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Should You Consider a Digital Marketing Agency That Follows Agile Marketing Principles?

agile-marketing-sprints

A feature of mapping apps that I wish existed: agility.

We’ve all been there. At the moment you mapped your route to your next destination, there was no traffic. As you’re cruising down the road you notice of trail of brake lights distantly in front of you.

You pull up your map application only to find that your clear roadways have transformed into dots of red lines for the next five miles – and your arrival time has been set back 30 minutes. If the map application had the agile ability to automatically re-route based on the new traffic information, you’d be cruising along side streets to get to your destination at a reasonable time.

The same concept of agile mapping applies to digital marketing; however, many marketing agencies still operate with a firm timeline of goals and deliverables that are established at the very beginning of a program, and lack the practice of adapt and reposition based on changing client needs and competitive environments.

In this post, I’ll cover an introduction to agile marketing, as well as some benefits that our team and our client’s have experienced along the way.

What is Agile Marketing?

In short, agile marketing is an approach to marketing that emphasizes shorter-term “sprints” over long-term campaigns; numerous small experiments over a few large bets. According to AgileMarketing.net, an agile approach to marketing values:

  • Responding to change over following a plan
  • Rapid iterations over Big-Bang campaigns
  • Testing and data over opinions and conventions
  • Numerous small experiments over a few large bets
  • Individuals and interactions over target markets
  • Collaboration over silos and hierarchy

By implementing an agile approach, marketing teams and agencies are able to improve speed to deliver on high-impact results and gain adaptability based on results of these shorter sprints.

Transitioning from a Timeline-Driven Approach to Agile Marketing

Armed with research from sources like Jeff Sutherland’s Scrum and Jeff Julian’s Agile Marketing, the TopRank Marketing team began to apply these founding principles to our digital marketing processes. What we found were three undeniable benefits for our clients:

#1 – Better Results

When we’re constantly testing short-term sprints, the ability to understand the way in which our audience responds is achieved at a much faster rate. As a result, TopRank Marketing is now able to hone in on what works and what doesn’t much earlier in the game, resulting in better results for future short and long-term goals.

#2 – Smaller Wins Along the Road to a Greater Objective

We work directly with marketing professionals at many levels: VPs of Marketing, CMOs, Marketing Managers, Content Managers; all of which have a responsibility to keep stakeholders updated on progress and their marketing budgets return on investment.

This can be particularly challenging for larger, more long-term objectives where an end deliverable or result is months away from fruition. Take for example the objective of achieving thought leadership for a particular topic. Months of content creation, asset development, influencer engagement, search engine optimization and paid amplification are baked into an objective of this stature. Instead of working heads down for three months on each facet, agile marketing gives agencies the ability to break this goal into smaller, yet high-impact sprints. The results of each sprint can then be reported back to key stakeholders, with wins celebrated along the way.

#3 – Ability to Change Course Quickly

When client’s first sign an agreement with an agency, there is some discovery completed to determine what the best mix of services and approaches will be to help the client reach their goals. However, with the quickly evolving landscape of digital marketing, it is impossible to determine if those same services will be the best fit down the road. An agile approach to marketing breaks down barriers and enables account teams to help clients determine the best mix for their marketing success now, and plan for future ways that this mix can evolve.

Agile Marketing Works for TopRank Marketing & for Our Clients

While the benefits of transitioning to an agile approach are proven and abundant, making the transition is no small feat. A recent study published in CMG’s Sixth Annual CMO’s Agenda shows that while 63% of CMOs say agility is a high priority, only 40% call themselves Agile. Becoming agile requires both leadership and team commitment for success, and requires a disruption of historical processes that may at times feel uncomfortable.

Through TopRank Marketing’s transition, we have found that this approach has created more velocity, increased collaboration and has helped us meet a major objective which is to help our clients to be the best answer for their customers, wherever they are searching.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
Should You Consider a Digital Marketing Agency That Follows Agile Marketing Principles? | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Should You Consider a Digital Marketing Agency That Follows Agile Marketing Principles? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

Check Also

The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community

Intuit

The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community

Jamf

Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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