Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots

Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots


“Agile marketing transformations are not going well,” admitted Stacey Ackerman, a MarTech collaborator and agile coach. “We needed something built by marketers, for marketers, in a language that makes sense to marketers.”

“Agile”, in its various forms, has its roots in software development. It emerged in the 1990s as an alternative to the “waterfall,” a methodology that began with fixed requirements and scope for a product and advanced to completion without making any changes in the path. This led to long development cycles, with obsolete and abandoned products before they were completed. Agile replaced the waterfall with shorter development cycles within the main project (“sprints”) and the opportunity to optimize along the way.

Many marketers have seen the opportunity to apply agile frameworks in the context of campaigns and customer engagement, especially in an overloaded environment where planning months in advance and adhering to inflexible goals no longer reduces it. Some have been successful; others have struggled to adapt agile software development frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban to their needs.

Working with Level C Digital marketing professor and president Michael Seaton, and with input from the agile marketing community, Ackerman has been developing an agile framework specifically for marketing: the Agile Marketing Navigator. We sat down with her to explore how this approach differs from traditional agile.

Stacey Ackerman speaks at The MarTech Conference.

Scrum parts and Kanban parts

Ackerman began in marketing, but developed an interest in agile while working as a software project manager for an agency. That meant implementing Scrum. “Scrum is the universal language of IT. Go to 95% of software development departments, they know what Scrum is and it works great for them. “

In the world of agile marketing, Ackerman has seen endless attempts to change Scrum, change the name of things, and change their brand. “There has to be a better way to keep agile marketing going than what is happening in the industry right now, which is to take parts of Scrum and parts of Kanban and find out what works.”

The Agile Marketing Navigator framework is relatively simple. Stop # 1 is the Collaborative Planning Workshop; Stop # 2 is the repeatable release cycle; and along the way there are six key practices and six agile marketing functions.

The Collaborative Planning Workshop

Stop # 1 represents an important differentiating point between agile software development and agile marketing. “Where Scrum and Kanban start is really at the team level. What we know about marketing is that it goes beyond an agile team. Our starting point is not team building, a backlog. Our point The starting point is to meet with our stakeholder applicants and have alignment and collaboration. does”.

The key learning here is that marketing products are not like software products. In marketing, there is a much broader scope for discussing the desired results and what would count as success, and the debate may involve stakeholders from various business teams. In addition, there is a much wider proliferation of possible routes to the desired outcome.


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The launch cycle

A repeatable cadence of five or 10 cycles, with a daily concentration and periodic samples on the progress: the launch cycle does not seem so different from an agile sprint-based framework like Scrum. “It’s pretty close to Scrum,” Ackerman agreed, “because I think Scrum works.” But there are differences. The marketing portfolio is not a product development portfolio; in the Browser, consists of “customer stories” or ideas about desired results for customers.

Read below: A new way to navigate agile marketing

The computer showcase is more data-driven than a sprint review in Scrum. “Do we offer this as an opportunity to see the performance of the campaign: data, analysis, how things work and how we’ll adjust in the future? It’s more about data and performance than ‘we did it in this sprint.’

Key practices for agile marketers

Among the key practices identified by Navigator, customer stories and story points seem to be specifically geared to the needs of marketing organizations, but in fact, customer stories fits the software concept of user stories. “The benefit is understanding what it’s for, who it’s for, and why we do it,” Ackerman explained. “They’re like mini-people, although we’re reducing things a little bit. Different tactics can come from a single story, several different results (a Facebook ad, a LinkedIn post), while in software development, history is the deliverable “.

The practice of association is different from traditional agile. “Instead of an editor and a designer working in silos and delivering to each other, they will partner from the beginning. They will work in parallel. “

Key roles in agile marketing

The browser identifies six key roles, of which Kanban has none and Scrum only three. The roles are:

  • The team (self-explanatory).
  • The marketing owner (prioritizes work and relates to stakeholders).
  • The agile champion (coaches the team).
  • Support cast (occasionally working with the team).
  • Stakeholders (from other teams, with a special interest in marketing production).
  • Practice leads (leaders in functional departments within marketing).

The concern was that many people involved in marketing work would feel that they were not an agile part because they had no specified function. These six roles are meant to cover the universe.

For those marketers who are already following an agile strategy based on established frameworks, is it easy to switch to Navigator? “If everything you’re doing works really well, you don’t need to change it,” Ackerman said. “But if what you’re doing isn’t working, or the sellers aren’t fully committed, this is a very good reference.”


About the author

Kim Davis is the editorial director of MarTech. Born in London but a New Yorker for more than two decades, Kim began covering business software ten years ago. His experience includes SaaS for business, urban planning based on digital data and SaaS applications, digital technology and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as the publisher of The Haymarket Hub, a website dedicated to marketing technology, which later became a direct marketing brand channel established by DMN. Kim joined DMN in 2016 as a senior editor, becoming executive editor, then chief editor, a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in technology journalism, Kim was an associate editor of a New York Times hyperlocal news story. place, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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