Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of details and matters from right before #MartechDay previously this month — which highlighted the 2022 marketing and advertising technological innovation landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the leading of my checklist is the newest Condition of Agile Internet marketing report from AgileSherpas.

As normally, this is a wonderful, complete report on how and why agile methodologies are being made use of in advertising. You can see from the chart above that agile has located its way into a extensive assortment of internet marketing activities: advertising functions, imaginative companies, web-site functions, social media, promoting, and many others.

It is even currently being applied (30%) in functions advertising, which has long been the go-to instance for skeptics: “Oh, agile could under no circumstances do the job for functions.” (To be honest, in a digital/hybrid celebration world, the pacing and adaptability of gatherings promoting has increased noticeably.)

But unlike past year, when 51% of members reported making use of agile internet marketing, this time only 43% did. That’s close to the 42% from 2020. Is agile marketing and advertising backsliding?

Of study course, the most noticeable disclaimer is the study sample. Even with 513 marketers participating in this latest survey, it’s however a really smaller subset of the diverse marketing and advertising universe and no question topic to the ebbs and flows of selection bias.

But still. Soon after just about 15 many years of advocacy for agile advertising and marketing, the momentum of this motion seems… stalled?

Agile marketing concepts, practices & labels

The rules of agile advertising and marketing, on the other hand, seem to be to be universally approved as gospel truth of the matter these days. I simply cannot imagine of a solitary marketer I’ve achieved in the earlier many many years who hasn’t embraced the values of adaptability, mastering from experimentation, iterative enhancement, cross-staff collaboration, higher visibility into operate-in-flight, crew empowerment, and so on.

Marketing and advertising has grow to be an agile profession. Total end.

Agile Marketing Practices

Classic agile procedures — these as sprints, day-to-day standups, kanban boards, and so on. — also seem to have proliferated widely. Although in quite a few cases, they’ve morphed from their authentic form. We’ll appear back to that in a minute, as I imagine it is the twist of publish-agile.

But the labels? Not so a lot. I really rarely listen to the terms dash, standup, or kanban in advertising discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a phrase occurs considerably less commonly than it seemed a few of a long time in the past.

Agile marketing and advertising vs. agile advancement trends

A pair of charts from Google Developments assist illustrate what is taking place below. Initial, let us just appear at the advancement of the look for term “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart demonstrates relative lookup volume for this phrase in excess of the past 18 decades. You can see that it peaked all around 2017. (A 12 months soon after the launch of Hacking Internet marketing. Coincidence?) Because then, it is had fluctations up and down. But it largely strike a ceiling.

To get a greater perception of how considerably complete lookup quantity there is for agile internet marketing, you want to look at it from yet another craze. So let us review it in opposition to its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two items pop suitable out. 1st, agile internet marketing has achieved only a very small portion of the mindshare that agile development ever did. 2nd, interest in agile growth has steadily declined given that 2010. It’s all around 1/4 of the volume it was at its peak.

What took place in 2010? The increase of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

Indeed, DevOps grew to become the giant that stood on the shoulders of agile advancement. Its recognition has dwarfed agile advancement, even from its heyday. And in comparison to those people two, agile internet marketing would barely even sign up on the scale.

But it’s vital to observe that DevOps arose from Agile. To quotation its Wikipedia report:

“Agile improvement teams… couldn’t ‘satisfy the consumer by way of early and steady delivery of precious software’ except they subsumed the operations / infrastructure duties linked with their apps, numerous of which they automated.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the systems improvement lifecycle and supply ongoing shipping with superior software quality.” What is continuous integration/steady deployment (CI/CD) if not the supreme mechanism for providing iterative computer software advancement?

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

The plummeting expenses of “shipping” in the cloud

To be distinct, DevOps is not an agile management methodology. It is not even an “ops” crew (in most scenarios) like other ops features, this kind of as promoting ops. Rather, it is a established of methods, procedures, and engineering that builders use to ship software package rapidly, iteratively, and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes developing and deploying program, but selecting what to build and when however requires to come about at a level earlier mentioned that. In theory, agile growth methodologies these as Scrum can deliver the framework for people selections. But most dev teams I know don’t explicitly use individuals methodologies any longer. Most have invented their possess procedure, pulling principles from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev job administration resources these types of as Jira.

My take: DevOps — and additional broadly, the cloud — has drastically minimized the prices of iteratively creating software program. Back again in the days when agile methodologies these types of as Scrum have been established, the charges and complexities of shipping and delivery have been much bigger. The rigid structure of Scrum was an powerful and important way to handle that. Nowadays in a great DevOps atmosphere? Not as essential?

That’s not to say that method, setting up, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration expected around them aren’t required. They’re as important to accomplishment as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as essential?

(Allow the flames from ardent agile advocates start.)

Is there a DevOps equivalent in internet marketing?

Advertising ops is a distinctive variety of creature that DevOps. For a person, it is a job/staff inside of the advertising and marketing org, alternatively than a apply/process that all marketers use.

However there is some shared DNA. In a lot of strategies, advertising ops groups function as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be ready to “ship” marketing rapidly, iteratively, and safely and securely. Marketing ops manages the tech stack and procedures to allow that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

But with the rise of far more and much more no-code capabilities throughout martech, marketing and advertising ops is also empowering entrepreneurs with more and a lot more self-support capabilities. Just as program deployment ops received “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into a lot more developers’ fingers with DevOps, more capabilities to execute marketing and advertising — each inside and external promoting “deployments” — are being shifted into the fingers of basic entrepreneurs.

I really do not know that there is a identify for this phenomenon. It’s a sort of democratization of selected sides of marketing ops. (Ideally below the advice, governance, and guardrails of the skilled promoting ops group.) But it is more and more analogous to DevOps. Much more men and women can ship additional internet marketing, swiftly, easily, and safely.

Just as with computer software, system, arranging, roadmaps, prioritization, team coordination and collaboration are critical to proficiently harness this dispersed energy of development. But just as likewise, the fees in deploying most types of internet marketing have dropped radically around the previous ten years. This has created extra slack in the internet marketing production process, which has built rigid agile advertising and marketing methodologies… not as necessary?

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

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

Speaking of slack, or, um, Slack, the previous 10 a long time has also brought an explosion of innovation in perform communications and collaboration products and solutions. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Groups have come to be ubiquitous — alongside with a entire ecosystem of apps that prolong and combine with them. A new era of work management platforms, these types of as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for marketers) Workfront, present better structure and visibility into intricate, rapid-moving priorities, projects, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Indeed, the Administration group of the martech landscape had the most significant percentage growth from 2020 to 2022.

These equipment have experienced a major influence on how get the job done will get performed. Lots of of them embed or help agile (lowercase “a”) tactics. Virtually none of them use the terminology of agile internet marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, operate-in-progress administration, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Wonderful Migration to Remote Perform — have successfully killed changed the daily stand-up for most teams.

But it’s not that the underlying basic principle of stand-ups has gone absent. On the contrary, these staff communications platforms frequently make it easier for teams to keep connected all over the day in a rather lower-impression way. Challenges that crop up can be tackled more quickly than waiting around for the up coming stand-up in a fixed time window that ever more fails to align with the schedules of dispersed group members.

Hey, I’m continue to a massive lover of in-person collaboration, and I agree something is shed without the need of it. But other matters are obtained. And for much better and even worse, distant and hybrid teams are the new standard. In this courageous new environment, Slack and Groups are a superior suit than each day stand-ups for several.

And it’s not just technology. Administration procedures that I consider of as “point solutions” for precise requirements — in contrast to a whole suite of techniques, as with official agile advertising and marketing — have been popularized for greater cross-functional collaboration (e.g., pods outdoors the context of official agile) and multi-party determination-producing (e.g., DARCI products).

The net result? Marketing groups are turning into extra and additional agile.

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

From agile advertising and marketing to… internet marketing?

Regardless of what occurred to digital advertising? It turned advertising.

Not simply because promoting became fewer electronic. Quite the reverse. Digital became so embedded in everything marketers ended up undertaking that the label of the profession reverted to the mean: advertising and marketing. I’d contact that a victory for the electronic advertising motion, not defeat.

In the same way, is agile internet marketing simply becoming… promoting?

It’s possible “agile marketing” will restart its progress as an specific movement. Or perhaps it will be replaced by some newly named methodology that is closer to what DevOps has turn out to be in the software program development profession. Or perhaps is just results in being implicit in how contemporary advertising teams run.

Agile is as agile does.

No matter, I even now believe that there is a large opportunity for training advertising groups how to most effective harness all these platforms, methods, and processes. There is by no means been much more desire for supporting promoting teams achieve peak overall performance by means of fantastic training, enablement, consulting, and advisory products and services in today’s environment.

Does the title we contact it seriously make any difference?

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