Agile Marketing in the Digital World

Categories: Strategy
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This low risk, high pay-off strategy is a new way to operate – short cycles, fail quickly, succeed quickly, measure, tweak, and repeat.

Until recently marketing departments used an annual approach to planning, some still do this.  In the last quarter of the year you map out your campaign, budgets, etc.  Then you would run this for the year, and then measure what happened, and start again.

Today marketing has to move much quicker.  Marketers need to react more quickly to trends, competitors, threats and opportunities.  We are so used to managing ourselves on this yearly marketing plan cycle, so how do we find ways to become more responsive?

The software developers have been using agile to manage projects, so why not use the same methods for the marketing department?  They use short cycles of testing, adjusting, and reacting.  Perhaps we could use this for marketing too!

Agile has been around since the 90s for software development, and I see many parallels.  Even though development is so different to marketing, there still has to be delivery of content, landing pages, email marketing etc.  Instead of one big push and hope it all works, if we break it into chunks and see what the reaction is, from there we can tweak, adjust, or change completely if necessary, without committing too much resource.  Then we get on with the next chunk.

The Waterfall approach is not good enough anymore, and agile fits much better into today’s marketing requirements.

Marketing is already becoming more dependent on technical talent.  Everything in the marketing department is now driven by software, and marketers are using minute measurements that can only happen by developing more software.  Also marketers have developed technical skills to configure software and writing a small script to extend it.

Also developers, who in the past were thought of as pail creatures who live in caves, have now become good at communicating, how else would open-source communities thrive the way they have – the engineers have become marketers.

This togetherness has been brought about by data driven marketing.  Using technology to see how people are reacting with us.  We now have lots of data to help us do a better job of interacting with customers and prospects.  We can use this data also for tracking to understand more about our ROI, so instead of guesswork we can work with real facts.

The biggest advantage for marketers using the agile cycle is by using data driven evidence to see what is working and what is not.  We used to take a calculated guess, full of risk.  At that time though the measurement of results data was not easy, so maybe the mistakes were not noticed so much either.

Now we can take a smaller experiment and see if it works – if it does, great, we can scale up with confidence; if it fails we have not risked much, so we can change.  This low risk, high pay-off strategy is a new way to operate – short cycles, fail quickly, succeed quickly, measure, tweak, and repeat.

SMEs with a small budget can use technology to test the market with great effect.  They are already agile due to their size, so they will find it easier to adopt the agile approach.  They can act and react quickly using technology to show them as sophisticated as competitors ten times their size.

Here is a great blog post on the same subject.

How ‘agile’ are you?  Add a message here with your experiences…