Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of details and matters from ahead of #MartechDay earlier this month — which showcased the 2022 promoting technological innovation landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the top rated of my list is the newest Condition of Agile Advertising report from AgileSherpas.

As constantly, this is a terrific, detailed report on how and why agile methodologies are staying applied in advertising and marketing. You can see from the chart higher than that agile has observed its way into a vast assortment of advertising things to do: advertising and marketing functions, creative services, site operations, social media, advertising and marketing, etc.

It is even currently being used (30%) in activities advertising, which has prolonged been the go-to example for skeptics: “Oh, agile could hardly ever perform for functions.” (To be truthful, in a virtual/hybrid celebration environment, the pacing and adaptability of occasions internet marketing has enhanced substantially.)

But unlike very last 12 months, when 51% of members reported applying agile promoting, this time only 43% did. Which is near to the 42% from 2020. Is agile advertising and marketing backsliding?

Of class, the most apparent disclaimer is the study sample. Even with 513 marketers participating in this newest survey, it is still a extremely small subset of the assorted promoting universe and no doubt issue to the ebbs and flows of range bias.

But nonetheless. Following virtually 15 yrs of advocacy for agile internet marketing, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile advertising and marketing principles, methods & labels

The concepts of agile advertising and marketing, even so, appear to be to be universally acknowledged as gospel reality these times. I just can’t imagine of a one marketer I’ve satisfied in the earlier various decades who has not embraced the values of adaptability, finding out from experimentation, iterative enhancement, cross-staff collaboration, larger visibility into operate-in-flight, team empowerment, and so forth.

Marketing and advertising has turn into an agile profession. Total cease.

Agile Marketing Practices

Traditional agile techniques — such as sprints, daily standups, kanban boards, and many others. — also appear to be to have proliferated widely. Although in a lot of situations, they’ve morphed from their authentic form. We’ll appear again to that in a minute, as I think it’s the twist of publish-agile.

But the labels? Not so considerably. I pretty hardly ever listen to the conditions sprint, standup, or kanban in marketing and advertising conversations. Even “agile marketing” as a time period arises less commonly than it seemed a few of several years back.

Agile advertising vs. agile enhancement trends

A few of charts from Google Developments aid illustrate what is going on right here. First, let’s just glimpse at the development of the look for time period “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart demonstrates relative search volume for this phrase above the earlier 18 years. You can see that it peaked about 2017. (A calendar year just after the release of Hacking Internet marketing. Coincidence?) Considering that then, it’s experienced fluctations up and down. But it mainly strike a ceiling.

To get a superior sense of how significantly absolute look for quantity there is for agile internet marketing, you have to have to review it from a different pattern. So let’s look at it against its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two items pop suitable out. Very first, agile marketing has attained only a small fraction of the mindshare that agile growth ever did. Next, curiosity in agile growth has steadily declined because 2010. It’s about 1/4 of the quantity it was at its peak.

What took place in 2010? The increase of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

Certainly, DevOps became the huge that stood on the shoulders of agile progress. Its level of popularity has dwarfed agile improvement, even from its heyday. And compared to those two, agile marketing would scarcely even sign-up on the scale.

But it’s significant to note that DevOps arose from Agile. To estimate its Wikipedia post:

“Agile growth teams… could not ‘satisfy the purchaser through early and continual supply of useful software’ except they subsumed the functions / infrastructure responsibilities involved with their programs, numerous of which they automated.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the methods enhancement lifecycle and supply constant delivery with large software program high quality.” What is constant integration/ongoing deployment (CI/CD) if not the final mechanism for offering iterative computer software enhancement?

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

The plummeting fees of “shipping” in the cloud

To be obvious, DevOps is not an agile management methodology. It is not even an “ops” team (in most circumstances) like other ops features, this sort of as advertising ops. Alternatively, it is a established of techniques, processes, and technology that builders use to ship software speedily, iteratively, and safely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes constructing and deploying software, but selecting what to develop and when however desires to take place at a stage previously mentioned that. In idea, agile improvement methodologies this kind of as Scrum can give the framework for these decisions. But most dev groups I know do not explicitly use individuals methodologies any longer. Most have invented their individual course of action, pulling principles from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev challenge administration tools such as Jira.

My choose: DevOps — and extra broadly, the cloud — has drastically diminished the charges of iteratively establishing software package. Back in the times when agile methodologies this kind of as Scrum ended up developed, the costs and complexities of shipping and delivery have been considerably higher. The rigid composition of Scrum was an efficient and required way to control that. Now in a excellent DevOps atmosphere? Not as required?

Which is not to say that method, planning, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration needed all over them aren’t important. They are as essential to success as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as important?

(Enable the flames from ardent agile advocates commence.)

Is there a DevOps equal in marketing?

Marketing ops is a diverse type of creature that DevOps. For 1, it is a role/staff within the marketing and advertising org, rather than a exercise/procedure that all marketers use.

However there is some shared DNA. In quite a few strategies, advertising ops teams purpose as a DevOps-like enabler for marketers to be capable to “ship” advertising and marketing rapidly, iteratively, and properly. Marketing ops manages the tech stack and procedures to permit that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

However with the rise of extra and a lot more no-code abilities across martech, marketing and advertising ops is also empowering entrepreneurs with more and far more self-services capabilities. Just as software deployment ops got “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into much more developers’ palms with DevOps, a lot more abilities to execute internet marketing — both equally interior and exterior internet marketing “deployments” — are staying shifted into the fingers of typical marketers.

I really do not know that there’s a title for this phenomenon. It is a sort of democratization of specified facets of marketing ops. (Preferably under the advice, governance, and guardrails of the expert marketing ops team.) But it is more and more analogous to DevOps. Additional men and women can ship more internet marketing, swiftly, simply, and properly.

Just as with software program, approach, arranging, roadmaps, prioritization, workforce coordination and collaboration are necessary to efficiently harness this dispersed electricity of creation. But just as likewise, the prices in deploying most forms of internet marketing have dropped drastically around the previous decade. This has established additional slack in the advertising and marketing generation system, which has built rigid agile advertising methodologies… not as essential?

(Honestly posed as a problem, not a declaration.)

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

Talking of slack, or, um, Slack, the past 10 decades has also introduced an explosion of innovation in operate communications and collaboration merchandise. For occasion, Slack and Microsoft Teams have develop into ubiquitous — along with a complete ecosystem of apps that lengthen and combine with them. A new era of function management platforms, this kind of as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for marketers) Workfront, deliver larger structure and visibility into elaborate, quickly-transferring priorities, assignments, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Indeed, the Administration category of the martech landscape had the largest share development from 2020 to 2022.

These equipment have experienced a important impression on how do the job receives finished. A lot of of them embed or help agile (lowercase “a”) tactics. Virtually none of them use the terminology of agile promoting methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, operate-in-progress management, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

In the meantime, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Wonderful Migration to Distant Work — have proficiently killed replaced the day by day stand-up for most teams.

But it’s not that the underlying principle of stand-ups has gone away. On the opposite, these crew communications platforms usually make it easier for groups to stay linked throughout the day in a reasonably small-impact fashion. Challenges that arise can be addressed quicker than waiting around for the next stand-up in a mounted time window that more and more fails to align with the schedules of dispersed group users.

Hey, I’m however a large admirer of in-human being collaboration, and I agree something is missing without the need of it. But other things are acquired. And for improved and worse, distant and hybrid groups are the new regular. In this brave new entire world, Slack and Groups are a improved fit than everyday stand-ups for quite a few.

And it’s not just technological know-how. Administration approaches that I believe of as “point solutions” for distinct demands — in distinction to a whole suite of techniques, as with official agile promoting — have been popularized for improved cross-practical collaboration (e.g., pods exterior the context of formal agile) and multi-occasion final decision-generating (e.g., DARCI versions).

The net result? Marketing and advertising groups are turning out to be more and extra agile.

They just don’t automatically consider of their tactics as formal “agile promoting.”

From agile marketing to… advertising?

No matter what happened to digital internet marketing? It became advertising and marketing.

Not for the reason that internet marketing turned less digital. Rather the reverse. Digital grew to become so embedded in almost everything entrepreneurs were being executing that the label of the profession reverted to the suggest: promoting. I’d connect with that a victory for the digital advertising and marketing movement, not defeat.

Equally, is agile advertising and marketing simply just becoming… internet marketing?

Probably “agile marketing” will restart its progress as an specific motion. Or probably it will be replaced by some recently named methodology that is closer to what DevOps has turn into in the program growth job. Or maybe is just turns into implicit in how modern day advertising groups operate.

Agile is as agile does.

Regardless, I even now think there is a large option for training internet marketing teams how to best harness all these platforms, techniques, and processes. There is under no circumstances been much more demand from customers for assisting advertising and marketing groups reach peak efficiency through excellent training, enablement, consulting, and advisory companies in today’s surroundings.

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