For modern digital marketers, adaptation is crucial in a swiftly changing market. The traditional approach of large-scale, long-tail marketing campaigns isn’t suited to this new dynamic.
Fortunately, a more flexible methodology is within reach. Agile marketing allows marketers to get their message to their audience quickly, stay nimble in the face of changing market data, and continuously improve their campaigns for maximum benefit.
While modern marketing is more about building—namely engagement, relationships, and market share—the framework offers marketers innovative ways to deliver value at the speed of business.
This article introduces the basic concepts and benefits of the agile methodology:
- What is agile and how does it apply to marketing?
- What are the benefits of adopting an agile marketing approach?
- What are the main elements of an agile framework?
- How do marketers get started with agile marketing?
- How can content operations technology enable agile marketing?
What is agile marketing?
Agile marketing, as the name suggests, relies on adaptive, short-term, incremental actions and adjustments that allow marketers to respond to new information and results from testing to deliver more targeted messaging and results. Using agile methodologies and principles, teams conduct production, iteration, and testing within a collaborative, adaptable project framework.
What is agile methodology?
Agile methodology refers to project management with a focus on iteration and continuous improvement. Rather than building a long-term project management plan, agile practices focus on short bursts or phases of development activity. This approach allows teams to deliver quick wins while actively testing their hypotheses and course-correcting along the way.
How does agile relate to marketing?
Agile is often discussed in the context of software development but applies equally to marketing and other project management-focused endeavors. In both contexts, small to medium-sized teams coordinate efforts to deliver complex products or enable better marketing campaign management. They each take a staged approach to the design and delivery of the project and engage in split testing to ensure the best results.
Agile marketing works especially well when paired with a modular content approach. Both methods focus on speed to market and data-driven content production. Sprints as a framework for ongoing work management allows teams to laser-focus on new content sets and experiences, testing their results and iterating based on findings.
Elements of agile marketing process
The agile framework approaches projects in a specific, repeatable way that aims to solve problems and deliver solutions faster. It entails teams working together on small chunks of the work for brief, uniform work periods (under a month). It also takes a team approach to review and improvement. Here are some of the basic components of an agile approach:
Small project stages
Agile methods rely on breaking work down into smaller, manageable work periods called sprints. These short work periods allow teams to create and refine specific elements of the project, test them, and launch quickly.
Sprints typically last two weeks, during which teams will regularly meet to discuss findings and challenges arising during the sprint period. Successive sprints build on the previous work to deliver regular successes on a short timeline.
At the end of each sprint, team members present the work they’ve completed during the previous working period. They showcase the highlights of their work (whether internally or externally).
Agile is focused on the value and experience of people, so part of the framework is dedicated to learning about the process itself. A retrospective highlights what went well, what can be improved, and what tasks remain to be completed during the next sprint.
One of the cornerstones of the agile process is the idea that people go further when they work together. The agile method takes a collaborative approach to work planning and review. Before a sprint, the teams plan their work and agree on an approach. During the sprint, short daily standup meetings allow individuals to check in, ask questions about work in progress, raise blocking issues, and resolve project conflicts.
Benefits of agile marketing
Marketing leaders choose the agile method because it produces better-quality results in a shorter time frame. It also places value on team-focused work and incremental improvement, making it well-suited to the needs of a digital marketing operation. Here are some of the most compelling benefits of adopting the agile approach for marketing:
Faster time to market
The iterative nature of the agile approach means that teams experience wins and create value in less time. Work is structured so that teams can deliver value in the short-term, speeding time to the market and increasing flexibility.
Better reaction to change
Rapid iterations create opportunities to change course or refine your approach. Using agile methodology in your marketing, marketers and creators can adjust their current work to react more swiftly to market change or internal analytics.
The teamwork focus of agile methodologies breaks down the work silos most marketing teams experience. Agile methods provide regular opportunities for review and constructive feedback. Teams learn to work together as a strong core unit, build trust, and deliver better results.
More data-driven planning
Taking emerging data into account improves decision-making around the marketing approach. This data may come from customer feedback, sales figures, customer service requests, or satisfaction surveys that occur during the sprint. In an agile marketing team, this could include content performance data. Because sprints are relatively short, real-time data is integrated into the active sprint planning process .
3 common agile marketing myths debunked
Misconceptions about agile methodology and its application to marketing keep many teams from exploring its benefits. Here are some of the top myths you may have heard about using agile methodologies to manage and scale content operations.
Agile marketing is a “startup thing”
The perception of agile marketing work as a tool for startups may arise from its association with web and agile software development. The reality is, agile methodologies work for companies of every size and maturity level. Agile teams working within a larger marketing strategy and structure can still deliver strong results using agile collaboration and iteration principles.
Agile methods require Scrum
Most agile practices adhere to one or more “frameworks” that guide the process and give everyone a sense of their roles and responsibilities. One of the most popular is Scrum. The Scrum framework—with a “Scrum Master” to lead discussions, set meeting agendas, and incorporate comments—is popular with web and software development teams. That said, it’s not the only one, and not always the best option for your project. Other possible frameworks include:
- Kanban board
- Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
- Feature Driven Development (FDD)
While many production teams use the Scrum framework to administer their work roles and meeting structure, knowledge of Scrum is not a prerequisite for using agile methods. Some users find the Scrum methodology too restrictive or structured for their purposes (ideally, with a certified Scrum master and associated team roles).
An agile marketing team must be small
The agile framework focuses on small-group collaboration to maintain the communication and workflow aspects of a sprint. However, teams of all sizes find benefits in using agile methodologies. This may look like a larger team breaking down into sub-teams to produce different projects or using the agile framework to address workflow and review for a larger group. Although agile may offer more advantages than smaller team sizes, Every marketing team can find benefits in employing agile principles.
Getting started in agile marketing
If you believe an agile approach would benefit your marketing efforts and outcomes, take the following steps to introduce the agile approach to your team or organization:
1. Choose an agile approach
When just starting, an agile framework or template can help smooth the transition from a traditional marketing approach to an agile approach. Find a framework that gels with your expected needs, delivery cadence, and pre-existing work style and team culture. Many teams use a blend of methodologies from across frameworks once they get more comfortable with the concept.
2. Set your team goals
What is your marketing team looking to get out of agile? Faster delivery, more collaboration, better brand management? Identify the shared purpose of your move to agile, and use that as an organizing principle for your early work. It will help you set the foundation of your team’s working style, as well as how they’ll evaluate efforts and outcomes.
3. Establish key metrics
Agile is all about measurement. Therefore, it’s important to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that best reflect the success of your efforts. Establish metrics to measure the goal you identified in step two.
4. Build a support system
Marketing should not pursue agile work planning in a vacuum. To increase the success of your project, identify stakeholders from outside your organization that experience the direct effects of the work change. Involve them in implementation, solicit feedback on their experience of the new approach, and establish champions that can gain buy-in for the change with other departments.
5. Build good communication
Because agile breaks down creative and communication siloes, it’s essential to create a standard communication approach for teams. Identify the channels of communication, create guidelines for delivering feedback or asking questions, and make adjustments as necessary to ensure a high level of collaboration remains at the forefront.
How Aprimo content operations boosts agile marketing success
Using Digital Asset Management (DAM) software in coordination with your agile marketing efforts makes the production process easier for teams. Using DAM for content operations solves many of the obstacles to agile production. It saves time, increases productivity, and enhances communication. Here are more benefits of the Aprimo DAM:
- Provides a single source of truth for your in-production and completed digital assets
- Gives teams a central location to collaborate and communicate on in-flight projects
- Creates workflows and approvals to keep content operations moving forward
- Empowers stakeholders with automated distribution and access to compliant marketing materials
- Enables performance reporting for campaigns and data-rich profiling for every piece of content
If you need content management tools to enhance your agile marketing approach, request a free trial of the Aprimo DAM.