The trends of plateauing marketing budgets and shrinking teams will be a long-term reality for marketers throughout 2021, forcing all brands — from enterprises to SMBs — to prioritize agility. Marketing agility is an approach where teams identify and focus their collective efforts on high-value projects in a collaborative manner. The most critical aspect of agility ensures efforts drive real, impactful business results. In order to create a fully agile workflow, marketers need to adjust and optimize their technology investments, marketing mix, messaging and collateral.
To help organizations understand the best ways to put agility first in 2021, I turned to my industry colleagues to discuss what marketers should prioritize and the role they see agility playing.
According to Jennifer Sabin, Director of Content Marketing at Capacity:
“This year, agile marketing will be the cornerstone of successful marketing strategies and productive teams. Marketers across the globe want to remain in control of their brand’s messaging and positioning while being prepared for all potential roadblocks. Agile marketing does just that.
“This foundational organization structure allows teams to easily see and celebrate individual wins and team successes. Ensuring your team is productive but not too busy will shape the culture, workload and progress of your marketing initiatives. Agile marketing is a tool all teams should consider in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing landscape.”
On the topic of embracing change, Kelly Cooper, Director of Growth Marketing at Moz, explains:
“2020 forced companies, teams and individual marketers to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. When faced with the unpredictable, flexibility and the ability to move quickly — cornerstones of an agile marketing approach — emerge as requirements for success. With an agile approach to marketing, our team was able to increase efficiency.
“We tested and learned quickly, then used those learnings to ruthlessly prioritize the tactics that generated real business results vs. expending valuable resources on ineffective methods. An agile marketing strategy will continue to be important as we dive in to 2021. Teams that are encouraged and empowered to evolve with ever-changing market circumstances will have a competitive advantage over those organizations less willing — or just slower — to embrace change.”
When it comes to leveling up marketing efforts with new martech, PFL’s President Nick Runyon explains:
“Don’t go from zero to multichannel campaign orchestration overnight — start with basic marketing, then layer in additional channels and more personalization. Marketing automation technologies make it easy to iterate as you go.
“It’s easy to overthink agile methodology, but agile is best boiled down to starting simple and iterating. Think about it in terms of crawling, walking and then running. With tactile marketing automation, for example, you can use intent data to customize the content and timing of direct mail in real-time.”
To fuel agile efforts with real-time data, Latané Conant, CMO at 6sense, adds:
“Agile is all about being able to find the red thread, test new ideas and solutions and rapidly iterate on marketing programs to drive business results, which doesn’t happen effectively without real-time data insights. Marketing teams with access to AI-powered data and predictive analytics are not only agile, but also 10 steps ahead of their competitors.”
In terms of incorporating versatility into the marketing mix, Brian Wilson, CRO at SlickText, says:
“It’s critical to integrate channels with multiple capabilities. We’re seeing more cross-channel integrated tactics and, in order for marketers to keep pace with these changes, they need to ensure every channel they use can meet a variety of their campaign needs. Using text marketing, for example, gives marketers a lot of options to work with. Anything from surveys to re-engagement campaigns can be accomplished at a moment’s notice with great impact.”
Bridget Johnston, Senior Marketing Manager at Pattern89, explains that accessible data drives creativity because:
“The best creative ideas are informed by data, and the richest data is informed by lots of creative ideas. The only way to succeed is to embrace both, not just one.
“While campaigns are in progress, we should study their successes and failures to determine next steps. Those decisions can be applied to that campaign and future projects. This agile approach to marketing allows us to constantly learn, iterate and improve our work in small ways. Luckily, access to data, using the right tools and working with agile-minded team members, can make this approach to marketing easy and seamless.”
Companies who starve their marketing efforts are setting themselves up to fail. Instead, businesses need to invest in a fully agile marketing mix incorporating “difference-making” automation technology and insight-driven communication channels. It’s why Forrester predicts marketing automation platforms will grow 3%, despite an overall decline in marketing technology. In order to put agile first and make it a cornerstone for 2021 marketing efforts and workflow, a proper marketing mix needs to be in place that prioritizes data and versatile, insight-driven channels.
Melissa Sargeant is the CMO at Litmus, where she runs worldwide marketing initiatives including corporate and product branding, demand generation, product marketing, public relations and event management. Prior to Litmus, Melissa was CMO at customer experience leader SugarCRM and at E-commerce innovator ChannelAdvisor. With more than 30 years of marketing experience in the tech sector, she has expertise in SaaS go-to-market strategy and execution, customer success, digital demand generation and branding.