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For many marketers, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant having to respond to changing circumstances faster than ever before.
Audi has kept customers up-to date about changes to showroom opening conditions around the world as governments have modified their lockdown rules. Direct Line performed more experiments on its website in 12 weeks at the height of the UK crisis than it had done in the previous three years. TSB relaunched its friend referral scheme in six weeks.
What all these companies have in common is they use an agile approach to get things done more quickly.
The move towards more adaptable, more responsive marketing didn’t start with the pandemic, of course. For some time, customer experience has been a key point of differentiation as consumers increasingly expect personalised communications from brands in real-time, delivered via their preferred channel of the moment.
And while marketers have access to unprecedented levels of data and increasingly powerful marketing data and analytics to deliver against these expectations, traditional marketing procedures move too slowly to take full advantage. As Rob Lawrence, agile marketing consultant and former Global Head of Digital Marketing at Nivea, says: “To do anything meaningful with data, you have to be able to move fast.”
So, marketers need a quicker, more responsive approach. They need to be more agile. What that looks like and how you achieve it are the subject of a new report from The Drum in association with Neustar, Agile marketing transformation: Why it’s the key to your success.
Agility or “Agile”?
When people talk about agile marketing, they most often mean marketing that is more fleet-footed than traditional. This may even include adopting the ideas and procedures of the Agile approach to software development.
“We look at agility as the ability to think and act quickly and easily,” says Blake Cahill, Global Head, Digital Marketing & E-Commerce at Philips. “The Agile Methodology is a way of working that involves shorter cycle times, a higher frequency of releases, and making a greater impact. Through this we achieve agility.”
The Agile Methodology was codified in 2001 by a group of software engineers who wanted a better approach than the then-prevalent “waterfall” model. Rather than trying to design and build a system that would meet users’ needs perfectly, Agile is based on developing by rapid iteration; building something, testing it, changing it according to user feedback, testing it again, and so on.
The other defining characteristics of Agile are that it brings people from across the organisation together in multi-disciplinary teams to work on a specific project, with goals set by the business rather than a particular channel or department.
The results are typically shorter times to market, greater efficiency, the breaking down of silos within the business, and a quicker response changing conditions.
As well as looking at what agile marketing is and how to embed it in an organisation, the report also discusses the qualities needed to be a truly agile marketer. These include being curious, disciplined, collaborative and data-driven, as well as being politically savvy and a good communicator.
The new normal
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown – if more evidence were needed – that marketing needs to become quicker to react, more efficient and more able to take advantage of big data. It’s also demonstrated the benefits that even small steps towards greater agility can bring. And finally, it’s made clear that agility, across the whole business rather than just in marketing, will be a significant source of competitive edge in the future.
As Sinem Soydar Günal, global senior digital marketing manager, Vodafone Group says:“The adoption of Agile is inevitable. Companies have to find a way to react to changing customer needs that is easier, quicker and more efficient than before. Agile is becoming the new normal.”