Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Irene L. Joffman

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of facts and matters from prior to #MartechDay previously this month — which highlighted the 2022 internet marketing technological innovation landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the top rated of my record is the most current Condition of Agile Marketing and advertising report from AgileSherpas.

As constantly, this is a marvelous, comprehensive report on how and why agile methodologies are being made use of in advertising and marketing. You can see from the chart previously mentioned that agile has located its way into a broad assortment of marketing actions: marketing operations, creative products and services, site operations, social media, promoting, and many others.

It’s even remaining used (30%) in events marketing and advertising, which has very long been the go-to case in point for skeptics: “Oh, agile could under no circumstances function for gatherings.” (To be reasonable, in a virtual/hybrid occasion planet, the pacing and adaptability of situations advertising has greater considerably.)

But compared with final calendar year, when 51% of contributors described working with agile internet marketing, this time only 43% did. Which is near to the 42% from 2020. Is agile internet marketing backsliding?

Of study course, the most obvious disclaimer is the survey sample. Even with 513 entrepreneurs collaborating in this hottest survey, it is nevertheless a really little subset of the numerous internet marketing universe and no question subject to the ebbs and flows of choice bias.

But even now. After approximately 15 many years of advocacy for agile marketing and advertising, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile promoting concepts, procedures & labels

The principles of agile advertising, even so, seem to be universally accepted as gospel real truth these times. I simply cannot think of a one marketer I have met in the earlier several a long time who hasn’t embraced the values of adaptability, studying from experimentation, iterative enhancement, cross-team collaboration, higher visibility into do the job-in-flight, team empowerment, etc.

Marketing and advertising has turn out to be an agile profession. Whole end.

Agile Marketing Practices

Common agile methods — these kinds of as sprints, day-to-day standups, kanban boards, etc. — also seem to be to have proliferated greatly. While in numerous cases, they’ve morphed from their primary form. We’ll arrive back again to that in a moment, as I think it is the twist of article-agile.

But the labels? Not so significantly. I quite seldom listen to the conditions dash, standup, or kanban in internet marketing discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a phrase occurs less frequently than it seemed a pair of many years in the past.

Agile promoting vs. agile progress traits

A pair of charts from Google Developments assist illustrate what is occurring in this article. First, let us just seem at the development of the search time period “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart reveals relative research volume for this phrase above the previous 18 yrs. You can see that it peaked all over 2017. (A year right after the launch of Hacking Marketing and advertising. Coincidence?) Because then, it’s had fluctations up and down. But it mostly hit a ceiling.

To get a better feeling of how much absolute lookup volume there is for agile promoting, you will need to evaluate it against one more development. So let us examine it versus its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two issues pop correct out. Initially, agile promoting has attained only a very small portion of the mindshare that agile advancement ever did. Second, curiosity in agile improvement has steadily declined given that 2010. It’s all-around 1/4 of the volume it was at its peak.

What happened in 2010? The rise of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

In truth, DevOps turned the giant that stood on the shoulders of agile improvement. Its acceptance has dwarfed agile enhancement, even from its heyday. And in comparison to individuals two, agile advertising and marketing would scarcely even sign-up on the scale.

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

“Agile improvement teams… couldn’t ‘satisfy the shopper by way of early and constant shipping and delivery of precious software’ unless they subsumed the functions / infrastructure tasks involved with their apps, lots of of which they automated.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the techniques growth lifecycle and present constant supply with substantial program good quality.” What is steady integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) if not the greatest system for providing iterative application progress?

As Forrest Gump might 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’s not even an “ops” workforce (in most instances) like other ops functions, these kinds of as promoting ops. Fairly, it’s a established of techniques, procedures, and technology that developers use to ship software package immediately, iteratively, and safely and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes constructing and deploying software program, but choosing what to create and when nonetheless desires to transpire at a level above that. In concept, agile enhancement methodologies these types of as Scrum can present the framework for those selections. But most dev groups I know never explicitly use people methodologies anymore. Most have invented their individual procedure, pulling concepts from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev job management resources these types of as Jira.

My just take: DevOps — and more broadly, the cloud — has substantially diminished the prices of iteratively building software program. Back again in the days when agile methodologies these kinds of as Scrum had been designed, the prices and complexities of delivery ended up much better. The rigid construction of Scrum was an successful and needed way to regulate that. Currently in a great DevOps setting? Not as necessary?

That’s not to say that tactic, planning, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration essential all-around them are not necessary. They’re as crucial to achievement as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as important?

(Permit the flames from ardent agile advocates begin.)

Is there a DevOps equal in marketing and advertising?

Marketing ops is a different type of creature that DevOps. For a person, it is a position/workforce in just the advertising and marketing org, relatively than a practice/course of action that all marketers use.

However there is some shared DNA. In several approaches, internet marketing ops groups purpose as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be in a position to “ship” marketing and advertising quickly, iteratively, and securely. Advertising ops manages the tech stack and procedures to permit that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

Nevertheless with the rise of much more and extra no-code abilities across martech, promoting ops is also empowering entrepreneurs with a lot more and far more self-services abilities. Just as software deployment ops obtained “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into a lot more developers’ fingers with DevOps, a lot more abilities to execute advertising — both of those inside and exterior marketing and advertising “deployments” — are getting shifted into the palms of normal marketers.

I really do not know that there’s a identify for this phenomenon. It is a type of democratization of certain facets of marketing and advertising ops. (Ideally underneath the guidance, governance, and guardrails of the specialist marketing ops workforce.) But it is more and more analogous to DevOps. Much more folks can ship a lot more advertising, quickly, conveniently, and securely.

Just as with computer software, system, arranging, roadmaps, prioritization, crew coordination and collaboration are critical to efficiently harness this distributed electricity of creation. But just as similarly, the fees in deploying most sorts of advertising and marketing have dropped radically above the earlier decade. This has made extra slack in the advertising creation procedure, which has designed rigid agile advertising and marketing methodologies… not as necessary?

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

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

Talking of slack, or, um, Slack, the earlier 10 a long time has also brought an explosion of innovation in get the job done communications and collaboration products. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Groups have become ubiquitous — together with a full ecosystem of apps that lengthen and integrate with them. A new generation of operate management platforms, this kind of as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for marketers) Workfront, supply higher composition and visibility into intricate, speedy-moving priorities, initiatives, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Certainly, the Administration class of the martech landscape experienced the most significant proportion progress from 2020 to 2022.

These equipment have experienced a important effects on how operate will get accomplished. Many of them embed or allow agile (lowercase “a”) techniques. Virtually none of them use the terminology of agile advertising and marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, work-in-development management, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

In the meantime, I’d say that Slack and Teams — accelerated by the Fantastic Migration to Remote Perform — have correctly killed changed the day by day stand-up for most teams.

But it is not that the fundamental theory of stand-ups has absent away. On the contrary, these team communications platforms normally make it much easier for groups to continue to be related throughout the working day in a somewhat small-effect method. Issues that come up can be resolved more rapidly than ready for the following stand-up in a fastened time window that progressively fails to align with the schedules of distributed group users.

Hey, I’m however a enormous lover of in-particular person collaboration, and I concur one thing is missing without it. But other matters are received. And for greater and worse, remote and hybrid groups are the new typical. In this courageous new planet, Slack and Groups are a better match than every day stand-ups for lots of.

And it is not just engineering. Management approaches that I believe of as “point solutions” for specific requires — in contrast to a entire suite of techniques, as with formal agile advertising and marketing — have been popularized for better cross-purposeful collaboration (e.g., pods outside the context of official agile) and multi-social gathering choice-building (e.g., DARCI products).

The net influence? Advertising teams are becoming far more and additional agile.

They just really don’t automatically consider of their procedures as formal “agile marketing.”

From agile marketing and advertising to… marketing?

Whatsoever took place to electronic advertising and marketing? It became marketing and advertising.

Not for the reason that marketing grew to become less digital. Rather the opposite. Digital became so embedded in all the things entrepreneurs were being undertaking that the label of the occupation reverted to the suggest: internet marketing. I’d contact that a victory for the electronic promoting motion, not defeat.

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

It’s possible “agile marketing” will restart its advancement as an specific motion. Or it’s possible it will be replaced by some recently named methodology that is nearer to what DevOps has grow to be in the software package improvement occupation. Or perhaps is just will become implicit in how contemporary promoting groups operate.

Agile is as agile does.

Irrespective, I however imagine there is a huge prospect for teaching marketing groups how to very best harness all these platforms, methods, and processes. There’s by no means been extra demand for aiding marketing teams reach peak general performance as a result of fantastic teaching, enablement, consulting, and advisory companies in today’s atmosphere.

Does the name we simply call it actually make a difference?

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