Want To See Better Digital Marketing Results? Be Agile.
Digital marketing helps brands reach consumers and, in theory, see results in real time. It’s just not as easy as it sounds.
Technology is constantly evolving, engagement techniques are always shifting, and consumer preferences grow more complex with every new campaign. To keep up, a successful strategy has to be nimble enough to communicate, collaborate, adapt and respond rapidly to fluctuating consumer and industry demands.
Enter agile digital marketing, which demands that you largely let go of dressing up the same techniques in new bells and whistles each year. It can seem overwhelming—like reinventing the wheel—but cultivating agility over habit is the best way to keep up with today’s ever-changing markets.
Agile digital marketing in action
Agile digital marketing is difficult to define, because the strategy is fluid by design. Responding and reacting in real time takes precedence over any written plans, and departments interact, collaborate, and share knowledge instead of safeguarding data in silos.
The idea is to be close enough to consumers that you see shifts in trends and behaviors—and can respond to them—as they develop. This is the key to success for some companies, including AdRoll, a growth platform that helps companies compete online. After moving its website to Pantheon, a web optimization platform that also specializes in agile digital marketing, AdRoll doubled the speed of its development-to-release cycle and reduced the time between content updates from a couple of weeks to a matter of hours. Being agile benefits AdRoll’s clients and thus AdRoll’s bottom line.
All marketers can use this example to build more fluid digital marketing strategies. There are four major steps:
- Build a team that can respond to data.
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Analyzing data and putting what you learn from it to use rapidly are at the core of agile digital marketing. In fact, to enable this, companies are pouring billions of dollars into their data and analytics infrastructures, according to IDC’s “Worldwide Semiannual Big Data and Analytics Spending Guide.” Successfully managing those infrastructures takes a cross-functional team of professionals in information technology, business and marketing.
Start by designating an experienced team leader to set priorities and objectives that align with the brand’s goals. The leader must be able to coordinate data sharing between team members, decide which insights to act on, assign resources to analyze new data and design new objectives within a short time frame to respond to that data.
2. Test the insights you gain from the data.
It’s time to let go of the traditional waterfall method of marketing development, a heavily sequential process that can take months to complete. By the time you get test results from this method, they’re outdated; you can’t be agile with such an approach.
Fortunately, you don’t have to place all your bets on large-scale experiments to test out every campaign or marketing theory. Instead, employ a well-rounded data analysis and response team to run small tests every couple of weeks based on insights they gain from the data. These sprints will determine if an insight is valid before you invest in scaling it up.
3. Keep track of what works; discard the rest.
At the end of each sprint, the team leader can evaluate the results of the test and develop a new set of initiatives and goals. Fast and accurate analysis makes all the difference between innovation and chaos, so tracking is vital.
The better your team’s tracking methods are, the faster and more accurately the team leader can determine which strategies work and which should be filed away and forgotten. Each test, whether successful or not, adds more data to the pool, influencing the next set of priorities and opportunities that the team addresses.
4. Scale up: Make all your marketing efforts agile.
You whole marketing arm stands to benefit from being able to develop, test and implement new strategies on the fly. However, agile digital marketing requires bucking tradition in several ways, and it can be risky to try to transform an entire marketing department or organization all at once.
Start small by dedicating just a minor percentage of your marketing efforts to agile digital marketing. Build a small, cross-functional team, and give team members time to get their feet under them. As that initial team becomes more adept and starts to see results, you can scale up until all your digital marketing initiatives are agile.
Marketers often have trouble seeing the results of their efforts because the outcomes of their tests change faster than traditional marketing can track them. Today’s markets are versatile and fluid, so learning to cultivate agility is the only way for marketers to keep up.