What's Up with Agile Marketing? – 352 Noodles & Doodles

We’ve talked all about agile web development for the last year (don’t worry, we’re not done yet), but we realized a while ago that agile could be applied throughout the company. Our marketing teams began quietly transitioning to agile methodologies more than a year ago, and we’ve seen incredible results. So what exactly is agile marketing? Glad you asked!

If you’re tired of a 12-month marketing plan blowing up in your face, or watching a budget disappear into a poor campaign, then agile marketing might be your saving grace. In this week’s 352 Noodles & Doodles, I’ll walk you through just what agile marketing means at 352, and how we implemented it across our marketing department. In addition to integrating with development teams on agile projects, we’ve divided the marketing department into cross-functional teams that focus solely on a handful of clients, allowing us to react quickly to change and to test tactics for each client to see what works. Find out more below.

Transcript below.

[Erin Everhart]:

Hey everybody, my name’s Erin, I’m with 352 and today I’m gonna talk to you about agile marketing. Now in this industry, as you guys know, things change rapidly. Sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly. Sometimes almost even daily. And agile marketing really allows us to better adapt to those changes in the industries as well as client’s changing priorities.
You know, we can’t build out 12-month marketing plans anymore, because it’s just not feasible.
 
In the old way of doing marketing, you typically have a project managar, and then you have support staff. You have a content writer, maybe a designer, a technical, maybe a data person. Now agile marketing, we want to merge all of those on to us.
 
At 352, we have have 3 person teams – three, 3-person teams. In those teams, we have cross-functional skillsets. We have a content person, a strategy person and a data person. And those 3-person teams work on a handful of client projects and only those client projects. They always work together, and that really allows them to dive deep into the client’s business instead of working across 15-16 projects at once.
 
Now the beauty of these 3-person teams is that they are all co-located. Not only are they in the same office or same location, they are literally in the same office: 3 people in 1 room. It really allows for enhanced communication between all 3 of them so that we know nothing is getting lost between the cracks.
 
So the second principle of agile marketing is gonna be: It’s all about you. It’s nothing about us. We start our marketing process off with a Sprint 0. This is a deep dive into your client’s business. Typically it’s about a day, maybe a day and a half depending on the complexity of the project. We get to know you really, really well. Everything from your top-selling product, what are your goals, what are you trying to do, what are doing offline?
 
We spend this time listening and not talking about all of these thigns that we’ll be able to do for the client. We want to figure out: what can you guys do already? What’s making you tick?
 
So then, we get to know your users really, really well. We believe that we can’t start marketing until we know who those users are. So we partner with our UX team and go through about a 6-week planning and research process before we lay out any tactic on our marketing plan. And this includes things like a competitive analysis, focus groups, user research interviews, studies, surveys, everything just to understand the shopping and buying patterns of our client’s users. We’ll know all of this information; we’ll know everything there is to know about the client’s business. From that aspect, we’ll have a really good roadmap of where we want to go with our marketing tactics.
 
And that brings us to our next point: agile marketing allows us to kill scope creep. What would typically happen in a marketing or development process – your client, you lock them down on scope. “I’m only going to do these set number of tactics. Only SEO, only social media.”
 
Whereas your time and budget can easily fluctuate based on what you have to do with each of those tactics. With agile marketing, we’re saying negative, not gonna happen. We’re locking you down on time and cost. We say over the next 6 months, we’re gonna work on your digital marketing presence. But those tactics will fluctuate based on the changing industry and the changing client priorities. That means we don’t have change orders anymore. We’re not gonna say, the client comes to us and says, “Hey, I need you to work on a graphic for our Facebook ad campaign.”
 
Then we say, “OK, we can do that, but that means we won’t be able to get to those blog posts we were already working on.” And the client says that’s fine. So instead of issuing a change order, which will be additional cost to the client, we’re just changing priorities within our already set tactics.
 
We work on these over 30-day sprints. So as I mentioned, we’re not making 12-month marketing campaigns because we don’t really know what’s gonna happen in 6 months for the client or the industry. So month one, day one, we start planning and say these are the set tactics we’re gonna work on. If the client wants to change tactics, we’re able to iterate and be flexible with them in that. It’s a very adaptable and agile process.
So the next: we want to work on small tests over Big Bang marketing campaigns. We don’t want to throw all of our resources and budget on one idea with the hope and glimmer that it may work. Instead, we want to take client budget and allocate it over multiple different tactics during a month or two months and see what works. This allows us to really make sure that we’re trying a lot of different things on a small scale.
 
For instance, let’s say we’re running on some link-building campaigns, we’re writing a whitepaper and running a small Facebook ad budget. Over the next we months, we may be able to see that this Facebook ad budget isn’t working for us, but these whitepaper and these content and these blog posts are killing it in terms of traffic and conversion and leads for the client. That allows us to take money from that Facebook ad budget and allocate it more towards our content marketing efforts. That’s the really big principle of agile marketing: we’re continually testing and iterating on these small scale tests rather than throwing everything out all at once.
 
Last and not least – and probably the most important part of the agile marketing we do at 352 – is that there is no guessing allowed. It’s really, really hard to argue with numbers when you have it laid out. And that’s what we do throughout our process. We make sure we run A/B tests and iterations, and we track every campaign we do with URL tags. And we keep a really, really close eye on the analytics because then we know how our clients’ tactics are working. We know what’s really working well for our clients, and if we come to a client and say “This campaign brought your X number of visitors and X number of conversions and actually increased your ROI by 5%, and we have the data to back it up,” it’s really hard to argue with those numbers.
 
Thanks everybody!