Agile Marketers Report Better Ability to Manage Changing Priorities

April 27, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Business of Marketing | Internal Collaboration | Marketing Budgets | Staffing

Agile marketing is not yet mainstream but might soon be, per results from the 5th annual State of Agile Marketing report [download page], produced by AgileSherpas in partnership with Adobe Workfront and IBM iX. The study indicates that 43% of marketers have adopted some form of Agile marketing in their organization, but among those who haven’t, about half (51%) plan to do so.

Currently, the biggest barrier preventing marketing departments from fully implementing an Agile approach is a lack of training or knowledge, as cited by 39% share of respondents. Overcoming this could require some outside input: when respondents using Agile marketing were asked how it originated in their organization, 28% share said that someone who used it in a different company sponsored its rollout, while others (15%) said it started in a different department, such as product development. Still, the leading way in which Agile originated for respondents was through experimentation with a few Agile projects before rolling it out to everyone (31% share). For the remaining fifth of respondents, executives mandated this approach across the organization.

Agile Approaches and Tools

The most popular tactic used when adopting Agile marketing is an Agile project management tool, and this also appears to be found the most effective. Some 49% of Agile marketers have used this tactic, and 80% of them reported it valuable. The next-most valuable tactic among users is agile certification courses (77% reporting value), though this is only used by 30% of Agile marketers. By comparison, among the 27% who are reading articles or books about Agile marketing, slightly fewer than half (47%) find this to be a valuable use of their time.

Meanwhile, among the Agile techniques and practices used by marketing departments, daily standups are most common, with retrospectives, spring/iteration planning, and user stories and/or epics following.

Virtually all (96% of) Agile marketers have adopted some changes within their marketing organization to sustain its adoption. This is important as the leading challenge teams have experienced as a result of using Agile is people reverting to their old, non-Agile approaches (as cited by 42% of respondents).

The most common action undertaken to sustain Agile adoption is to use standardized project management tools (39%), followed by experimenting with marketing planning cycles (35%).

As regards planning, 82% of Agile marketers report that the adoption of Agile has changed marketing planning. Most commonly, they say that annual plans are revised based on monthly or quarterly feedback (29% share), closely followed by the 27% share who say they’ve moved from annual to quarterly planning.

Although the adoption of Agile marketing has had less of an impact on budgeting approaches (64% reporting a change), the most common is the budget being dynamically reallocated on an ongoing basis (30% share). In other possible changes presented, respondents were more likely to move from annual to quarterly (25% share) than semi-annual (5% share) budgeting.

Successes and Benefits

Close to one-quarter (23%) of Agile marketers say that Agile marketing has been very successfully implemented into their marketing team, while an additionally three-quarters (74%) say it has been done somewhat successfully.

Among the benefits that respondents wanted to see, the most widespread achievements due to Agile marketing have been better management of changing priorities (63%), better visibility into project status (63%), improved team productivity (62%) and improved team morale (58%). In another benefit of specific importance during this pandemic era, 56% report that the implementation of Agile marketing has allowed them to better manage remote/distributed teams.

These are reflected in the ways Agile marketing is being measured, starting with effectiveness (60%) but also extending to efficiency (46%) and employee engagement/happiness (40%).

Agile Outside of Marketing?

Among Agile’s benefits, relatively few (43%) say that they have been better able to align with teams outside of marketing. However, this may grow as other teams also adopt an Agile methodology. For example, the report notes that the 33% of sales teams currently using Agile represents a significant hike from 18% in the previous study. Meanwhile, adoption is already experiencing higher levels of take-up among IT (48%) and product development/management (43%) teams.

Overall, 3 in 4 (74% of) Agile marketers believe it would be easier for them to work with other departments if they followed an Agile methodology.

Within the marketing team itself, the most common use of Agile is for social media (62%), followed by marketing operations (56%), website (56%) and creative services, content creation, and operations (56%). This is a change from the last survey, when its use was broadest for creative services. Last year, a study from Bynder found 9 in 10 (89%) respondents believing that technology would significantly or somewhat help creativity in their marketing department, with one of the best uses of creative automation being to enable agile marketing to drive experimentation.

For more, download AgileSherpa’s report here.

About the Data: The results are based on a January survey of 513 B2B and B2C marketers, 90% of whom work for companies headquartered in North America.

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