Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?


Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of facts and subjects from right before #MartechDay before this thirty day period — which showcased the 2022 internet marketing know-how landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the best of my listing is the most recent Condition of Agile Marketing and advertising report from AgileSherpas.

As usually, this is a great, detailed report on how and why agile methodologies are being applied in advertising and marketing. You can see from the chart higher than that agile has found its way into a broad wide variety of internet marketing things to do: advertising functions, inventive providers, web-site operations, social media, promoting, etc.

It is even being utilized (30%) in occasions advertising and marketing, which has extended been the go-to case in point for skeptics: “Oh, agile could in no way operate for events.” (To be honest, in a digital/hybrid celebration earth, the pacing and adaptability of activities promoting has amplified substantially.)

But unlike past yr, when 51% of members claimed using agile promoting, this time only 43% did. That’s near to the 42% from 2020. Is agile marketing and advertising backsliding?

Of program, the most apparent disclaimer is the study sample. Even with 513 entrepreneurs taking part in this most current survey, it is however a quite small subset of the various advertising and marketing universe and no doubt subject to the ebbs and flows of selection bias.

But even now. Just after just about 15 decades of advocacy for agile internet marketing, the momentum of this motion seems… stalled?

Agile advertising principles, techniques & labels

The principles of agile advertising, on the other hand, appear to be to be universally approved as gospel reality these times. I simply cannot feel of a solitary marketer I’ve achieved in the past several yrs who hasn’t embraced the values of adaptability, mastering from experimentation, iterative enhancement, cross-crew collaboration, increased visibility into work-in-flight, group empowerment, etcetera.

Marketing and advertising has come to be an agile occupation. Total quit.

Agile Marketing Practices

Typical agile techniques — these as sprints, each day standups, kanban boards, etcetera. — also appear to have proliferated extensively. Whilst in numerous scenarios, they’ve morphed from their unique form. We’ll arrive back to that in a moment, as I assume it is the twist of put up-agile.

But the labels? Not so a lot. I extremely almost never listen to the terms dash, standup, or kanban in promoting discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a expression occurs a lot less regularly than it seemed a pair of many years back.

Agile advertising and marketing vs. agile progress developments

A pair of charts from Google Developments assistance illustrate what’s happening in this article. To start with, let’s just glance at the advancement of the research expression “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart demonstrates relative research quantity for this phrase in excess of the previous 18 years. You can see that it peaked about 2017. (A yr soon after the release of Hacking Marketing. Coincidence?) Considering that then, it is had fluctations up and down. But it mostly hit a ceiling.

To get a far better feeling of how significantly absolute research quantity there is for agile promoting, you want to compare it from another pattern. So let us examine it towards its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two issues pop proper out. Initially, agile advertising has reached only a small portion of the mindshare that agile growth at any time did. 2nd, desire in agile growth has steadily declined considering that 2010. It’s all over 1/4 of the volume it was at its peak.

What took place in 2010? The rise of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

Without a doubt, DevOps grew to become the large that stood on the shoulders of agile improvement. Its recognition has dwarfed agile advancement, even from its heyday. And in comparison to these two, agile marketing and advertising would hardly even sign up on the scale.

But it is significant to be aware that DevOps arose from Agile. To quote its Wikipedia posting:

“Agile progress teams… could not ‘satisfy the purchaser by way of early and constant shipping and delivery of precious software’ except if they subsumed the operations / infrastructure duties associated with their applications, lots of of which they automatic.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the devices growth lifecycle and present continuous delivery with high application high-quality.” What is steady integration/ongoing deployment (CI/CD) if not the best system for providing iterative computer software growth?

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

The plummeting costs of “shipping” in the cloud

To be crystal clear, DevOps is not an agile management methodology. It’s not even an “ops” group (in most cases) like other ops capabilities, these types of as advertising and marketing ops. Somewhat, it’s a established of methods, processes, and engineering that builders use to ship application rapidly, iteratively, and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes making and deploying software, but selecting what to build and when still needs to come about at a level previously mentioned that. In theory, agile development methodologies these as Scrum can supply the framework for people conclusions. But most dev teams I know never explicitly use these methodologies any more. Most have invented their own process, pulling principles from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev task management equipment these types of as Jira.

My take: DevOps — and more broadly, the cloud — has considerably diminished the fees of iteratively establishing computer software. Back again in the times when agile methodologies this kind of as Scrum had been created, the prices and complexities of transport were being considerably larger. The rigid framework of Scrum was an productive and important way to control that. Currently in a fantastic DevOps setting? Not as required?

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

(Let the flames from ardent agile advocates commence.)

Is there a DevOps equivalent in advertising and marketing?

Internet marketing ops is a distinct sort of creature that DevOps. For 1, it is a function/staff inside the marketing and advertising org, somewhat than a observe/system that all marketers use.

Still there is some shared DNA. In several approaches, advertising and marketing ops groups operate as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be equipped to “ship” internet marketing rapidly, iteratively, and securely. Internet marketing ops manages the tech stack and processes to permit that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

But with the rise of a lot more and much more no-code capabilities across martech, advertising ops is also empowering marketers with a lot more and more self-company capabilities. Just as computer software deployment ops bought “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into extra developers’ palms with DevOps, much more abilities to execute internet marketing — both of those inner and external advertising “deployments” — are becoming shifted into the fingers of general entrepreneurs.

I really don’t know that there’s a identify for this phenomenon. It is a type of democratization of selected facets of marketing and advertising ops. (Ideally under the assistance, governance, and guardrails of the qualified advertising ops staff.) But it is increasingly analogous to DevOps. More persons can ship much more marketing, rapidly, conveniently, and securely.

Just as with software, strategy, scheduling, roadmaps, prioritization, workforce coordination and collaboration are crucial to proficiently harness this distributed ability of generation. But just as likewise, the costs in deploying most varieties of advertising have dropped radically about the previous ten years. This has established much more slack in the marketing manufacturing process, which has created rigid agile marketing and advertising methodologies… not as essential?

(Truthfully posed as a concern, not a declaration.)

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

Speaking of slack, or, um, Slack, the past 10 many years has also introduced an explosion of innovation in do the job communications and collaboration solutions. For occasion, Slack and Microsoft Groups have develop into ubiquitous — together with a entire ecosystem of applications that lengthen and integrate with them. A new era of perform administration platforms, this sort of as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for marketers) Workfront, supply increased composition and visibility into complex, quickly-shifting priorities, projects, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

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

These applications have had a sizeable impact on how do the job receives carried out. A lot of of them embed or empower agile (lowercase “a”) procedures. Nearly none of them use the terminology of agile marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, work-in-progress management, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Good Migration to Remote Perform — have effectively killed replaced the every day stand-up for most teams.

But it’s not that the fundamental theory of stand-ups has long gone absent. On the opposite, these group communications platforms commonly make it less difficult for teams to stay connected all through the working day in a somewhat minimal-affect manner. Issues that occur can be resolved more quickly than waiting for the next stand-up in a mounted time window that more and more fails to align with the schedules of distributed staff users.

Hey, I’m nevertheless a large supporter of in-human being collaboration, and I agree some thing is lost with no it. But other items are attained. And for greater and even worse, remote and hybrid groups are the new normal. In this brave new world, Slack and Groups are a greater in shape than day by day stand-ups for several.

And it is not just know-how. Management procedures that I believe of as “point solutions” for particular desires — in distinction to a whole suite of techniques, as with formal agile advertising — have been popularized for far better cross-practical collaboration (e.g., pods outdoors the context of formal agile) and multi-celebration conclusion-building (e.g., DARCI designs).

The internet result? Internet marketing teams are turning out to be extra and additional agile.

They just really do not essentially believe of their techniques as formal “agile marketing and advertising.”

From agile promoting to… internet marketing?

Whichever transpired to digital advertising? It turned promoting.

Not mainly because marketing and advertising turned significantly less electronic. Really the reverse. Digital turned so embedded in anything marketers have been executing that the label of the career reverted to the imply: advertising. I’d connect with that a victory for the digital advertising and marketing movement, not defeat.

Likewise, is agile advertising merely becoming… marketing?

Perhaps “agile marketing” will restart its growth as an express movement. Or it’s possible it will be replaced by some freshly named methodology that is nearer to what DevOps has develop into in the software advancement occupation. Or probably is just will become implicit in how modern day promoting teams operate.

Agile is as agile does.

No matter, I nevertheless believe that there is a huge opportunity for instructing advertising teams how to finest harness all these platforms, procedures, and procedures. There’s by no means been a lot more demand for aiding marketing groups obtain peak performance through superior teaching, enablement, consulting, and advisory solutions in today’s environment.

Does the title we phone it genuinely make a difference?

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