Agile describes a set of workflow best practices that involves rapid iteration, evolving solutions, and cross-functional team input. Engineering and product teams around the world use Agile techniques to cut costs, improve efficiencies, and ensure that more team members have a chance to express their opinions.
What many companies may not realize, however, is that Agile is equally applicable to marketing—a company function in which infinite solutions are emerging to solve problems. Marketers are creative, curious, and metrics-driven. We need room to explore, but we also need to reign ourselves in at times. It can be easy to fall into endless cycles of experimentation, feedback, edits, and iteration. Agile methodologies create constraints to wrangle creativity, giving projects enough wiggle room to evolve but also stay on track.
What techniques should you try? AgileSherpas and Kapost’s 1st Annual State of Agile Marketing Report shares some suggestions for smoothening and strengthening marketing workflows.
1. Build Cross-Functional Teams and Collect Input Early
In the Benchmark Report, 40.5% of respondents reported that Agile helps teams identify roadblocks and problems sooner. This translates into better visibility regarding project status updates (51.6%) and improved team morale (34.9%). Here are some ways that you can involve teams early in your marketing planning efforts before you plan to build or deploy a campaign:
- Ask engineers and product managers how people use the features in your product
- Ask sales teams to share how prospects are describing their needs
- Ask your customer success team what words and phrases they hear repeated, over and over
Collect suggestions upfront to minimize feedback and iteration cycles at the end of your process.
2. Participate in Trainings and Be Dedicated to Honing Your Skill
Search far and wide for trainings to support your team. Organizations like Lean Startup Company offer free webinars, and companies like IDEO offer courses. All are available online and do not require in-person attendance.
The Agile report found that 26.2% of companies rely on consultants or trainers, 33.3% reported that they rely on external classes or workshops, and 43.7% reported that they use online trainings or webinars. Of the training and reinforcement tactics, there was one practice that ranked highest by far—people found the most value to their processes to be consistent practices and processes.
As more people become trained in Agile practices and tailor them to your organization, you will build an internal community of experts—in additional to your own internal methodologies and best practices. Managers will eventually become internal educators, facilitators, and coaches.
3. Incorporate Multiple Methodologies into Your Practice
Respondents in the survey (44%) reported that they have combined one or more existing methodologies for creating their own systems. These processes include:
- Daily standup meetings to keep teams aligned
- Kanban boards to track the progression of projects
- User stories to understand the audience for whom you are building
- Short iterations
- Retrospective analyses
Agile also enables frequent releases. For instance, a product owner or engineer may release upgrades continuously, throughout the day, rather than in batches. As a marketer, you can make adjustments to your campaigns as you collect feedback from your audience. According to an article in The Next Web:
“The biggest, most important end-goal of Agile is adaptability. As companies grow larger, however, this goal becomes harder and harder to achieve. There are more teams to mobilize and more communications to manage.”
It will take fine-tuning for Agile to work within the construct of your organization.
Agile processes can be a competitive advantage for time and resource-strapped marketing teams. Only 13.7% of respondents in the survey are experimenting with Agile in pockets of their department. Meanwhile, 7.9% say that their Agile practices are enabling greater adaptability to market conditions.
Markets are moving quickly. You need technique—not luck—to meet your audiences’ needs with higher efficiency.