Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of knowledge and subjects from in advance of #MartechDay earlier this thirty day period — which featured the 2022 promoting technology landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the major of my listing is the most recent Point out of Agile Marketing report from AgileSherpas.

As always, this is a fantastic, extensive report on how and why agile methodologies are being used in marketing. You can see from the chart above that agile has identified its way into a vast assortment of marketing actions: advertising and marketing functions, innovative services, site operations, social media, marketing, and many others.

It is even remaining used (30%) in gatherings advertising, which has lengthy been the go-to illustration for skeptics: “Oh, agile could by no means operate for situations.” (To be truthful, in a virtual/hybrid celebration world, the pacing and adaptability of gatherings internet marketing has increased considerably.)

But as opposed to past yr, when 51% of contributors reported making use of agile marketing and advertising, this time only 43% did. That is near to the 42% from 2020. Is agile advertising and marketing backsliding?

Of program, the most noticeable disclaimer is the survey sample. Even with 513 entrepreneurs collaborating in this most recent survey, it is however a pretty modest subset of the diverse internet marketing universe and no doubt subject matter to the ebbs and flows of range bias.

But however. Right after practically 15 several years of advocacy for agile advertising and marketing, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile marketing principles, tactics & labels

The concepts of agile advertising and marketing, even so, feel to be universally approved as gospel reality these days. I cannot consider of a solitary marketer I’ve met in the previous quite a few years who has not embraced the values of adaptability, learning from experimentation, iterative improvement, cross-staff collaboration, better visibility into do the job-in-flight, workforce empowerment, and many others.

Marketing and advertising has turn out to be an agile profession. Comprehensive quit.

Agile Marketing Practices

Typical agile practices — these types of as sprints, day-to-day standups, kanban boards, and so forth. — also seem to have proliferated broadly. Whilst in several cases, they’ve morphed from their primary kind. We’ll arrive back to that in a moment, as I consider it’s the twist of write-up-agile.

But the labels? Not so much. I incredibly not often hear the phrases dash, standup, or kanban in advertising and marketing discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a expression arises considerably less usually than it seemed a pair of years back.

Agile promoting vs. agile enhancement trends

A few of charts from Google Trends assistance illustrate what is going on listed here. Initial, let us just look at the expansion of the look for time period “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart shows relative search volume for this expression around the past 18 several years. You can see that it peaked all-around 2017. (A yr soon after the release of Hacking Marketing. Coincidence?) Considering that then, it is experienced fluctations up and down. But it mostly hit a ceiling.

To get a superior perception of how much absolute research quantity there is for agile promoting, you will need to evaluate it towards yet another craze. So let’s assess it towards its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two things pop right out. Very first, agile marketing has obtained only a small fraction of the mindshare that agile improvement at any time did. Next, interest in agile improvement has steadily declined given that 2010. It’s close to 1/4 of the quantity it was at its peak.

What occurred in 2010? The rise of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

Indeed, DevOps became the giant that stood on the shoulders of agile advancement. Its acceptance has dwarfed agile growth, even from its heyday. And in comparison to all those two, agile marketing and advertising would hardly even sign up on the scale.

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

“Agile enhancement teams… couldn’t ‘satisfy the customer by means of early and ongoing shipping of useful software’ unless of course they subsumed the operations / infrastructure obligations involved with their programs, many of which they automatic.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the programs advancement lifecycle and deliver ongoing delivery with large software high quality.” What is steady integration/continual deployment (CI/CD) if not the top mechanism for offering iterative computer software advancement?

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

The plummeting charges of “shipping” in the cloud

To be distinct, DevOps is not an agile management methodology. It is not even an “ops” crew (in most cases) like other ops features, this sort of as marketing and advertising ops. Alternatively, it’s a set of procedures, processes, and technology that builders use to ship application quickly, iteratively, and safely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes building and deploying software, but determining what to make and when however requirements to materialize at a degree above that. In principle, agile enhancement methodologies these as Scrum can deliver the framework for these conclusions. But most dev teams I know do not explicitly use individuals methodologies any more. Most have invented their very own procedure, pulling ideas from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev challenge management tools these kinds of as Jira.

My choose: DevOps — and a lot more broadly, the cloud — has significantly lowered the prices of iteratively producing computer software. Back in the times when agile methodologies these types of as Scrum had been produced, the fees and complexities of shipping and delivery ended up much increased. The rigid framework of Scrum was an effective and needed way to regulate that. These days in a good DevOps surroundings? Not as needed?

Which is not to say that strategy, scheduling, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration required close to them aren’t required. They’re as very important to success as at any time. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative launch cycles? Not as required?

(Let the flames from ardent agile advocates begin.)

Is there a DevOps equal in promoting?

Marketing and advertising ops is a various kind of creature that DevOps. For one, it is a purpose/group within the promoting org, instead than a apply/process that all marketers use.

Yet there is some shared DNA. In many means, marketing ops teams perform as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be capable to “ship” advertising and marketing rapidly, iteratively, and safely. Marketing and advertising ops manages the tech stack and procedures to allow that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

Nonetheless with the rise of more and additional no-code capabilities across martech, advertising and marketing ops is also empowering marketers with additional and much more self-service capabilities. Just as computer software deployment ops acquired “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into additional developers’ arms with DevOps, much more capabilities to execute marketing — the two interior and external marketing and advertising “deployments” — are becoming shifted into the hands of normal entrepreneurs.

I really do not know that there is a title for this phenomenon. It’s a sort of democratization of certain sides of marketing ops. (Preferably under the steerage, governance, and guardrails of the qualified marketing and advertising ops group.) But it is more and more analogous to DevOps. Far more people today can ship much more promoting, promptly, easily, and safely and securely.

Just as with software package, strategy, planning, roadmaps, prioritization, group coordination and collaboration are vital to successfully harness this dispersed power of generation. But just as equally, the costs in deploying most types of advertising have dropped radically above the earlier ten years. This has established extra slack in the advertising production approach, which has produced rigid agile advertising methodologies… not as essential?

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

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

Talking of slack, or, um, Slack, the earlier 10 many years has also introduced an explosion of innovation in work communications and collaboration merchandise. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Teams have grow to be ubiquitous — along with a full ecosystem of apps that increase and integrate with them. A new era of work management platforms, these types of as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for entrepreneurs) Workfront, provide higher framework and visibility into elaborate, rapid-moving priorities, tasks, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Without a doubt, the Management class of the martech landscape had the premier percentage growth from 2020 to 2022.

These instruments have had a significant effects on how get the job done gets done. Quite a few of them embed or permit agile (lowercase “a”) tactics. Practically none of them use the terminology of agile marketing and advertising methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, work-in-development administration, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Fantastic Migration to Remote Operate — have efficiently killed changed the day by day stand-up for most groups.

But it is not that the fundamental principle of stand-ups has long gone away. On the contrary, these crew communications platforms frequently make it less difficult for groups to continue to be connected throughout the day in a somewhat small-effect fashion. Concerns that crop up can be tackled a lot quicker than waiting around for the upcoming stand-up in a fixed time window that ever more fails to align with the schedules of distributed team associates.

Hey, I’m continue to a substantial admirer of in-human being collaboration, and I concur some thing is dropped without the need of it. But other matters are attained. And for improved and even worse, remote and hybrid groups are the new normal. In this brave new planet, Slack and Teams are a far better in good shape than everyday stand-ups for a lot of.

And it’s not just technological innovation. Management strategies that I feel of as “point solutions” for particular needs — in distinction to a whole suite of methods, as with official agile advertising — have been popularized for better cross-functional collaboration (e.g., pods outside the house the context of official agile) and multi-bash selection-producing (e.g., DARCI types).

The internet impact? Internet marketing teams are starting to be much more and more agile.

They just really don’t always consider of their techniques as formal “agile marketing.”

From agile advertising to… promoting?

Whatsoever happened to electronic marketing? It became marketing.

Not for the reason that promoting grew to become significantly less electronic. Fairly the reverse. Digital turned so embedded in everything marketers were undertaking that the label of the occupation reverted to the indicate: advertising. I’d get in touch with that a victory for the digital advertising and marketing movement, not defeat.

Likewise, is agile advertising merely becoming… advertising and marketing?

Probably “agile marketing” will restart its expansion as an specific motion. Or maybe it will be replaced by some recently named methodology that is nearer to what DevOps has turn out to be in the computer software improvement career. Or it’s possible is just becomes implicit in how modern internet marketing teams operate.

Agile is as agile does.

Irrespective, I even now imagine there is a enormous opportunity for teaching advertising teams how to very best harness all these platforms, methods, and processes. There’s hardly ever been much more demand from customers for assisting promoting teams accomplish peak effectiveness by means of very good education, enablement, consulting, and advisory companies in today’s environment.

Does the title we call it definitely matter?

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