This post has been updated with new data from the most recent reports from Salesforce and AgileSherpas.
Time for the obvious statement of the day: marketing is a challenging field to work in. It also evolves by leaps and bounds every year and even seasoned professionals struggle to keep up.
Although the goal of marketing doesn’t change (helping businesses and customers to find each other), the means we use to achieve it do. When we add the chaotic nature of the marketing process and the great number of dependencies between marketing and other organizational functions to the mix, we see why working in marketing can be so demanding.
For seven years in a row, Salesforce has been looking into the state of marketing and how the function has been evolving. The data they’ve been collecting and documenting in their State of Marketing Report gives insight into the top priorities and challenges of professionals across the organizational hierarchy.
The 2021 edition of the report was based on a survey of over 8,000 marketers and showcased the five greatest challenges that marketers face at the moment:
- Engaging with customers in real-time
- Creating a cohesive customer journey across channels and devices
- Insufficient organizational structures and processes
And now for a statement that may not be quite so obvious: Agile marketing can solve these problems. What makes us so certain? In short, the Agile data that we’ve been collecting ourselves. Let’s dive right into it.
The State of Agile Marketing
Like Salesforce, we have been keeping a close eye on how marketing has been changing over the past few years. However, our focus has been quite a bit narrower. The data that we’ve been collecting gravitates around the reasons why marketers turn to Agile and how it is solving the challenges they experience.
Since 2018, we have been surveying thousands of marketing professionals and compiling the Agile data we’ve gathered into annual reports. Almost every year, we’ve witnessed a steady growth in adoption:
- 2018 - 37% of all respondents considered themselves Agile
- 2019 - 32% of all respondents considered themselves Agile
- 2020 - 42% of all respondents considered themselves Agile
- 2021 - 51% of all respondents considered themselves Agile
There are quite a few reasons for the rapid adoption increase during the past couple of years. Since it is 2021, let’s have a look at the Agile data recorded this year:
- 65% of all Agile marketers wanted to enhance their ability to manage changing priorities
- 58% of all Agile marketers aimed to improve productivity
- 56% of all Agile marketers strived to accelerate the delivery campaigns, programs, or tactics
- 44% of all Agile marketers wanted to improve the quality of their deliverables
- 44% of all Agile marketers needed to improve alignment with other teams or business objectives
Interestingly enough, these motives directly correlate with the marketing challenges documented by Salesforce.
Benefits of Embracing Marketing Agility
Ok, now we know the motives that drive marketers toward seeking agility. But what are the actual benefits that they experience from going Agile? The Agile data we collected reveals that:
- 38% of the participating Agile marketers benefited by boosting their ability to change direction quickly and effectively based on feedback
- 36% are now more effective at prioritizing their work
- 30% achieved better alignment on business objectives
- 26% managed to achieve better visibility into project status
- 24% optimized the use of resources within their marketing organization
These benefits aren’t speculation; they’re supported by specific metrics that Agile marketers measure. In a survey of over 600 marketers, collected in preparation for the 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report in 2021, 51% of marketers that considered themselves Agile said that they measure several key performance indicators:
- 53% keep a close eye on effectiveness data like customer engagement, pipeline and revenue contribution, etc.
- 50% monitor process efficiency with metrics like cycle time, output within a specified period of time, etc.
- 44% account for the management value that Agile brings in the form of boosting their ability to meet goals, making decisions based on data, and others
- 36% keep track of how their operational capacity improves with the help of Agile
- 29% monitor stakeholder value like customer satisfaction, resource utilization, etc.
Only 14% of the Agile marketers said that they don’t measure the results of adopting an Agile approach.
Connecting the Dots
Looking at the marketing challenges documented by Salesforce and the benefits that marketers experience as a result of adopting Agile, it's clear that ther's a connection between them.
Therefore, we can easily map each benefit to a specific challenge that troubles professionals all around the world. Let’s look at the following table and connect the dots.
Engaging with customers in real-time
Boosted ability to change direction quickly and effectively based on feedback
Optimized usage of resources within the marketing organization
Creating a cohesive customer journey across channels and devices
Better alignment on business objectives
Better visibility into project status
Insufficient organizational structures and processes
More effective prioritization of work
What’s the Holdup?
If Agile can solve all of these problems and provide such substantial benefits to individual marketers AND their organizations, what gives? Why aren’t we all demanding to go Agile right this very minute?
Trying to understand the barriers that prevent marketing organizations from fully implementing an Agile approach, we collected the following data:
- 43% lack training and knowledge about Agile approaches
- 29% believe that their current process is working well enough
- 29% lack the right talent to transform their team to Agile
- 24% don’t have the support of management or executives
- 23% don’t possess the necessary tools to support an Agile approach
- 21% have difficulties finding time to try something new
The path to agility isn’t a walk in the park, but the data we’ve collected confirms that many have taken or plan to take steps forward in their Agile journey within the next year:
- 47% do plan to implement Agile
- 17% have no intention of doing so
- 35% are not sure
This data is even more encouraging as a large chunk of the 47% are eager to embrace agility plan to do so in the near future:
- 59% intend to do so within the next six months
- 34% within the next year
- 5% are aiming to adopt Agile within two to four years from now
Only 3% of non-Agile marketers who responded to our latest survey stated that they don’t have a timeline for adopting this approach.
Up to the Challenge?
Let’s be honest, the marketing wheel won’t stop spinning, and by the looks of it, won’t slow down either. Whether we manage to keep up with the pace of change largely depends on the organizational choices that we make.
Thankfully, there is so much data available at our fingertips. With its help and the intrinsic motivation to be successful as individuals and organizations, we can thrive and continue to grow despite all the challenges in front of us.
So let’s put Agile processes in place to give us the work environment we deserve.
Because we’re not going anywhere, and neither are these challenges.