There are hundreds of ways to approach marketing, and each method comes with individual strengths, weaknesses, and intended use cases. There’s no single plan that will work in every situation. To make matters more complicated, the marketing tactics you used last year may not work this year, as markets tend to ebb and flow. Agile marketing is a marketing approach that takes inspiration from Agile software development to prioritize responsiveness to change over following a set plan.
“Agile” refers to a business mindset that focuses on keeping companies flexible and ready to react to change. In marketing, the goal of the agile methodology is to consistently monitor and improve advertising campaigns and strategies over time. This contrasts with older methods that wait until campaigns are complete to study results.
But why is this marketing strategy so effective? It’s the best way to ensure your advertising works. Below, you’ll learn more about Agile principles, how it works, examples of what it may look like, and the benefits of Agile marketing for your business.
How Agile Marketing Works
In Agile marketing, the marketing department divides itself into small, “cross-functional” teams. These teams have three goals: to frequently release or change campaigns, to experiment across those campaigns, and to prioritize the customer experience above everything else.
To accomplish these goals, the teams utilize a simple process known as a scrum. The group meets and sets specific, short-term goals to achieve during a short period of time, known as a sprint. Each team member works on their own goals and deadlines during the sprint. At the end of the sprint cycle, there is a team meeting to discuss the results of their efforts before repeating the entire process.
This scrum setup allows teams to quickly iterate on their work. It also provides them with frequent opportunities to adapt marketing strategies if it looks like one isn’t working. The length of the sprint depends on the team, but they are often set to last from one to two weeks. When using Agile in digital marketing, shorter sprints are usually better to stay on top of the internet’s constantly changing nature.
Benefits of Agile in Digital Marketing
Agile marketing is intended to increase adaptability, but that’s not the only benefit it offers. The mindset provides advantages to teams willing to commit to the process, including:
- Improved productivity. The Agile marketing scrum process encourages teams to set priorities and attainable business goals. This organizational scheme helps increase team productivity since everyone has broken down their tasks into achievable steps and understands their duties.
- Measurable results. The iterative nature of Agile marketing requires teams to carefully record their actions and the results of those actions. Teams that adopt Agile quickly discover the metrics and methods to measure their results and look for improvement.
- Increased competitiveness. The Agile approach to planning and marketing can be changed on the fly. This makes it easy for them to compete with other companies’ campaigns and respond to constantly changing market conditions.
- Greater customer satisfaction. By monitoring iterative campaigns and adapting them at the moment, Agile marketers can improve customer perceptions of the brand in real-time. The ability to respond immediately to complaints and praise helps Agile marketers prioritize their customers’ opinions in ways other methods don’t.
Agile teams see these benefits because they adhere to the principles of Agile marketing. These core principles guide marketers and encourage adaptability.
Agile Marketing Principles
Agile marketing is defined in part by the “ Agile Marketing Manifesto,” a document released by a group of marketers known as SprintZero. The Agile Marketing Manifesto outlines ten principles that explain how the process is supposed to work. These principles are as follows:
- “Great marketing requires close alignment, transparency, and quality interactions with internal and external customers.” To market well, you need to understand what your customers want and interact with them regularly.
- “Seek out different and diverse points of view.” Marketing from a single point of view limits your scope. This tunnel vision may cause you to miss a plethora of problems. Getting feedback from many points of view improves your messaging and prevents mistakes.
- “Embrace and respond to change to enhance customer value.” This is one of the most essential principles of Agile overall. Be prepared to make changes to improve your marketing, instead of adhering to a concrete plan.
- “Plan only to a level sufficient to ensure effective prioritization and execution.” The more you plan, the more you feel obliged to stick to that plan. Don’t waste time developing overly-detailed strategies when you’re prioritizing flexibility.
- “Take chances, and learn from your failures.” The entire point of Agile marketing is adaptability. That allows you to take risks since your processes should be flexible enough to undo any changes that don’t pan out.
- “Organize in small, cross-functional teams where possible.” What makes Agile marketing so flexible is the team structure that underlies it. Small teams are easier to organize than larger ones. Additionally, cross-functionality means that every agile team has the skills necessary to implement changes without the time-consuming process of coordinating across independent marketing functions.
- “Build marketing programs around motivated individuals and trust them to get the job done.” If you’ve hired trustworthy professionals, they know how to do their jobs. Make yourself available for questions, but otherwise, give your team the time, resources, and trust to manage the programs they develop.
- “Long-term marketing success benefits from operating at a sustainable pace.” While Agile marketing allows you to move quickly, don’t try to do everything at once. Prioritize one or two major projects at a time and focus on them until they’re successful, then move on.
- “Agile marketing isn’t enough. Excellence in marketing requires continuous attention to marketing fundamentals as well.” While adaptability is excellent, you need to understand and adhere to the basics of marketing, like identifying a target audience and setting goals for your campaigns.
- “Strive for simplicity.” The more complex your efforts, the more planning is necessary, and the more rigid your processes become. Keep things simple, and you remain more adaptable.
Agile Marketing Examples
You can look at Agile marketing from two critical perspectives. Firstly, how it improves things behind the scenes. Secondly, how it makes campaigns more effective.
IBM: Simplicity of Work
IBM is one of the oldest technology companies in the world. The firm has had to change with the times to retain its position. One of the most recent changes it made was its shift to Agile processes across the company in 2016, including the marketing department. IBM managed to bring a collection of more than 6,000 markets into Agile groups in just over a year.
IBM's new agile marketing approach has seen impressive results, according to the firm. Agile marketing teams are better able to get results and there’s less time wasted coordinating between departments. Despite the size of the marketing department, IBM has kept everyone coordinated and seen a growth of more than 6% in the last year alone.
Wendy’s: Day-to-Day Twitter Engagement
What does Agile marketing look like to the customer? That depends on the brand. For companies with a heavy social media presence, Agile marketing looks like regular engagement with customers and quickly-generated content relevant to current trends.
The restaurant Wendy’s has this down to a science. The company has a Twitter presence that interacts with customers, posts memes, and live reacts to trends. For instance, the brand will tweet at other restaurants, use creative hashtags, and respond to fans with slang and newly-created images. The result is a genuine social media following that looks forward to seeing Wendy’s content every day. This is only possible because the company has given a team member the trust to run the account the way they want.
Zoom: Engaging Virtual Background Contest
The video conferencing company Zoom has seen a dramatic uptick in use in the past two years. With the rise of the pandemic, people found that good video conferencing software was suddenly essential to continue attending work or school. At the time, Skype was the first platform people went to for this kind of functionality. However, Zoom knew it could take that top position—with the proper marketing.
The company used Agile concepts to respond quickly and effectively to the pandemic. One example of Zoom’s flexibility appeared in April and May of 2020 when the company announced its Virtual Background Contest. The contest was a perfect example of an Agile marketing campaign:
- It was released quickly and saw iterative changes with each round.
- Customer preferences were taken into account, giving people a way to interact with each other virtually through a picture and video contest.
- It was highly reactive, letting Zoom interact with customers and build better relationships while reinforcing its brand.
With the contest, Zoom saw its brand recognition increase dramatically, and its market share increased proportionally.
Consider Agile for Your Marketing Team
Recently, more companies have adopted agile practices into their marketing strategy. The ability to react to changes quickly and adapt to new market conditions makes Agile a valuable tool for any company with an online presence. You can start implementing the Agile philosophy in your marketing today by learning more about digital and social media marketing.