The marketing environment today is data-driven. With the explosion in the number of marketing tech vendors (of which there are now well over 3000), advertising channels, and daily brand impressions, the quantity of global digital data has seen a dramatic increase.
Companies have to work harder and harder to capture details of customer behavior. In fact, 76% of marketers agree that marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the preceding 50.
However, these advances and opportunities mean that the marketing world is more complex than ever.
At Digital BrainFest 2016, we presented a data-driven case study with a top 10 bank that focused on how to thrive in this complex marketing environment. Success requires the synthesis of data, technology, and agile marketing process and culture. Here are the key takeaways on establishing data-driven, agile marketing from that case study.
What Is Agile Marketing, and What Are Its Benefits?
First, definitions. Agile marketing is a set of practices and principles, adapted from Agile software development, that aim to improve marketing’s effectiveness. This is accomplished by working in faster cycles of “test and learn,” and adapting the approach based on what’s working and what’s not.
Compare that to traditional marketing, which tends to focus on long-cycle, batch campaigns that force marketers to predict what will work far into the future and provide little ability to change course.
Agile marketing runs counter to this style. Being able to assess what’s working – and what’s not – and pivot in response is one of the key benefits agile marketing provides to companies. Customer behavior is constantly changing, and the ability to move with your customers is critical to long-term success.
As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said:
You need to set up and organize so that you can do as many experiments per unit of time as possible.
Agile Prioritization: Shifting Focus to Meet Current Needs
Focused prioritization is another benefit of agile marketing. Your priorities change depending upon the environment.
By prioritizing marketing activities, teams focus on those activities that are believed to have the greatest impact on customer experience and business outcomes. And, agile marketing supports the ability to re-evaluate and change those priorities quickly as strategies change, new products are introduced, or new customer insights are gleaned.
Making value-based choices is important at the onset, and if change is necessary later in the process, so be it. Building and learning leads to more success than striving for perfection right out of the gate.
The Data-Driven Angles of Agile Marketing
Now, where does data fit into all of this?
Agile marketing requires agile measurement. At the end of each agile iteration, teams determine whether they need to pivot and adapt the approach based on what’s working. In order to do this, they need data, measurement, and reporting that’s customer-focused and provided closer to real-time.
Most companies have many sources of marketing data. However, to support agile marketing, this data must be integrated into a customer-centric view, rather than a channel or product-specific view. And, it must be provided to agile marketing teams in ways that support their faster decision cycles.
How to Effectively Transition to Agile Marketing: 5 Tips for Success
Transitioning from more traditional methods to agile marketing is not an easy task. Poor change management and insufficient integration at a large organization could lead to agile marketing disaster, with “different silos or teams moving at great speeds, completely out of lockstep with one another,” explains Patrick Spenner in Forbes.
However, with data as the foundation of this transformation, the risks are proportional to the rewards. Below are five small pieces of advice from Dave and his co-presenter for those looking to make the move:
- Leadership must be fully committed and unflinching.
- Lead with principles and make them the center of the effort.
- Make it your own and make it work for your company.
- Appoint an internal change agent and recruit external help as needed.
- Expect discomfort and be patient.
Agile marketing and marketing data are like two sides of the same coin.
In order for agile marketing process and culture to succeed, teams must have the right measurement and data to inform their decisions of whether to pivot and what to prioritize. Without data, agile marketing can’t drive “test and learn” improvements–it would be like all test and no learn.
And the learning is what drives the improvements and outcomes. In a similar way, getting value from marketing data requires changes to processes and culture, which agile marketing supports. If major improvement decisions still happen on an annual or quarterly basis, even world-class marketing data and analytics provides limited value.
Agile marketing helps the marketing organization change their process and culture to become more data-driven. The key to maximizing ROI is to focus on both agile marketing and marketing data in tandem.
Continue to check out the Digital BrainFest 2016 Highlights page for additional recaps, videos and takeaways from this year’s event.
Guide for Data-Driven CMOs
Dealing with data starts at the top. Learn why CMOs should establish and maintain well-designed data environments as a key first step to leading data-driven marketing programs. Download The CMO as Data Scientist: Experimenting & Winning with Data-Driven Marketing now for expert insights.