Whether you’re a business owner, a marketing professional, or an aspiring entrepreneur, one thing’s for sure in today’s digital landscape.
It’s constantly changing, as is technology and the going expectations of modern consumers.
What worked well in your approach to digital marketing last year (or even last month) might not get you the same results tomorrow or a month from now.
Modern marketing strategies need to be adaptable if they’re going to keep the brands behind them ahead of the game, and agile marketing fits the bill perfectly.
Here we’ll take a closer look at what agile marketing is really all about and touch on how you can put together a winning agile strategy of your own.
What is Agile Marketing?
Agile marketing is a tactical response to how the internet, evolving technologies, and changing consumer expectations have influenced standard marketing practices over the past 30 years.
Marketing teams no longer rely solely on traditional media like radio, television, billboards, and print to make an impression on an audience.
Although traditional advertising tactics are still used to some extent, digital marketing is where the results are these days.
But digital marketing elements like SEO, social media, email outreach, and so forth change quickly and constantly.
Agile marketing strategies do the same by:
- Identifying and prioritizing high-value projects on which the marketing team focuses the bulk of their efforts.
- Using marketing sprints to get high-value projects completed in a cooperative, time-efficient manner.
- Assessing the success of each sprint by measuring the overall impact of completed work.
- Using collected data to ensure each sprint, project, and effort is more effective than the last.
The end result is a dynamic, highly effective approach to digital marketing that keeps marketing teams ahead of the curve.
In other words, agile marketing as a practice never becomes obsolete, as it actually embraces ongoing change and evolution as integral parts of the process.
Why is Agile Marketing Important?
Agile marketing is essential in today’s digital marketing world for more reasons than the simple fact that it works.
Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest benefits companies experience by making the switch.
It requires teams to embrace flexibility
A standard approach to marketing, even in a digital capacity, essentially means taking a reactive approach.
Making the switch to agile marketing forces a vital mindset shift that is proactive instead.
Failures are no longer something to dread but rather something to embrace as learning experiences — part of the process, instead of something to be afraid of.
Agile marketers also expect change, up to and including the completely unexpected.
They’re also prepared to adapt on an ongoing basis, so coping with market fluctuations and unforeseen outcomes is second nature.
It facilitates effective collaboration
An excellent digital marketing campaign requires all team members to work together seamlessly, so an effective strategy must facilitate that.
Agile marketing calls for fluid, functional collaboration between all team members.
Data analysts, social media marketers, project managers, and so forth must each learn to work with everyone else within a company.
Agile marketing strategies encourage this via approaches like cross-functional meetings and universally accessible whiteboards.
Sleek, user-friendly communication tools also typically come into play to keep everyone on the same page.
It keeps team morale high
Ultimately, a marketing project is only as good as the team behind it.
The higher that team’s level of personal investment and enthusiasm, the better the results.
Agile marketing supports high ongoing team morale by:
- Empowering individual team members via information, access to user-friendly tools, and so forth.
- Making it easy to prioritize the right tasks at the correct times.
- Ensuring all team members are on the same page from start to finish.
- Acknowledging and celebrating accomplishments of all types and sizes.
It promotes active ongoing data analysis
Great marketing campaigns that get a brand ahead of the curve and keep it there don’t happen by accident.
They’re not the result of lucky hunches or gut feelings, either. They’re highly data-driven.
That data is also constantly collected, measured, and analyzed, so marketing campaigns evolve quickly and stay relevant on an ongoing basis.
According to research conducted by McKinsey and Company, an astonishing 81 percent of fast-growing companies also place a higher emphasis on data analytics than their competitors. Agile marketing supports such an approach.
How to Successfully Implement Agile Marketing
Agile marketing’s focus on critical priorities like speed, adaptability, and data-based decision-making have made it the approach to beat in today’s digital marketing world.
It’s also proven to improve overall success rates, so it’s something every growth-minded marketer should carefully consider.
Here’s a look at how to help your company successfully make the transition.
1. Know the features of an agile marketing plan
No two companies are alike, so no two agile marketing strategies will be the same, either.
However, every approach should include the following features in one form or another if it’s ultimately going to be successful.
Sprints are limited-run working periods during which your team must accomplish an agreed-upon set of objectives. They can technically be any length, but periods of 2-6 weeks are generally ideal.
Frequent base-touching sessions are essential in agile marketing, so daily stand-up meetings are necessary. Stand-ups should be fast — no longer than 15 minutes — and cover accomplishments from the previous day, plans for the current day, and resolution of any issues encountered.
Every sprint should utilize a tracking system all team members have access to. This can be as old-school as a traditional whiteboard or as modern as a team Google Doc.
Agile marketing is about working together, so fluid communication and collaboration between project team members are non-negotiable.
2. Choose the right metrics
Every marketing campaign needs a set of measurable goals.
Without them, it’s difficult to determine whether you’ve even made any progress, let alone accomplished what you set out to do.
However, it’s crucial that you choose the right metrics to measure, especially if you’re implementing an agile marketing approach.
Start by focusing on vital customer-focused numbers that detail acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue.
Implement a comprehensive, user-friendly system to collect your data (like Google Analytics, to name just one popular example).
Finally, frequently compare these metrics to one another to assess progress and determine the next course of action if necessary.
3. Prioritize your most crucial objectives
Every successful marketing project starts with a clearly defined goal.
However, while it’s highly likely that you have many things you’d potentially like to accomplish with your next marketing effort, you can’t do everything at once.
Agile marketing is all about applying laser-sharp focus to one or two things at a time to generate faster, better results.
So what are those one or two prime objectives for your company right now? Maybe you want to raise your product activation rate by a specific percentage?
Or perhaps you’re looking to convert more first-time buyers into repeat customers who stick with your company for a particular period of time.
Choose your goals wisely, get together with the rest of your team, and develop a plan.
4. Start planning your sprints
Sprints are more than just part of what goes into a good agile marketing strategy.
They’re one of the main reasons this approach is so effective, so put some thought into planning and structuring yours.
A sprint is any limited period of time during which you’re working on tasks, utilizing data, and conducting tests to achieve a specific sprint goal.
Once a sprint comes to a close, your marketing team will work as a unit to assess the results and measure their effectiveness.
From there, you come up with a plan for the next sprint based on your findings.
How long a sprint should be for your team depends on several factors, including the time and resources you’ll realistically need to complete your objective.
However, many companies have excellent luck with sprints of 2-3 weeks, so when in doubt, start there. Also, consider splitting complicated objectives up across several shorter sprints for efficiency.
5. Start working on your growth backlog
Thorough agile marketing campaigns require careful, detailed ongoing records to ensure continued success.
Over time, you’ll be able to identify data patterns and emerging trends that can assist you in making future action plans more effective.
Start the process by creating a collection of hypotheses based on an analysis of your chosen metrics.
Once that’s accomplished, add your theories and ideas to your growth backlog (remember: every member of your team should be contributing).
Then select a handful of the best ideas as a team for further consideration.
6. Stay organized by implementing a framework
Plug the hypotheses, theories, and ideas you’ve decided to explore further into a framework to simplify the process of thoroughly evaluating them.
Do this before you dedicate time, resources, and labor into actually working on anything specific to make sure you’re prioritizing the right things.
As you evaluate each option, consider questions like the following as a team:
- How easy will it be to explore this particular idea further?
- What is the data-based likelihood that this will work as planned?
- Are you confident as a team that the idea will work?
- What are the potential benefits of success?
- How do those benefits measure up against the potential risks of failure?
Assign number values to the potential answers to your evaluation questions.
Then, add them up for each hypothesis to determine which of your proposed ideas represent the best focus for your next sprint.
You will then repeat this process when you’re done and it’s time to plan a new sprint.
7. Analyze your results
Once your sprint experiment is completed, it’s time to test and analyze your results as a team.
Collect your data from your chosen sources. Organize it onto a single vision board, whiteboard, or other interface that the entire team has access to so you’re all on the same page at the same time.
What testing and analysis methods you choose are up to you and will ultimately depend on your company, your industry, and the specific objectives attached to your experiment.
However, common choices include classic analytics, A/B testing, real users testing, and visual monitoring.
8. Plan a retrospective before restarting the process
At the close of each sprint, you should meet again as a team for a retrospective reflection to evaluate how everything went.
Each team member should provide personal insights and answers to questions like the following.
- Was this experiment successful? Why or why not?
- What went as well as planned, if not better than planned?
- What parts of the experiment didn’t work out as well?
- Are there identifiable reasons behind what did and didn’t work?
- What changes (if any) should be made to the process to make future experiments more successful?
Don’t skip this step, even in the interest of maintaining momentum.
Agile marketing works best when it involves continual learning and constant collaboration between your group members.
When approached correctly, each brainstorming session, marketing experiment, and sprint should be more effective than the last. You’ll also learn a lot as a team and become more efficient.
9. Preserve the integrity of your brand
Last but definitely not least, don’t lose sight of your brand identity as you make your way through your various agile marketing experiments.
While agile marketing is definitely about staying ahead of the game and embracing the ever-evolving nature of today’s digital marketing realm, it’s essential not to compromise the integrity of your brand in the process.
If your company is new, in the process of a rebranding campaign, or otherwise still working on achieving brand saliency, approach agile marketing with care.
If your company is well-established, make sure your experiments work in harmony with your existing hard-earned brand identity.
Wrap Up: Perfect Your Agile Marketing Approach with Stand-Out Data Monitoring
Although data is a quintessential part of any good digital marketing plan, it’s especially important in agile marketing.
That means your company’s approach to data gathering, monitoring, and analysis could make or break the success of your future marketing experiments.
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You’ll learn how to collect data you can leverage to accurately forecast important market trends, as well as spot potential weaknesses within your business and your competitors’ businesses!