Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

ByAnn Erika

Jun 12, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of knowledge and subjects from right before #MartechDay earlier this thirty day period — which highlighted the 2022 internet marketing technologies landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the major of my list is the most recent Point out of Agile Advertising report from AgileSherpas.

As generally, this is a terrific, complete report on how and why agile methodologies are remaining applied in advertising. You can see from the chart over that agile has uncovered its way into a huge wide variety of advertising pursuits: advertising operations, imaginative expert services, web-site functions, social media, promoting, etc.

It’s even becoming used (30%) in gatherings advertising and marketing, which has extended been the go-to illustration for skeptics: “Oh, agile could under no circumstances work for gatherings.” (To be good, in a virtual/hybrid occasion planet, the pacing and adaptability of gatherings internet marketing has increased appreciably.)

But not like last year, when 51% of contributors documented using agile advertising, this time only 43% did. That is near to the 42% from 2020. Is agile advertising and marketing backsliding?

Of system, the most noticeable disclaimer is the survey sample. Even with 513 entrepreneurs collaborating in this hottest survey, it is even now a pretty tiny subset of the varied promoting universe and no question subject matter to the ebbs and flows of range bias.

But nonetheless. Following nearly 15 years of advocacy for agile advertising, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile marketing principles, methods & labels

The rules of agile promoting, however, seem to be to be universally acknowledged as gospel fact these times. I cannot imagine of a solitary marketer I’ve achieved in the past numerous a long time who has not embraced the values of adaptability, discovering from experimentation, iterative enhancement, cross-team collaboration, larger visibility into get the job done-in-flight, workforce empowerment, and many others.

Internet marketing has become an agile job. Full stop.

Agile Marketing Practices

Common agile methods — this kind of as sprints, everyday standups, kanban boards, and many others. — also feel to have proliferated greatly. While in many situations, they’ve morphed from their authentic form. We’ll come back to that in a moment, as I imagine it’s the twist of post-agile.

But the labels? Not so a great deal. I really seldom listen to the phrases sprint, standup, or kanban in advertising and marketing conversations. Even “agile marketing” as a time period occurs a lot less regularly than it appeared a pair of years in the past.

Agile advertising vs. agile advancement traits

A pair of charts from Google Tendencies enable illustrate what is occurring in this article. Initially, let’s just appear at the expansion of the look for term “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart demonstrates relative look for volume for this time period above the earlier 18 several years. You can see that it peaked around 2017. (A yr right after the launch of Hacking Advertising. Coincidence?) Since then, it is experienced fluctations up and down. But it mainly hit a ceiling.

To get a far better sense of how a lot absolute lookup quantity there is for agile advertising, you require to look at it in opposition to a different pattern. So let us evaluate it in opposition to its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two factors pop proper out. Initially, agile advertising and marketing has reached only a small portion of the mindshare that agile progress ever did. Next, curiosity in agile enhancement has steadily declined considering the fact that 2010. It’s all around 1/4 of the quantity it was at its peak.

What happened in 2010? The increase of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

In fact, DevOps grew to become the big that stood on the shoulders of agile growth. Its reputation has dwarfed agile progress, even from its heyday. And in contrast to individuals two, agile marketing and advertising would scarcely even sign up on the scale.

But it is crucial to observe that DevOps arose from Agile. To quote its Wikipedia write-up:

“Agile improvement teams… could not ‘satisfy the shopper by means of early and steady delivery of important software’ until they subsumed the functions / infrastructure responsibilities connected with their applications, several of which they automatic.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the systems growth lifecycle and deliver steady delivery with significant software program high quality.” What is ongoing integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) if not the greatest mechanism for offering iterative program development?

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

The plummeting expenses of “shipping” in the cloud

To be clear, DevOps is not an agile administration methodology. It’s not even an “ops” group (in most scenarios) like other ops features, these types of as marketing and advertising ops. Rather, it’s a set of techniques, procedures, and technologies that builders use to ship application quickly, iteratively, and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes setting up and deploying computer software, but choosing what to create and when continue to demands to take place at a degree previously mentioned that. In principle, agile progress methodologies these types of as Scrum can give the framework for those conclusions. But most dev teams I know don’t explicitly use people methodologies anymore. Most have invented their very own course of action, pulling concepts from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev venture management tools this sort of as Jira.

My get: DevOps — and far more broadly, the cloud — has considerably reduced the expenditures of iteratively building program. Back in the times when agile methodologies these kinds of as Scrum have been designed, the expenditures and complexities of shipping were significantly larger. The rigid composition of Scrum was an efficient and essential way to manage that. Nowadays in a excellent DevOps setting? Not as essential?

That is not to say that technique, organizing, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration essential close to them aren’t vital. They are as very important to achievements as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative launch cycles? Not as essential?

(Permit the flames from ardent agile advocates commence.)

Is there a DevOps equivalent in promoting?

Marketing and advertising ops is a different type of creature that DevOps. For 1, it is a part/team within the promoting org, alternatively than a apply/process that all entrepreneurs use.

Yet there is some shared DNA. In many ways, marketing ops teams function as a DevOps-like enabler for marketers to be able to “ship” advertising and marketing immediately, iteratively, and safely and securely. Promoting ops manages the tech stack and processes to empower that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

But with the rise of much more and extra no-code capabilities throughout martech, internet marketing ops is also empowering marketers with a lot more and far more self-service capabilities. Just as computer software deployment ops bought “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into a lot more developers’ hands with DevOps, much more capabilities to execute marketing and advertising — both inside and external internet marketing “deployments” — are becoming shifted into the hands of standard marketers.

I really don’t know that there’s a identify for this phenomenon. It’s a kind of democratization of specified facets of advertising and marketing ops. (Preferably below the direction, governance, and guardrails of the qualified advertising ops staff.) But it is ever more analogous to DevOps. Far more people can ship extra marketing and advertising, promptly, very easily, and safely.

Just as with software program, system, setting up, roadmaps, prioritization, team coordination and collaboration are necessary to successfully harness this dispersed electricity of development. But just as likewise, the costs in deploying most kinds of marketing have dropped drastically about the past 10 years. This has developed additional slack in the internet marketing production course of action, which has created rigid agile marketing and advertising methodologies… not as necessary?

(Actually posed as a question, not a declaration.)

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

Speaking of slack, or, um, Slack, the past 10 yrs has also introduced an explosion of innovation in work communications and collaboration products. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Groups have come to be ubiquitous — alongside with a complete ecosystem of applications that prolong and integrate with them. A new technology of perform management platforms, these as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for marketers) Workfront, offer bigger composition and visibility into intricate, speedy-relocating priorities, assignments, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

In truth, the Management classification of the martech landscape had the biggest share advancement from 2020 to 2022.

These resources have had a sizeable affect on how function will get done. Quite a few of them embed or empower agile (lowercase “a”) tactics. Practically none of them use the terminology of agile internet marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, function-in-progress administration, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, I’d say that Slack and Teams — accelerated by the Great Migration to Remote Operate — have properly killed replaced the everyday stand-up for most teams.

But it’s not that the fundamental basic principle of stand-ups has long gone away. On the contrary, these crew communications platforms usually make it less complicated for groups to remain related throughout the day in a relatively lower-influence manner. Concerns that occur can be tackled more rapidly than waiting around for the subsequent stand-up in a fixed time window that progressively fails to align with the schedules of distributed team customers.

Hey, I’m even now a large lover of in-person collaboration, and I concur something is misplaced without the need of it. But other factors are gained. And for superior and worse, distant and hybrid teams are the new ordinary. In this courageous new world, Slack and Teams are a superior healthy than day by day stand-ups for quite a few.

And it is not just technology. Management approaches that I imagine of as “point solutions” for precise desires — in distinction to a entire suite of methods, as with official agile internet marketing — have been popularized for improved cross-practical collaboration (e.g., pods exterior the context of formal agile) and multi-get together determination-making (e.g., DARCI versions).

The net outcome? Advertising groups are becoming much more and additional agile.

They just really do not always believe of their practices as official “agile promoting.”

From agile promoting to… advertising?

Whatsoever happened to electronic advertising and marketing? It turned marketing and advertising.

Not due to the fact marketing and advertising turned less electronic. Very the opposite. Electronic turned so embedded in anything marketers were being doing that the label of the career reverted to the imply: advertising. I’d phone that a victory for the digital internet marketing motion, not defeat.

Similarly, is agile marketing simply just becoming… promoting?

Perhaps “agile marketing” will restart its expansion as an specific motion. Or probably it will be replaced by some recently named methodology that is closer to what DevOps has become in the software advancement occupation. Or probably is just results in being implicit in how fashionable advertising and marketing teams run.

Agile is as agile does.

Regardless, I nevertheless think there is a huge option for instructing promoting groups how to best harness all these platforms, practices, and procedures. There is hardly ever been far more desire for supporting advertising groups achieve peak effectiveness by superior education, enablement, consulting, and advisory companies in today’s setting.

Does the identify we call it really issue?

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