The results of the 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report, published in March 2021, were definitive.
Agile is no longer just a buzzword. It's now a best-in-class way of working for over half of marketers.
But, the term marketer is broad.
Designers, video editors, strategic marketers, advertising specialists, customer success managers, social media experts, event coordinators, product marketers, and even some developers can all be considered marketers.
This year’s report was an opportunity for us to unpack the role of agility inside the diverse marketing function and break it down into its specific activities.
This helped us effectively differentiate between areas of our marketing departments that are using Agile more and those that are using it less in their day-to-day work processes.
Curious to see the top 5 marketing functions that demonstrated the highest levels of adoption of Agile ways of working? Follow us...
Creative Services, Content Creation, and Operations
Agile has reached the highest adoption levels among creatives and operational marketers. More specifically, those in creative services, content creation, and marketing operations love their agility.
According to the data we collected, 77% of the organizations that consider themselves Agile have adopted the methodology in these areas of marketing.
This isn't surprising, considering the fact that creatives and content creators often find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to executing on their "perfect" annual plans.
When circumstances change, these functions are hit the hardest and forced to play heroes at all hours of the day (or night) to make sure they come through for their teams.
The iterative approach to planning that Agile encourages presents a clear solution to the challenges these areas of marketing experience, inviting them to scrap their annual plans and focus on frequent, customer-centric planning cycles.
The creative functions also benefit from applying visual process management. By relying on methods such as Kanban or Scrumban, they can map the repeatable steps of their systems and turn them into streamlined workflows.
This facilitates transparency and teamwork as it becomes clear what each team member works on and how much they have on each of their plates.
If you're curious about how that might shake out in real life, check out these example kanban boards.
Demand Generation and Account-Based Marketing
When it comes to Agile adoption in the marketing department, marketers who focus on demand generation and account-based marketing (ABM) are in second place.
Of the Agile marketers surveyed this year, 76% stated that their organizations have implemented Agile frameworks in these two functional areas.
In the types of work they do, these marketers share many similarities. Both of them focus on delivering value to a very specific user base that their organizations target. The Agile mindset emphasizes customer-centricity, explicitly calling it out in the value "customer discovery over static prediction."
Given that focus, it's no surprise that Agile ways of working can bring demand gen and ABM functions closer to their customers.
As a consequence, Agile allows these marketers to maximize their reach into their specific target audience in more varied and creative ways through their campaigns.
Both functions also rely on their ability to track thousands of potential deals in the pipeline and act on each one in a timely and responsive way.
After all, every prospect in the pipeline is a potential customer and should be treated with great care if we want them to turn a profit.
That's also why this type of work typically has high costs of delay, which makes it vital to maintain high productivity and efficiency.
For greater traceability, efficiency and for the sake of a faster response time, these types of marketers rely on visual workflows and a continuous delivery of solutions for their customers.
Seventy-two percent of our colleagues in website development and promotion on the marketing side rely on Agile frameworks to structure their work process in 2021.
Websites are no longer just static online brochures. Effective websites are dynamic, continuously changing, and integrated into our marketing automation systems.
This connectivity significantly increases the difficulty of managing websites effectively, because more stakeholders from various parts of the organization are now involved (e.g. designers, developers, business managers, etc.) and, as a result, many more dependencies crop up that can stall out the process of development.
Left unchecked, these dependencies can lead to missed opportunities.
That's why cross-functional Agile teams that create alignment across stakeholder groups present a solution for the marketers involved in website-related activities.
Communication, visibility, and transparency are all benefits facilitated by Agile team structures that website marketers need to leverage in order to avoid getting derailed on the way to their goals.
Social Media Marketing
Investigating who's using Agile among modern marketers led to the discovery that the frameworks are widely adopted in social media marketing.
Sixty-two percent of all Agile marketing teams are using Agile to manage their social media activities.
Agile and social media are a clearly favorable match. Social media is among the most dynamic marketing channels out there, and requires marketers to be responsive if they want to be successful.
But, being responsive is just one part of achieving your goals with social media.
Creating effective strategies, cutting through all the noise, staying relevant, and establishing authentic relationships with their customers are among the biggest hurdles for marketers in this line of work.
By using the build-measure-learn feedback loop at the heart of Agile ways of working, social media marketers are able to innovate and deliver timely campaigns that appeal to their target audiences.
For social media marketers, Agile adoption is more than a choice, it's a necessity. Without it, keeping a sustainable pace of posts and interactions while, at the same time, experimenting with innovative approaches would be nearly impossible.
Portfolio and Product Marketing
Agile ways of working are also beloved by 62% of the portfolio and product marketers surveyed.
Product marketing is the process of bringing a product or service to market and evolving it over time to bring more value to the targeted users. This function includes making decisions about the product's positioning and messaging, launching the product, and ensuring salespeople and customers understand it.
There's such a diverse set of activities and so much nuance involved in this marketing function that prioritization can be a major challenge.
With so much going on, product marketers must be precise in prioritizing their work to ensure that their efforts are providing maximum value to their customers. This makes Agile a perfect choice for managing their work.
Agile frameworks rely heavily on maintaining a backlog of carefully prioritized work items based on user needs and demands.
For portfolio and product marketers, keeping a healthy backlog with defined user stories for every work item that passes through their workflow at the forefront of their process ensures that they're working on the right work at the right time.
Armed with these planning tools, it becomes significantly easier to measure the potential value of their work through the eyes of their customers and generate deliverables that respond to demand.
Who Else is Using Agile Inside of Marketing?
The 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report documented a 10% increase in Agile adoption among marketers since last year, reaching the 51% benchmark -- an unprecedented high.
In this article, we focused our attention on our marketing colleagues that are already enjoying the highest adoption rates, and discussed their possible motivations for adopting Agile in such high numbers.
But, Agile is also becoming more popular by the day in functional areas like advertising, brand management, event management, and others.
If you're interested in seeing all the data and trends, we invite you to check it out in the full fourth edition of the annual State of Agile Marketing Report.