Agile Marketing - Data Driven, Iterative and Responsive

Marketing organizations – marketing functions in an enterprise as well as marketing/ advertising agencies – have dealt with an incredible amount of complexity over the last 20 years. 

As the search engine became the primary research tool for consumers, as media technology continued to evolve, as consumers have adopted a variety of media to satisfy their infotainment needs, and as the digital world around us has exploded, marketing has become enormously complex.

Agile Marketing

Just to list a few of the areas that have now become part of the marketing domain, they include –

  • Digital marketing automation tools, which have become large, complex “Marketing ERP” systems
  • Various forms of Display, Search and other forms of Advertising and Platforms to manage them
  • Content Development in all formats – text, graphic, audio and video
  • Content Marketing/ Content Syndication
  • All aspects of SEO/ SEM related management, tracking and measurement
  • Event Marketing – Virtual and Physical
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • PR, Media and Analyst Relations
  • Sales Enablement/ Competitive Analysis
  • Product Marketing
  • Marketing Analytics via multiple platforms for different channels and platforms
  • AI/ Machine Learning technologies, including BOTs and Personalization
Gantt Chart - Agile Project Management

Marketing has become a highly evolved and complex function with a wide range of skills and experience required to do full justice to the marketing objectives of an organization.

In pretty much every organization, but especially medium and large enterprises, marketing teams have become large and multi-functional, with increasing specialization within teams – and perhaps a significant dependence on digital and other marketing and advertising agencies. Even in medium and small companies, marketing teams have to have specialized knowledge and experience in order to deliver the various campaigns and deliverables that marketing must.

Siloed Teams, Dependencies and Prolonged Lead Times

In any such environment, where a large number of skills and experience are needed to deliver a project, it becomes a challenge of planning and collaborating on projects of any size.  Most projects require careful planning, especially around dependencies between teams that provide the various skills needed to complete the projects.

Traditionally, organizations have organized around skills, trade or craft.  You have design teams, web programming team, content writers, SEO experts, and so on.  It becomes easy for each tribe – each set of skilled people – to become very good at doing what they do, but perhaps not as good in collaborating across functions.  This has been the reality – and continues to be the reality – for many marketing organizations.

As a result, the ability to deliver any project – an ad, an email campaign, a landing page, a video for a new product launch – has become increasingly constrained, response times have suffered and planning, more complex.

A request for a new landing page requires figuring out the availability of a copy writer, a graphic designer, a web developer and the website administrator for deploying the page.

An email campaign requires a copy-writer, an email/ marketing automation specialist and possibly some graphics design capability as well.

A new product launch would require all of the above – and more!

As the CMO or a Marketing team lead, what do you do?

Enter – Agile Marketing!

Agile Marketing – Visual, Continuous, Data-Driven and Learning!

Agile Marketing applies the principles of Lean and Agile to respond to business needs rapidly and effectively.  Agile Marketing is about continuous delivery, measurement and improvement.

Using Scrum, Kanban or Scrumban principles, Agile Marketers define and deliver working deliverables – in quick order.  They measure the response to these deliverables – learn and course correct – and work on the next iteration with specific improvements.

Delivering in Short/ Rapid Cycles – or Continuously!

Instead of defining large marketing campaigns that run forever, Agile marketers work in short cycles – Releases or Iterations – that may range from daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly – and deliver value at each such cycle.

Visualize the Work

Agile Marketing works with visual Kanban boards to visualize their process AND their work.  As a result, all marketing functions are aware of what each other is doing – and the stakeholders become completely aware of what they do.

Swim-lane-with-WIP-Limits-on-columns

Limit WIP and Establish Pull

Agile Marketers understand that taking on too much work and trying to multitask is disastrous for their delivery lead times and the quality of their work.  They use Lean/ Kanban principles to limit their Work-in-Progress (WIP) using explicit policies, such as WIP Limits, to encourage all team members to finish what they have already started before taking up new work.  They believe in the mantra – “STOP Starting! START Finishing!”

WIP

 

A key principle of Kanban is to establish Pull – that is, get away from assigning work to the team members.  Instead, empower them to take up new work (Pull new work) when they are done with their existing work – and have capacity to do new work.

 

Visual-showing-a-PULL-arrow-from-Ready-column-to-first-in-progress-column

 

Pull systems ensure that as a manager or stakeholder, you don’t pile on work on the marketing teams.  Instead, you clearly define the priority of the work – and let team members pull the highest priority work when they are ready.

Define Explicit Policies

One of the most important aspects of being able to commit to doing work and then getting it done, is to define your policies explicitly.  These policies not only help your marketing teams collaborate effectively, they also help your stakeholders understand what they need to and can do to help the marketing teams be more effective and successful.

Examples of explicit policies – visualized on a Kanban Board, on top of the board or each column, so that they help everyone understand how certain work is to be done include:

  • How new work needs to be pulled,
  • How many “urgent” items can be handled at a time
  • How to work on specific types of work
  • What is the definition of done

and many more.

 

Agile-Marketing-Visualize-the-Work

Deliver Early, Deliver Often

As emphasized earlier, gone are the days of large, long-winded campaigns, with no visibility to how effective they were.  With digital platforms, digital marketing driven by rich content and specific “Call to Actions” CTAs, marketers are able to measure the effectiveness of their work rapidly and at a level of granularity that was simply impossible in the past.

Combined with Lean/ Agile principles, marketers can put out micro-websites (test sites), landing pages, encoded marketing assets of all kinds – and measure what sort of response they get from their target audience instantaneously.

As a result, more than ever, Agile marketers can launch early and often, learn from their mistakes and improve their desired outcomes continuously.  As they say, ‘fail fast, fail often’, so that you can learn early from these failures to get to where you want.

Be Data Driven!

Using Agile principles and metrics, especially flow metrics, Agile marketers can easily understand what their velocity or throughput is, what commitments they can make to their stakeholders and how quickly they can launch new initiatives.

Whether you use Scrum, Kanban or Scrumban, metrics such as your Cumulative Flow Diagram, Throughput or Velocity Chart, Lead Time and Flow Efficiency are invaluable assets to help you understand your teams’ capability and to make the right commitments to your customers at all times.

CFD

If you would like to talk to OUR marketing team and learn more about Agile Marketing and how they do it, click here for a custom demo with them.  We’d be happy to show you how we use Kanban to run our Marketing.

If you’d like to listen to a few experts about Agile Marketing, you can see the following webinars from some of our leading Agile Marketing partners.

To learn more about Agile and Kanban, you can of course visit our Knowledge Base or also look at this great list of books on the topic.

Agile Marketing

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