered into our project management system, the mapping becomes real through Gantt charts. Your mileage may vary, and your processes may differ depending on the scope of your work.

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Creating A Gantt Chart

There are plenty of tools out there to create Gantt charts. Start with a project management system, and a big whiteboard, laying out all the phases, projects and tasks that will be involved in your engagement. Bucket the minor tasks into projects and the major projects into phases using a whiteboard, a Trello board, Asana, or another visual list-making tool.

We love the functionality of Teamwork.com Gantt charts. We don’t need to work with Excel to manipulate our data. No plotting or graphing necessary. Just one click for a visual representation of the scope of the work. Explore your options. There are tons of startups and products that are producing Gantt chart functionality for project management systems Gantt charts can be used with:

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The team at Iterate has helped us get off the ground during our first year in business. We went from 1 location and 5 employees to now 3 locations and a few dozen employees ( and counting! ). We were getting about 6 leads each week when we started and through the work Iterate has done, we are nearing 100 leads through our website each week.

Mike Horey

COO and Co-Founder of Active Recovery TMS

The new website is gorgeous! We love the design and Iterate turned it around quickly. We have appreciated working with Iterate over the years because they are accessible, data and results-oriented and overall just so easy to work with.

Kari McKinley

Business Manager - Blue Oak Dental Group

Iterate is a great company and we couldn't be happier to how professionally they manage our marketing and website. Thank you Iterate!

Jon Bonk

Marketing Manager - Centrifuge Chicago

Iterate Marketing has revolutionized our company. We have a modern, fresh look now that is far more optimized than ever before. We can’t thank the Iterate team enough for the work they’ve done for us so far and look forward to many more years in the future!

Laura Hall

CIO - Community Management Inc.

Iterate Marketing did a great job for us... we saw a conversion bump of 100%, and a traffic increase of 81%. Furthermore, our Cost Per Conversion dropped, saving us 17%. ..they delivered the increases we needed.

John Yoder

CEO - Funny Business

Great company to work with. Very flexible and attentive to our needs. Always trying to help us improve our business practices without being overly push or giving the typical "salesperson" impression.

Renee Kitchen

Marketing Manager - Hamilton Marine

Vibrant yet professional and great for my budget as the Marketing Campaign Manager of a medium-sized SaaS company. Experts in AdWords management and content promotion. Love their blog too!

Heather Blackwell

Marketing Campaign Manager

Super easy company to work with. Extremely knowledgeable. A great fit for my small but growing business. Highly recommend.

Dominick Farina

CEO - Trashcans Unlimited

What Our Clients Think

Quote image

The team at Iterate has helped us get off the ground during our first year in business. We went from 1 location and 5 employees to now 3 locations and a few dozen employees ( and counting! ). We were getting about 6 leads each week when we started and through the work Iterate has done, we are nearing 100 leads through our website each week.

Mike Horey

COO and Co-Founder of Active Recovery TMS

The new website is gorgeous! We love the design and Iterate turned it around quickly. We have appreciated working with Iterate over the years because they are accessible, data and results-oriented and overall just so easy to work with.

Kari McKinley

Business Manager - Blue Oak Dental Group

Iterate is a great company and we couldn't be happier to how professionally they manage our marketing and website. Thank you Iterate!

Jon Bonk

Marketing Manager - Centrifuge Chicago

Iterate Marketing has revolutionized our company. We have a modern, fresh look now that is far more optimized than ever before. We can’t thank the Iterate team enough for the work they’ve done for us so far and look forward to many more years in the future!

Laura Hall

CIO - Community Management Inc.

Iterate Marketing did a great job for us... we saw a conversion bump of 100%, and a traffic increase of 81%. Furthermore, our Cost Per Conversion dropped, saving us 17%. ..they delivered the increases we needed.

John Yoder

CEO - Funny Business

Great company to work with. Very flexible and attentive to our needs. Always trying to help us improve our business practices without being overly push or giving the typical "salesperson" impression.

Renee Kitchen

Marketing Manager - Hamilton Marine

Vibrant yet professional and great for my budget as the Marketing Campaign Manager of a medium-sized SaaS company. Experts in AdWords management and content promotion. Love their blog too!

Heather Blackwell

Marketing Campaign Manager

Super easy company to work with. Extremely knowledgeable. A great fit for my small but growing business. Highly recommend.

Dominick Farina

CEO - Trashcans Unlimited

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