Marketing going Agile

Today, over 80% of organizations that are involved with software development have adopted Agile development practices.[1] As a Marketing Manager for an Agile Software Development company, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits that our clients achieve from implementing our Agile Software Development methodology, i-Proving™.

The increased popularity of Agile Development over the past few years has created a buzz for Agile Marketing. I’ve noticed that as we approach 2017, a term that was once inspired from Agile Development is now becoming the one of the fastest growing marketing methodologies being implemented across the globe.

Crumpled paper light bulb over white background, surrounded by crumpled colorful paper. Idea concept.

What is Agile Marketing?

Agile Marketing is a tactical marketing approach in which teams identify and focus their collective efforts on high value projects, complete those projects cooperatively, measure their impact, and then incrementally improve the results over time. This marketing approach was inspired by Agile Software Development as a solution to help marketers orient their activities around the constantly changing business landscape. Agile Marketing even has its own manifesto – The Agile Marketing Manifesto.

Who’s going Agile?

According to a 2016 survey by Workfront and MarketingProfs, 41% of marketers either already use or plan to use an Agile approach over the next 4 years. In fact, of the teams currently using Agile Marketing, 33% of them have implemented it within the last 6 months. A few companies in particular are quite vocal about writing and speaking openly about their experience with Agile Marketing including; EMC, Dell, Microsoft, Terradata, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Oracle, Salesforce, Xerox, Hilton, Kraft, Mozilla, Adobe, Hubspot and Expedia.

How does it differ from Agile Development?

Derived from methods established by engineers, the end goal of Agile Marketing is similar to Agile Development – to improve predictability, transparency and adaptability to change. However, having a look into specific Agile Marketing concepts, there are a few small differences from Agile Development.

 Agile MarketingAgile Development
1.) BacklogThe Backlog is a list of all the potential activities, objectives, ideas and work areas that require completion.The Backlog is a feature list, containing short descriptions of all functionality desired in the product.
2.) Sprint PlanningThis process takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks; the marketing team breaks down the Marketing Backlog into a prioritized list of tasks outlining how each task will be completed.
This process takes about 2 weeks; a shippable product and features are produced.
3.) Definition of DoneThe definition of “done” aligns with criteria agreed upon for each project to be accepted as complete. The definition of “done” in Agile Marketing will differ from project to project.The definition of “done” is a demonstrable value which includes writing code, unit testing, integration, etc. "Done" is producing a shippable product.
4.) Sprint ReviewIn an Agile Marketing sprint review, teams provide accountability and transparency for their tasks being completed. A sprint review with Agile Development consists of a demonstration of the software. Shippable features are delivered.
5.) Sprint RetrospectiveTopics discussed during a Sprint Retrospective include:
• How people, relationships, processes, and tools worked in the last Sprint.
• Identify and order major items that went well and those that need improvement.
• Create a plan for achieving those improvements.
Topics discussed during a Sprint Retrospective include:
• What went well during the sprint cycle?
• What went wrong during the sprint cycle?
• What could we do differently to improve?

Stories

Stories in Agile Marketing are much different from the Stories in Agile Development. In Agile Marketing, stories tend to be more emotional, focusing on the connection between personas and outcomes in marketing. Stories in Agile Development focus on functional features from an end-user perspective.

Stories in MarketingStories in Development
Focus on personas.Focus on process functionality.
Very Few Outcomes.Batches of Functionality.
Use the right side of the brain. Use the left side of the brain.
Example:

As a [role] – roles correspond to personas I want to [task] – focusing on what the customer wants to accomplish so that I can [goal or benefit] – answer a single goal.

“As a Social Media Marketer, I would like to read up on conversions and landing pages so that I can decrease my company’s website bounce rate.”
Example:

As a [type of user] – who are we building it for I want [goal or objective] – what is the intention so that [benefit, value] what value it brings to the user.

“As an online customer, allow me to pay by the credit card of my choice so that I can complete my purchase.”

Agile Marketing as a learning process

Similar to Agile Development, value is placed on the project at hand, measuring the impact and improvement over time. Agile Marketing supports short-term goals where the validity can be tested and continuously revised allowing marketers to tackle projects in chunks, instead of big bursts.  Over the last 5 years the world of marketing has evolved quicker than in the past 25 years, it absolutely makes sense that more companies and marketers are turning to Agile Marketing methodologies for its adaptability and iterative approach to success.

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[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303200204_The_Adoption_of_Agile_Software_Development_Methodologies_by_Organisations_in_South_Africa

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