12 Ways Experts Adopt and Optimize Agile Marketing


Agile Marketing

Not a buzzword. But rather a fast, data-driven approach to marketing where teams iterate on high-value campaigns to continuously and incrementally improve results.

When implemented right, agile marketing brings major benefits, like faster speed to market, higher quality deliverables, and increased autonomy and collaboration.

However, getting it right can be tricky, especially when you’re new to the world of agile marketing.  

In fact, recent data showed that only 23% of marketers have successfully adopted agile marketing to deliver valuable goals

In today’s blog post, we’ve assembled best practices from multi-vertical experts like Forbes, McKinsey, and Deloitte to help you adopt and optimize your agile marketing efforts. 

People, Processes, and Tools for Effective Agile Marketing 

“Going agile” is not as easy as rolling out a new framework and calling it a day. In reality, it requires a thorough organizational shift. 

Many innovation-led companies strategize this shift (and get agile marketing right) by transforming their three most important domains: People, Processes, and Tools

The combination of an empowered workforce, robust processes, and agile tools make it easier for organizations to deliver value to customers fast. 

Now, let’s learn how innovation experts like Gartner and McKinsey successfully adopt and optimize agile marketing through a careful transformation of the three domains listed above. 

Balancing Hard and Soft Skills in Agile Teams

Your workforce helps to assimilate new changes into your organization. So, make sure your team is ready for change by equipping them with the right skills. 

Gauge Your Team’s Readiness to Change – Agile Zone

A fruitful way to roll out agile marketing is by earning collective buy-in from everyone involved. Failure to do so is tantamount to forcing poorly thought-out change, which may kibosh your efforts. So, make sure your team is open to change.

Also, discuss the changes that will take place once agile marketing is adopted (e.g. values, workflows, tools, success metrics). This makes it easier to align your team around delivering exceptional value to customers. 

Start with a Small Team – Deloitte

To optimize the adoption of agile marketing, start on a small scale. A survey of executives found that 60 percent of them experienced success when change was executed through small-scale initiatives. So, bring together a small group of people from relevant departments like IT and product development.

Choose change agents who’re open to learning and adapting; they’ll then be able to champion agile marketing across your organization. A small team also means that you can iterate and improve quickly.

Build Upon a Solid Foundation – Atlassian

Agile is strongly rooted in the principle of continuous improvement. What better way to optimize agile marketing for your team than by continuously updating and strengthening their skills? This way, team members are better prepared to collaborate and deliver quality marketing outcomes.

In fact, The State of Agile Marketing study by Wrike found that a lack of knowledge and training often stands in the way of successful agile marketing. A good way to counter that is through continuous mentoring and shared skill sets. 

Assess Your Team’s Agile Marketing Maturity Level – AgileSparks

An important aspect of agile – scrum in particular – is the retrospective. It’s when team members inspect what’s working and what needs improvement. Similarly, you can only know if agile marketing is working for your company by continuously assessing your team’s maturity level. Ideally, you want to move your team from the “Not/Barely Started” to “Crushing it Consistently” stage. 

An agile marketing maturity chart designed by AgileSparks.
Assess your team’s agile marketing maturity level using this chart designed by AgileSparks. (source)

Build an Agile War-Room Team When Ready – McKinsey

When your teams are mature in their agile marketing approach, take it one step further by forming war-room teams. Agile war-room teams are usually composed of select team members relevant to a project, with the goal of quickly delivering value to customers. 

For example, the war-room team for a time-sensitive creative campaign may be made up of an art director, copywriter, campaign strategist, and so on. Ideally, they should be temporarily released from their “BAU” (business as usual) work to focus on quickly delivering high-value and high-priority outcomes. 

An example of an agile war-room team by McKinsey.
An example of an agile war-room team that can take your agile marketing to the next level. (source)

Clearly Defined and Guided Agile Marketing Processes

Next up is creating agile-friendly processes for the teams to do their best agile marketing work. Just like any other change management initiative, having a strategy is vital for productive results. 

Have a Strategic Vision – SmartInsights

Transforming your existing marketing processes into agile-powered ones can be time-consuming. So, break long-term process changes into short-term initiatives (e.g. monthly process updates) for improved success. Having a strategic vision also ensures that your newly-adopted agile marketing process is continuously aligned with your business goals.  

Customize Agile Practices for Your Business – Deloitte

You can apply agile marketing into your business process through frameworks like Kanban and Scrum. Each has its own practices. Kanban focuses on work-in-progress limits, while Scrum uses time-boxed iterations (aka sprints). 

Optimize your agile marketing application by customizing practices that best support your business needs. For example, use Scrum to plan a marketing campaign and then leverage Kanban to monitor the status of each campaign deliverable. 

Structure to Succeed – Deloitte

Make sure that your change management process has a decentralized hierarchy. This means that teams are empowered to autonomously make decisions and implement agile elements that bring the most value to your business. Ultimately, everyone involved can maintain consistent momentum for agile marketing process transformation. 

Define Process Metrics – Forbes

Leverage agile metrics to determine if your marketing process transformation is a success. But differentiate the metrics used for measuring the process itself versus measuring the outcomes of the process. For example, use agile metrics like velocity and cycle time to know if your newly established agile marketing process is productive enough. 

Incorporate Agile-First Tools into Marketing 

Last but not the least, deploy the technology infrastructure (e.g. project management and collaboration software) needed to support your agile marketing transformation. This will give your team the tools they need to plan and execute campaigns, measure performance and iterate quickly.

Choose Fast, Real-Time, and Easy-to-Use Tools – Forbes

To make marketing decisions fast, invest in faster, more agile tools. This means retiring archaic means like emails or logging tickets, and deploying new tools that allow your team to access real-time data and deliver tangible business results. 

Let the IT Team Set the Technology Governance – Forbes 

Implementing new technology may be tricky for big companies with legacy infrastructure. So, it’s better to have the IT department set the governance policies first. Then, let the marketing teams operate under those agreed-upon technology guidelines. With this system in place, marketing teams can autonomously handle their internal technical needs while freeing up IT teams to focus on more transformative work.

 A/B Test with Cutting-Edge Technology – McKinsey & Zalando

A/B testing is to marketing what retrospectives are to sprints. Both are instrumental in identifying what needs to be improved for better results. You can level up your A/B tests through advanced technology, just like how it was done at Zalando. With the help of a machine-learning algorithm, the company managed to rapidly conduct hundreds of A/B tests. With same-day results, Zalando was then able to deliver personalized marketing to their customers.    

Ready to Experience Agile Marketing? 

To successfully adopt and optimize agile marketing, start by updating your organization’s people, processes, and technology domains. 

But remember that this initiative – just like any other new venture – can only be perfected with continuous improvement. So, encourage transparent communication with everyone involved to know what’s working and what’s not.