Agile marketing, in its simplest form, means you apply the concepts of Agile Project Mangement (like sprints, standup meetings, and retros) to your marketing projects.
That said, however, a lot of marketers are a bit skeptical about Agile processes -- especially given Agile's roots in software development and programming. Two areas that couldn't be more different from marketing.
The good news is, Agile project management doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing. In fact, it shouldn't be. Many parts of the Agile methodology aren't a good match for the needs of marketing teams.
CoSchedule teamed up with Agile Sherpas to produce the State of Agile Marketing Report, which found that 54 percent of marketers using Agile are actually approaching it like a buffet, implementing some hybrid combination of Agile and other project management techniques to reap its benefits.
Here are the top areas of Agile that marketers find the most value in implementing.
1. Daily Standups
The daily standup is the most implemented Agile tool by marketing teams. We found that of the 54 percent of marketing teams surveyed, 44 percent of them are regularly engaging in standup meetings. It's one of the best ways to improve project visibility and collaboration.
By simply getting everyone in the same room for a brief rundown, team members can stay in-the-know and help each other overcome stumbling blocks before they wreck the project's timeline.
Here's how it works:
Schedule a daily, recurring meeting first thing in the morning.
Go around the room and ask everyone three questions:
What did you do yesterday?
What will you do today?
Any roadblocks preventing you from moving forward?
2. User Stories
The second most-used aspect of Agile among marketing teams is the user story with 42 percent of Agile marketers utilizing this feature.
If you're not familiar with Agile, you're probably thinking, "What the heck is a user story?"
Here's the quick and dirty explanation:
User stories are a customer-centric way of explaining what it is we are doing. It's a way to make sure that the things marketers are doing will benefit the target audience. The user story is documented in a creative brief or project kickoff notes for reference.
Here's what a user story in software development typically looks like:
As a user, I would like a certain feature so I can achieve an outcome.
When modified for marketing, it looks like this:
As the target audience, I would like some kind of content so I can achieve an outcome.
3. Project Retros
An Agile retro is like a longer version of the daily standup and only takes place once the project has been completed. We also found in the study that thirty-two percent of Agile marketers choose to use this feature with their teams.
These meetings should be limited to no more than an hour and aim to give team members the chance to discuss the project's successes and areas of improvement. This way, your marketing team can continually iterate and implement better practices for future projects.
Here's what you'll discuss during an Agile retro:
What went well? Celebrate your successes.
What didn't go well? Be honest with your failures.
How can we improve in the future? Accept failure as an opportunity to do better.
4. Work-in-Progress Limits
The same study found that thirty-one percent of Agile marketing teams use this approach when managing their marketing projects. What does this mean, exactly?
Well... it basically means that only a certain number of projects can be worked on at any given time. It forces us to complete a project before we can start something else.
Let's say that your content marketing team is creating three different long-form content items like two white papers and an eBook. Setting a work-in-progress (WIP) limit means that a fourth item can't be started until one of the items being worked on is completed.
You might think this caps your team's output and will cause your results to decrease. In reality, you're streamlining the process of getting things down, while also increasing the quality of the deliverable.
If you're looking for easy elements of Agile to implement that will make a big impact, start with the items above.
Don't let Agile purists tell you that you have to do Agile in a specific way. Experimenting, figuring things out as you go, and continually improving are part and parcel to being Agile. After all, what's more Agile than being flexible?