Marketing teams today are under severe pressure to do more with less, move faster, and deliver value early. You know this already. Companies want to move at a breakneck speed, gain competitive advantage, and be at the top of their customers’ minds.
To adapt, many marketers have replaced legacy marketing techniques with agile methodology. Traditional marketing with annual plans, big-bet campaigns, and longer cycles just doesn’t suit them anymore.
Agile marketing is catching up fast as more than fifty percent of the State of Agile Marketing Report 2023 respondents are ready to adopt agile marketing in their sustainable marketing strategies.
Marketing professionals worldwide are increasingly adopting agile methodologies to improve marketing efficiency and effectiveness.
Keep reading to learn how to use agile marketing processes to improve your marketing outcomes.
- What is Agile Marketing?
- History and Development of Agile Marketing
- Principles of the Agile Marketing Manifesto
- Characteristics of Agile Marketing
- Agile Marketing Frameworks: Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban
- ClickUp: The Go-To Tool for Agile Marketing Implementation
- Benefits of Agile Marketing
- Challenges with Implementing Agile Marketing
- How Agile Marketing Works in Practice
- Implement Agile Marketing with ClickUp
What is Agile Marketing?
Agile marketing follows the principle of agile methodologies. It’s a strategic approach and mindset shift of breaking work into smaller segments and managing them as independent projects in sprints.
Working on small projects gives marketers ample opportunities to iterate and correct their course of action. It also increases the scope of taking and implementing feedback through cross-functional team collaboration. After a sprint, teams can evaluate the results and take notes of improvement areas.
Here are a few ways agile marketing is different from traditional marketing:
- Frequent, iterative campaigns instead of a few large bets
- Relying on experiments and data instead of opinions
- Customer-focused collaboration instead of working on silos
- Reacting quickly to change instead of following long-term plans
History and Development of Agile Marketing
To know the history of agile marketing, we must know the history of agile methodologies in software development.
In the 90s, software developers followed a popular working style called the ‘Waterfall Model.’ It’s a sequential process going from one phase to another, like a waterfall flowing from the edge of a cliff.
At the beginning of the process, managers would collect and compile information in a functional specification document. Developers used this document as a reference for software development.
However, it was a difficult job because they faced uncertainties, and with very little client involvement, were supposed to find the solution independently. They couldn’t meet deadlines, and to make matters worse, the quality of the final project was far from the client’s expectations.
Veterans in the software industry brainstormed a solution as a way out. In February 2001, seventeen software development experts gathered and wrote the Agile Manifesto for software development.
After a decade of agile methodology breakthroughs in software development, marketing thought leaders created The Agile Marketing Manifesto. The Sprint Zero document became the ideal manifesto for marketing teams after multiple discussions and rounds of brainstorming.
The manifesto defines the new ways of agile marketing in five key points:
- Focusing on customer value and business outcomes over activity and outputs
- Delivering value early and often over waiting for perfection
- Learning through experiments and data over opinions and conversations
- Cross-functional collaboration over siloes and hierarchies
- Responding to change over following a static plan
Principles of the Agile Marketing Manifesto
It would be remiss not to mention the ten guiding principles of the Agile manifesto for marketing teams. These principles are guardrails for your marketing team to function daily in an agile environment:
- Great marketing requires close alignment, transparency, and quality interactions with internal and external customers
- Seek out different and diverse points of view
- Embrace and respond to change to enhance customer value
- Plan only to a level sufficient to ensure effective prioritization and execution
- Take chances, and learn from your failures
- Organize in small, cross-functional teams where possible
- Build marketing programs around motivated individuals and trust them to get the job done
- Long-term marketing success benefits from operating at a sustainable pace
- Agile marketing isn’t enough. Excellence in marketing requires continuous attention to marketing fundamentals as well
- Strive for simplicity
Characteristics of Agile Marketing
Agile marketing has five characteristics: teamwork, reliance on data, rapid iteration, customer centricity, and commitment to the agile marketing manifesto.
Agile marketing and creative teams thrive on cross-functional collaboration. Sustainable marketing requires team members with different skill sets and expertise to work together on a project instead of working in silos and hierarchies.
Stand-up calls and Sprint reviews ensure everyone knows the progress, challenges, and goals.
Data is the north star for agile marketers. They use data to run new experiments and make iterations to the existing ones. Their decisions are backed by key performance indicators (KPIs) that help them assess the impact of their efforts.
Frequent and fast data-driven decisions differentiate modern marketing teams from traditional teams focusing more on opinions.
Agile marketing teams prioritize customer needs and preferences. The agile mindset uses customer feedback and discovery calls to refine strategies and continually launch relevant campaigns.
Their time to market is low because the agile team is clear on what they want to prioritize and chooses a few high-impact activities instead of tackling multiple things in one go.
Adaptive and iterative campaigns
In an agile marketing team, the focus is on working in sprints to add incremental value. A big task is broken down into smaller, quickly achievable tasks. It’s easier to make iterations for these small tasks and to adapt to the changing markets, trends, or business priorities every two to six weeks instead of making changes at the end of the month/quarter/year.
Commitment to the Agile Marketing Manifesto
The core values and principles of the Agile Marketing Manifesto are like the holy grail for agile marketing teams. Daily marketing activities like stand-up meetings and sprint tracking are based on the values and principles in the manifesto.
Agile Marketing Frameworks: Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban
Agile frameworks put the principles of agile methodology into practice. Frameworks make it easier for agile marketing teams to build a collaborative approach in the marketing department and set up a foundation to make rapid iterations of their work.
Let’s look at the three most popular agile marketing frameworks: Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban.
Scrum is the most popular agile framework, with 87% of the organizations using the scrum methodology. The scrum agile marketing framework starts by understanding the backlog. The marketing team breaks down the backlog into smaller Sprints, sets a priority, and unanimously decides on a timeline for the deliverability of these Sprints. The Sprint duration could vary from a few days to 2-3 weeks, depending on the organization.
The Scrum master assists the team in meetings and ensures everyone follows the agile marketing approach. In a marketing team, the marketing lead is usually the scrum master.
The Scrum framework is divided into three parts – Scrum planning, Daily Scrum, and Post-Scrum meetings. This helps build a continuous loop of communication among the Scrum team members.
An agile team typically spends one hour each week to plan their Sprint. During the planning phase, team members assign sprint points to each project to estimate the effort required. This estimation technique tells the team how much work they have to complete in a Sprint.
After the planning phase, the marketing department zones in on the Sprint. Team members have daily stand-ups (or daily scrum) to share individual updates. These meetings are short and mainly cover three important things: the previous day’s work updates, the plan for today, and issues that they’re facing.
The post-Scrum meeting is divided into a Scrum review and a Sprint retrospective. In Scrum review, the marketing team presents its work to the stakeholders to gather their feedback.
The Scrum team conducts the Sprint retrospective to evaluate the performance of Sprint outcomes and suggest improvements.
Compared to Scrum, Kanban is a more flexible agile framework. It is based on the principle of Kaizen, the Japanese concept of continuous improvement.
The Kanban board is a visual representation of the marketing programs and the different stages they’re in. The single point of truth enables marketers to have an overview of all the activities and streamline them for timely delivery.
The best way to use a Kanban board is by breaking down the entire marketing process into different stages. For example, stages on a marketing kanban board could include ‘To do’, ‘In progress’, ‘Done’, and ‘Postponed to next sprint’.
Streamline activities for coming weeks and avoid employee burnout or overwork by visualizing tasks at each stage and the effort and resources each task would take up.
There are six core practices of Kanban that marketing teams must follow to practice marketing agility:
- Visualize the flow of work: Write down the steps you’re currently following to complete a task
- Limit Work in Progress (WIP): By limiting WIP, you motivate your team to complete the task at hand before taking up new tasks
- Manage flow: Based on your visualization and ability to limit WIP, you should be able to analyze the Kanban system and make adjustments to enhance the flow
- Make process policies explicit: Policies are guidelines for completing the tasks; explicitly stating them ensures that every team member is aware of the expectations
- Implement feedback loops: Set up multiple review stages within the Kanban board to get continuous feedback on the process
- Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally: Collaborate with your team members to evaluate the process and improve continuously
Scrumban is a hybrid agile approach combining Scrum and Kanban agile practices. It encourages marketing departments to work on Kanban boards while continuing to release work in Sprints. This agile marketing approach gives the marketing team the complete freedom to decide how they want to plan their agile operations.
Scrumban is an ideal fit for large marketing teams or those that partner with external agencies where you need to tweak the workflow to suit different teams’ work styles.
ClickUp: The Go-To Tool for Agile Marketing Implementation
To build an agile marketing team, you need the right tool that will allow them to visualize the workflow, document efficiently, automate tasks, and track and evaluate performance.
ClickUp, an advanced cloud-based tool, is designed for agile teams to streamline marketing campaigns. Let’s look at the key features that help you continuously improve your agile marketing process.
The Sprints ClickApp helps you set up and customize your Sprints within ClickUp. Organize your Sprint into tasks, sub-tasks, and checklists for easy management. Use the List View to group, filter, and bulk-edit tasks. With the Team View, you can track team progress by status, time estimate, Sprint Points, or any other custom field.
ClickUp Board View
The ClickUp Kanban Board is a customizable system for marketing teams. Team members can easily drag and drop tasks and arrange the board by status, assignees, priorities, etc.The Scrum master can see all the workflows with a click of a button and make multiple changes to a task with the help of Bulk Action.
Agile marketing starts with impeccable documentation, and ClickUp helps you do that with ClickUp Docs. Docs are the perfect sidekick to create Wikis, reference documents, SOPs, and workflows as they give the creator complete freedom to add bookmarks, tables, and other options to format it however they like.
Collaboration with real-time editing, in-thread commenting, assigning action items, and converting texts into trackable tasks is a breeze.
You can also speed up all your marketing workflows with the help of ClickUp AI, which can create everything from email scripts and blog outlines to meeting notes and campaign strategies.
Automate routine tasks by choosing from 100+ ClickUp Automations and focus your teams’ efforts on more crucial areas. You can customize workflows to your requirements or use them as they are.
Modern marketing teams have one requirement in common—a tool to track and visualize their performance. Customizable ClickUp Dashboards help you view the progress of your marketing workflows, identify blockers, manage resources, and track timelines. Distribute Scrum points, allocate resources effectively, and view and assess your quarterly plans for future planning.
Benefits of Agile Marketing
Agile methods bring many benefits, but the best way to realize these for your marketing team is to have a goal in mind.
Agile teams are 25% more productive when compared to traditional teams. Agile teams involve cross-functional collaboration, which means the teams are made of specialists. Such teams can finish work faster and more efficiently with fewer dependencies, and the organization benefits from a shorter time-to-value.
Early and continuous delivery and rapid iterations form the foundations of agile marketing teams. The most significant benefit of this approach is using short-term learning to design the long-term plan. Agile marketers focus on long-term goals but keep their short-term activities flexible. This allows them to adapt better to changing circumstances. The results from experiments are applied to a few large bets, considering the evolving business landscape and market conditions.
Agile marketing teams use visual elements like a Kanban board to define workflows instead of relying on archaic ideas like spreadsheets. The Scrum Master defines the task list, priorities, and deadlines, increasing transparency. Regular stand-up calls and meetings keep the team members in the loop about the latest progress and developments.
One of the core values and principles of agile marketing is using data to measure the performance of marketing campaigns and take corrective actions. The decisions are, therefore, more objective and concrete and push the team towards continuous improvement.
With clear prioritization, open collaboration, and frequent communication, agile marketing teams are more engaged than traditional ones. The agile framework gives team members ownership of tasks and the autonomy to execute them. Since each team member can decide how they want to work towards assigned goals, they are happier and more satisfied with their work.
Real-time feedback and constant iterations are at the top of the priority list for agile marketers. This gives them the leverage to act on the latest trends and market volatility and stay true to their customers’ expectations. Moreover, the decisions are data-driven, which gives them an upper hand over their competitors using legacy marketing methods.
Challenges with Implementing Agile Marketing
There are numerous examples of organizations with successful and sustainable agile teams.
However, only 41% of marketers agreed to use some form of agile marketing practices in their daily work. What keeps the remaining 59% of marketers aloof from adopting agile marketing? Here are some of the challenges:
Lack of training and knowledge
Agile marketing is a paradigm shift. Lack of training keeps the marketers disjoint from the nuances of this methodology. Companies must invest in comprehensive training programs to fully manifest the benefits of agile marketing in the workplace.
Difficulty in managing unplanned work
Many traditional marketing teams cannot embrace new challenges and accept unplanned work. However, the dynamic nature of agile marketing demands marketers to be nimble and open to collaboration to tackle unplanned action items. The key to solving this challenge is building an agile mindset in team members.
Not willing to change
Change in the working style might be seen as a challenge. There can be different reasons behind the opposition, for instance, the team might be unwilling to leave their comfort zone.
To address this issue, business leaders need to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the marketing team, addressing concerns and helping them visualize the benefits of agile marketing.
Lack of the right talent
This is one of the biggest challenges for marketing teams willing to adopt agile marketing. To build the right talent, companies need an Agile coach who can lead the process and train the team
Absence of support from the higher management
The success of agile marketing largely depends on the willingness of the C-suite to align it with the overall organization’s goal. They have to start by championing the Agile cause and providing resources to make the execution successful.
How Agile Marketing Works in Practice
Here are the steps followed in agile marketing in practice:
The agile marketing team assembles with the leadership team to align everyone with the goal. Following this, the marketing team has an internal meeting to lay out the strategy for the new working style and discuss the measures to adopt the agile culture.
The agile marketing team analyzes data to identify opportunities in the customer journey. Each team member presents their findings in the daily standups and outlines the steps they plan to take.
Once the opportunities are identified, the team plans tests and identifies Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). After this, they prioritize the tests that are most likely to impact the business performance.
Improve business processes
The performance of each test is collected and evaluated to decide which tests should be scaled and which should be discontinued. The learnings are communicated to the leadership team to take further actions on improving the business processes
To put agile marketing into practice, we recommend checking out these templates that will set you up right away:
ClickUp’s Agile Marketing Template
The Agile Marketing Template by ClickUp lets you create and organize tasks according to your marketing strategies, plan sprints, and easily adjust tasks according to priority. Execute campaigns faster with a shorter turnaround time with this plug-and-play template for agile teams.
Digital marketing teams can use it to flexibly adjust campaigns and budgets and increase visibility in the performance of paid and organic campaigns.
ClickUp’s Scrum Management Template
ClickUp’s Scrum Management Template empowers you to manage tasks end-to-end. It helps with fast-tracking tasks and creating actionable visuals. Invite your team to collaborate and ensure quick delivery with fewer errors.
ClickUp’s Sprint Planning Template
The Sprint Planning Template by ClickUp helps plan sprints, visualize tasks and dependencies, and track progress. Every stakeholder in the team gets a clear understanding of the project using this template. Managers can also assign deadlines and identify potential risks in a project.
Implement Agile Marketing with ClickUp
To implement agile marketing and achieve success, teams worldwide rely on tools like ClickUp to plan, organize, visualize, and track tasks while collaborating with different teams.