March 29, 2021 Content Chat Recap: The State of Agile Marketing in 2021

A #ContentChat header image that says today's topic is the state of agile marketing, with guest Andrea Fryrear.

According to the AgileSherpas 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing report, 51% of marketers say they’ve used at least some parts of an Agile marketing approach to boost their marketing results. The advantages of an Agile approach can include increased customer satisfaction, better resource utilization, and an overall more effective team, but how can marketers begin their Agile journey? And in what ways can marketers refine their Agile practices?

In this #ContentChat, we’re joined by Andrea Fryrear, president and co-founder of AgileSherpas, to discuss the state of Agile marketing in 2021. Read the full recap below, where we leverage her team’s latest research to explain what an Agile marketing team is, how to overcome the hurdles of implementing an Agile approach, and general tips to build a successful Agile marketing team environment.

Q1: What is an Agile marketing team? How is it different from an agile (lowercase) team?

Lowercase agile teams are fast and adaptive, but this is often by accident or necessity. These teams are often stressed and inefficient with their time, despite their perceived agility.

A1: Lowercase “a” agile teams might happen by accident or by necessity. These teams are fast and adaptive, but they may also be stressed and ineffective. #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A1: “We move fast and pivot a lot. We’re pretty much already agile.” No, you’re not. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/MxuZ0DNlyq

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

See also: Agile does not mean = random acts of content and a lack of editorial calendar. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

Capital “A” Agile teams follow a mix of frameworks and best practices to stay efficient and effective.

A1: Capital “A” Agile teams do the hard work to incorporate Agile ways of working into their processes so they can be both efficient AND effective (w/o working 60 hour weeks). #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

1) prioritize work (Agile uses a backlog)
2) focus effort on high value stuff until it’s done (WIP limits)
3) visualize what’s going on and where blocks are (kanban board)

also say no a lot more 😉

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A documented marketing strategy is a necessity for agile and Agile teams. Agile teams are best prepared to pivot from this plan to benefit the customer or address a change in business priority.

Move quickly and change as per the business needs too… possibly?? #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 29, 2021

Totally agree business needs should drive the change. It should also be tied to customer value whenever possible. Main thing is make ppl bring you a REASON for a change. Don’t just change all the time b/c you’re Agile now!

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

YES! You still need to have a mission and vision for your content marketing. Agile doesn’t mean chasing after every shiny new object. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

There always needs to a plan. And implementing that plan to meet set goals is as important as it is to make sure teams are better coordinated and not over worked. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 29, 2021

A1 Proactive and socially listening marketing vs reactive marketing and constantly pivoting just to pivot
-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/h8LA4yVfOe

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) March 29, 2021

Q2: What behaviors/practices or frameworks best support an Agile marketing team culture?

Andrea recommends a mix of Scrum, Kanban, and Lean frameworks. This in-depth article explains each of the three approaches.

A2: Hybrid frameworks — blending pieces of Scrum, Kanban, Lean, etc. — are the best options for marketers. 53% of marketers use hybrid approaches compared to 19% using Scrum. #contentchat pic.twitter.com/Ou6h2IiREw

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A2: Important caveat: hybrid = pick and choose based on what works for you, not throwing things away b/c they’re hard to do! #contentchat@amywhiggins I think this is a bit what you were asking?

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

This also gets back to having a consistent definition of success for various KPIs that is agreed upon across the business. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

An Agile team also requires real-time messaging channels, regular standing meetings, project management tools (we’ll share our recommendations in Q5), and an editorial calendar.

A2: When working with clients in an Agile marketing environment, we use a combination of real-time messaging channels, standing meetings, project management tools to track and prioritize tasks, and editorial calendars that remind us of our strategic vision. #ContentChat https://t.co/cLAoxenXYG

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

Q3: Your team at @AgileSherpas just released its 4th annual State of Agile Marketing report. What are the key points marketers should know for 2021?

Andrea shares some highlights from this year’s data below. Notably, 51% of marketers say that they use some Agile practices, and more areas of marketing are exploring the value of Agile.

A3: We passed the halfway mark for adoption this year! 51% of marketers identify as Agile (they use some Agile practices, have plans but change them regularly), compared with 36% traditional (lots of up front planning) and 13% ad hoc (no long-term plans). #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A3: #Agile is being used in TONS of different areas of marketing — not just on the website or product mktg team. 77% of creative/content/ops teams are using it, 76% of demand/ABM, and 66% of social media. #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

But we saw a 10% jump from 2019 to 2020 as well, so I think there’s also a larger trend toward using these ways of working across the function. #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A3: 47% of non-Agile marketers say they’re planning to move to #AgileMarketing, and 93% of those people plan to make the move w/in a year. Time to make the shift or be left behind! #contentchat pic.twitter.com/PLh4DLlPL8

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of Agile marketing approaches.

Do you have a sense of what’s been driving this increased adoption? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

Short answer: 2020
I think lots of people realized their old ways of working wouldn’t cut it anymore. 38% of our respondents said Covid accelerated their adoption. #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

Q4: What hurdles do teams often face when implementing an Agile approach? How can they overcome these challenges?

Per Andrea, many marketers cite a lack of training/knowledge to implement an Agile approach. Online chats like #ContentChat, workshops, books, and resources like AgileSherpas can help bridge this gap.

A4: Biggest one we heard from #marketers this year was lack of training/knowledge — they need to know more! Fortunately that’s easy to fix w/chats like this, workshops, books, etc. etc. #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A4: @AgileSherpas has tons of free info at https://t.co/B8wcMPFzN5 and lots of training options. Our Introduction to Agile Marketing is an 80-min self-paced course. Usually $39, but with code CONTENTCHAT 10 people will get it for free 😄 #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

Other hurdles include a lack of agreement over what Agile means, and an unwillingness to adopt the necessary technology to enable an Agile culture.

A4a: Two big hurdles I’ve seen are 1) an unwillingness to adopt the tech that allows this approach to work and 2) a lack of agreement over what Agile means. #ContentChat https://t.co/qPSnrhexOb

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

A4 The communications that make it work feel like extra work and red tape until people realize they no longer have all the confusion and rework at the end #ContentChat

— Dan Goldberg (@Jonas419) March 29, 2021

I know I vastly prefer to spend time upfront that saves me do-over time in the end. Reworking content you thought was finished never feels like a good use of time. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

Good call Erika — the top thing marketers told us helped them in their adoption was using an Agile project mgmnt tool. #contentchat pic.twitter.com/liYBt9HDme

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

Overcome these issues by hosting a collaborative working session to align on what Agile means and what it will address. Use this time to then discuss the technology and frameworks that are critical for your team’s success.

A4b: This sort of workflow process change really has to start with a collaborative working session where you define the need Agile will address, and land on a shared definition of Agile for your team+process. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

A4c: At this point, you are ready to talk technology + frameworks to help you put Agile into practice, and get buy-in for making it work across the team. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

Remember: Agile is never the “why.” Agile is the solution to overcome many challenges that marketers face today.

A4: Agile is never the why. Marketers need to figure out what problem they’re solving and see if Agile will help. “To be more Agile” is not a good reason to do the hard work of change! #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

Q5: What tools do you recommend for Agile marketing teams given that most teams are now working remotely?

The community shares their favorite tools below. What others would you add to this list?

A5: I’m an @Trello fangirl big time. So easy to start and many new features for true #ProjectManagement capabilities. Sample board I made to get you started is here: https://t.co/I2z9rm3OYU #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A5: Other great #AgileMarketing tools are @Mondaydotcom, @Asana, @Leankit #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A5 Love me some Trello #ContentChat

— Dan Goldberg (@Jonas419) March 29, 2021

@trello same here, so easy to use and very intuitive #contentchat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 29, 2021

A5 My semi-regular @AirTable recommendation goes in here. This is a great tool if you’re working in a number of spreadsheets already and have a basic understanding of how to connect tables to make queries. Super flexible tool. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) March 29, 2021

And make that @subtaskco which is part of @FrameableInc #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 29, 2021

Whatever you do, please do not manage your Agile marketing process with a spreadsheet.

A5b: Just please don’t try to use a spreadsheet to manage your Agile marketing process!!!
#contentchat pic.twitter.com/zZt9Ym6Z4T

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

And if you’ve used Roam, let Derek and us know your thoughts!

A5-ish: Speaking of tools, anyone out there using Roam? A friend recommended it and it seems neat but a little pricey. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) March 29, 2021

Q6: What general tips do you have for teams hoping to get started with or mature in their Agile marketing approach?

First, don’t get overwhelmed.

Take it step-by-step and remember that this is a journey.

Start by building a backlog, or a prioritized list of deliverables. Visualize this work on a Kanban board. Meet with your team 15 minutes each day to discuss progress and hurdles.

A6: To get started: don’t get overwhelmed. Build a backlog. Visualize work on a Kanban board. Talk everyday for 15 mins. Learn from all of that and iterate. #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

A6: One concept from scrums that I really like for an Agile environment is identifying potential blockers and communicating about these somewhat regularly (our small team has an informal huddle at the start of the day and I catch up with them after lunch as well). #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) March 29, 2021

Good one. Sometimes the person with the blocker isn’t the person who can unblock it. #contentchat

— Dan Goldberg (@Jonas419) March 29, 2021

Seek guidance from friends, colleagues, or experts who have experience with Agile marketing methods.

A6b: To mature, start looking for people farther along than you. Maybe a coach who’s worked w/lots of teams, or other Agile marketers who’ve been doing it longer than you. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel or make the same mistakes. #contentchat

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

Per the latest Agile marketing research, standardized project management tools, marketing planning cycles, and established training and coaching for Agile team managers have enabled teams to sustain the adoption of Agile.

A6c: Things we saw in this year’s report that helped adoption:

#contentchat pic.twitter.com/A4lV9jqr73

— Andrea Fryrear (@AndreaFryrear) March 29, 2021

Explain the reason behind your team’s Agile efforts. Be patient with team members who may be unfamiliar with Agile methods and those that do not yet understand its value.

A6 Be patient with the newbies. Chances are they won’t fully adopt until they see the benefits firsthand. #ContentChat

— Dan Goldberg (@Jonas419) March 29, 2021

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