How to Get Started with Agile Marketing [+ 10 Examples]

Marketing moves fast. From new channels and emerging trends to evolving customer expectations and competitive landscape, change is the only constant for today‘s marketing teams.

How can you stay ahead of the curve and keep pace with an industry that never slows down? The answer is agile marketing.

Agile marketing is a powerful approach that enables teams to adapt quickly, deliver faster, and continuously improve performance. By working in short sprints, collaborating across functions, and leveraging data to drive decisions, agile marketers are better equipped to navigate change and drive business results.

In fact, the data shows that agile marketing delivers real ROI. According to AgileSherpas‘ 1st Annual State of Agile Marketing Report:

  • 74% of marketers say agile helped them improve team productivity
  • 93% report better speed to market and faster decision making
  • 87% cite a positive impact on team morale and collaboration
  • Teams using agile are 60% more likely to report revenue growth

Ready to reap the rewards of agile in your own marketing organization? This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to get started, including:

  • A deep dive into agile marketing principles and practices
  • A practical framework for implementing agile in your team
  • 10 real-world examples of agile marketing success
  • Expert tips and resources to overcome common challenges

Let‘s get started!

What is Agile Marketing?

At its core, agile marketing is a tactical approach that applies the principles of agile software development to marketing projects and processes. The goal is to enable marketing teams to work more efficiently, respond quickly to change, and continuously improve results.

Agile marketing is built on a set of core values and principles, as outlined in the Agile Marketing Manifesto:

  • Validated learning over opinions and conventions
  • Customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
  • Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns
  • The process of customer discovery over static prediction
  • Flexible planning over rigid planning
  • Responding to change over following a plan
  • Many small experiments over a few large bets

In practice, agile marketing teams embrace concepts like:

  • Sprints: Short, time-boxed periods (usually 1-4 weeks) in which a team commits to completing a set amount of work.
  • Stand-ups: Brief daily meetings where team members share progress, plans, and challenges.
  • Kanban boards: Visual tools for managing and tracking work through various stages of completion.
  • User stories: Short, simple descriptions of a feature or deliverable from the user‘s perspective.
  • Retrospectives: Regular meetings to reflect on what‘s working, what‘s not, and identify improvements.

By operating in rapid learning cycles and facilitating real-time collaboration, agile empowers marketers to test ideas quickly, gain fast feedback, and iterate based on data. The result is more relevant, impactful marketing that drives meaningful business outcomes.

Scrum vs Kanban: Two Agile Marketing Frameworks

While there are many flavors of agile, two predominant frameworks have emerged in the marketing world: Scrum and Kanban. Let‘s break down the key elements of each.

Scrum

Scrum is the most popular and prescriptive agile framework. It centers around fixed-length sprints (typically 2-4 weeks), with the goal of shipping a potentially releasable deliverable by the end of each sprint.

Scrum teams are cross-functional and self-organizing, with three key roles:

  • Product Owner: Defines the product vision, prioritizes the backlog, and provides feedback.
  • Scrum Master: Coaches the team on Scrum practices, removes blockers, and facilitates meetings.
  • Development Team: Ideally 5-9 T-shaped marketers who collaborate to execute the work.

Scrum also incorporates several recurring rituals:

  • Sprint Planning: A meeting to prioritize and commit to work for the upcoming sprint.
  • Daily Stand-up: A 15-minute check-in to align on progress and surface issues.
  • Sprint Review: A demo of completed work at the end of the sprint to gather feedback.
  • Sprint Retrospective: A reflection to inspect the process and identify improvements.

Artifacts like the product backlog, sprint backlog, and burndown charts help provide transparency and measure progress throughout the sprint.

While it requires more upfront planning and discipline, Scrum creates a consistent cadence of delivering value and fosters a culture of accountability and continuous improvement. Leading brands like IBM, Dell, and Xerox have seen major gains from adopting Scrum in marketing.

Kanban

Kanban is a more lightweight and flexible agile framework. Unlike Scrum, it doesn‘t prescribe time-boxed sprints or specific roles. Instead, Kanban is all about visualizing work and limiting work in progress (WIP) to optimize flow.

At the heart of Kanban is the Kanban board. It‘s a visual representation of the team‘s workflow, with columns for each stage of the process (e.g. To Do, In Progress, In Review, Done). Work items are represented by cards that flow across the board as they‘re completed.

Other core practices of Kanban include:

  • Visualize the workflow: Make the team‘s process and policies explicit on the board.
  • Limit WIP: Set a maximum number of cards allowed in each column to prevent overloading.
  • Manage flow: Track and optimize cycle times, lead times, and throughput.
  • Make process policies explicit: Define clear entry/exit criteria for each stage.
  • Improve collaboratively: Use data and experiments to continuously evolve the process.

By keeping work visible and setting WIP limits, Kanban helps teams eliminate bottlenecks, reduce context switching, and maintain a sustainable pace. Because it‘s less structured than Scrum, Kanban is often a good starting point for teams new to agile or with more fluid processes.

Companies like Spotify, Optimizely, and Zara have leveraged Kanban to streamline their marketing operations and deliver value faster.

Implementing Agile Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ready to bring agile to your marketing organization? Follow these steps to set your team up for success.

  1. Secure leadership buy-in. Agile requires a shift in mindset and ways of working, so it‘s critical to have support from the top. Help leaders understand the benefits of agile and how it aligns with business goals.

  2. Start small. Don‘t try to transform your entire marketing org overnight. Begin with a pilot project and a dedicated agile team. Use it as a proof of concept to work out the kinks and demonstrate results before expanding.

  3. Define your ‘why‘. Clarify the goals and outcomes you hope to achieve with agile. Do you want to increase speed to market? Boost team productivity? Improve campaign performance? Align on the end state to guide your approach.

  4. Choose a framework. Based on the nature of your work and team structure, decide whether Scrum, Kanban, or a hybrid model makes the most sense as a starting point. Remember, you can always adapt your process as you learn.

  5. Assemble your agile team. For Scrum, identify a Product Owner, Scrum Master, and cross-functional Development Team. Kanban teams are typically more fluid, but you‘ll still want a diverse mix of skills and a designated agile lead. Aim for 5-9 team members.

  6. Create a shared backlog. Work with stakeholders to build a prioritized list of initiatives or user stories that aligns with your goals. The Product Owner (for Scrum) or agile lead (for Kanban) should own the backlog and ensure priorities are clear.

  7. Establish your process. Define your workflow stages, set WIP limits (for Kanban), and determine meeting cadences (for Scrum). Use a tool like Jira, Trello, or Asana to create a digital Kanban board or sprint plan to manage your work.

  8. Implement your process. Start executing in sprints (for Scrum) or kanban approach (for Kanban), with a focus on transparency and collaboration. Hold regular stand-ups to surface issues and keep everyone aligned.

  9. Measure and optimize. Track key metrics like velocity, cycle time, and throughput to gauge your progress. Use data from sprint reviews (for Scrum) or kanban flow(for Kanban) to identify opportunities to improve your process.

  10. Scale and adapt. As you build trust in agile and see positive results, consider expanding to additional teams or departments. But remember to tailor your practices to each team‘s unique context and continuously iterate based on feedback.

The most important thing is to approach agile as a journey, not a destination. Start small, experiment often, and give your team permission to fail forward. With practice and persistence, you‘ll unlock the full potential of agile marketing.

10 Agile Marketing Examples to Inspire You

Need some inspiration for your own agile marketing transformation? Check out these 10 examples of brands driving real results with agile practices.

  1. Santander Bank used agile to boost mobile app downloads by 12% and increase customer satisfaction scores to an all-time high. By working in weekly sprints and rapidly testing new features, they delivered more relevant experiences while saving over £1M. (Source)

  2. IBM‘s in-house agency applied Scrum to streamline demand generation and increase marketing ROI by 400%. They used metrics and feedback from each sprint to continuously optimize targeting, creative, and spend. (Source)

  3. CNBC leveraged Kanban to accelerate digital content production and drive an 800% increase in unique visitors. Visualizing their workflow and limiting WIP helped them eliminate bottlenecks and deliver a steady stream of high-quality articles, videos, and graphics. (Source)

  4. Cisco scaled Scrum to 20 demand centers worldwide, boosting campaign output by 400% and halving SLA times. Agile enabled them to automate key processes and make data-driven optimizations for more targeted, personalized campaigns. (Source)

  5. Travelport cut webpage production time by 500% by aligning copywriters, designers, and developers in focused, 2-week sprints. The agile approach fostered greater collaboration, efficiency, and quality compared to their previous waterfall process. (Source)

  6. Dell used agile practices to produce over 8,000 dynamic content assets in less than 2 months. By breaking the work into small batches and gathering customer feedback along the way, they created more relevant, engaging experiences at scale. (Source)

  7. CoSchedule grew their blog traffic 434% and generated over a million pageviews in a year by implementing a Kanban-based editorial calendar. The visibility and flexibility enabled them to consistently publish high-quality content while adapting to changing priorities. (Source)

  8. Commvault boosted email open rates by 200% and reduced lead conversion time by 61% using the Scrum framework. Sprint retrospectives helped them uncover key engagement insights to optimize copy, design, and delivery. (Source)

  9. Xerox cut marketing material production time by 78% and saved $350K by moving to an agile model. Scrum teams focused on delivering one asset per sprint, while Kanban boards provided real-time visibility into progress and bottlenecks. (Source)

  10. HubSpot scaled agile across their 200-person marketing organization by starting small and continuously iterating. They customized their practices for each team‘s needs and created ‘agile champions‘ to drive adoption. The shift has increased output by 30% while improving team happiness. (Source)

These examples show the power of agile marketing across a variety of industries, business models, and team sizes. Whether you‘re a startup or an enterprise, B2B or B2C, agile can help you work smarter, move faster, and deliver more value to your customers.

Agile Marketing Resources and Tools

Hungry for more agile marketing knowledge? Check out these resources and tools to deepen your expertise and connect with the community.

Remember, the key to successful agile marketing is to start small, experiment constantly, and iterate based on feedback. With the right mindset, practices, and tools, you can harness the power of agile to drive better results and happier teams.

So what are you waiting for? It‘s time to get agile!

As marketing luminary Seth Godin once said, "The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing." Don‘t let fear or uncertainty hold you back from trying agile in your own marketing organization.

The world is only getting faster, and customer expectations are only getting higher. Agile marketing is your secret weapon to stay ahead of the curve and deliver the exceptional experiences your audience demands.

Embrace the agile mindset. Master the practices. And get ready to take your marketing to a whole new level. The future belongs to the agile – will you be leading the charge?