blog overview
MKT vs DEV
Romek Jansen, 22 Dec '15

How to Define Agile Marketing Success

In Agile Development the main question is “Did we deliver the features?” In Agile Marketing it should be “Did we change customer behavior?”

By applying Agile principles to marketing you can speed up execution and maintain organizational flexibility. Today, both speed and flexibility are top priorities for management and compelling reasons to “go Agile” for your marketing team to. But ‘going agile’ is not always easy. You might not thrive right out of the gate, or not ever. We believe marketers will have to work with a Definition-of-Success to succeed.

There are some fundamental differences between how software development teams are run and how marketing teams are managed. As a result, not all agile software development routines can simply be copy & pasted from Software to Marketing and remain relevant. In some areas there is a match made in heaven, in some areas there just isn’t a match. And in yet other areas it needs tweaking to become useful for marketing too.

We identified 6 fundamental differences between the nature of Agile Marketing and Agile Development and will blog about each one over the next six weeks. The first topic is the success measurement of a sprint.

Agile is dressed for success

In general, value creation is anchored in the genes of Agile. The entire focus of Agile is to create business value and to do so in the fastest way possible. If you start working with concepts like Prioritized Backlogs, Sprints, Sprint Goals and Sprint Retrospectives it will become evident that value creation is embedded wherever you look. Let’s do a quick recap…

The Product Backlog

A Product Backlog is a prioritized list of work or items to be done. It is derived from the roadmap and its requirements. The value of the single items is estimated by the product owner, who continuously ranks the backlog to keep it up to date. The items with the highest value are usually picked from the product backlog and included in the next Sprint.

The Sprint

A Sprint is a set period of time during which specific work has to be completed. The result of a sprint should be a “potentially shippable increment”; a set of deliverables about which the teams feel confident they create value for the customer and which adhere to quality standards stated in the Acceptance Criteria.

The Sprint Goal

The “Scrum Guide” tells us that every Sprint should have a Sprint goal. It provides guidance to the Development Team as to why it is building the Increment. The Sprint Goal gives the Development Team some flexibility regarding the functionality to be realized in the Sprint.

The Sprint Retrospective

Another Agile tool is the “Restrospective” which is kind of a “lessons learned”meeting. The team reflects on how everything went and then decides on what changes they want to make for the next iteration. The retrospective is team-driven, and team members should decide together how the meetings are run and how decisions about improvements are made.

In summary, agile is dressed for success. The Backlog ranks value to the customer, the Sprint guarantees quick delivery, the Sprint Goal gives context and allows the team to be flexible and the Retrospective enables the team to improve its performance as a group for the next Sprint.

So, what is missing…

Consumers vote with their wallets

In the agile concepts summarized above, all value estimations are done BEFORE the Sprint is executed. But marketers need more; they need a check with reality. The Product owner can estimate the value, the Sprint team can agree on improving procedures for the future, but at the end the only marketing metric that really matters is, “is the prospect or customer willing to change behavior and pay”. Agile Marketers are only done when they successfully changed customer behavior. Not before. A definition of which change in customer behavior is considered to be a success, brings clarity to the agile marketing team.

In development the main question is “Did we deliver the features?”

In agile development, the team is responsible for making the software work in a “usable” manner (UX wise). The team is not responsible for the adoption and usage of the “potentially shippable increment”. This is why reporting to managers in terms of progress is tracked in burn down charts, i.e. tasks done.

If all new product features are delivered as described in the “definition-of-done” and the “acceptance criteria” are met, then the sprint was successful. At the end of the sprint, you can immediately tell if the sprint was successful or not.

In marketing the main question is “Did we change customer behavior?”

In agile marketing, the team is responsible for making the campaigns work in the sense that customer buying behavior is successfully influenced. This is why reporting progress to managers is done by tracking leads, appointments, conversion, CTR’s, market share, revenue, growth, etc. Using agile development methods for producing marketing materials works really well. But measuring if new marketing materials are delivered as described in the “Definition-of done”, is only half the story.

The second half of the story is that you create material to engage with customers and to have them download/like/click/view your materials. The result can therefore hardly be measured at the end of a Sprint. There is always a time interval between delivering the materials and seeing the customer interact with the materials.

We recommend to keep this delay as short as possible by slicing up bigger marketing objectives into smaller pieces, which can be checked separately. You could call it a “Potentially Measurable Increment”. This way you can keep this delay as short as possible and steepen the learning curve.

The Definition of Success has two major advantages:

1. By sharing the Definition-of-Success with your agile marketing team you increase customer centricity.

2. Sharing the Definition-of-Success with management visualizes how sprint success contributes to company success.

Burndown charts are not interesting to management. Stop showing how resources are ”burned” and start showing how success is “built”.

***

This is article #1 from the series “6 Fundamental Differences Between Agile Development and Agile Marketing”.

There are some fundamental differences between how software development teams are run and how marketing teams are managed. As a result, not all agile software development routines can simply be copy & pasted from Software to Marketing and remain relevant. In some areas there is a match made in heaven, In some other areas there will never be a match. And in yet other areas it needs tweaking to become useful for marketing too.

A special thanks goes out to Gidion Peters from Scrumcompany.nl. His down-to-earth and practical comments helped us to sharpen our Agile Marketing thoughts.

Read other articles from the series here:

#2 Maximize the Agile Marketing Effect; Tweak the User Story

#3 Hey Agile Marketer, How Many Teams Are You In?

#4 Three Agile Marketing Tweaks to Improve The Daily Stand-Up

#5 How to Allocate Budgets in an Agile World

#6 How to Estimate in Agile Marketing