Do you remember when writing letters was a thing?
You’d get a pen and paper and tell a story or give updates on your life to your friend who moved to another state. You’d then find an envelope, go to the store to buy a stamp, and leave it by your front door so that you’d eventually remember to take it with you the next time you left your house.
Whenever it was that you remembered to take the letter with you, you’d then deposit it in a mailbox and go on about your life. It would take several days for your friend to receive the letter, then several more days for them to reply and mail you their response. Sometimes, it could even get lost in the mail, or returned to sender.
By the time you received a response, you barely remembered what you wrote in the first place. And based on their answer, most of the info they received is outdated anyway. Then email and instant messenger came along. Speed and efficiency became so essential, that anything else is deemed inadequate.
Traditional project development methods are the equivalent of writing letters. Agile marketing and scrum are instant messenger.
What Is Agile Marketing?
Agile marketing is a way of prioritizing what needs to go out soon — striking while the iron is still hot, before technology and market demands change — and focusing the collective efforts of your marketing team on getting it done.
For example, let’s say you have a high-value project coming up. Maybe it’s a brand redesign that needs to be launched by a certain date. The people who are going to be working on it may include:
- Content writer
- Content strategist
- Web developers
- Art director
- UX designer
- SEO specialist
- PPC specialist
That’s a lot of people. In order for the brand redesign to be successful and on time, everyone needs to work cohesively and know what everyone else is doing. Doing short, daily standup meetings helps the entire team be aware of the stage of every component, and who’s working on what.
It’s also crucial to have a timeframe to get everything done. In agile marketing, this is called a sprint, and it can range from one to three weeks.
What’s important is to make each project timeframe consistent in length. So, you start every sprint with a daily stand up meeting, and everyone stays updated on the incremental progress of the project. Voilá.
Nothing is put on the back burner, delayed, or falls through the cracks. Things get done on schedule and on budget, and projects are launched when the content is still fresh and relevant.
What Is Scrum?
Scrum (which is an abbreviation of the word scrummage) is the framework used by project managers (also known as Scrum Masters) to make agile marketing run like a well-oiled machine.
They start by making a list of everything that needs to get done during a sprint. The next step is to create a backlog reflecting a to-do list, what’s in progress, what’s in review, and what has been completed.
During the daily meeting, the production team gets together using this backlog to see if anything needs to be adapted to meet the project goals. At the end of the sprint, everyone gets together to analyze the results.
The entire process enables marketing teams to deliver effective services on a regular basis. And since outcomes are regularly evaluated, it identifies areas of improvement as soon as possible.
For the TL; DR crowd, here’s a summary of the scrum workflow:
- Start with a backlog with items to be worked on.
- Sprint planning — prioritize what will be done first.
- Sprint backlog — make a list of each task to be completed for the current sprint.
- Sprint — Period between one and three weeks, with daily meetings where the team updates everyone on what they’re working on and what has been completed.
- Sprint review and retrospective. Go over what worked and what can be improved for the next sprint.
You can keep track of everything using scrum software. Give access to everyone on the team so that they can update tasks as they are completed.
Benefits of Using Scrum and Agile Marketing
There are many benefits to using agile marketing in all your projects. By implementing this method, you’ll notice the following advantages:
Setting Realistic Project Timelines
While it may be tempting to always say yes to every client request, it’s not always reasonable to do so — especially when a project is complex. Scrum and agile marketing helps you determine how much work can be completed in a single week based on your team’s capacity.
It also helps with being able to push back on clients who have a habit of firing off things to do rather than following the strategy that takes into account the big picture.
Being realistic about project timelines lets clients know what to expect and ensures that you can deliver on all of your promises. And above all, it keeps your team happy, since they get to work at a reasonable pace that allows them to create quality work without becoming miserable from burnout.
Improving Communications and Collaboration
The best way to work collaboratively is for the right hand to always know what the left hand is doing and vice versa.
Instead of wondering what the designer or copywriters are working on, or when a certain item is going to be completed, the whole team talks about this every morning. If something needs to be moved up, it can be done without holding up something else that another client may be expecting that day.
Streamlining Project Efficiency
Once your team becomes familiar with the process, the work cycle becomes more predictable. As a result, you have more consistent work and less downtime that’s usually related to people trying to figure out what comes next.
And since every single day you’re discussing the status of every project that’s on queue, you eliminate the risk of something falling through the cracks.
Completing Client Priorities on Time
While you want to give clients a reasonable timeline, you also want to make sure you prioritize what’s important to them and to deliver on time. Since agile marketing involves daily meetings, everyone can take a look at what’s on queue for that day and work on high-priority items early in the week.
If everyone is working piecemeal, the entire team won’t notice if someone encounters an issue. Under traditional methods, one or two people work it out, and keep working on their assigned tasks.
Scrum lets everyone know if there’s a recurring issue and provides time to fix it. And since scrum also involves analyzing data after a project can be completed, it allows your team to identify what can be done better the next time.
5 Steps To Implement Scrum and Agile Marketing
Change can be hard, and people can be prone to resisting it. However, as with everything else, once everyone gets comfortable with the process it’ll become second nature. And it all starts with simple steps:
1. Create a Scrum Team.
No matter what industry you’re in, scrum starts with a self-organizing, cross-functional team. Everyone contributes to its structure, the division of work, and how problems are solved.
The leader of the team is called the Scrum Master. Then there are all the creatives who will work on the project. Although not everyone works together directly at all times, it’s crucial not to lose sight of how each person’s efforts move the team forward.
2. Plan Your Sprints.
Marketing sprints are short. Make sure they don’t last longer than three weeks — one or two weeks are preferable. They’re meant to produce quick wins or limit lost time if an idea turns out to be less than useful.
For example, a two week digital marketing sprint might consist of PPC campaign planning, setup, testing, initial analytics, and a round of refinement. It should only take two or three sprints to deliver ROI on a campaign or uncover pitfalls that future campaigns need to take into account.
Either way, there’s something to celebrate, which keeps progress fast and morale high.
3. Schedule Daily Stand-Ups.
Daily stand-ups are morning meetings between the members of the agile marketing team. It sets the tone and context for the whole day.
The Scrum Master is responsible for keeping the meeting moving. It is strictly time-boxed to just 15 minutes. In a nutshell, what you discuss includes: What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Are there any roadblocks in the way?
4. Conduct Sprint Reviews.
Regardless of the outcome, sprints should end with a sprint review. This is when the team presents what they’ve accomplished. It can be a functional demo, high fidelity wireframes, reports, completed content, or anything else that showcases your latest wins.
5. Do a Sprint Introspective.
This is when the team integrates lessons learned about how to make the next sprint even more productive. While the sprint reviews go over what the team has built, the sprint introspective goes over how the team built it, and whether it was the most effective way of doing so.
By talking about what worked and what didn’t, you achieve a genuine process improvement. This means that the team is always growing — both individually and as a whole.