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What CMOs need to know about Agile Marketing


What is “agile marketing” and why should CMOs care? There are three important elements that CMOs need to understand with regards to this methodology, each of which are the driving force behind improved ROI in their marketing strategy:

  1. Cultural change is needed
  2. Data and insights guide all agile marketing
  3. Agile marketing needs to merge with overall strategy

The agile methodology was conceived by software developers and it continues to be adopted by C-suite marketers as a way of testing, measuring and developing ROI-driven approaches to strategic processes. The most enticing aspect of agile marketing is the way it drives customer-centric behaviour within organisations with the aid of an integrative CMS and automated marketing software.

In a world where customers have all the power, agile methods are helping companies stand out from the crowd by making fast and flexible adjustments to their lead generation strategies.

You can read more about the latest techniques for lead generation in the Smart Insider’s Guide to Lead Generation

Agile Marketing Expanded

Agile marketing occurs on a rapid project timeline called a sprint and is built around a user story or desired outcome. These concepts are well-suited to marketers, who are used to building campaigns around buyer personas and the customer journey.

But the agile journey is much faster, more transparent and flexible. It’s possible to try, test and fail within agile methodology; just as it’s possible to succeed in responsive, nuanced, tactical ways.

What do CMO’s need to know?

What is important to know in order to ensure a team or organisation can reap benefits from agile marketing? And what, if any, are the pitfalls?

Research by McKinsey and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found evidence of a perception gap between CMOs and reporting staff. While 70% of CMOs said they employed agile marketing processes as frequently as needed; only 45% of marketing VPs and directors agreed.

How can this be? Here are some suggestions as to why reality sometimes falls short of expectations:


CMOs must recognise cultural changes are needed for agile marketing to succeed

Attitudes to failure, personal recognition and traditional work timelines can be a hindrance to effective use of agile marketing. When it comes to experimentation, even failure is productive if teams are learning to employ best-practice. Through a process known as the stand-up, agile marketing team members are directed to report each day on their activity and any road-blocks. Projects that lack viability are scotched quickly and the team’s attention redirected. A public meeting of review is held to report on the ‘failure’, its lessons and conclusions. Companies that glorify success and star performers may find it hard to direct employees toward agile behaviour.

Agile marketing is also dependent on collaboration across business functions. Adhering to short time-frames means gaining buy-in from groups (think customer sales or I.T.) running their own complex, long-term, change-based projects. Gaining the trust and collaboration of busy people requires someone who is willing to champion the overall benefits to the organisation and share recognition for success. 

CMOs who are transparent and proactive in supporting the strategic and operational objectives of their C-suite colleagues, will see barriers overcome.


Agile marketing works best when it seizes on insights and data emanating from leads; and activates short-term goals to exploit new trends and opportunities

This is both a sweet spot and a pain point for marketers. Opportunities exist in the rivers of data captured by marketers thanks to the online behaviour of customers. But big data presents big questions for CMOs as illustrated in Luma’s Marketing Technology Landscape.

Having the infrastructure which ensures data is being captured and validated as representing your best customer, is paramount. Confidence in the data makes agile marketing more powerful because the who, what, where and when is known. Your agile team can provide the how. Reliable data is also required to measure success and argue for the scaling up of initiatives.


Agile marketing should never depart from overall strategy 

Agile marketing is celebrated for promoting curiosity and creativity in teams as well as innovation and organisational competitiveness. It shines in response to the demands made by social media and is capable of facilitating unprecedented levels of internal collaboration.

But without strategic focus, agile marketing is just another fad. CMOs must provide coherent guidance on this matter. Fresh modes of lead generation; improved qualification of leads; maximised conversion rates; and innovation within the sales cycle all support return on investment.

Keeping a laser focus on key outcomes will sharpen the efforts of agile marketing teams and help determine their priorities.


Successful lead generation requires agile leadership and agile strategy along with a strong focus on the development of a strategic marketing plan. For more on the latest techniques for lead generation, download the Smart Insider’s Guide to Lead Generation.


Topics: Marketing, Strategy