It takes a different approach to thrive in today’s marketplace, a deft and adaptable mode to remain relevant and in the running.
The pandemic has brought the need to be agile to the forefront. Throughout 2020 we witnessed the consequences businesses face when they lack agility. But being agile isn’t just about being able to adapt and pivot to external circumstance as many may think. A truly agile organisation functions in a different way to the rest.
Agile marketing is a set of business practises that shape the people, processes and tech within the company. Becoming an agile organisation is no mean feat, but we’ve identified a number of steps you can take to ensure your business functions like a business of the future.
To be clear from the outset, first we’ll define the term agile marketing. Agile marketing is an approach whereby an organisation works in short sprints to identify high value opportunities as verified by data and test them through experimentation. By creating a learning loop through iterative test and learn cycles, marketing teams continually evolve. Learnings inform the subsequent set of experiments and provide valuable insights that solidify decisions moving the organisation towards their ultimate objectives.
Why is agile marketing essential, you may be wondering. Everything is changing. Our real-time world is moving at pace, constantly evolving and relentlessly challenging. Being quicker than the competition is no longer enough. You need to be smarter too. It takes a different approach to thrive, a deft and adaptable mode to remain relevant and in the running. In today’s marketplace, the only way to ensure advantage is to be truly agile.
Agility empowers marketing teams. As an agile department you identify high-value, intelligent opportunities as verified by data. You embark on a learning-loop that consists of experimenting and measuring outputs. It’s an iterative cycle. Learnings inform actions. The velocity of progress puts your organisation ahead of the curve. And that means enhanced performance and a progressive team. Your brand is future proof because adapting is the norm. You’re disruptive and innovative in equal measure. Ultimately, you win with phenomenal results.
Don’t just take our word for it, the stats around the performance of agile organisations speak for themselves.
- 81% of respondents in agile units report a moderate or significant increase in overall performance since their transformations began.
- On average, respondents in agile units are 1.5 times more likely than others to report financial outperformance relative to peers, and 1.7 times more likely to report outperforming their peers on nonfinancial measures.
- Typically, agile businesses see a 600% increase in speed to market with ideas, campaigns and products.
4 Attributes to Remember
So, where to start? There are four attributes of any agile organisation we think are worth keeping in mind to achieve genuine agility, those are:
- The ideal environment to learn at pace, enabling rapid decision making, setting fewer objectives and solidifying well defined controls and parameters that facilitate moving forward quickly.
- Working in a nimble manner. The entire team embraces a deft work attitude and culture. Pivoting is normal. The workflow is by nature fluid.
- An attribute often overlooked in discussions of agile working but one that is nonetheless extremely important in our view, agile organisations must at their core have stability. A stable foundation in any organisation provides confidence, security and optimism to adapt a fluid work approach. Without that base, an agile approach can feel daunting.
- In addition to this point, it is worth mentioning here that agile is, above all, a mindset. Without the right mindset, all other parts of the agile operating system can be in place and yet companies will see few benefits. The mindset must be set by management and leadership and therefore their buy-in to an agile workforce is critical to its success.
- In a practical sense, efficiency must start with the gathering of accurate data. The challenges around this are astronomical. Lack of accuracy with many of the most commonly used analytics programmes are widely accepted. Often agile organisations work with an expansive tech stack in an attempt to achieve accurate data capture. Without this, experiments may be based on false insight. Decisions, in this case experiments, are only as good as the data that informs them.
- Efficiency also requires high-value learning loops to take priority and swift implementation of the insights derived from activity.
How do you get there (we hear you ask)? Here’s a practical step-by-step process that will allow you to move in the right direction, and with some persistence, become wholly agile.
How to Become Agile
1. Gather your team
There are several attributes needed to create a functioning agile organisation. Yet arguably, the most important feature is the team of people who will facilitate it. It should consist of a small group (8-12 people) who have specialisms in various disciplines, depending on the nature of tasks they plan to undertake.
Experiments that test complex personalisation will require an Analytics Lead’s involvement, whereas if desired experiments focus on CRO then UX experts would be crucial. To have real impact on the businesses bottom line, the team should have a clear sense of what they want to achieve at the outset, this goal setting will subsequently inform which roles should be called upon in constructing the team.
The lead of the agile initiative and chair of their subsequent meetings is a scrum master. This role sets priorities, defines the hypotheses, controls the backlog, identifies necessary resources, and leads the learning loops. They are responsible for chairing daily stand ups and check-in meetings. Senior leaders should touch base with the scrum master on a 4-weekly basis to gain an overview of activity. We recommend using an automated dashboard to give leadership full visibility on key metrics and insights.
2. Schedule the kick-off
Having established your team, the select group will align with leadership in terms of the initiatives, goals and expectations. The first agile meeting is termed the kick-off. Its core purpose is to draw a line in the sand in terms of the former ground rules and BAU. At this point the agile mindset should be defined and committed to. Going forward, the group work at pace, collaborating continuously, striving for simplicity, with data-trumping opinions; each member is accountable to the next—and above all, the customer is at the centre of all decisions. The mindset is pivotal; establish that with each team member and you’re set up for success.
3. Analyse the data
Then the real work can begin, work that requires accurate data and sufficient analytical tools.
The martech employed will allow the team to capture, aggregate and manage data from several touchpoints and channels. Our recommendation at this stage in your agile initiative is utilising Cubed. Cubed is a Yard developed data science platform. It wraps around your current tech stack, filling gaps where data is skewed or missing. It gathers all customer information in one place and displays it in an easy to read and digestible dashboard. Through machine learning, Cubed identifies the experiments your team should be testing and creates a backlog for you. In effect, it completes the two most complex stages of marketing agility, so you don’t have to.
Every morning, your team holds a short stand up meeting. Each team member reports on their progress yesterday and their goals for the day ahead, highlighting any blockers along the way. This setup is vital, it creates real accountability within the team, ensuring everyone has a full update on progress.
4. Design and prioritise experiments
Aggregating the entire customer journey data in one place allows you to pinpoint opportunities and roadblocks to conversion. Based on these insights, the team will brainstorm how to develop and test a hypothesis. There are two factors to be considered when prioritising tests, the potential business impact, and the ease of implementation. Quick wins should not be overlooked, but rather embraced as simple ways to gather greater understanding. Top priorities join the top of the queue. The backlog is continually revisited to ensure key experiments sit in their rightful position.
5. Run tests
Tests should be run in short sprints that last 2 weeks. During this time results will prove or disprove the hypothesis. To stick within the sprint timeframe, it’s key that the team works efficiently, having a few meetings that are straight to the point and sharing knowledge across the group to ensure the team a fully informed of progress.
6. Iterate ideas based on results
It is essential the marketing team has a robust tracking mechanism in place to quickly report on results. On a weekly basis, the scrum master will lead a review session where the meaning of results is teased out and informs next priorities. Monthly, the war room meeting debriefs the learning loops, sharing key insights with stakeholders and a reprioritisation of next sprints is agreed. The team continues working through the backlog. At this stage it is common for new ideas to come to the fore, often these may be more important and are added at the top of the queue.
There’s a lot in there, we’ll give you that. To lend itself as a useful summary, here’s a check list.
Your Agility Checklist
- Gather data in one place. Create a single customer view that provides accurate data and allows for actionable insights.
- Identify high value experiments. Then create a queue in a visual format, such as a Kanban board.
- Test your hypothesis in succinct sprints creating a learning loop.
- Analyse findings, digest learnings. Identify activity that you should stop, start, continue. Ask the team, what are things they liked, lacked, learned and longed for throughout the process.
- Rinse and repeat steps 1-4. Prioritise your next set of experiments.
- Utilise daily stand ups, sprint review and war room meetings for knowledge share and team input. Above all, work as a unit with the end hypothesis in mind.
Ultimately, the existence of Cubed is to facilitate marketing teams to work in an agile manner. Cubed is an intuitive application that pinpoints where marketing contributes value and where budget is simply wasted. It clearly defines the activity you should keep, start and stop doing, creating a stream of agile marketing experiments for your teams, week after week.
No revenue opportunity is left untapped. From campaigns to keywords, from affiliates to SEO, put your money where your marketing performs. Invest in value by understanding every touchpoint and the complete path to conversion.
Proven to work, incredibly powerful, utterly essential.
Cubed has delivered exceptional return for us. We've overachieved on all key metrics outlined in the test hypothesis and have seen incredibly strong ROI.
Jack Stevens, Head of Ecommerce
Cubed exceeded our expectations, securing 3,000 additional leads than originally targeted and driving a staggering $12 million in extra revenue.
Michael Frearson, Head of International Brand
Cubed has been transformative for us. It has enabled us to think smarter than ever before, even during the pandemic. Sales have increased to an all-time high.
Simon Boice - Head of Digital Performance Marketing