Agile Marketing: Is It Worth Sprinting?
Marketers are facing enormous changes: media is getting more fragmented, and the list of devices and channels available to customers goes up and up. Some companies have been successful in handling these challenges with agile marketing. But can it benefit your organisation?
Marketing with agility came from the agile software development movement: marketers who worked closely with agile developers started to apply this practice to their own work and campaigns. Despite challenges faced during the transition to agile marketing, the advantages of following this approach were obvious – marketers were able to engage with customers in new innovative ways and meet their needs far more effectively.
If your company is new to agile marketing, here are the top six things you should know.
# 1. What is Agile Marketing?
Agile marketing is a process where marketing workflow is divided into smaller chunks, the traditional dissociation between departments is removed, and the customer data is shared between all project teams.
The goal is having all data at hand to be able to respond quickly to changing market conditions, adapt effectively to new forms of customer engagement and ensure the best customer experience across multiple channels.
In short, agile marketing is about learning as much and as quickly as possible about your customers, and tailoring your marketing tools to your target audience.
#2. Where does agile marketing come from?
Agile marketing is an adaptation of the agile software development approach. Agile came about in 2001 when a group of software developers decided that they needed a different workflow. They formulated the Agile Manifesto and added twelve principles that define the criteria for Agile processes.
Unlike the traditional ‘waterfall’ approach based on the sequential mode (when one stage is completed, developers move on to the next one), Agile refers to an iterative, incremental development method designed to create new products or services in a highly flexible and interactive manner.
Four basic Agile values include:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Agile emphasises continuous improvement, scope flexibility, team input, and delivering essential quality products.
#3. When did marketers start to implement agile?
Some progressive marketers started experimenting with agile practices in the early 2000s. One of the pioneers in agile marketing Matt Blumberg describes the results of successful agile implementation in the following way:
“We now plan marketing in six-week ‘releases,’ each of which has 1-2 core themes and a planning session up front with our head of sales and business GMs. Each release has two, three-week ‘iterations’ where we do mid-course corrections and track our marketing team members’ utilisation on projects very deliberately…The marketing team has a daily stand-up (meeting) to review progress and identify roadblocks. And we still have enough slack in the system that we can handle a couple of last-minute opportunistic items…which invariably come up.”
#4. Why do you need agile marketing?
New tools and new technologies appear every day and drive rapid market changes. Companies need to understand that planning is important but it’s even more important to be able to take on new trends and modify your plans to meet those new changes successfully. This is what agile marketing is aimed at.
#5. What are the benefits of agile marketing for your organisation?
- Allows companies to stay close to customers across multiple channels
- Increased revenues
- Increased customer loyalty
- Increased cross-departmental collaboration
- Increased transparency (as a result of cross-departmental collaboration)
- Better understanding of marketing initiatives throughout an organisation
- Flexibility and better prioritisation of marketing initiatives
- Improved productivity
#6. What challenges should you expect when implementing agile marketing?
Transitioning to agile is not easy because your organisation has to go from a highly structured model into a more improvisational one. Companies need to restructure roles and responsibilities and break the barriers between departments to create teams that will work as a whole.
You will also need to ensure strong analytics to track the outcomes of your marketing initiatives. Marketers should be able to quickly and easily combine marketing and sales data while sharing it throughout the department and the whole company for making informed decisions and planning future initiatives.