How Agile Marketing Directs Data-Driven Decisions
Now more than ever, businesses are holding marketing teams accountable for revenue goals. Not so long ago, the teams worked in tandem: Marketing attracted the attention of potential customers, then sales closed the deals. But with the rise of e-commerce and subscription-based revenue models, it’s become increasingly common for the customer to interact solely with the marketing team’s campaigns and messaging.
"The August 2019 CMO Survey" showed that while budgets for marketing analytics continue to rise, one in 10 businesses no longer have a sales function. That being the case, executive teams want to see data to prove that marketing efforts are effectively driving revenues. According to a recent Gartner survey, 76% of marketing leaders reported that data and analytics are key drivers in decision-making.
At the same time, only 40% of marketers report having the quantitative tools necessary to demonstrate their impact on overall company performance. In other words, while marketing data is more important than ever, too many marketers are operating without it.
The Value of Agile Marketing
Fortunately, with the right mindset, marketers can collect and analyze all the data they need in real time. The agile marketing process is centered around data-driven decisions. Agile marketing requires retesting old data and questioning the results. With each iteration, an agile team will have new data to reflect on, which enables it to get the best results faster.
Here are four things your team can do to become more agile:
1. Set Clear Goals for the Project
You will need a North Star to help you prioritize tests and weigh in on their business value. You should start your program with benchmarks you can trust. If you want to prove lift, you need a baseline from which to launch. Using the agile approach then allows your team to confront problems and market changes that might arise.
This differs from the traditional waterfall approach to rolling out a product. The waterfall process is when your team moves toward a product release in a series of distinct stages that follow a predetermined plan. While this method is great for creating meticulous plans and detailed timelines, it relies on old data and research because the timelines are much longer.
2. Prioritize Your Testing Ideas
Generate a list of hypotheses your team thinks will help you achieve the goals you’ve identified for the project. Prioritize your tasks so tests with the highest impact will run first. Constant campaign testing and frequent tweaks help update and optimize your data. If successful, these tests (or growth levers) will spawn many iterations to improve the impact of your overarching KPIs.
If you’ve been running expensive testing with a research program or analyst, reevaluate high-value decisions based upon this data annually. After two years, you should seriously question its validity — sooner if your company has made a significant pivot in its go-to-market strategy or you work in a continually changing industry.
3. Assemble a Cross-Functional Team
Making the right call on a test can be complicated. By having a strong group of trusted advisors from other teams/departments in your company weigh in, you can have more confidence that you’re making the right decision.
An agile marketing team bases its decisions on up-to-date data, so getting input from co-workers in other departments helps you collect all the current information you need. The people in this diverse group bring unique insights around the goals, impact, and feasibility of your iterations.
Urging your team to learn, iterate, and optimize creates an environment in which testing is at the core of all decision-making.
4. Hold Regular Retrospectives
When following the agile framework, you should hold retrospective meetings after each sprint (or even mid-sprint) to identify what’s working, what can be done better, and what you plan to do differently next time.
Markets today are always in flux, and consumer behavior is unpredictable when changes occur. Even the biggest wins for your company will have diminishing returns over time, so keep questioning your results.
Retrospective meetings are essential to the agile process, as they help pinpoint opportunities for course correction before you’ve strayed too far.
Modern marketing teams are more reliant on data to make informed decisions that will lead to growth. A team that follows the agile mindset is truly driven by data. All of its work is tested, questioned, and retested — garnering new data knowledge that can be used to inform the end result.
As the director of brand and digital experience, Sarah Fruy leads the strategy, goals, and road map for Pantheon’s public-facing website and branded content. Fruy is a ScrumMaster® and Certified Agile Marketer who joins Pantheon with over 10 years of experience in the marketing, digital publishing, and online advertising industries, along with marketing strategy and digital marketing certifications from Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management. Previously, she worked at emerging media companies, such as Say Media, as well as heritage brands like the San Francisco Chronicle.