Agile has been a buzzword for a while now and typically describes a wide range of approaches to project management and software development – and although there’s a fair amount of misunderstanding about what it actually is – if done right, being Agile can make a big difference. And lately, there’s been more and more talk of an Agile approach (and its benefits) in a marketing environment. In fact, the State of Agile Marketing 2021 report reveals that more than half of marketers surveyed – 51% – reported using agile marketing methods in their work.
This comes as no surprise as marketing has experienced tremendous changes over the last decade and it is no longer just about engaging audiences on digital channels – but about using the flexibility and robust nature of the digital medium when doing so. Due to this shift, marketers now have much more in common with software developers.
With collaboration, autonomy, and iteration at the heart of this methodology, Agile is about conversation, constant feedback, continuous adjustments, and ultimately, it is about innovation. The official manifesto for Agile software development was published two decades ago but the Agile approach can be traced back to the 80s. And because the Agile approach was created by a diverse group of developers, the result is a focus on common values. So, in practice, an Agile team shares the same vision, work towards the same goals, and define – by their own standards – when a task has been completed.
The Agile Alliance loosely defines an Agile approach as the capacity to create and respond to change. Agile authority, Atlassian, describes it as “an iterative approach to project management and software development that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer headaches”. This means that an Agile team in, for example, a software environment delivers constant small improvements, instead of pouring all their energy into one big update. Along the way, results and roadmaps are evaluated regularly to give teams a way to respond to change quickly.
But to be clear: An Agile approach is not just a blurry belief of always being nimble, it is a set of defined practices selected to harness the ability to operate in a constantly shifting digital environment – with clear priorities and continuous performance measurement.
The Agile Alliance highlights six key concepts that make it easy to start seeing what an Agile approach in a marketing environment might look like.
One cannot assume that all marketers have the same level of understanding as software developers do. Developers may have let some Agile best practices slip over time, but the majority of marketers will have all kinds of misconceptions and won’t be familiar with concepts like daily standup meetings, never mind how they’re supposed to work.
So if your marketing team is transitioning to an Agile approach, be sure to clarify what Agile terminology actually means; to somebody in marketing a backlog could sound like a place for things that won’t ever get done when it is actually a prioritised list of deliverables and a helpful decision-making tool.
It is pivotal that marketing teams remain open to the uniqueness of their situation and strive to find new ways to adopt an Agile approach. Marketers need to remember that they have chosen an Agile approach so that they can respond to feedback from consumers quickly and adapt to changes in the marketplace without undoing an enormous amount of planning.
Until recently, an Agile approach may have been associated with the startup world, but there are no good reasons why marketers can’t also benefit from this methodology. Try the following techniques to allow for rapid feedback, iteration and experimentation – everything modern marketers need to thrive in a digital world.
This allows the team to align and establish what they still have to complete and get a clear picture of their progress. Listing obstacles/blockers also give teammates an opportunity to help each other.
This forces the entire team to think closely about a project and discuss ways to improve their efforts going forward.
List of references:
Agile Marketing: Is It Really That Different? A Data-Driven Perspective [online] Available at: https://resources.scrumalliance.org/Article/agile-marketing-is-it-really-that-different-a-data-driven-perspective
Manifesto for Agile Software Development [online] Available at:
The Agile Coach: Atlassian’s no-nonsense guide to agile development [online] Available at: