Agile Marketing: What is it?

Agile marketing is an approach to marketing that emphasizes focus, communication, and sustainable development.
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From the outside, Agile marketing may seem like a weird idea.

Agile is for software development, right?

However, Agile marketing works. And it can benefit your organization. Marketers need the right tools, support, and processes in place to achieve goals and meet deadlines. Agile offers all these and more.

Borrowing from the famous software development paradigm, Agile marketing emphasizes adaptive planning and continuous improvement so that marketers can deliver better results, more often. The Agile approach allows marketers to update products according to customers’ fluctuating demands and to adapt to continuous change in the digital world.

A marketing team should learn as much about Agile as it can before implementing it. We’ve created this guide to explain what Agile marketing is and why it works.

How Agile Marketing Works

There are two main approaches to product development:

  1. Waterfall – A linear approach to product development in which a plan is made and followed through to the end with little change. The team creates a campaign plan and works for months to launch the product by a certain deadline.
  2. Agile – A non-linear approach to product development that involves creating a loose strategy, implementing it quickly, getting feedback from customers, making data-backed decisions, and adjusting the product accordingly.

Like Agile software developers, Agile marketers work in short cycles of experimentation, iteration, and small releases. Instead of saving a campaign’s release for one big push, Agile allows teams to continuously release new iterations of the product according to changing customer demands.

The work flow looks something like this: a small, cross-functional team (of usually 5-9 people) will create or update a marketing campaign. Next, they’ll test the campaign’s health and effectiveness. Finally, the team will use the results of those tests to update the campaign accordingly and drive the next cycle of marketing development.

The effectiveness of the Agile approach is dependent upon continuous communication between members of the marketing team and the businesses, developers and users outside of it.

For these reasons, Agile has become many marketers’ preferred approach to tackling the constantly fluctuating world of digital marketing.

The Agile Marketing Manifesto

In 2012, a group of motivated marketers teamed up to write the Agile Marketing Manifesto (based on the original Manifesto for Agile Software Development published in 2001).  

“We are discovering better ways of creating value for our customers and for our organizations through new approaches to marketing.”

The Agile Marketing Manifesto

The Agile Marketing Manifesto identifies ten core principles that marketing teams should follow in order to execute agility. These principles of Agile Marketing are:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through delivery of marketing that solves problems.
  2. We welcome and plan for change. We believe that our ability to quickly respond to change is a source of competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver marketing programs frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Great marketing requires close alignment with the business people, sales, and development.
  5. Build marketing programs around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. Learning, through the build-measure-learn feedback loop, is the primary measure of progress.
  7. Sustainable marketing requires you to keep a constant pace.
  8. Don’t be afraid to fail; just don’t fail the same way twice.
  9. Continuous attention to marketing fundamentals and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity is essential.

Values of Agile Marketing

The Manifesto accentuates several core values.

These include:

Communication and Collaboration

Face to face communication, both within the marketing team and between the businesses the team represents, is essential. Great Agile marketing is dependent upon customer-focused collaborations between team members, clients, and development.

Flexibility

Rather than follow a set plan, Agile marketers plan for changing market conditions and respond to them accordingly.

Sustainable Development

Agile marketers work at a steady pace to continuously update and deliver new marketing programs.

Self-organization

All team members understand their roles in each project and are responsible for setting and meeting their own goals.

Transparency and Reflection

Agile marketing teams regularly meet to reflect upon their work, brainstorm ways to improve performance, and adjust their actions accordingly.

Prioritization

Team members work together to identify what projects need to be accomplished first. The theory behind this is that workers can focus better on individual projects one at a time, rather than be spread thin over tons of different projects at any given point.

The Agile Working Environment

Agile marketing teams think and work differently than others.

This is largely due to the unique working environment in which Agile marketers operate.


“Don’t be afraid to fail; just don’t fail the same way twice.”

Agile Marketing Manifesto 

Failure is OK

In Agile marketing, failure is embraced so long as team members learn from it and improve in the future. Each step of the way, the team focuses on achieving one particular goal, so Agile marketers are free to try, learn, and even fail without worrying about wasting large budgets.

Goals are Clear

In Agile, teams are constantly breaking down larger projects and tackling priorities one at a time. It’s essential to identify goals up front, then create a prioritized to-do list to achieve them, one at a time. The focus is always clear.

Support is Essential

Employees perform better when they work in a comfortable and supportive environment that fosters trust, collaboration and creativity.  Agile managers and higher-ups focus their attention on empowering employees and driving customer-focused collaboration. Effective managers build working environments based on community and support, not hierarchy.

Agile marketing has proven advantageous for many marketing teams. That being said, the switch from a more traditional development methodology to Agile can be a drastic one. Making the switch requires deep consideration, organization, and careful planning.

Before implementing Agile into your entire organization, workshop it with a small team. Pick one project for the team to execute, and assess the impact of Agile on your team’s workflow. You just may like the results.

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