So you’re wondering, What is Agile Marketing? If you want to know how to get the quickest impact, most valuable data, and the biggest ROI for your marketing efforts, you’re in the right place.
The simplest way to explain it is that agile marketing applies the idea of continuous improvement to your marketing processes. This means you can capitalize on outcomes immediately and analyze results faster for making real-time campaign changes with the potential for a big impact on leads and sales.
The History of Agile Processes
Agile was originally created as a software development process to apply the idea of continuous improvement to software products and applications. The Agile process recognizes the benefits of getting an initial version of a product in the hands of users fast with only the absolutely necessary features and then continuing to test, improve, and add to those features over time.
The agile process works by breaking down larger goals into smaller projects, prioritizing the projects based on projected impact, and continuously delivering those projects as iterations working toward the larger goal.
Maybe your wheels are already spinning and you can see some applications for this type of approach with your marketing. If not, no worries. We’ll get to that next.
Applying Agile to Marketing
As marketing budgets move increasingly to the digital realm, far more flexibility is afforded in terms of reporting, attribution, and adjustments. But taking advantage of this knowledge requires a process for identifying opportunities and capitalizing on them. If you’re serious about getting the biggest bang for your marketing buck, here’s how you can apply agile to your marketing processes so you can take advantage of the knowledge available.
The first stage of a successful agile marketing process is the strategy. Starting out, you may want to dig deep into your audience and personas, conversion and sales funnels, goals of where you want to be, and what needs to happen to get you there. But unlike a traditional marketing plan which may map out a year, the strategy phase in the agile process focuses on what you can test in shorter period of time, say two or four weeks, to make progress toward your overall goals.
These shorter phases are often called “sprints.” The goal of the strategy phase is to outline what you want to test in the next sprint in order to move the needle toward a goal. Once you have hypothesis and a manageable amount of effort mapped out for the sprint, you can move on to the next stage of the process.
Example: Let’s say your company is a subscription based service that offers both monthly and annual plans. Your long term goal is finding ways to increase users that sign up for annual subscriptions, because right now they make up a small portion of the pie. You aren’t going to be able to figure out what influences them to choose an annual subscription over a monthly subscription without testing different feature updates and changes to your website. Your sprint strategy right now could be to update the pricing page in different ways over short periods of time to figure out what influences them the most.
So now you know your goals and know what you want to test during sprint. Execute is the second stage of the agile marketing process, and it’s when the work mapped out for the sprint is completed.
During the execute stage, it is often helpful to have a brief daily meeting for the full team to touch base on the status of their assigned tasks. In the agile process, this is called Scrum. Keeping this time a “stand-up” meeting helps to keep it brief and the focus on the work to be done rather than management of the project.
Example: Now that you know you want to focus on how your pricing page influences your users, you can execute your first modification. Let’s say your team agrees to update the layout of the page to default to annual plans to see if that impacts the number of users to opt for an annual plan at their point of purchase. Make note of when that change is put in place, and monitor with your team moving forward.
The third stage is the key to taking advantage of that knowledge we talked about. First, you need to make sure the proper tools and tracking are in place to get the data you need for whatever you are testing. Once you know that’s all good, you have to give the experiment some time – let the data role in so you have something to analyze and learn from.
Example: Now that you’ve pushed your specific change live on your pricing page, your team needs to pull data to monitor how it’s affecting sign ups. First, you’ll obviously track annual versus monthly sign ups as a whole, but looking at a larger set of data can help you make more educated changes moving forward. Using heat mapping and conversion tracking you can see what steps a customer took leading up to signing up for your annual plans. More importantly you can see why they didn’t choose to sign up for your annual plan. This data is crucial to making your next iteration of your pricing page.
The final stage of the agile marketing process is when you find out if all that work made a difference. Take the data you’ve gathered and determine if your hypothesis is correct. Did your effort help to move the needle? Why or why not?It can be helpful to meet as a group to review results and exchange thoughts. Make sure everyone is on the same page with what happened and why, and then document the findings to inform future sprints and marketing efforts.
Example: Now that you’ve spent time collecting data about how defaulting to annual pricing options on your pricing page affects sign ups, use that data for continuous improvement. How did the change impact sign ups overall? How did it impact monthly sign ups? Did it significantly impact your annual plan sign ups? What other patterns did you notice? Learning from this detailed data will help you make more educated decisions moving forward.
The beauty of agile marketing is the iterative nature and the continuous improvement. Take what you’ve learned and start back at the strategy phase with the next thing you want to test. The more iterations you complete, the more knowledge you’ll have and better tuned your marketing efforts will become.We find that this approach delivers exponential rather than typical flat line or linear results due to the way each mini project builds upon the last.
Example: Now that you have detailed data about how defaulting to annual plans affects your sign ups, you can repeat the process with a new change. For example, let’s say opting for annual plans gets your users a discount of 2 months on their overall subscription. That would be a great benefit to highlight. Maybe the next change you make to your pricing page is to show your potential customers what opting for an annual plan looks like at a monthly rate in comparison to your actual monthly plans. Changing the way your pricing is listed could be the next step that you take and measure with your team to achieve results!
Getting Started with Agile Marketing
Now that you know what agile marketing is and how it works, let’s dig in and see how you can apply best practices to continuously improve your marketing efforts.
What tools do I need?
There are many marketing tools that help you more accurately track the valuable data you need for agile marketing. Below are a list of tools that can be a huge help toward keeping organized with your team and better tracking data.
- Google Analytics
- Google Adwords
- A CRM system
- Marketing automation tool
- Project management tool
- A/B testing tool
- Heat Mapping tool
Where do I start?
The cool thing about Agile marketing is that the whole idea is to start small and build from there. Start by identifying pain points and goals for your company large and small. These can be anything from increasing sales down to increasing organic visits to a new page on your website. Once you identify your goals you should create a list of potential strategies to try for each goal and execute those strategies using an agile marketing method over time.