Agile marketing with martech
Can marketing teams behave more like dev teams?
Digital marketing is reaching a tipping point where past techniques are no longer feasible. More and more, marketing teams are expected to prove that their strategy and tactics are working to generate more leads for the marketing funnel and more sales for the company. With a huge selection of marketing automation, CRM, analytics and reporting tools, there is a treasure trove of data to work with. But, have today’s marketing teams been able to keep up with this sea change, and more importantly, can they use this data to make better decisions and refine their strategy?
Down the waterfall then throw it over the wall
Marketing, probably more so than other creative departments, can easily fall into the trap of working in a waterfall methodology. Campaigns, events, and other large projects often have drop-dead dates when they need to be delivered, and so a waterfall approach seems like the right strategy. We have a campaign to run in 3 months – first we do discovery, then we gather requirements, then we design and plan for the tasks, then we launch the campaign. Now what? Just sit back and hope that it works? Working in this way is just too slow for a modern marketing department.
And the tendency in marketing teams is to just throw the leads over the wall to the sales team. In the software world I have seen the same thing happen with software devs throwing their code over the wall to the operations team and then moving on. This has led to the devops culture shift in many companies where these teams work much more closely together in a shared goal of delivering business value. Sales and marketing need to do the same things and come together with the shared goal of generating leads and closing sales.
Why can’t we work in a more adaptable way within the marketing team and together with sales? Why can’t we behave more like a devops culture building software?
The Agile Manifesto
The Agile Manifesto has 12 simple points for software teams to follow:
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity–the art of maximising the amount of work not done–is essential.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.
Now, many of these principles need to be adapted to refer to marketing teams and the output they produce. But you get the gist of it, and all of these principles can be applied to effective marketing teams.
Can we treat a campaign like a software release? As a developer, I don’t see why not. Information that we are gathering from previous campaigns should easily be able to feed back in to our process so that we can adapt the campaign as we build it. We can see what worked and what didn’t. When we work in short sprints, that data can be part of our planning process for the next sprint and should affect the work that we’re planning. Using Agile allows us to do this instead of working on a set of assumptions at the beginning of the campaign building process.
As Marketing teams become more data-driven, the ability to work in an iterative, agile way becomes ever more possible. We now have the data at our fingertips that allows us to see exactly how the market is responding. This data should feed right back into the loop and affect decisions that are made for the future. Rinse and repeat. This fits perfectly with Agile and doing work in short sprints.
How this works in principle is a very different beast. Marketing teams the world over are dealing with data overload and are having trouble controlling it and using it properly. User data is still spread out in so many ways that it becomes difficult to see the forest from the trees. The data needs to be aggregated in some way. A more technical article will follow this one on some of the techniques that can be used to see if your marketing tactics are successful and if you’re accomplishing your overall strategy. This is what management wants to see.