Ever since the publication of the Agile Manifesto back in 2001, we have become familiar with the concept of Agile project management for software development.
In recent years, marketing teams in organizations large and small have also been adopting Agile principles and ideas into their work, transforming their practices and – in some cases – supercharging their marketing results.
In this article, we analyze what Agile marketing is, its benefits, its chief characteristics, the Agile marketing frameworks, and we discuss some real-life examples of Agile marketing in practice – as well as offering some tips on implementation.
Looking to learn more about Agile itself? Check out this post:
Agile marketing definition
What is Agile marketing? As the name suggests, it is an approach to marketing that employs the practices and principles of Agile methodologies that have been used for years in software development.
This includes having cross-functional teams in which each individual takes on increased responsibility for both individual and team’s work. The teams plan and execute marketing campaigns in frequent iterations called Sprints that invite continuous feedback and continuous improvement. It requires an ability to plan in the short and medium-term, while also keeping in mind the organization’s long-term strategic vision.
Agile marketing is different from traditional marketing due to its focus on frequent releases, its emphasis on deliberate experimentation, and its complete commitment to customer satisfaction.
The 4 characteristics of Agile marketing
There are four key characteristics of every successful Agile marketing team. Let’s quickly explore them here:
- Teamwork and collaboration. Successful Agile teams replace silos and hierarchies with free cross-functional collaboration across teams. Team-wide meetings and communication channels are used to encourage collaboration.
- Data-driven decision making. While all modern marketers use data, Agile marketing teams are driven by it. Agile marketers constantly come up with new experiments for boosting the team’s performance and rely on data to measure and adjust their efforts.
- Rapid, iterative releases. Agile marketing teams use Sprints – short, prescribed periods when a Scrum team completes a set amount of work. The Sprint cycle allows teams to release work iteratively and to adjust plans of action every couple of weeks.
- Adherence to the Agile Marketing Manifesto. Agile marketing teams stick to the five core values and ten principles listed in the Agile Marketing Manifesto, which practitioners consider crucial for achieving marketing agility.
Key benefits of Agile marketing
There are many potential benefits to adopting Agile marketing practices. However, the ones we consider the most important are:
- Increased speed and productivity. An Agile team structure provides a significant productivity boost without needing to add more resources to the team.
- Improved transparency and collaboration. To promote and encourage more transparency, Agile uses visual management tools such as a Kanban Board and frequent face-to-face meetings like the daily standup. These boost transparency and collaboration.
- Flexibility. In an Agile team, they define long-term goals and then work out the details along the way. This gives them the flexibility to change course based on data and customer feedback.
- Increased competitiveness. Agile marketers can respond more quickly to customer and market feedback. This enables them to adjust and adapt marketing campaigns when desired, minimizing the costs of unsuccessful campaigns while also boosting the results of more successful ones.
- Continuous testing. Agile marketing teams run continuous small tests to prove or disprove assumptions and improve campaigns over time. This helps teams make informed decisions about which campaigns to deliver, as well as how, when, and where.
Agile marketing frameworks
The evidence in the marketplace suggests that most Agile marketers don’t stick to a specific framework for applying Agile. Instead, they prefer to mix and blend different frameworks to suit them. With that in mind, let’s look at the most popular frameworks they tend to use:
The Scrum framework
This is perhaps the most well-known of Agile frameworks and was the original methodology for Agile software development.
Scrum has four ceremonies that aim to create a regular, predictable cadence for different types of communication within the Agile marketing team, and – just as for software development – they include:
- Sprint Planning
- Daily Scrum (also known as daily standup)
- Sprint review
For more information on Scrum outside of Agile marketing, read our previous article.
The Kanban framework
Kanban is a popular Lean-Agile framework that marketers like due to its visual nature and focus on rapid, responsive, continuous improvement. Because Kanban forces marketing teams to visualize all stages of their process and every work item, this helps them to manage their process and limit the number of projects they work on, which in turn helps improve efficiency.
Kanban follows the following 6 core practices:
- Visualize workflows
- Limit work-in-progress
- Manage flow
- Make process policies explicit
- Establish feedback loops
- Continuous improvement
These are the same whether applied to marketing or any other kind of project work. For more information on Kanban outside of this context, check out our Kanban resources library.
The Scrumban framework
This is the most popular hybrid approach to Agile marketing and is a flexible combination of Scrum and Kanban. To find out more about Scrumban more broadly, you can read our previous guide to Scrumban here.
The method is highly customizable and, depending on your preferences and organizational context may look more like either of the two pure frameworks.
3 real-life examples of Agile marketing in practice
MarketerGizmo is an Agile marketing company that describes itself as providing “marketing tools that allow marketers to become more agile, increase their marketing intelligence, and empower them to excel professionally.”
Because of this, the company practices what it preaches, and has experienced three significant results from its earliest days of using Agile practices:
Increasing landing page views by over 250%
SurveyGizmo, an offshoot of MarketerGizmo, observed that their clients and prospects often searched for “survey examples” and that their current offerings weren’t meeting that need. The SurveyGizmo team wrote six new guides to common survey types over a one-week Sprint, and also created templates for those surveys that customers could add to their accounts with a single click.
Page views for the examples landing page increased by 252% and conversions from that page increased by 810%.
Increasing content production x4 times
Before adopting Agile practices, MarketerGizmo was too slow to create content. Now they more accurately measure the team’s bandwidth with Agile Velocity, and they can devote time in each Sprint to creating and distributing content. As a result, the company now produces four times as much content as before to the same high standards.
Removing roadblocks via group accountability
By using daily standup meetings to identify and deal with potential obstacles, the MarketerGizmo team is able to avoid any delays to campaign launches, because every member of the team is kept abreast of project progress and potential issues before they need to be resolved.
3 tips for implementing Agile marketing in your organization
Tip 1: Put together a cross-functional marketing team
Successful Agile marketing depends on having a cross-functional team that combines multiple skill sets and so can respond quickly and flexibly to changing market demand or new data trends.
Although you may want or need more skills on your team than the list below, these are the skills that the majority of successful cross-functional Agile marketing teams include:
- Project manager
- Analytics lead
- SEO lead
- UX designer
- Media lead
- HTML developer
Bear in mind that the optimal number of team members is around 10.
You need to ensure that at least one senior marketing leader has experience in Agile marketing and that you have the resources to train any team members who do not already have experience over time. Your team needs autonomy, a certain amount of expertise, and a clear purpose. This brings us neatly to our second tip.
Tip 2: Come up with clear goals
Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish and how that fits into the broader business goals of your organization. Define where you need to improve your marketing strategy, and how going Agile will accomplish that.
Quantify your goals with solid numbers where you can. Adding a specific timeline and KPIs, such as a percentage reduction in time to market or resource spend, can help you evaluate your agile marketing success – and sell the process to your key stakeholders in the business. This brings us to our third tip.
Tip 3: Get buy-in from senior stakeholders and your marketing team
Without true buy-in at the highest levels of your organization, you won’t get the support you need to make the changes required to go from traditional to Agile marketing practices. Ensure you understand Agile well enough to be able to quantify the business impact it will have, and how you will measure and prove your success over time.
Then pitch the idea to as many members of the senior leadership team as you can. It’s not just the CMO you need to convince, but the CEO, the COO, and CFO too – and that’s still just the start.
Also, don’t forget to make sure your marketing team is on board with the change too. Most people will not have had experience with Agile marketing, so they may also take some convincing. Take the time to convince them, prove your case, and listen to any concerns they may have. Being open to discussion and responding to anxieties will help you get your point across in the end.
What to do next
The first next step you could take is to read more about Agile methodologies in our ever-expanding Agile resource library.
Looking for a tool to implement your ideas? Check out this comparison of the best agency project management software.
Or perhaps you’re ready to take a free trial and see how Teamhood’s Agile software solutions and templates can help you make the move over to Agile marketing.
Get started for free today, with no credit card needed.
2019 - Present Co-founder and CEO @ Teamhood.
2015-2019 Head of software engineering department at Danske Bank.
2017-2018 Partner Associate Professor at Vilnius University. Lecturer of Software Architecture course
2011 - 2015 Managed numerous smaller IT teams at Prewise.
Co-founder of RaveIT, Eylean, No Brakes Games
Certified Agile product owner and practitioner. Managed large scale enterprise projects as well as launch of small startup products.
MSc of Software Engineering at Vilnius University.
Hobbies: Racing, MTB cycling, Windsurfing