November 29, 2023


Discover The Difference

Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of information and topics from prior to #MartechDay earlier this month — which highlighted the 2022 promoting know-how landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the top rated of my list is the newest State of Agile Internet marketing report from AgileSherpas.

As usually, this is a fantastic, in depth report on how and why agile methodologies are becoming utilized in internet marketing. You can see from the chart earlier mentioned that agile has found its way into a huge range of advertising and marketing actions: marketing operations, inventive expert services, web-site operations, social media, advertising, etcetera.

It’s even currently being utilized (30%) in functions marketing and advertising, which has long been the go-to instance for skeptics: “Oh, agile could never ever function for situations.” (To be fair, in a virtual/hybrid event world, the pacing and adaptability of gatherings promoting has improved appreciably.)

But in contrast to last 12 months, when 51% of participants claimed making use of agile marketing, this time only 43% did. That is close to the 42% from 2020. Is agile marketing backsliding?

Of course, the most noticeable disclaimer is the survey sample. Even with 513 marketers taking part in this hottest study, it is even now a incredibly tiny subset of the diverse marketing and advertising universe and no doubt topic to the ebbs and flows of range bias.

But nevertheless. Immediately after practically 15 decades of advocacy for agile marketing, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile advertising ideas, tactics & labels

The principles of agile marketing, however, look to be universally recognized as gospel truth of the matter these times. I just cannot think of a single marketer I’ve satisfied in the earlier numerous many years who has not embraced the values of adaptability, finding out from experimentation, iterative improvement, cross-team collaboration, higher visibility into work-in-flight, team empowerment, and so forth.

Advertising and marketing has turn into an agile job. Whole cease.

Agile Marketing Practices

Basic agile methods — this sort of as sprints, daily standups, kanban boards, and so on. — also appear to have proliferated greatly. Though in a lot of circumstances, they’ve morphed from their primary type. We’ll occur back again to that in a moment, as I assume it is the twist of article-agile.

But the labels? Not so substantially. I pretty not often listen to the conditions dash, standup, or kanban in marketing discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a expression occurs fewer routinely than it seemed a couple of several years in the past.

Agile promoting vs. agile enhancement developments

A couple of charts from Google Trends aid illustrate what is going on here. First, let us just look at the advancement of the lookup term “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart displays relative lookup volume for this expression above the past 18 decades. You can see that it peaked close to 2017. (A yr just after the launch of Hacking Promoting. Coincidence?) Because then, it is had fluctations up and down. But it mainly hit a ceiling.

To get a much better sense of how considerably complete look for quantity there is for agile marketing and advertising, you want to evaluate it towards yet another pattern. So let’s compare it against its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two things pop right out. Very first, agile marketing has obtained only a very small fraction of the mindshare that agile progress ever did. Second, interest in agile progress has steadily declined since 2010. It is all over 1/4 of the volume it was at its peak.

What took place in 2010? The rise of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

In truth, DevOps turned the huge that stood on the shoulders of agile progress. Its reputation has dwarfed agile improvement, even from its heyday. And when compared to these two, agile marketing would barely even sign up on the scale.

But it’s essential to take note that DevOps arose from Agile. To quote its Wikipedia write-up:

“Agile improvement teams… couldn’t ‘satisfy the client by way of early and steady delivery of useful software’ unless of course they subsumed the operations / infrastructure tasks associated with their programs, a lot of of which they automated.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the methods improvement lifecycle and deliver continuous shipping with large application quality.” What is steady integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) if not the ultimate system for providing iterative software package development?

As Forrest Gump could possibly say, “Agile is as agile does.”

The plummeting costs of “shipping” in the cloud

To be very clear, DevOps is not an agile administration methodology. It is not even an “ops” workforce (in most circumstances) like other ops functions, these types of as marketing ops. Instead, it’s a established of procedures, procedures, and engineering that builders use to ship computer software swiftly, iteratively, and properly. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes building and deploying software, but deciding what to construct and when however needs to occur at a amount above that. In idea, agile enhancement methodologies these types of as Scrum can present the framework for those decisions. But most dev teams I know really don’t explicitly use those people methodologies anymore. Most have invented their personal process, pulling concepts from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev task management tools such as Jira.

My take: DevOps — and a lot more broadly, the cloud — has radically lessened the charges of iteratively producing computer software. Again in the days when agile methodologies this sort of as Scrum were being created, the prices and complexities of delivery had been much higher. The rigid structure of Scrum was an efficient and essential way to handle that. Right now in a fantastic DevOps natural environment? Not as needed?

That’s not to say that method, arranging, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration necessary all around them are not essential. They are as important to good results as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as essential?

(Permit the flames from ardent agile advocates begin.)

Is there a DevOps equal in advertising and marketing?

Internet marketing ops is a distinct kind of creature that DevOps. For one, it is a job/staff inside of the internet marketing org, instead than a follow/method that all marketers use.

Yet there is some shared DNA. In a lot of strategies, advertising and marketing ops teams purpose as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be equipped to “ship” advertising and marketing swiftly, iteratively, and safely and securely. Advertising ops manages the tech stack and processes to permit that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

Nevertheless with the rise of more and far more no-code capabilities throughout martech, advertising and marketing ops is also empowering entrepreneurs with much more and far more self-provider capabilities. Just as software package deployment ops received “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into additional developers’ hands with DevOps, far more abilities to execute advertising and marketing — both equally internal and external internet marketing “deployments” — are remaining shifted into the palms of typical marketers.

I do not know that there is a name for this phenomenon. It’s a kind of democratization of certain sides of marketing ops. (Ideally less than the direction, governance, and guardrails of the specialist internet marketing ops crew.) But it is ever more analogous to DevOps. Additional people can ship a lot more advertising, quickly, simply, and securely.

Just as with computer software, approach, organizing, roadmaps, prioritization, crew coordination and collaboration are crucial to effectively harness this distributed electric power of generation. But just as likewise, the prices in deploying most types of advertising and marketing have dropped drastically around the previous 10 years. This has produced additional slack in the marketing and advertising generation approach, which has built rigid agile marketing and advertising methodologies… not as needed?

(Honestly posed as a dilemma, not a declaration.)

New agile methods: Pods, DARCIs, Slack, “Work OS”

Talking of slack, or, um, Slack, the previous 10 several years has also introduced an explosion of innovation in get the job done communications and collaboration products. For occasion, Slack and Microsoft Teams have grow to be ubiquitous — together with a full ecosystem of apps that lengthen and integrate with them. A new technology of do the job administration platforms, these types of as Asana, ClickUp,, and (for entrepreneurs) Workfront, offer greater composition and visibility into sophisticated, quick-moving priorities, projects, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Without a doubt, the Administration category of the martech landscape experienced the most significant share growth from 2020 to 2022.

These equipment have experienced a major effects on how do the job will get completed. Numerous of them embed or empower agile (lowercase “a”) procedures. Almost none of them use the terminology of agile advertising and marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, do the job-in-progress management, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

In the meantime, I’d say that Slack and Teams — accelerated by the Great Migration to Remote Get the job done — have successfully killed changed the daily stand-up for most groups.

But it’s not that the underlying principle of stand-ups has long gone absent. On the opposite, these crew communications platforms generally make it simpler for groups to continue to be connected throughout the day in a reasonably low-influence fashion. Issues that crop up can be tackled a lot quicker than waiting for the next stand-up in a fastened time window that significantly fails to align with the schedules of distributed workforce users.

Hey, I’m still a massive lover of in-individual collaboration, and I concur a little something is shed devoid of it. But other points are gained. And for far better and even worse, distant and hybrid groups are the new usual. In this brave new globe, Slack and Teams are a better match than every day stand-ups for quite a few.

And it’s not just technologies. Administration strategies that I imagine of as “point solutions” for specific demands — in distinction to a total suite of practices, as with official agile marketing and advertising — have been popularized for far better cross-practical collaboration (e.g., pods outside the house the context of official agile) and multi-get together conclusion-making (e.g., DARCI styles).

The internet result? Marketing teams are becoming extra and more agile.

They just really do not automatically consider of their tactics as formal “agile internet marketing.”

From agile marketing to… advertising?

Regardless of what transpired to electronic promoting? It became advertising and marketing.

Not simply because advertising became much less electronic. Very the reverse. Electronic turned so embedded in every little thing entrepreneurs have been doing that the label of the career reverted to the indicate: marketing. I’d simply call that a victory for the digital advertising motion, not defeat.

Similarly, is agile marketing merely becoming… marketing and advertising?

Maybe “agile marketing” will restart its progress as an explicit motion. Or perhaps it will be replaced by some recently named methodology that is nearer to what DevOps has turn out to be in the program enhancement job. Or probably is just gets to be implicit in how modern marketing teams operate.

Agile is as agile does.

Irrespective, I even now consider there is a big chance for instructing marketing teams how to very best harness all these platforms, techniques, and procedures. There’s never ever been extra need for supporting internet marketing teams achieve peak general performance by great coaching, enablement, consulting, and advisory providers in today’s natural environment.

Does the identify we simply call it definitely issue?

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