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Process & Methods - 7 minute read

Agile marketing and its impact on the future of marketing

By Milo Hobsbawm

What is agile marketing?

Agile marketing is simply more than a different way of working for many marketing teams - it's a mindset.

Agile marketing, summed up, is an evolutionary process based off scientific method - you have a hypothesis, you test, you gather data, you draw a hypothesis, you try again.

An approach originally conceived by software developers and laid out in 2001 in the Agile Manifesto, agile software development teams began to actively embrace responding quickly to change rather than sticking to the plan, valuing proven learning over opinions, and adopting early and continuous delivery (iteration).

Since then, the Agile Marketing Manifesto has been released - a rehash of the original, but for transforming marketing teams, as it's proven to be a successful approach to work. According to the AgileSherpas agile marketing report, in 2021, 51% of marketers reported using agile techniques successfully.

The benefits of agile marketing are very much the same, with the same emphasis on speed, flexibility, and iteration.

In a marketing context, agile marketing teams have the opportunity to hone in on exactly what works and what doesn't faster than using traditional marketing methods.

This is done by dividing the work into chunks that must be completed within a certain amount of time (called a "sprint"), allowing decision marketing to be directed by a mix of qualitative and quantitative consumer data, as well as prioritizing flexible planning over rigid. The smaller the "sprints", the easier it is to be flexible.

This isn't the case in traditional marketing practices, where the customer feedback is gathered at the very end of the marketing process, with the initial plan strictly adhered to. Essentially, agile marketing workflows value effectiveness and efficiency above all, and is all about fast, continuous improvement.

Agile marketing practices have 12 core agile principles, and follows four core values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

An agile marketing team who follows these core values and core principles, and employs an agile mindset, can enjoy getting more out of their marketing efforts, filled with a sense of confidence when it comes to taking on high value projects that doesn't come from rigid planning, but from customer focused collaboration and data-led decision making.

Why should you adopt agile marketing now?

It's all to do with the timing.

The market is speeding up, both in production and demand, with brand directors and project managers wanting decisions made fast and consumers demanding the product faster. Because of this, the traditional linear marketing model (waterfall) simply can't keep up.

By the time marketing teams finally have signed off on their concepts and can begin executing them, the audience insight gathered to sell their ideas in the first place may be out of date. For consumers who will click off a webpage in seconds and can access previously lengthy financial services in minutes, this just won't do.

This rise in consumer demand isn't an anomaly - it's the future, one that impacts the entire marketing process and industry, and so the development of marketing strategies to meet this rising demand need to be sustainable marketing practices.

This is the reality for why the agile marketing framework is the solution. Compared to traditional marketing teams, agile marketers who employ an agile methodology will reap greater rewards now and in the future than those who don't begin to move towards adopting an agile framework.

In essence, an agile approach to marketing is the new way forward as marketing mediums, both traditional and contemporary, like social media, email marketing, and Google Ads, become more data-centric and can enjoy the benefits of agile processes.

However, one thing that must be considered is that it's not enough for just the marketing department to implement agile practices. In order to be a truly agile company, a company must be agile in every way and department. Whilst this isn't a tough change to implement, it may be lengthy, so it's better to start sooner rather than later.

(To learn a bit more about what it truly means to go agile and what agile marketing requires, you can read part 1 of our mission statement here.)

Agile marketing teams

Just because agile marketing work thrives off being fast-paced and pivoting doesn't mean there's no stability within agile cross functional teams.

Depending on the tasks at hand, the composition of agile marketing teams will vary. An agile team structure needs to be concise and tight, with no additional agile marketers on the fringes.

An agile marketing department requires its individual team members to know precisely what's required of them and have explicit communication. But this communication is not just between the immediate team members - it's also with teams in IT, the C-suite, legal, finance, etc

Before the beginning of an agile marketing project, it's best to form some ground-level agreement with these teams regarding how quickly they can respond when needed. This is so the project manager can factor in the time and ensure the agile approach can be upheld rather than sticking to the traditional project management approach.

Agile marketing frameworks do also require an internal project structure, despite it being a rather 'loose' approach, whether that's using a kanban board to keep track of every agile team members' tasks and their deadlines, or a scrum team making sense of the annual marketing plan, led by a scrum master.

But there's a very important agile marketing team member we've not mentioned - software.

How software can power an agile marketing approach

Agile methodologies started in software development - it only makes sense for software to carry the approach forward.

Software can have a place anywhere in agile workflows, either in design, data collection, or agile team collaboration, but in order for marketing departments to iterate and develop with the flexibility and speed required, they have to utilize some form of technology (you can learn more about this dynamic in this blog post).

For example, using Figma to easily make continuous improvements to your designs, or Asana to build a kanban board.

In recent years, there's been a boom in the marketing technology market as more companies introduce agile practices, with a range of software covering cross functional teams from project management to data collection.

A key ingredient of agile methodology is data. In order for agile marketing implementation to go smoothly, data is a must. Without it, any marketing team and department are in the dark when it comes to their efforts.

Software like Loops is ideal for this, as we quickly handle the data collection and analysis for our customers while they focus their creative energy elsewhere.

Will software take over the agile marketing process?

The short answer is no, software won't take over the agile marketing process. While it's an essential tool for agile marketing teams, there's still plenty of marketing work for modern marketing teams to do without it.

At Loops, we believe creativity is a future-proof superpower - a human superpower. With the help of certain softwares, agile creative teams will be better able to introduce agile techniques and agile methods into their marketing practices while also enhancing their creative skills.

As we've mentioned in previous blog posts, we strongly believe the future of marketing won't be a struggle between marketing teams and technology over creative decisions and capabilities, but a harmonious collaboration.

The development process of campaigns, even when being conducted in an agile manner, can be a drag.

First, you design. Then, you test. Thirdly, you collect and analyze the data. Finally, you draw conclusions and then iterate based on your findings. And then you do it all over again.

Conducting this agile process using multiple softwares can make collaboration and editing time-consuming and clunky, and can present challenges like team members missing messages, or constraints on who has access to which documents.

These barriers can increase the project management workload, and will slow progress and flexibility in turn.

We've designed Loops in a way that negates these issues, combining in-team and team-to-testing communication and data collection and analysis seamlessly, while also offering multiple account options to suit any agile teams' needs and budget.

We've also built both an Adobe XD and a Figma plugin for our software, making asset uploads and editing easier than before for agile marketers thanks to our importable to-do list feature and 'loop' visual progress function.

By including Loops in your agile marketing practices, your big bang iterative campaigns will feel less imposing and more manageable, and your smaller marketing campaigns will feel like they run themselves.

To see how Loops can help you implement agile practices, register for free here and start your demo today.

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