The word “agile” means different things, depending on context and time frame.
Twenty years ago, visionary firms were pursuing agile software development. It meant their teams could switch projects as needed — perhaps on weekly basis — instead of being trapped endlessly in the same assignment.
These days, the term is being applied to marketing. And this ability to pivot is helping brands deal with the disruptions of the past year, if you believe The New Era of Agility in Marketing, a paper by MediaCrossing.
In 2016, McKinsey defined agile marketing as “using data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems in real time, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating.”
It seems to mean the same thing as it did in 2001. But there are certain things that email marketing teams should keep in mind.
For one, an agile program must be “oriented and structured in such a way that it is conducive to scale,” the study notes.
Email units are already agile in this sense — they are accustomed to scaling up.
The first step in launching an agile program is to assess your organization, then make sure that everyone is in on it, from the C-suite to operational teems. Next, you have to create a blueprint, outlining the scope, schedule and complexity, while identifying stakeholders and timelines.
This should lead to creation of a marketing pilot. According to the study, an ideal pilot includes:
An existing or upcoming project or idea within your marketing team.
The project should last a reasonable length of time (around 4-6 weeks) to enable weekly sprints and iterative changes.
Find a project that is representative of an average level of complexity. Choose a project or initiative that can be translated to scale in other applications.
Finally, it’s time to scale up, taking what you learned from the pilot. You have to “take the learnings from the experimental pilot, and translate those learnings across the marketing department.”Above all, make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons. As one executive said: "I’d never have launched this agile transformation if I only wanted to remove pain points; we’re doing this because we need to fundamentally transform the company to compete in the future."