How agile ways of working can boost your martech and digital marketing strategy
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
In a fast-changing world, consumers' expectations are continually evolving, and so is digital technology. As a result, many marketers and stakeholders, like yourself, want to successfully execute their digital marketing strategy while reaching their desired target audience and seeing real-time results. However, the industry has learned over the years that it's not relatively easy to do.
Why? Firstly, marketers struggle to get their data into one system. They can't perform personalization and segmentation tasks, which makes it harder to provide any business value. Secondly, marketers lack the internal team infrastructure and support to enhance productivity, authority, and transparency within their projects. Hence, many organizations are now investing in agile ways of working to help marketers optimize their digital strategy and martech solutions.
Over recent years, we have seen that using agile methods has gained momentum within organizations.
According to a newly published Marketo report in 2020, marketers stated that they have been "experiencing 98% of success with agile projects." (1)
When you practice agile ways of working within marketing, you can respond to consumer shifts and behaviors and data trends in real-time. It's a much more flexible and friendlier model to adopt for your digital strategy or martech, which will allow you to expand and discover more growth opportunities for the business – rather than sticking to traditional marketing.
So, how can you use agile ways of working to help you to boost your martech and digital marketing strategy? Here are our top five tips.
Boost speed and quality
Of course, we all want to produce better material and get it out to our customers quicker; but to do so in our current setting, we would need to extend the day from 24 hours to 36 hours. The underlying reason for this is how we are structured, work together, and steer towards our goals. What we have seen from companies, departments, and teams - that operate according to agile values and structure themselves according to business agility - is that they perform a lot better on critical business KPIs. (2)
Alongside a more customer-centric approach, a quicker time to market (from idea to customer) and an increase in delivery quality are two commonly seen effects. Getting all this right is undoubtedly a challenge, but it is also an iterative process. Reflecting on these types of questions of how things could look if you were to apply agile (yes, there is an agile marketing manifesto) is a great starting point. (3)
Have a good structure for agile meetings and collaboration
Agile can take different shapes and forms, but what most agile methodologies have in common are structured meetings (sometimes called ceremonies) that help the teams create transparency, alignment, foster collaboration, and identify improvements in our working ways. Finding the right agile methodology for your setting is crucial. Still, it is critical to establish a standard pulse of ceremonies both within the team and between teams with dependencies. If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, we recommend you start small.
An excellent first step is to have daily meetings in the morning, no longer than 15 minutes, where team members share what they are currently working on and if they need help from anyone. Also, gather the team every other week to evaluate how you could improve your collaboration with a retrospective to generate concrete improvements that you act on.
Build. Measure. Learn.
As you work according to agile values, you can promote small experiments over a few large bets. This is certainly not something new and revolutionary, but it is such a critical part of efficient delivery and deserves as much attention as it can get. If you work on large projects over long periods, you are putting a lot of risk on the line for the big release. The key is to minimize the risk when launching, and you can achieve this by having an adaptive and iterative approach.
The concept of build – measure – learn is a cornerstone of agile methodology. By continually focusing on releasing small campaigns, getting feedback from real customers, learning from it, and improving until the next release, you will be able to minimize the risks and focus on creating more customer value. Creating this type of feedback-loops is also a great way to show progress and success to get buy-in from the rest of the organization to scale up your projects and campaigns.
Get your team engaged and committed
The secret sauce is to rethink how you can distribute work and set goals for your digital marketing strategy. Agile organizations usually complement their KPI-based goal setting by the concept of OKRs (Objective and Key Results). This allows leaders to take a more visionary approach by setting where we (as a company) want to go. At the same time, the team focuses on delivering on the direction in the best way possible.
This allows for a shift from command and control steering to a servant leadership approach where leaders provide the environment, support the experts' needs, remove blockers and trust them to get the job done. It is easier said than done and is one of the more challenging parts of transitioning to agile working ways. However, when implemented successfully, we have seen a massive shift in engagement and commitment from team members.
Prioritize your work better
A common misinterpretation of agile is that it allows employees to do what they feel like doing without having a plan for it (and using many post-it notes while in the process). We would argue that agile ways of working are the complete opposite. The planning process looks a little different and works a bit better. Instead of conducting a plan covering the next couple of months and sticking to that plan even though the circumstance may change, we allow for a detailed plan on a shorter basis, usually two or three weeks long.
The tasks that are included in that plan and are committed by the team consists of the highest prioritized initiatives based on customer value. This allows for an adaptive approach in reaching the long-term goals, enabling us to respond to change, and encouraging the team to say no to non-value-adding ad-hoc tasks from stakeholders outside the team.
Even though agile originates from IT development, it has been adopted and proven to significantly affect many other companies' functions, both in start-ups and companies with a longer history. The positive effects we usually see from companies adopting agile ways of working are many. For example, there is increased customer centricity, decreased overhead costs, higher employee engagement, quicker time to market, and higher delivery quality - to name a few.
Overall, many marketing departments and stakeholders have seen these effects by adopting business agility in their company. It is clear how agile can help facilitate better marketing, but the road there is not always easy. Still, to get started on a journey towards being more customer-centric and elegant, you would need to begin by reflecting on your ways of working, structure, and steering.
Senior Marketing Consultant
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Connect with me: Linked In
(1) Agile Marketing | Overview and 8 Reasons to Adopt It in 2020 https://blog.marketo.com/2019/11/agile-marketing-adoption.html
(2) Agile Works—but Are You Measuring the Impact?https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/agile-works-measuring-impact
(3) Agile Marketing Manifesto