The concept of "agile" anything is kind of used as a business babble buzz word. And you know how I feel about those (hint: don't love 'em.)
But it's not all that complicated a concept. It's really just a frame of mind anyone -- marketers included -- can adopt that makes them quicker to respond to things. So instead of sitting through prep meetings for next week's meetings about the big meeting where you'll decide who should be in the meeting to decide whether you should, like, pursue a new group of search terms ... you just sit down and do a little research and start pursuing those gosh darn search terms.
See how that kind of mentality -- if everyone in your organization adopted it -- would make you a way more effective marketer? Well, lots of inbound marketers are adopting the agile mindset, and I defy you to find any who aren't loving the results. So if you're a marketer struggling to make headway in an organization bogged down with bureaucratic BS, share this blog post to help incite the tidal wave of change. It will explain exactly how marketers are benefitting from the agile marketing mindset, and get you pumped to get in on the action!
1) Agile marketers publish more content.
Have you ever had someone tell you that you can't publish a blog post until an editor, SEO specialist, and lawyer approve it? Great -- we'll get it out just in time for the Mayan Apocalypse. (Actually, that's not too far away ... is it?) Agile inbound marketers understand that content is at the crux of their success, and while quality and accuracy are important, you need to let go of two things immediately: control, and the pursuit of perfection.
That means you do have a smart coworker look over your blog post for 20 minutes before it goes out to check for accuracy, good grammar, and proper spelling, but you don't contract a New York Times editor to rip it to shreds and build it back up again. Because if you're on the pursuit of absolute perfection, you'll never be able to build up the publishing volume that you need to get organic visibility. Write good content, write it often, and when you're as big an authority as the NYT, well then go ahead and hire that editor ... and the hundreds of writers you need to keep on hand that make it possible to be so stringent about what gets published.
If you're having trouble getting content published because bosses and coworkers haven't adopted the agile marketing mindset, reference this blog post that helps you get past some of the most common stumbling blocks.
2) Agile marketers can newsjack.
Newsjacking refers to the ability to take something that's happening in the news -- yes, time is of the essence -- and ride the story's popularity wave. And, theoretically, get some kind of gain out of it, too. Take a look at David Meerman Scott's visualization of the life of a news story to get an idea:
So if time's a factor, newsjacking's really only a game agile marketers can play. How's a traditional marketer jumping through hoops and hurdles going to get anything published in this fast-moving news world of ours? By the time you're ready to publish your newsjacking content, the fad's over!
Take our most recent newsjack, our 'Gangnam Style' music video parody (in which David Meerman Scott has a cameo, actually), as an example.
Honestly, if we'd waited even a couple more days to release this video, it would've been too late. The craze would have started to die down, and there would have been a bunch of other parody videos out there making ours disappear into the crowd.
3) Agile marketers can jump in on social media conversations.
There are a ton of organizations out there that have a vise grip on their social media presence. There are even full-fledged social media policies that outline what social media managers can and cannot say on social media! Now, I know there's some need for this ... but man alive, loosen up, people. Whatever happened to a healthy mix of guidance and good judgment?
Agile marketers are the ones hopping into LinkedIn Answers to answer questions, tweeting breaking news content before their competitors, sharing their funny spin on the latest meme on their Facebook Page, and carrying on conversations in real time with their social networks. This kind of activity boosts their company's credibility, authority, and trustworthiness in a way that marketers who are forced to get everything on social media approved could never achieve.
4) Agile marketers use analytics to make quick, actionable decisions.
Any marketer worth his or her salt knows that you need numbers, goals, and analytics to measure your effectiveness. But there's a difference between setting a yearly goal -- let's hit 700,000 website visitors and generate 50,000 leads by the end of 2012! -- and setting more digestible goals that actually ... help.
Think about it. If you have 12 months to hit 700,000 website visitors and generate 50,000 leads, how is that going to guide your behavior? It probably isn't. You know what might? Figuring out how many site visitors and leads you need to generate this month. And then tracking your progress toward hitting that monthly goal every single day. That way you can see if Monday's email send had any impact, and whether it was more or less than the impact of the new offer that launched the week before. Working on this micro level not only lets you understand how big (if any) an impact each of your marketing activities has on reaching your goal, but it lets you adjust your behavior quickly -- with agility, even (see what I did there?) -- to ensure you never get too far behind on reaching your goal.
HubSpot has tools to help you do this kind of stuff, by the way. If you're a HubSpot customer, you see it every day you log in to your software! The traffic and leads waterfall dashboard:
And if you're not even sure what goal you need to set, we've got you covered there, too. Download this free Excel template that helps you calculate your leads and traffic goals every single month with just a few simple inputs!
5) Agile marketers can create new web pages quickly.
This may sound ridiculous to you. If it does, it's because you've got a touch (or a whole heaping spoonful) of agile marketer in you. Congratulations!
But the honest truth that we hear every single day (seriously, every day!) is that many marketers cannot create a web page on their own website. This is unacceptable. What do they do, you may wonder? They have to work with IT, developers, designers, contract workers ... sometimes all of the above ... to get something created in maybe a week, maybe a couple weeks, sometimes even a month.
This is real life, people. How can a marketer be expected to meet, say, a leads goal if they can't create a new landing page to launch their new offer and collect leads? Landing page creation should take minutes, not days, weeks, and months. This is so frustrating I can't even talk about it anymore, and we're going to move on to reason #6.
6) Agile marketers use A/B testing to incrementally improve ... every day!
Speaking of incremental improvements, there's no better example than watching an agile marketer run an A/B test. What's so great about watching an agile marketer run an A/B test? This:
- Agile marketers believe in incremental improvements. The difference between a 1.7% click through rate on a call-to-action and a 2% CTR actually means something. Enough to realize it's worth running an A/B test to figure out how to achieve it.
- Agile marketers know A/B testing doesn't need to be hard. If you're already in creation mode, why not try out a few versions of a landing page or call-to-action? If you know minimal extra effort -- a different color, headline, image -- could results in huge improvements, it'd be foolish not to always be trying something new!
- Agile marketers also know when to stop an A/B test. And then start a new one, of course. The key here is that when we get our results, we act on them. We know what version is better, and we run with it ... and then, of course, test the next iteration to try to make it even better!
7) Agile marketers are used to learning new things, and failing fast.
Marketing is one of the fastest moving industries out there. So much so that it's actually part of HubSpot marketers' jobs to not only read industry news every day, but to also proactively learn about the new platforms, features, and technologies that are released. And this stuff gets released on a weekly basis. That's a lot of new stuff to take in.
But agile inbound marketers are used to fast adoption, and as a result, can figure out important stuff really fast, too. Let's take the arrival of Pinterest (notice I didn't say "launch" since it actually released several years before it become mainstream) as an example. Two things went through our mind:
- This is dumb.
- We should try it.
So we did. We threw ourselves in head first, learned everything we could about it, and were totally fine with it being a complete failure. Happily, however, it wasn't! Instead, we got:
- Referral traffic and leads, that we continue to get as we keep on pinning.
- Some of our highest performing blog posts of all time, because we could teach our audience how to use Pinterest for marketing before most other blogs were writing about it.
- One of our best performing lead generation offers of all time, because no one else had written a definitive guide to using Pinterest for marketing.
These kinds of wins happen for agile marketers all the time because they are used to learning quickly and aren't afraid of failure -- because working on a day-to-day basis to achieve your larger goals helps you bounce back from your flops in record time, with minimal resources squandered during the pursuit.
Why else do you consider agility a critical component of inbound marketing? Are you practicing agile inbound marketing yourself?
Image credit: Kevin N Murphy
Originally published Sep 19, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013