October 13, 2020
14 Min Read
The year of 2020 has been a whirlwind for companies across the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the decline of many retail companies, sending companies into collapse and administration. Yet, the pandemic has also produced numerous winners who prospered, as companies that were agile in their team structure and processes were well-poised to thrive through the lockdowns, with many companies reporting unprecedented growth during these challenging times.
This is why is it imperative that businesses adapt by investing their time, energy, and resources into executing the right marketing activities at the right time, which can only be done with an agile approach to growth marketing.
This article — an edited excerpt of Traktion's toolkit "How to Build an Agile Marketing Team" — will introduce what agile marketing is, its importance in this digital-first era, and how you can implement agile marketing processes in your business to help your business grow faster and more resilient.
"Agile" is often viewed as a buzzword, with many companies using the term "agile" ubiquitously and also erroneously. In fact, "agile" means much more than to “move fast”, it is actually an iterative project management approach that focuses on continuous value delivery.
Agile has its origins hailing originally from software development, where the Agile Framework focuses on delivering projects in small, continuous cycles, and where the framework makes it such that the project scope is flexible and adapts to circumstances.
This is as opposed to the Waterfall Framework, which focuses on delivering projects in one linear sequential cycle. The scope of Waterfall projects are determined from the beginning, and are fixed. In the Waterfall style, projects only move from one phase to the next if the previous phase was successfully completed.
The Agile framework is especially relevant for marketing teams, because the practice of continuous iteration and testing allows you to launch new, experimental marketing projects at unprecedented speeds, and then scale up projects that show early success. This process leverages synergy and communication between your sales, marketing, development and strategic teams to gain marketing success.
For growth marketing teams, where activities are rooted in testing, data and experiment, agile marketing allows you to employ the right processes and technology to enable your team to test hypotheses and new frameworks frequently. Agile marketing allows teams to move at speed to identify new channels, disciplines, technologies, strategies and tactics for growth; to capitalize quickly on tests that are working; and to kill tests that aren’t working so that resources are not wasted.
Ways to implement agile work practices such as daily standups, retrospectives and digital kanban boards into your marketing teams can be found in our toolkit, "How to Build an Agile Marketing Team".
In traditional marketing, teams plan far in advance. This ensures everyone on the team sticks to the plan, employs the relevant technology and purchases the required media inventory.
But it is also precisely for this reason that traditional marketing moves at a glacial pace. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March 2020, a traditional marketing team would have struggled to adapt their marketing campaigns.
Agile marketing teams, however, will have been able to adapt their short-term strategy accordingly. Agile teams will have been able to rapidly re-adjust the messaging and copy of existing ads at short notice (or even to kill ads entirely), and switch to implement a content strategy focused on what customers most value at that time (which is safety and reassurance).
An agile marketing team will not work simply in silos, but instead, collaborate effectively with the other business units to serve the customers’ needs and drive the business’ core metrics.
At Traktion, using agile processes allowed our team to launch and adapt numerous campaigns in the space of a few weeks, including:
The agile marketing approach is complementary to a growth mindset in that it sets the processes for you to rapidly test and optimise across your growth channels. It is relevant to modern teams, because it helps marketing teams focuses on the end-customer by giving members of your team the right level of autonomy to launch and iterate projects swiftly, and adapt your campaign to unforeseen adversity.
Benefits of agile marketing:
For agile processes to adopted, the switch needs to be stewarded and led by management.
Agile marketing processes can be implemented by training and development of existing staff in agile processes, or by active recruitment oftalent that are already well-versed in agile practices.
Technology is also vital for agile teams. Your data and analytics infrastructure needs to be able to support an iterative process of launching marketing projects. If you test a new Facebook ads project next week, you will need to have the performance data from the entire funnel ready next week, so as to decide whether to continue investing and iterating in the project.
Cross-functional team members also need to be able to communicate with each other quickly. To do so, leaders should implement project management tools like Asana or Monday, and analytics supported by tools such as Segment and Mixpanel.
The composition of an agile marketing team looks as follows:
The Agile Team Manager should be trained in the agile methodology. This manager sets priorities and coordinates the efforts of each specialist by setting up clear communication processes and channels.
The manager also approves the media buying budgets of the paid marketing channels (Google, Facebook, programmatic). The manager delineates the overarching strategy of the team: what expertise to prioritise, when to hire, and how much to spend per channel.
Due to the highly specialised nature of each marketing channel, companies should opt to hire specialists with a depth of expertise in each skillset, rather than generalists who have a slight understanding of each channel. Specialists might command higher fees, but are most cost-efficient in terms of productivity, expertise, and net ROI on their marketing campaigns.
These specialists do not need to be hired as full-time staff, and can be hired as remote, part-time talent. The manager will need to set off kick-off meetings with the team of specialists to set expectations, KPIs, and clear any obstacles the specialists might face in their work.
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The Agile Team Manager as well as the Specialists needs a line of communication with the technical team members of the companies, so issues such as tagging, implementation of pixels and other marketing-related development tasks can be implemented easily. Most specialists will have the technical knowhow to implement these activities, but access rights will need to be granted to these platforms.
Marketing executives contemplating change often speak of the challenge associated with overcoming business as usual. By aggressively adopting agile practices, marketers can transform their organizations into fast-moving teams that continually drive growth for the business.
If you enjoyed this blog, you can find more detailed practical applications, expert tips, and practical examples to help you build an agile, profitable growth marketing team in our toolkit, "How to Build an Agile Marketing Team".