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Agile Marketing: Benefits & Best Practices for Continuous Improvement

Agile Marketing: Benefits & best practices for continuous improvement

When distinguished with a capital “A,” the word “Agile” is most commonly associated with software development. The most widely used approach to project management today, Agile provides a number of benefits for development teams, including more engaged developers, more confident stakeholders, and more satisfied users. Agile has proven to be such a useful framework for enabling the rapid and consistent delivery of business value that its adoption is spreading to other parts of the organization, too–most notably Operations and Marketing. 

The Marketing team at Gorilla Logic has fully adopted the Agile mindset, helping them strategically plan and execute work while seamlessly incorporating changing priorities and feedback. They work in month-long sprints and embrace Agile ceremonies like backlog grooming, retrospectives, sprint planning, and daily stand-ups. 

In this blog post, we’ll break down some of the benefits and best practices of Agile Marketing and explore how Gorilla Logic’s own Agile practices have evolved over the last five years.

What is Agile Marketing?

Agile Marketing is a tactical approach to marketing that embraces Agile principles and methodologies and upholds the following values prescribed by the Agile Marketing Manifesto:

  1. Focusing on customer value and business outcomes over activity and outputs
  2. Delivering value early and often over waiting for perfection
  3. Learning through experiments and data over opinions and conventions
  4. Cross-functional collaboration over silos and hierarchies
  5. Responding to change over following a static plan

Agile marketing teams identify and prioritize high-value tasks, complete them collaboratively in short sprints, and use past learnings to continuously improve processes and outcomes. By adopting an Agile approach to their work, marketing teams are able to respond more quickly to rapidly changing priorities and market conditions.

Benefits of Agile Marketing

Agile Marketing provides numerous benefits to both the marketing team and the business overall.

1. Greater flexibility to change in accordance with shifting business priorities

For many marketing teams, the frequency of disparate requests from various departments can be difficult to prioritize, organize, and track. When business priorities change, marketing teams need to have the capacity and know-how to quickly reorganize their work while keeping the bottom line in mind. Agile Marketing enables teams to manage shifting priorities more effectively so that the most important work gets done in the shortest amount of time.

Agile Marketing tip:

Instead of prioritizing tasks based on when the request was received (waterfall style), prioritize them based on what is most timely and valuable to the business (Agile).

How Gorilla Logic does it:

Gorilla Logic’s marketing team uses Trello to organize their projects and tasks. Work that is intended to be completed during the current sprint goes on one of three team-level boards (Web Development, Demand Gen, or Internal Comms), and work that is intended to be completed during a future sprint goes on the Backlog board. As new, higher-priority tasks come in, lower-priority tasks on the active sprint boards can be moved to the backlog, and vice-versa.

2. Increased transparency that enables informed decision-making and faster delivery

As business priorities change–and marketing tasks are reorganized accordingly–Agile marketing teams need processes in place to help them provide transparency about their workload to other departments. By doing so, they can provide more accurate timelines and, when they can’t complete a task in the timeline another department wanted, they’re able to provide context. 

It’s also important for Agile marketing team members to be transparent with each other so that they can highlight problems sooner and create a faster, more accurate delivery cycle. Clear transparency of marketing tasks keeps everyone on the team informed of what needs to happen next in order to keep up with fast-moving timelines.

Agile Marketing tip:

Use a Kanban board to catalog past, present, and future work. Fill out each individual project card with as much detail as possible.

How Gorilla Logic does it:

Gorilla Logic’s marketing team has a defined process for creating project cards in Trello, ensuring each card has as much detail and context as possible. By using each card’s activity section to communicate hand-offs and project updates, everyone on the team is able to clearly understand what each project’s status is so that they can quickly push projects through to completion. 

3. Easier measurability of successes (and failures)

A key component of successful Agile Marketing is its reliance on data and analytics, rather than opinions and conventions. By following data-driven insights, marketing teams are able to more accurately determine where to invest more time, money, and resources to improve campaigns. 

Another way Agile Marketing helps teams track progress and measure success is its use of story points to estimate how much time and effort an individual task will take. When you assign story points to each card in your Kanban board for a single sprint, you make it easy for the team to track its total workload, as well as the individual workloads of team members. 

Story points also help marketing teams determine how much work they should plan for future sprints. For example, if a team planned to execute 350 points worth of work in June but actually completed only 300, it may want to plan 300 points worth of work for July. The number of story points you plan for any given sprint should be based on a combination of the average number of points the team completes during a sprint, as well as other considerations like company holidays, training days, and team member PTO.

Agile Marketing tip:

Make data and analytics accessible to everyone on the team, and make sure everyone understands what the numbers mean. Then turn those insights into meaningful actions.

Additionally, assign story points to each card in your Kanban board to help your team track how much work is completed in a single sprint, and plan work for future sprints.

How Gorilla Logic does it:

Gorilla Logic’s marketing team holds monthly ad performance and organic search review meetings to dig into the data and discuss what went well and what could be improved in the next sprint. Doing so helps the team make more informed decisions on how to improve underperforming campaigns and how to replicate successful ones. 

When it comes to story points, the Gorilla Logic marketing team uses them to determine our average capacity for work each sprint. If we notice that we have significantly more points planned for an upcoming sprint than the team is usually able to complete, we groom the backlog as a team to determine what can stay in the backlog and what needs to be executed first. We may also decide to break a card down into smaller deliverables, executing part in the current sprint and finishing the rest in the next.

4. More motivated, engaged, and satisfied marketing teams

Agile Marketing enables team members to feel more in control over what they’re working on, leading to more motivated, engaged, and satisfied teams.

Agile Marketing Methodologies Results
Prioritized and organized work Helps teams align on and achieve clear goals and deadlines
Transparency into each project’s status Allows individuals to see how their personal contributions lead to shared successes
Frequent, cross-functional collaboration Enables personal skills improvement and career growth
Actionable insights from data and analytics Improves campaigns and how teams think about and execute them in the future
Consistent, methodical approach to work Leads to more fulfilling collaboration and a greater sense of team accomplishment

Agile Marketing tip:

Do the work, but have fun while you’re at it! Don’t forget to celebrate big wins!

How Gorilla Logic does it:

While Gorilla Logic’s marketing team places heavy emphasis on executing great work quickly, they also make sure to have fun while they’re at it. When planning to execute an important launch, the team never forgets to include the well-deserved celebration that will follow.

Agile Marketing Kanban board screenshot

Adopting Agile: Best practices for Agile marketing teams

1. Use a Kanban board

While this tool satisfies Marketing’s love of color and imagery, it serves a greater purpose: organizing and cataloging projects into cards and columns for each sprint. Many Kanban boards are easily customizable and can be built based on your team’s preferences for organizing your work. See how Gorilla Logic organizes its Kanban board here.

2. Break down projects into small tasks

Take a whitepaper, for example. In order to execute it, you’ll likely need to create a project brief, write multiple drafts, design the layout, and construct a promotion plan. Instead of creating a single card on your Kanban board for the entire project, break the project down into those smaller tasks and create cards for each one. Not only does this help with organization and moving things forward, it also enables you to break projects up across multiple sprints. Now you can track your progress, continue to chug along bit by bit, and maintain a positive focus, rather than feeling dragged down by cards that don’t seem to move.

3. Embrace Agile ceremonies

There are several ceremonies Agile marketing teams can practice to help them be more successful in their processes and outputs: 

  • Backlog Grooming: A meeting wherein team members analyze the work in the backlog to determine what can and should be executed during the upcoming sprint, and what can remain in the backlog for future sprints.
  • Retrospectives: A meeting wherein team members discuss what went well during the previous sprint, what didn’t go so well, and what improvements should be made.
  • Sprint Planning: A meeting wherein team members go through each project card for the upcoming sprint and align on priorities, timelines, and project ownership.
  • Daily/Weekly Stand-Ups: A meeting wherein team members discuss what they did the day/week before, what they will be working on that day/week, and any blockers they may have. 

4. Plan for unplanned work

As mentioned above, frequent changing priorities can often lead to unplanned work for marketing teams. While you may not know what the nature of the unplanned work will be, you can almost always guarantee it will show up in a given sprint. 

During sprint planning ceremonies, leave room for urgent tasks that may come down from the executive level, or those that arise when a bit of martech breaks and needs to be fixed immediately. Allot a fixed number of story points to unplanned work and create a parent card for it so that you can accurately account for the work during the sprint.

5. Commit to the Agile mindset and be a lifelong learner

Agile Marketing is a journey of continuous learning and improvement. With each sprint, teams and individuals learn from their mistakes and successes and can carry those learnings with them into the future. Committing to the Agile mindset may be uncomfortable and challenging in the beginning, but can drastically improve how your team operates and gets things done.

Lessons learned from 5 years of Marketing Agility

The Gorilla Logic marketing team has been Agile for five years now. While we have made countless improvements to our tech stack, team structure, and Agile ceremonies and processes, the number one lesson we have learned is that teamwork makes the dream work. 

Successful Agile Marketing requires the involvement, willingness, and enthusiasm of each team member because as each individual grows, the whole team grows.

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