Marketing is a fast-paced field that is saturated with the need for efficent problem-solving— an Agile marketing approach is best-suited to address it.
Most teams have only heard Agile when it comes to Agile software development, but it’s actually an incredibly impactful approach to marketing that any marketing department can benefit from. Instead of a team that works and is likely frustrated by slow processes and inefficient collaboration with cross-functional teams, an agile approach can lead to more productive teams, faster release times, and improved team alignment.
In this piece, we’re going to dive deep into agile marketing with key insights from Olga Mykhoparkina, the CMO of Chanty where they use an agile framework for all of their daily tasks and projects.
What is Agile Marketing?
“Agile” as a term and process was born in the software development world. The agile process worked so well for developers that marketers began to adapt the framework to their needs, and to see amazing results as the benefit.
Agile marketing is an approach to marketing that utilizes the principles and practices of agile methodologies. The process involves a team of trained and skilled individuals working together on small experiments that are implemented quickly, tested, and adapted or changed to better fit the customer’s needs.
Agile marketing requires a framework that works best for the individuals on the team, which is probably why CoSchedule and AgileSherpas found that 54% of agile marketing teams say they use a hybrid approach to their agile framework.
In more simple terms, Olga defined agile marketing as “the process where a team of marketers works quickly, collaborates together, focuses on smaller goals over larger bets, and continuously improves their work based on the feedback they get.”
These qualities make it a great fit for marketing, planning, and execution, whether it’s for digital marketing agencies, a freelance content marketer, or someone who runs social media activity for an enterprise. In fact, many teams are starting to ditch the traditional waterfall project management approach, which requires long-term planning and detailed execution, with each step building upon the last.
Agile Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
If you are considering transitioning from traditional to agile marketing, it’s important to understand the difference. In their annual report, State of Agile Marketing Report, AgileSherpas defined the two terms as:
- Traditional: we plan our work in advance using a lot of detail and try to stick as closely as possible to that plan.
- Agile: we use at least some part of an Agile marketing approach to manage our work, such as daily standups, a backlog, Sprints, Kanban board, etc. We have plans, but they’re flexible and change often.
Currently, 32% of marketers polled by Coscheudle and AgileSherpas, consider themselves agile while 50% consider themselves traditional.
Agile marketing teams live by a manifesto, rather than a set of rules or a detailed plan like traditional marketers. The “Agile Marketing Manifesto” has seven core values that each person on the team needs to strive for.
- Validated learning over opinions and conventions
- Customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
- Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns
- The process of customer discovery over static prediction
- Flexible versus rigid planning
- Responding to change over following a plan
- Many small experiments over a few large bets
Every project and daily task is executed with those seven core values in mind. It’s what allows the agile marketing team to change gears so quickly.
A traditional marketer’s process is much different. They will usually do market research in the early phases of the company/growth, then create plans months in advance for specific campaigns geared to a specific audience.
Then they create content like- ads, videos, ebooks, blog posts, white papers, and case studies, plan conferences, events, and webinars. Spending thousands of dollars and sometimes months on a campaign. When the campaign is over, they can measure their efforts.
What Are The Benefits of Agile Marketing?
When 400+ agile marketing teams were surveyed by CoSchedule and AgileSherpas 61% said that the greatest benefit to being an agile team was their “ability to change gears quickly and effectively based on feedback.”
The marketing team at Chanty falls in line with the statistics with Olga saying, “I can say that the biggest benefit of this approach is that you can quickly change priorities.”
Here are a few more benefits found in the study:
- More effective prioritization of work
- Higher quality of work
- Sooner identification of roadblocks and problems
With markets and trends shifting quickly, and in an era where customers expect a personalized experience, agile teams also have the advantage of responding quickly to their customers and meeting their needs based on feedback. If a team can balance the short-term sprints with long-term higher objectives that meet business demands, it’s obvious why this framework is growing in popularity among marketing teams.
How to function like an Agile marketing team
94% of companies agree that collaboration and agility are keys to success in the future, but only 6% feel they’ve achieved it.
So how can your marketing team go Agile? Check out these five tips.
Working in small teams is an important part of being agile. Jeff Bezos is known for his two-pizza team strategy. Meaning if a team can’t be fed with two pizzas; then the team is too big.
The Chanty team consists of 15 people, and each person has their own specific skill set and area of focus. There is scientific evidence that supports Jeff and the Chanty’s team belief in small team size. Harvard psychologist and expert on team dynamics J. Richard Hackman pointed out, “The larger a group, the more process problems members encounter in carrying out their collective work. […] It’s managing the links between members that gets teams into trouble.”
While you can’t always pare down an already large team, consider creating sub-teams that are responsible for certain tasks or time-periods.
Work closely together
An Agile team’s members are traditionally located near one another, but with the world of remote and hybrid work, there must be wiggle room. When the classic “War Room” isn’t an option, you still need to create a space where each person on the team has quick and immediate access to each other.
An excellent way to bring your teams together is with a Work OS like monday.com, where you can plan and collaborate on all of your Agile processes like iterations in one centralized place. monday.com Work OS is your hub for all your team’s processes from sprint planning and document management to feedback talks and data analysis and reporting.
We also have Kanban boards as one of our 8 views—an Agile way to drive continuous improvements in your marketing campaigns and workflows.
Have daily standups
The Chanty team has a daily standup each morning. The purpose of this quick meeting is to determine what tasks need to be accomplished that day, and who has the skill set to accomplish them.
Olga says, “As soon as we know the tasks for the day, we assign them among each other and get to completing them as soon as possible. At the end of each day, we summarize what we’ve done and find ways to improve it for the day ahead.”
In order to really be successful as an agile marketing team, you have to be accepting of frequent and rapid change.
It’s crucial for team members to be comfortable identifying a call-to-action that isn’t working, or that a social post isn’t getting traffic, and have the ability to change those things immediately.
Set short-term goals
This practice of agile marketing teams often leaves a lot of traditional marketers shaking their heads. The assumption is that agile marketers aren’t making long-term plans, but rather only focused on the day’s tasks.
However, agile marketing teams have very clear long-term goals but they have short-term action plans in place to achieve and measure them quickly. For example, Scrum is a framework based on Agile methodology which takes an iterative approach to deliver projects. Work is split up into “sprints” — short periods of time (typically 2 weeks to a month) where teams focus on one part of a project.
Here’s an example of how teams use monday.com to plan their sprints:
This is a huge part of the agile team success. You have to trust that the people on your team are skilled in their area and capable of making judgements about the process. If you doubt your teammates, or have to double-check every decision made, or approve every idea before execution, the agile framework won’t work. By assigning owners on your plans, everyone can see who is responsible for what and it also creates accountability.
The Chanty team builds projects around motivated individuals, and give everyone the room and the tools (including marketing management tools) they need to get the job done, and then trusts them with the process.
Get started with Agile marketing
Agile marketing is a framework that can suit marketing teams because it is centered around creating quickly, measuring results, iterating, and repeating the cycle.
If you want to operate as an agile marketing team, a few key factors and principles are needed, from the way you run your meetings to how you communicate and set up team workflows. To get started faster, try our Sprint Retrospective template.