November 27, 2022


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Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of info and matters from in advance of #MartechDay before this month — which featured the 2022 advertising technological innovation landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the leading of my list is the most current State of Agile Marketing report from AgileSherpas.

As often, this is a marvelous, comprehensive report on how and why agile methodologies are becoming applied in advertising. You can see from the chart previously mentioned that agile has located its way into a huge assortment of marketing and advertising pursuits: promoting operations, inventive companies, web site operations, social media, advertising and marketing, and so on.

It is even staying applied (30%) in occasions promoting, which has extensive been the go-to illustration for skeptics: “Oh, agile could under no circumstances perform for functions.” (To be fair, in a virtual/hybrid event planet, the pacing and adaptability of events marketing and advertising has amplified considerably.)

But compared with past calendar year, when 51% of individuals described using agile promoting, this time only 43% did. That’s near to the 42% from 2020. Is agile advertising and marketing backsliding?

Of course, the most clear disclaimer is the study sample. Even with 513 marketers collaborating in this most current survey, it is still a incredibly little subset of the assorted advertising and marketing universe and no question matter to the ebbs and flows of range bias.

But nonetheless. Right after just about 15 years of advocacy for agile advertising, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile advertising rules, procedures & labels

The rules of agile marketing and advertising, nevertheless, look to be universally acknowledged as gospel fact these times. I just can’t feel of a single marketer I have fulfilled in the earlier numerous many years who has not embraced the values of adaptability, learning from experimentation, iterative advancement, cross-staff collaboration, larger visibility into operate-in-flight, group empowerment, and many others.

Marketing has grow to be an agile career. Whole halt.

Agile Marketing Practices

Classic agile tactics — this kind of as sprints, day-to-day standups, kanban boards, and many others. — also appear to have proliferated greatly. While in quite a few instances, they’ve morphed from their original sort. We’ll arrive again to that in a minute, as I think it’s the twist of submit-agile.

But the labels? Not so significantly. I pretty hardly ever hear the phrases dash, standup, or kanban in advertising discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a phrase arises fewer routinely than it appeared a few of many years in the past.

Agile advertising and marketing vs. agile development developments

A couple of charts from Google Developments support illustrate what’s going on here. 1st, let’s just glimpse at the development of the look for time period “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart shows relative lookup quantity for this expression over the past 18 years. You can see that it peaked all around 2017. (A 12 months soon after the launch of Hacking Advertising and marketing. Coincidence?) Considering the fact that then, it’s experienced fluctations up and down. But it mainly strike a ceiling.

To get a far better sense of how much absolute search volume there is for agile advertising, you want to examine it towards another trend. So let’s examine it versus its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two points pop correct out. 1st, agile marketing and advertising has attained only a little fraction of the mindshare that agile advancement at any time did. Second, fascination in agile development has steadily declined given that 2010. It’s all around 1/4 of the volume it was at its peak.

What occurred in 2010? The increase of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

Without a doubt, DevOps turned the large that stood on the shoulders of agile advancement. Its level of popularity has dwarfed agile development, even from its heyday. And as opposed to those two, agile advertising and marketing would hardly even sign up on the scale.

But it is essential to observe that DevOps arose from Agile. To estimate its Wikipedia article:

“Agile enhancement teams… could not ‘satisfy the shopper by way of early and constant shipping of worthwhile software’ unless of course they subsumed the operations / infrastructure tasks associated with their programs, several of which they automatic.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the units enhancement lifecycle and deliver continuous delivery with higher computer software good quality.” What is steady integration/steady deployment (CI/CD) if not the top mechanism for offering iterative software package progress?

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

The plummeting prices of “shipping” in the cloud

To be crystal clear, DevOps is not an agile administration methodology. It is not even an “ops” crew (in most conditions) like other ops features, this kind of as advertising ops. Alternatively, it’s a established of procedures, processes, and technological know-how that builders use to ship software package quickly, iteratively, and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes creating and deploying software, but determining what to make and when nevertheless demands to happen at a degree higher than that. In idea, agile growth methodologies these kinds of as Scrum can offer the framework for all those choices. But most dev teams I know really do not explicitly use those methodologies any longer. Most have invented their personal process, pulling concepts from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev venture management tools this sort of as Jira.

My just take: DevOps — and more broadly, the cloud — has significantly decreased the prices of iteratively creating computer software. Again in the times when agile methodologies this sort of as Scrum had been created, the fees and complexities of shipping and delivery were being a lot higher. The rigid structure of Scrum was an powerful and required way to deal with that. Today in a very good DevOps environment? Not as needed?

That’s not to say that tactic, organizing, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration required about them aren’t required. They are as crucial to accomplishment as at any time. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative launch cycles? Not as essential?

(Enable the flames from ardent agile advocates start.)

Is there a DevOps equal in marketing?

Marketing ops is a distinctive kind of creature that DevOps. For just one, it is a function/workforce within just the internet marketing org, relatively than a follow/procedure that all marketers use.

Nevertheless there is some shared DNA. In numerous strategies, advertising ops teams perform as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be in a position to “ship” promoting speedily, iteratively, and securely. Marketing and advertising ops manages the tech stack and procedures to enable that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

Yet with the rise of much more and much more no-code capabilities throughout martech, internet marketing ops is also empowering marketers with a lot more and much more self-services capabilities. Just as software deployment ops acquired “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into more developers’ arms with DevOps, additional abilities to execute promoting — both of those inside and external promoting “deployments” — are getting shifted into the arms of common marketers.

I really don’t know that there’s a identify for this phenomenon. It is a kind of democratization of specific facets of advertising and marketing ops. (Preferably less than the assistance, governance, and guardrails of the expert marketing ops workforce.) But it is increasingly analogous to DevOps. Far more folks can ship extra promoting, rapidly, simply, and properly.

Just as with software, system, preparing, roadmaps, prioritization, group coordination and collaboration are crucial to successfully harness this dispersed power of creation. But just as equally, the prices in deploying most varieties of promoting have dropped drastically more than the previous ten years. This has made extra slack in the advertising output method, which has created rigid agile promoting methodologies… not as needed?

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

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

Talking of slack, or, um, Slack, the past 10 many years has also brought an explosion of innovation in do the job communications and collaboration items. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Teams have turn out to be ubiquitous — along with a whole ecosystem of apps that lengthen and combine with them. A new technology of get the job done administration platforms, these kinds of as Asana, ClickUp,, and (for marketers) Workfront, present greater structure and visibility into complicated, rapidly-going priorities, projects, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

In fact, the Administration class of the martech landscape had the greatest percentage expansion from 2020 to 2022.

These applications have experienced a important impact on how get the job done gets accomplished. Numerous of them embed or enable agile (lowercase “a”) practices. Just about none of them use the terminology of agile advertising and marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, operate-in-development administration, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, I’d say that Slack and Teams — accelerated by the Wonderful Migration to Remote Do the job — have successfully killed changed the everyday stand-up for most teams.

But it is not that the underlying principle of stand-ups has long gone away. On the contrary, these workforce communications platforms typically make it a lot easier for teams to keep connected all over the day in a reasonably lower-affect fashion. Concerns that arise can be tackled quicker than ready for the future stand-up in a mounted time window that increasingly fails to align with the schedules of dispersed workforce users.

Hey, I’m still a large lover of in-human being collaboration, and I agree something is shed without having it. But other things are attained. And for greater and worse, remote and hybrid groups are the new normal. In this courageous new entire world, Slack and Teams are a much better suit than daily stand-ups for several.

And it is not just technological innovation. Administration methods that I think of as “point solutions” for unique desires — in contrast to a complete suite of techniques, as with official agile marketing and advertising — have been popularized for improved cross-purposeful collaboration (e.g., pods outdoors the context of formal agile) and multi-bash determination-making (e.g., DARCI versions).

The net impact? Advertising groups are starting to be far more and a lot more agile.

They just never always imagine of their techniques as official “agile marketing.”

From agile marketing to… advertising?

Whatever happened to electronic marketing? It turned promoting.

Not since marketing and advertising turned less electronic. Rather the reverse. Digital grew to become so embedded in every thing entrepreneurs ended up performing that the label of the occupation reverted to the imply: advertising and marketing. I’d simply call that a victory for the digital advertising motion, not defeat.

In the same way, is agile marketing merely becoming… advertising?

Probably “agile marketing” will restart its growth as an specific motion. Or perhaps it will be replaced by some recently named methodology that is nearer to what DevOps has come to be in the application improvement profession. Or possibly is just gets implicit in how modern day advertising teams operate.

Agile is as agile does.

Regardless, I nonetheless feel there is a huge prospect for educating advertising groups how to finest harness all these platforms, techniques, and procedures. There is never been more desire for encouraging internet marketing teams realize peak performance as a result of great education, enablement, consulting, and advisory products and services in today’s natural environment.

Does the identify we get in touch with it definitely make any difference?

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