Thursday, December 27, 2012

Agile Marketing - check list for 2013

Agile Marketing is such of new term that there's not even a Wikipedia article about it. I guess the basic idea behind the agile marketing comes from agile software develoment and one of its famous frameworks called Scrum. I'm sure you can adapt and use these methods by the book with your marketing team. However, in current complex and fragmented marketing environment with multiple vendors, it may be very difficult to hold on rutines like daily scrum. Therefor, it can be more convenient to use an applied model of Scrum or other.

This post is more like an unformal bullet point check list, collected from my own experiences, especially during this year (2012), although each point would probably deserve a whole post or a book chapter. You can read the whole article or check out only numbered bullet points to have a check list for 2013. See also couple of very good and inspiring videos at the end of this post by Bryan Eisengerg and Jonathon Colman.

What is strategy anyway?

Beware of the corporate strategy bullshit which you may hear people speaking and not actually knowing what they are saying. "Strategy is a general, undetailed plan to achieve a goal in the long run. Strategy is a set of options (strategic choises) than a fixed plan". This is where agility really kicks in. First of all, companies and marketing team should have strategic goals in place. Your strategic goal may be put in 5, 10 or even 15 years ahead. Therefor you need to define benchmarks and yearly goals in order to follow your plan.

1. Check out your web analytics, marketing automation or business intelligence system to see if you have goals in place? If you don't, the very first thing to do in 2013 is ask / find / call help!

Do you have the right Key Performance Indicators?

Following your goals is crucial and you should have a process to deliver this information back to strategic planning. If your tactics are not working, you may need to choose another strategic option or improve your tactics. Staring at your goals (final outcomes is usually sales) is not enough because you don't know what happened on the way? This is why you need to have key performance indicators (KPIs) for your tactic campaigns. You can use customer life cycle, net income or other framework for KPI modeling.

2. Check out if your organization or your marketing team has KPIs defined and the final outcomes are linked to sales (and back to strategic goals). If you don't have KPIs at all, or you don't have "right" KPIs, you are doing something wrong. Seek help.

Campaign planning and execution

Without decent goals and KPIs you lack a lot. It's very difficult to run a simple A/B test if you don't have goals. Or then you are testing and optimizing wrong goals such as impressions or click throug rates. From day one, it's important that all people (and I mean ALL no matter if they are your team members, vendors, partners or your staff) know what are you are trying to achieve. It would be ideal that people responsible for e.g. your paid search or newsletter marketing are reporting the common KPIs and acknowledgements for everyone in the team and executives as well.

3. Check out if everyone in your marketing team, including vendors, know atleast your goals. You can also ask if they know your exact KPIs. If they don't, you have some communication to do. Ask help if needed.

Measuring is nothing without analyzing

This is the most important part for achieving success. You should set up the measuring and analysing frequency depending on your business pulse. If you have high volume online store, you could do meauring and analyzing even on daily basis. Remember that people responsible of marketing activities should report and analyze the common KPIs.

4. Check out if your people (or a single analyst) are producing questions, development and testing ideas based on your numbers. If you are not able to create a todo -list based on measuring and analyzing, it's not working as it should be. Ask help.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

One of the main duties of managers and executives is decision making. That's what they are hired for. When you have the "right" KPIs in place and your analyzing part is good, the decision making gets lots of easier than ever before. Everything is based on your company's strategy and you have data and people backing up your decisions. It's more important to run several tests and collect the marketing knowledge in the long run than being always right or afraid beforehand.

5. Check out how many new tests in tactics or strategic changes you had last year based on your reports, insights, feedback or recommendations you received? If you had none, you have a serious problem of not evolving fast enough. Ask help.

Improve your communication

The more people and vendors you have envolved in your marketing, the harder it's to communicate with all of them. I think of the key ideas in agile software development is the communication. Daily scrum rutines help that people really know what other people are doing. Be ready to surprise when smart people put their heads together.

6. Check out if you have a common (social) communication platform where you can easily share information and discuss about marketing with people in different organizations. If you don't have one, check out possibilites of Google+Basecamp or other. 

So here are my thoughts on agile marketing. Like always, feel free to disagree or comment anyone of these points. I hope you got the idea of constant and fast development of marketing. It's ongoing loop of Planning > Doing > Measuring & Analyzing > Decisions.

Here's one good article of agile marketing.