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Everyone wants to be agile these days. Whether it's a bunch of senior execs in a boardroom, or a group of super software gurus in an “idea space” full of Nerf balls, or anyone in between. Things just move too fast and we need to adjust on the fly.

So how does marketing get agile? 

While everyone’s situation is different, there are some common, nearly universal tenets:

  • Know what you want to do and set clear goals and the right measures
  • Figure out how to get it done in at least an 80 percent good way on a platform that allows quick changes
  • Eliminate as much of the waste in your process as possible
  • Get started and measure as you go, not after it’s done
  • Make quick shifts to improve your final result, not big shifts after your final results are in

While these are all pretty straightforward, it’s how a Marketing team implements them that is the challenge.

Agile marketing programs need quick feedback and the ability to measure, adjust and realign. Digital marketing fits those needs, as well as offering some of the best measurement opportunities.

Goals and Benchmarks

Being results-oriented, and choosing the right results is the difference between success and abject failure. Align goals to a program's business goal. Downloads don’t mean anything if all of the downloaders are tire kickers, or worse, read your materials and end up going to a competitor.

Pick a big, small and micro measures. Such as:

  • Big: Drive 50 leads into the sales funnel
  • Small: 1,000 people open a promotional email, 200 people download a white paper, 100 people view a video
  • Micro: 10 percent of people that buy product X used our comparison guide, 8 percent of new clients reviewed our products on an iPhone or Android device

There are many ways to get to 50 new leads and by adjusting strategies at the big, small and micro levels you create onramps and/or redundancies to drive a better chance of success.

80% Good is Better Than 100% Never

It’s an old saying, but it’s especially true in the world of digital marketing. No piece of online content is perfect, and no placement of that content is optimal. But getting a program launched gives you a chance to measure and adjust. So while that partner website or social media channel might not be ideal, it's better than nothing and gives you a chance to improve the next iteration. We do first drafts so we can get to second drafts.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

The archenemy of agility is extra steps. If the marketing team can’t initiate, implement and change a program and have to rely on IT or other groups to get things done that creates drag. Every day waiting for an IT partner to put up a landing page, change a form or update a piece of web content is a day your audience isn’t seeing your message or participating in your program. Marketing will never be 100 percent self-sufficient, especially when it comes to technology, but the more you can push down the line on what is needed from IT, the more agile you’ll be.

The Check Engine Light is There for a Reason …

Just like you don’t wait for your engine to blow up before going to the mechanic, you don’t wait for your marketing program to fail before you adjust your approach. Use your small measures early and often.

Who is coming to your site? How can you identify them into personas and groups? What content do they find valuable? Should you retire that old product brochure because no one looks at it, or create more client videos because 45 percent of decision makers that watch it buy something?

The more “in process” measurement and visibility you have will enable you to fine tune your approach and get your marketing engine running better.

Tacking Gets You There Quicker

Sailboats seldom take a straight line to get somewhere and neither should marketers. The winds of the market, competitors and the whims of prospective clients are never all at your back. By making small adjustments during a program results will come faster, and the digital marketing world makes that possible.

Title image by Stefano Tinti / Shutterstock.com