Use the Impact-Effort Matrix to help your marketing team prioritise

Help your team prioritise with the Impact-Effort Matrix.

If you’re like 99.9% of marketing teams, you’ll have more work than you can handle.

But not all work is equal, so prioritisation is key. But how exactly can marketing teams identify the most important work to do?

One helpful method is the Impact-Effort Matrix. A simple, yet powerful prioritisation framework.

Here’s how it works.

Think of 10 current projects on your team’s marketing plan (or tasks on your task list).

For each project/task, I want you to rate the level of impact it will have, and the level of effort it will require. But – “how do you do that?” I hear you ask…

5 factors to consider when rating the level of impact:

  • Strategic priority/objective alignment – is the task/project directly associated with a key strategic priority or objective?
  • Customer/user satisfaction – will it significantly improve the customer experience, or address pain points?
  • Competitive advantage – will it set your organisation apart from competitors?
  • Financial impact – will it increase revenue or decrease costs?
  • Operational impact – will it streamline operations, reduce bottlenecks, or improve overall efficiency?

Considering these factors, give each project a rating out of 10 to indicate how much impact completing the project might bring (1 indicates extremely low impact, 10 indicates extremely high impact). The final score is your project’s impact rating.

Next, we’ll do the same thing, but consider the effort required for these projects.

5 factors to consider when rating the level of effort required:

  • Resources required ($ and personnel costs)
  • Duration of the project (hours, days, weeks)
  • Technology integration required
  • Level of stakeholder involvement and approvals required
  • Regulation/risk management required

Considering these factors, give each project a rating out of 10 to indicate how much effort completing the project might take (1 indicates extremely low effort, 10 indicates extremely high effort). The final score is your task’s effort rating.

Now, using the below image as a guide, plot your projects on the Impact-Effort Matrix.

You should (hopefully!) have a range of projects plotted out in the different quadrants.

Quick wins: high-impact/low-effort – these are your low-hanging fruit. Prioritise these!

Major projects (big bets): high-impact/high-effort – try to break these into smaller projects/tasks so they can become quick wins.

Fill-in tasks: low-impact/low-effort – try to limit these to times when you have the capacity, delegate or look at automation solutions.

Thankless tasks: low-impact/high effort – try to drop these, unless there is a critical reason – like commitments to stakeholders, or it’s a dependency for another project/task.

We’ve included hypothetical examples in the image for an education provider looking to improve the overall customer journey for a particular course.

Impact-Effort Matrix Example


When teaching this framework, participants say that it’s intuitive, and relatively low effort and high impact to implement (see what we did there).

Some of the real value comes when you do this as a team. You should each silently record your scores for effort and impact for each project, then share and discuss your results. After discussion, you should aim to plot the projects on the Impact-Effort Matrix together.

This eliminates Groupthink and allows everyone to share their perspective. The value comes in the discussion – as it often uncovers new insights into how much effort is required for a project, or what the potential impact might be.

This can spark new conversations about whether to stop doing something or do it differently to decrease the effort involved or increase the impact.

This can help overcome busy work, reduce staff burnout, improve staff engagement and enable your team to drive even greater results for your organisation.

Of course, it works better when there are other fundamentals in place such as a marketing strategy and marketing plan. But that’s a separate post for another day.

It also helps if you can remove the level of Business-as-usual work that often weighs teams down and prevents them from achieving agility.