In 2019, DoorDash lost money on the average order and posted a $ 616 million operating loss on sales of $ 885 million. By the end of 2020, their sales rose to $ 2.89 billion – an increase of 226%.
Why the sudden success?
For one thing, the global pandemic has boosted demand for food deliveries. DoorDash also responded to the needs of customers from the start. They delivered COVID test kits and launched the #OpenforDelivery campaign to support restaurants in late March, made it easier to filter customer reviews in April, and released a gift feature that allows relatives to send groceries over the holidays.
Simply put, they figured out what customers wanted and were quick to deliver.
Today more than ever, customers expect brands to understand and respond to their needs. In a survey of global consumers, 58% of people remembered a brand that was turning quickly, and 82% did more business with that company as a result.
However, a lightning-fast response is only possible if your team can handle abrupt changes.
Agile marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on executing projects quickly by working in short sprints. It gives marketers room to shift their focus, adapt to customer needs, and change priorities alongside expectations.
With Agile, it can take weeks before delivery once months.
Adopting this approach takes work, but this post will show you how to get started with agile marketing by explaining the process, sharing examples, and showing you how to automate your efforts.
What is agile marketing?
Agile marketing is a strategic marketing approach that is primarily about achieving high quality results, working in short, intense phases to achieve goals, and iterating quickly.
At the end of each burst – often referred to as a “sprint” or “iteration” – teams complete their outlined results and begin testing so they know how to improve on the next iteration. With data collection and analysis, teams can gradually refine and improve the results over time.
Agile marketing includes failures. Also, teams need to learn from their mistakes and make adjustments to keep getting better. This attitude is not always easy for teams to adopt right away. For this reason, it is important to understand the core values set out in the Agile Marketing Manifesto before switching to this approach.
- Validated learning about opinions and conventions.
- Customer-oriented cooperation via silos and hierarchies.
- Adaptive and iterative campaigns via Big Bang campaigns.
- The process of customer identification via static prediction.
- Responding to changeover according to a plan.
- Lots of little experiments over a few big bets.
When these values come into play in real projects, the effects can be massive.
Research from McKinsey found that digital marketing organizations using Agile saw sales increase by 20 to 40%. Agile has also reduced the time it takes companies to turn an idea into a proposal – from months or weeks to less than two weeks.
You may think that this acceleration leads to sloppy results and disappointment. It is the opposite. Agile marketing can improve performance and quality by making room for clear goals, frequent feedback, continuous testing and iterations, on-time results, and inevitable impact.
To get these results, you need to dig into the details.
Agile marketing process
No marketing team takes exactly the same agile approach. Some stick to the traditional frameworks while others choose which parts are right for them to create a hybrid method.
The method you choose may depend on the goals you want to achieve. While its roots lie in web and software development, 77% of companies that use Agile rely on it for creative services, content creation, and operations.
The main methods for agile marketing teams are Scrum and Kanban.
The Scrum framework is about sprints. Each sprint lasts two to six weeks and is organized by the team that does the work. Depending on the size of your project, you may need to break it down into several smaller sprints to tackle it piece by piece.
The goal of every sprint is to quickly deliver small projects that can be combined into a larger project over time. Once a sprint is established, the team shouldn’t change its goals or re-prioritize until the sprint is complete.
To make sure your sprints stay on track, there are a few key roles and meetings you need to set up.
1. Scrum Master
This person is responsible for keeping the team updated. They know the Scrum framework and use it to simplify meetings, remove barriers, help team members use the framework, and ensure that all members of the Scrum team collaborate and communicate.
2. Product Owner
This person understands the reason for the work and ensures that the process is carried out at the right time. They understand customers better than anyone else and work with stakeholders and the team to ensure that the results add value to the company and customers.
All other members of the team fall under the role of developer. Ideally, the people in this role are cross-functional and bring unique skills to the table that are required to complete the sprint. You want to select at least one person from every department that your project touches on.
A planning meeting starts each sprint to decide what the team can achieve. Everyone looks at the priorities that the Product Owner has put together and agrees which ones to include in the sprint.
Projects are broken down into tasks, deadlines set, and assigned to individual team members so employees know exactly what to work on when they leave the meeting. These meetings take time, so devote at least an hour a week to all of the sprint time (i.e. one three hour meeting for a three week sprint).
At your first planning meeting, emphasize that agile is a new way of working and that the typical rules don’t apply. Repeat the need to focus on the customer first and foremost, and emphasize the need for speed, collaboration, data, and accountability.
2. Get up
The daily stand-up brings your team together for a short check-in (15 minutes or less). The aim is to make it clear where everyone is in terms of progress, obstacles, and tasks. Everyone on the team answers:
- What they achieved yesterday
- What they are up to today
- Any blocks in the way
The review is the time to show what your team achieved during the sprint. It’s open to anyone interested in the results and is a good time to showcase campaign material, demo content, or early test data.
Make a note of the feedback and add or adjust your priority list as needed. However, don’t get caught up in additional approvals or new ideas. It’s about providing insights into the work of your team and highlighting the impact.
Under the direction of the Scrum Master, this meeting gives the Scrum Team the opportunity to reflect on the work of the last Sprint. Everyone shares what went well, what didn’t, what can be improved and what lessons have been learned from it. Make sure attendees aren’t pointing fingers in meetings and assign action items to continually improve ahead of the next retrospective.
If your marketing team is full of visual learners or doing work that doesn’t fit well on a given sprint timeline, Kanban might be the agile framework for you.
Kanban consists of three main components: visualization of the workflow, definition of WIP limit values and compliance with cadences.
1. Visualization of the workflow
Unlike Scrum, Kanban uses visual cues to track progress. A Kanban board is the way people track the progress of user stories (i.e., tasks) that are about to be performed. The board is divided into columns, each of which has its own stage in a workflow.
The simplest boards have columns for To Do, To Do, and Done. The more complex your workflow, the more columns you may need. (One of my favorite tools for building boards and tracking progress is Miro).
Each card on the board represents a task to be done. For example, if you are planning a social calendar for the coming quarter, list each task that needs to be done on its own card (i.e. select topics, assign a copy, write a copy, schedule posts, etc.).
While the task is complete, move the card to the appropriate column. One quick look at the board and everyone on your team will know how the project is progressing and what remains to be done.
2. Set the WIP limits
If people have too much on their plate, nothing is achieved. This is why Kanban uses WIP limits – limits that determine how people will work on the tasks in each column of the Kanban board.
Determine how many tasks can be in a column or how much time people need to complete a task. For example, suppose you want your social coordinator to schedule posts for each month before starting reviewing posts for the following month. This rule means that you cannot move the “Review posts” task to the “Execute” column until the “Schedule posts” are in the “Done” column.
By setting ground rules, employees can focus on achieving a specific goal or task before starting another. In a world of context shifting and mental burnout, constraints are a way to achieve your goals without doing too many tasks at the same time.
3. Hit cadences
Similar to Scrum, Kanban is designed to help teams work better and achieve their goals. It includes planning meetings, daily stand-ups, and reviews to ensure a project is up and running and continuously evolving.
The only meeting that differs from Scrum is the delivery meeting. Here you can plan when the content or project should be published. Because Kanban works on longer schedules than Scrum, the delivery meeting is where other groups can be brought in, who may need to help get the job done.
While a small team might own a project, a successful agile marketing strategy depends on everyone. It’s helpful to bring in external team members to collaborate on schedules, share feedback, and get your team started.
Agile Marketing Examples
Most agile marketing efforts are broken down into a few simple steps.
- The team draws up a list of priority projects to work on.
- The steps to manage a project are planned in the sprint.
- The team checks in every day in a stand-up meeting.
- Everyone does their specific job and testing begins.
- Data from the tests are collected and used to improve the project.
Let’s take a look at how this process can play out in real agile marketing examples.
1. Scrum example
UK-based Santander Bank struggled to create efficient marketing campaigns due to long lead times and expensive creative costs. To increase efficiency, they introduced an agile marketing method for their “Unlock you London” campaign. The aim of the bank was to convince customers to download and use their mobile app.
They “put everyone together to achieve common goals, common KPIs and a budget in the middle of the table” and agreed to optimize the campaign weekly. Instead of spending massive amounts of money working with a creative agency that would take months to develop everything it takes for the campaign, they spent a few thousand pounds each. This swap allowed them to quickly make changes and test an idea on customers.
If something resonated, they would keep it. If not, they would make a small change and test again.
The new agile approach led to incredible results. At the end of the campaign, the bank had a 12% increase in loyalty, a 10% increase in customer satisfaction, the highest Net Promoter Score in 17 years and the highest positive sentiment (90%) among customers.
2. Example of a Kanban method
A technology startup recently updated its brand and wants to update important marketing collateral. The creative team puts together a small agile team to revise the website and create new marketing materials.
This includes a designer, copywriter, sales rep, creative director, product manager, content coordinator, and a member of the legal team. The team selects the tasks to be done, sets a six-week schedule and sets the work on a Kanban board.
The team defines the individual tasks associated with each task in a project management tool and tracks the progress of each project in a Kanban board.
Six weeks later, the Agile team designed five new websites, six one-pagers, and two decks. While more complex projects like the website take an additional sprint or two to create simpler materials – like the one-pagers – for the sales team. What once took a whole quarter has been reduced to several weeks.
Agile marketing automation
Having the right technology for agile marketing automation is critical to collecting data and performing analytics.
A well-designed CRM platform can help you collect, organize, test, and manage data about your customers and sprint iterations. It can automate campaign delivery and send messages to customers to send tracking and performance metrics back to you.
Most of all, automation improves your ability to respond to customer inquiries. In a survey of C-suite executives, 41% said they would like to implement more digital technology in order to be able to respond quickly to customer needs. So when you need to convince your boss that automation technology is worth the investment, explain the importance of gathering data that will allow you to share the most relevant news and offers.
For example, let’s say you want to turn an email campaign idea into a reality with your newly established agile marketing team. They gather a copywriter, designer, analyst, developer, operations manager and email manager. Before you start sprinting, make sure you have the following tools to automate your efforts.
- A collaboration tool
- A copy, design, and development review tool
- A way to collect feedback
- An email marketing tool
- A way to collect and analyze data
Check out the following agile marketing automation tools to find out which ones are right for your team. Rate the features, user interface, customer support, integrations, resources, ratings, and prices.
Once you have the technology you need to automate your agile endeavors, you can focus on the tasks at hand and make sure every sprint or board stays on the right track.
Switching from a traditional project management approach to agile marketing may seem intimidating. However, switching is easy if you follow a few rules. Start with what you want to achieve (your goals), let the senior marketing leaders buy you in who can work for you with the rest of the team, bring a small group of people together and explain this new way of working to them . Finally, set up the technology you need to collaborate, collect feedback, and analyze data.
Soon you’ll be finished with your first project – and gaining momentum that will keep your agile marketing efforts focused, growing faster, and getting better results than ever before.