Agile Marketing Activities

Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?


Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of data and subject areas from before #MartechDay previously this month — which featured the 2022 promoting engineering landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the leading of my record is the most current State of Agile Advertising report from AgileSherpas.

As normally, this is a great, in depth report on how and why agile methodologies are getting applied in advertising. You can see from the chart over that agile has located its way into a broad variety of internet marketing routines: advertising functions, resourceful products and services, internet site functions, social media, promotion, and many others.

It’s even being utilized (30%) in functions promoting, which has extended been the go-to example for skeptics: “Oh, agile could by no means work for functions.” (To be truthful, in a virtual/hybrid event world, the pacing and adaptability of situations marketing has elevated noticeably.)

But as opposed to past year, when 51% of participants noted utilizing agile internet marketing, this time only 43% did. That is close to the 42% from 2020. Is agile marketing backsliding?

Of training course, the most obvious disclaimer is the study sample. Even with 513 marketers taking part in this newest survey, it’s nevertheless a very modest subset of the varied marketing and advertising universe and no question subject matter to the ebbs and flows of range bias.

But even now. Immediately after just about 15 many years of advocacy for agile advertising, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile advertising and marketing principles, methods & labels

The concepts of agile internet marketing, even so, appear to be to be universally acknowledged as gospel truth these times. I just can’t think of a solitary marketer I have fulfilled in the previous a number of decades who has not embraced the values of adaptability, discovering from experimentation, iterative enhancement, cross-team collaboration, greater visibility into function-in-flight, group empowerment, etc.

Marketing has develop into an agile occupation. Full halt.

Agile Marketing Practices

Vintage agile methods — this sort of as sprints, each day standups, kanban boards, and so on. — also seem to be to have proliferated broadly. Despite the fact that in a lot of instances, they’ve morphed from their unique variety. We’ll appear again to that in a moment, as I consider it’s the twist of put up-agile.

But the labels? Not so significantly. I extremely hardly ever listen to the terms sprint, standup, or kanban in promoting discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a time period arises significantly less usually than it appeared a couple of years ago.

Agile internet marketing vs. agile advancement traits

A pair of charts from Google Trends assistance illustrate what is occurring below. Initial, let us just appear at the growth of the research phrase “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart reveals relative look for quantity for this expression in excess of the past 18 decades. You can see that it peaked around 2017. (A yr immediately after the release of Hacking Promoting. Coincidence?) Because then, it is experienced fluctations up and down. But it mostly hit a ceiling.

To get a greater perception of how considerably complete look for quantity there is for agile marketing, you want to review it against one more craze. So let’s evaluate it in opposition to its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two issues pop right out. Initial, agile marketing has accomplished only a very small portion of the mindshare that agile progress ever did. Second, curiosity in agile advancement has steadily declined considering the fact that 2010. It is close to 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 grew to become the large that stood on the shoulders of agile improvement. Its recognition has dwarfed agile enhancement, even from its heyday. And in contrast to those two, agile advertising and marketing would hardly even sign-up on the scale.

But it is essential to observe that DevOps arose from Agile. To quote its Wikipedia article:

“Agile improvement teams… could not ‘satisfy the purchaser by early and steady shipping of important software’ except they subsumed the functions / infrastructure duties connected with their applications, many of which they automated.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the methods development lifecycle and supply continual supply with higher computer software quality.” What is continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) if not the final mechanism for delivering iterative software program advancement?

As Forrest Gump may well say, “Agile is as agile does.”

The plummeting fees of “shipping” in the cloud

To be very clear, DevOps is not an agile management methodology. It is not even an “ops” staff (in most instances) like other ops functions, these types of as promoting ops. Instead, it’s a set of procedures, processes, and technological know-how that developers use to ship software speedily, iteratively, and properly. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes constructing and deploying program, but determining what to make and when nonetheless requires to materialize at a stage previously mentioned that. In concept, agile advancement methodologies these as Scrum can supply the framework for people selections. But most dev groups I know really don’t explicitly use these methodologies any longer. Most have invented their have course of action, pulling ideas from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev challenge administration applications this kind of as Jira.

My get: DevOps — and more broadly, the cloud — has significantly reduced the charges of iteratively producing computer software. Back in the days when agile methodologies this sort of as Scrum have been produced, the expenditures and complexities of shipping had been considerably better. The rigid structure of Scrum was an successful and needed way to take care of that. Today in a excellent DevOps surroundings? Not as important?

That is not to say that method, arranging, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration demanded all over them are not required. They are as vital to good results as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as essential?

(Let the flames from ardent agile advocates commence.)

Is there a DevOps equal in advertising and marketing?

Marketing and advertising ops is a various sort of creature that DevOps. For a single, it is a purpose/workforce in the promoting org, somewhat than a exercise/procedure that all marketers use.

But there is some shared DNA. In several means, marketing and advertising ops groups perform as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be able to “ship” marketing and advertising immediately, iteratively, and properly. Marketing and advertising ops manages the tech stack and procedures to help that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

But with the rise of much more and additional no-code capabilities across martech, marketing ops is also empowering marketers with extra and extra self-company abilities. Just as software deployment ops got “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into far more developers’ palms with DevOps, extra abilities to execute advertising — both of those inner and exterior promoting “deployments” — are becoming shifted into the arms of common marketers.

I don’t know that there’s a name for this phenomenon. It’s a type of democratization of certain aspects of marketing and advertising ops. (Preferably under the steerage, governance, and guardrails of the expert marketing and advertising ops crew.) But it is ever more analogous to DevOps. Much more men and women can ship a lot more marketing, speedily, simply, and properly.

Just as with software package, technique, arranging, roadmaps, prioritization, staff coordination and collaboration are vital to correctly harness this distributed electric power of development. But just as in the same way, the costs in deploying most sorts of marketing have dropped substantially in excess of the previous ten years. This has created a lot more slack in the advertising and marketing generation approach, which has made rigid agile promoting methodologies… not as vital?

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

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

Talking of slack, or, um, Slack, the earlier 10 many years has also introduced an explosion of innovation in do the job communications and collaboration solutions. For occasion, Slack and Microsoft Teams have turn into ubiquitous — alongside with a full ecosystem of applications that lengthen and integrate with them. A new generation of work administration platforms, these kinds of as Asana, ClickUp,, and (for marketers) Workfront, supply higher composition and visibility into complicated, rapid-relocating priorities, initiatives, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Indeed, the Management group of the martech landscape had the greatest share progress from 2020 to 2022.

These equipment have had a substantial effects on how operate will get carried out. Lots of of them embed or enable agile (lowercase “a”) practices. Almost none of them use the terminology of agile marketing and advertising methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, get the job done-in-progress administration, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

In the meantime, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Fantastic Migration to Distant Perform — have efficiently killed replaced the each day stand-up for most groups.

But it’s not that the fundamental principle of stand-ups has absent absent. On the opposite, these group communications platforms commonly make it easier for groups to remain related all through the working day in a relatively lower-impression manner. Difficulties that arise can be resolved quicker than waiting for the up coming stand-up in a fixed time window that ever more fails to align with the schedules of dispersed crew members.

Hey, I’m still a huge supporter of in-human being collaboration, and I agree anything is lost devoid of it. But other issues are acquired. And for better and even worse, distant and hybrid teams are the new ordinary. In this courageous new environment, Slack and Teams are a far better fit than every day stand-ups for a lot of.

And it’s not just technologies. Administration techniques that I imagine of as “point solutions” for unique requirements — in distinction to a complete suite of tactics, as with official agile internet marketing — have been popularized for greater cross-practical collaboration (e.g., pods outdoors the context of formal agile) and multi-celebration selection-making (e.g., DARCI designs).

The web impact? Marketing teams are getting much more and a lot more agile.

They just don’t always imagine of their techniques as official “agile advertising and marketing.”

From agile marketing to… marketing and advertising?

Whichever occurred to digital marketing and advertising? It became marketing and advertising.

Not mainly because advertising became a lot less digital. Really the opposite. Digital became so embedded in all the things marketers have been executing that the label of the career reverted to the mean: internet marketing. I’d call that a victory for the digital marketing movement, not defeat.

Similarly, is agile advertising only becoming… advertising?

Maybe “agile marketing” will restart its progress as an express motion. Or possibly it will be changed by some recently named methodology that is nearer to what DevOps has develop into in the software growth job. Or probably is just will become implicit in how modern-day marketing teams operate.

Agile is as agile does.

No matter, I still feel there is a large prospect for teaching advertising and marketing groups how to greatest harness all these platforms, methods, and procedures. There is hardly ever been a lot more desire for encouraging marketing and advertising teams obtain peak general performance through very good training, enablement, consulting, and advisory expert services in today’s natural environment.

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