Agile Marketing for Global Growth
The marketing profession has changed dramatically over the past decade, mostly in response to technological advancements – better, faster, and increased internet availability, the shift from print to digital, and the advent and global dissemination of smartphones. Born from these advancements are many new forms of marketing including mobile marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, SEO, and the list goes on and on. But there’s a new(ish) kid on the block and everyone’s talking about it: agile marketing.
Although the term’s been a part of conversations starting as early as 2000, so far in 2016, agile marketing has been the standout buzzword as evidenced by articles on how marketing can be transformed, how content marketing can be done better, and why agile’s time has come. And while there’s no denying that agile marketing is top of mind, there’s some confusion as to what it is exactly.
What is agile marketing?
According to the first returned search in Google, agile marketing is “a tactical marketing approach in which marketing teams collectively identify high value projects on which to focus their collective efforts. Teams use sprints (short, finite periods of intensive work) to complete those projects cooperatively.”
While this definition is, at a high level, true, a deeper dive into agile marketing reveals that marketing teams who adopt the agile approach are able to improve their speed, correctly prioritize and complete tasks critical to business success, and maintain relevancy among potential and current customers because:
- Work is confined into small segments to increase team focus
- The agile process enables rapid iterations over large campaigns
- There’s a clear view of each team member’s workloads, priorities, and issues
- Everyone is committed to the same goals, also enhancing overall team communication
- Projects are reviewed on a regular basis to identify what works and what doesn’t
And if you think all these attributes sound familiar, it’s because the agile marketing methodology stems, as you probably know, directly from agile software development.
To adopt or not to adopt
If agile is already a proven methodology for increasing delivery speed, quality, and collaboration, all marketers should drop their current processes and adopt the agile methodology today, right? No, of course not. Just because agile works for development teams and many marketing teams doesn’t mean it’s right for every organization.
For example, if you work in a large organization where marketing members are very specialized, you don’t need to worry about focus because that’s inherent in each person’s job. Or if you work in a highly regulated industry like pharmaceutical marketing, long end-of-project review cycles might negate any benefit derived from the agile process.
BUT, if you market a tech product or there’s a significant digital component to how you interact with customers, agile makes a great deal of sense because you’re able to:
- Respond to customer needs quickly. In industries that are highly competitive and crowded, marketers need to be fearless when it comes to testing and implementing new ideas. They must also be able to measure results, willing to pursue what works and abandon what doesn’t. Agile marketing, segmented into short sprints, allows for this level of flexibility when launching new campaigns, and enables marketers to respond to customer needs quickly. Not only does this result in happy customers, it gives companies a competitive edge.
- Align with development. In the past, new versions of applications would be pushed by development every 18-24 months. Marketing teams would fall into the same rhythm, gearing up for a big launch (including a PR blitz, new collateral, multi-channel campaigns, etc.) in the same 18-24 month time frame. This model often falls short for tech or SaaS companies that need to ship code multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. As a result, marketing must also adopt an agile approach to keep pace with development and ensure the right marketing message and corresponding collateral is shared as soon as a new product release hits. This consistency across teams creates a smooth user experience.
- Create value. The concept of continuous data collection, analysis, and modified process of agile may sound daunting for marketers, but it ultimately allows for a better understanding of the customer. By testing new marketing messages to different types of potential customers and measuring how that message resonated, marketers are able to hone in on customers with a high intent to purchase and can almost predict their next move, giving them the resources, content, and triggers needed to move them through the sales funnel.
And furthermore, if you’re marketing digitally to global customers and localizing content, you might just need agile because the number of moving parts in launching a global campaign are now multiplied by the number of languages you’re marketing to. You need to have processes, tools, and techniques that support your ability to deliver across all your geographies and respond to the various customer markets, potentially in different ways.
Welcome to the digital world
As marketing heads and VPs of digital companies are being asked to not only be responsible for, but own growth metrics, they must ensure that their product remains highly competitive in today’s always-on, always-connected market. This ever-important need to be at the forefront of the digital world is only amplified by the ease at which customers can obtain relevant purchasing information online, and being agile is no longer a luxury for global digital marketers, but a requirement.