Agile marketing that focuses on being quick, nimble, and responsive to change seems made for the present moment.
Agile marketing of course existed before COVID-19, but its popularity is growing and it’s easy to see why: When plans are turned upside down by a Black Swan event, marketers are naturally drawn to an iterative approach that they take can change course quickly.
The move to digital channels is another reason for the agile marketing trend. A recent Twilio report dubbed the pandemic the “digital accelerator of the decade”. COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation worldwide by six years. More and more marketers are using agile methods and even more planning to adopt them. They point to the ability of agile marketing to manage change, increase productivity and align itself more closely with other business areas.
Everything makes sense in a troubled economy. However, if you take a step back, it is clear that agile practices have gained ground as agile marketing is a powerful approach to the modern economy – before, during, and after the pandemic.
Agile marketers are more satisfied with their work (74%) than marketers who take a traditional approach (58%) or follow an ad hoc strategy (34%). This emerges from a current report by AgileSherpas on the status of agile marketing. The sense of achievement that comes with completing a project is part of it, but the higher levels of satisfaction may also be due to using a contemporary approach.
Agile is becoming a dominant marketing strategy, but most practitioners say their approach and processes are “still mature,” according to the State of Agile Marketing Report. When you’re ready to develop your own agile approach, here are some tips that can help.
1. Structure your team for the agile marketing sprint
True to its roots in software development, agile marketing typically has small, cross-functional teams (eight or fewer) involved in time-limited projects organized on the “sprint” concept of speed.
A team is led by a Scrum Master who sets the pace and ensures responsibility for the services to be provided. The team can include a graphic designer, copywriter, SEO expert, and media buyer depending on the goal. It can include others (e.g., someone from legal or IT) as needed.
During the sprint, which can take 1-3 weeks, all project results are due and the team has short (15-30 minutes) but frequent meetings to keep them on track. In agile meetings, team members review progress, identify and plan to resolve bottlenecks, and assign new tasks to keep the momentum going towards results.
The compressed timeframe keeps people focused and tends to boost morale as everyone feels like they have achieved something if they do their part.
2. Familiarize yourself with failure as a learning tool
One of the most liberating aspects of an agile marketing approach is that it is designed to take calculated risks. Because the sprints are short and the teams small, neither time nor money is invested in running the agile campaign.
An agile approach supports experimentation, which in turn drives marketing innovation.
It is important to remember, however, that when their experiment fails, teams must learn from failed experiments in order for their next venture to be more successful. One of the most important outputs of a Sprint – whether successful or not – is a list of takeaways that can be applied to the next Sprint (and those that follow).
Another important component of the agile approach is the ability to change gears if a concept doesn’t work. Success has to be carefully defined at the beginning, agreed by the group and supported by the Scrum Master. A post-sprint meeting should include a report for the stakeholders and a list of takeaways.
3. Hold a simultaneous measurement sprint
A measurement sprint – a new concept – is a related exercise that focuses on measuring work speed rather than impact. The measurement sprint is carried out at the same time as the agile marketing sprint and can maximize the success of agile marketing projects.
Analytics are essential at every stage of the agile marketing process. In B2B marketing, defining success in terms of sales requires a closed sales cycle (and the ability to accurately map sales to campaigns). Since the B2B sales cycle tends to be longer than that of B2C, funnel metrics are critical to measuring sprint performance.
The first step is to create a baseline based on the sales cycle and then measure progress over the life of the sprint. For example, if the team is testing new offers or marketing messages during the project sprint, the measurement sprint will focus on assessing the impact on how the leads progress through the marketing and sales funnel.
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Successful agile marketing requires the ability to measure the impact on sales and marketing performance at every stage of the funnel. When marketers ramp up their martech investments to support an agile strategy, it’s important to find solutions that measure impact using data that is believable across the organization, not just the marketing department.
By finding the right tools to measure performance and organizing their work using an agile approach, marketers can better respond to emerging market trends, create a better sense of job satisfaction, and demonstrate the value that marketing adds to business success.
This is a formula for success in times of change – and a key to success in a post-pandemic economy.