With the business world — and the world at large, for that matter — changing at what feels like a moment’s notice, businesses and brands have never been required to be as limber as in this current moment. Marketing leaders want hard evidence and objective facts for decision making.
It wasn’t long ago that multi-touch attribution was the prized child of the hype cycle among marketers — the new technology that brands were glomming onto in the hope it could give them the keen insight they needed into consumer behavior.
However, last year multi-touch attribution hit what felt like the low point in its steadily downward path of disillusionment, even among those who were once its most vocal champion, leading to the need for a new solution. Multi-touch attribution had the lowest net promoter score of any current marketing technology, according to the Mobile Marketing Association.
To be blunt, it’s getting trashed across the board. Some brands are sticking by it. “We invested in this, it’s kind of what we know, and we know it’s got all these problems but it’s the devil we know,” they reason. However, they are in a shrinking minority.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who is going to go to the mat for multi-click attribution, saying “This is the way.” Even companies that offer multi-touch attribution as one of their products are starting to tap dance around it. There’s pretty ample evidence that it’s on some shaky ground.
Now more than ever, when it comes to thinking about advanced analytics or models to tell the story, marketers want to go beyond the click to make the case for certain kinds of investments.
What now, then? Where do marketers head from here? The answer is to employ agile marketing techniques in a rapidly evolving world. To that end, teams that employ agile marketing techniques, culled from some of the most successful technology companies, will be best suited to attack with speed and low risk, as well as improved measurement and intelligence.
For the uninitiated, agile marketing derives from agile software development methodology. Its core tenets include rapid iterations, frequent testing, collaboration and planning with small teams, and utilizing a strong foundation of measurement.
Agile marketing allows companies to get to market fast with viable and valuable customer offerings; rapid tests and measurements; less risky and expensive bets; and a feedback cycle for continuous improvement and cross-channel measurement approaches.
There is a recognition that when agile marketing efforts are put into place, both speed and flexibility are essential. This approach may not come as naturally to some companies as others. E-commerce brands have an advantage in this area — it’s in their DNA. They’re tech-first, which is why they often run circles around larger brands.
It’s the ability to move faster that allows their marketing teams to be more agile and to move faster and have more flexibility from the start. More traditional-minded brands are catching up, but it’s only because there’s a growing concern that if they don’t act fast their more nimble competitors are going to run circles around them.
Often it comes down to organizational structure as to whether agile marketing techniques will thrive at a particular company. Case management, its process of accountability, ownership — all must be in place for a brand to succeed with a more agile approach.
Consider the way it relates to structure. If a company traditionally has allowed its digital team to operate independently and budget separately, for example, or perhaps allowed brand reporting to exist outside teams working on more traditional media, then it may be setting itself up for a food fight and an internal political battle when a more streamlined approach is adopted.
In this sense then, it’s about not putting the cart ahead of the horse. An organizational change needs to be employed across the board with a more streamlined approach before a company can take advantage of a more agile technology opportunity that allows faster movement.
Furthermore, many companies have shifted hiring practices to adapt more easily to agile marketing approaches. Finance-driven organizations actually have an easier time in this regard because they’re used to driving accountability around data and a clear set of numbers. You often see this in insurance companies as that’s how they’ve long operated.
By contrast, a sales or brand-driven culture may not be prepared for that kind of mindset. There may be more homework to do in terms of how the marketing team organizes and how it aligns around decisions.
At some companies, new roles are emerging, and the most prized member of the marketing team actually has a hybrid of marketing and finance experience. We’ll call it “performance marketing.”
Having this in place is often a good signal that a company has recognized the need for this process change and has begun formalizing roles around it. That’s a good signal that a company is making the right moves to set itself up for more agile and flexible marketing measurement and decisioning.
How can a marketing team become agile? To do so, it must consider three primary areas: creating a scrum team, rapid test and measurement cycles, and scaling with a measurement foundation.
Creating a scrum team is essential to an agile marketing approach. This team consists of three to five people who plan, execute and measure results. The basic roles on the team are the marketing owner, who owns market and business strategy inputs and is the voice of the consumer; the scrum master, who is actively involved in planning, coaching and facilitating the marketing process; and additional team members, who comprise creative, design, marketing operations and analytics.
Once the scrum team has been assembled, the focus turns to minimally viable campaigns (MVCs) that align with business goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). Rather than going with big bets, two-week “agile sprints” are key. They allow a team to run fast-paced in-market execution and tests to identify winning approaches that can be transformed into full-scale efforts. Most importantly, this approach minimizes time and expense on losing propositions.
Last, agile marketers rely on a foundation of robust, flexible cross-channel measurement — a measurement system that can keep pace and account for full cross-channel contribution of any effort.
Still, transforming a business, and specifically its marketing arm, into a more agile organization likely generally does not happen overnight. Luckily, many e-commerce businesses are ahead of the curve in this matter and primed to use this advantage against their slower competition.
With cross-channel measurement, speed of insight, actionable guidance, agile budget planning and optimization, a business quickly can transform a lackluster marketing effort into a high-efficiency and agile one.