You’ve probably heard of agile processes in regards to software development. But did you know those same key values can have a huge impact if applied to marketing, as well? Being adaptive, collaborative, and iterative are necessary skills when we live in a world where Google can pull the rug out from under us at a moment’s notice.
In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome guest host Jim Ewel, founder of AgileMarketing.net, as he describes what’s important in the agile marketing process and why incorporating it into your own work is beneficial.
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Hey, Moz fans, this is Jim Ewel. I’m the blogger behind AgileMarketing.net, the leading blog on agile marketing, and I’m here to talk to you today about agile marketing.
Agile marketing is an approach to marketing that takes its inspiration from agile software development. Like agile software development, it has a set of values and it has a set of benefits, and we’re going to talk about those values and benefits today.
6 Values of Agile Marketing
Value number one: Responding to change over following a plan.
It’s not that we don’t plan. It’s just that we don’t write 30- to 40-page marketing plans. Instead, every quarter, we write a one-page plan that specifies our goals, our aspirations to get everybody on the same page, and then every two to four weeks, we reset our priorities. We say, “This is what we’re going to get done during this two- to four-week period.”
Value number two: Rapid iterations over “big bang” campaigns.
In traditional marketing, we get together in a room and we say, “We’re going to run a campaign for three to six months to a year.”
We hash out the idea of what we’re going to do for that campaign. Then we communicate to the agency. They come up with creative. They review it with us. We go back and forth, and eventually we’ll run that campaign for three to six months. And you know what happens at the end of that campaign? We always declare victory because we’ve spent so much money and time on that campaign that every time we say, “It worked.”
Well, we take a very different approach in agile marketing. We take an iterative approach. We start out with a little strategy. We meet for half an hour or an hour to figure out what do we think might work. Then we figure out how to test it. We measure the results, and this is very important, we document the learning.
If something doesn’t work, we test it out and it doesn’t work, it’s okay because we’ve learned something. We’ve learned what doesn’t work. So then we iterate again, and we try something else and we do that, we get that cycle going in a very effective way.
Value number three: Testing and data over opinions and conventions
Here, again, the importance is that we’re not following the highest-paid person’s opinion. No HiPPOs. It’s all about: “Did we test it? Do we have data? Do we have the right metrics?” It’s important to select the right metrics and not vanity metrics, which make us feel good, but don’t really result in an improvement to the business.
Value number four: Many small experiments over a few big bets
And I like to talk about here the 70:20:10 rule. The idea behind the 70:20:10 rule is that we spend 70% of our budget and 50% of our time on the things that we know that work. We do it broadly across all our audiences.
We then spend 20% of our budget and 25% of our time modifying the things that we know that work and trying to improve them. Maybe we distribute it in a little different way or we modify the content, we modify what the page looks like. But, anyways, we’re trying to improve that content.
And the last 10% of our budget and 25% of our time, we spend on wild ideas, things where we fully expect that only about 2 or 3 out of 10 ideas is really going to work, and we focus those things on those creative, wild ideas that are going to be the future 70% and 20%.
Value number five: Individuals and interactions over one-size-fits-all
Now, I like to think about this in terms of one of the experiences that I have with SEO. I get a lot of requests for link building, and a lot of the requests that I get are form requests. They write me a little message that they’re writing to hundreds of other people, and I don’t pay any attention to those requests.
I’m looking for somebody who really knows that I’m writing a blog about agile marketing, who’s interacting with me, who maybe says something about a post that I put on Agile Marketing, and those people are the ones that I’m going to give my business to, in effect, and I’m going to do some link building with them. Same thing applies to all of our marketing.
Value number six: Collaboration over hierarchy and silos
One of the key things in many marketing organizations is that different silos of the organization don’t seem to talk to each other. Maybe marketing isn’t talking to sales, or marketing hasn’t got the ear of senior management.
Well, one of the things we do in agile marketing is we put some processes in place to make sure that all of those groups are collaborating. They’re setting the priorities together, and they’re reviewing the results together.
4 Benefits of Agile Marketing
As a result of these six values, there are four important benefits to agile marketing.
I. The first is that you can get more done
I’ve taught a lot of teams agile marketing, and, as a whole, they tell me that they get about 30% to 40% more done with agile marketing. I had one team tell me they got 400% more done, but that’s not typical. So they’re getting more done, and they’re getting more done because they’re not doing rework and they’re working on the right priorities.
II. Getting the right things done
Because you’re working with sales, you’re working with senior management to set the priorities, you’re making sure with agile marketing that you’re getting the right things done, and that’s important.
III. Adapting to change
Part of our life today in marketing is that things change. We know that Google is going to change their PageRank algorithm in 2017. We don’t know exactly how, but we know it’s going to happen, and we need to be able to adapt to that change quickly and accurately, and we put processes in place in agile marketing to make sure that happens.
IV. Improved communications
Improved communications both within the marketing team and, probably even more important, outside the marketing team to sales and senior management.
By representing what we’re getting done on something like a Kanban board, everybody can see exactly what marketing is working on, where it’s at, and what they’re getting done.
So that’s agile marketing in a nutshell. I’d love to hear your comments, and thanks for watching.
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