Agile Marketing and Sprint Planning: What You Need to Know
Most people associate “agile” with “software development,” but did you know that agile methodologies can be adapted for other aspects of business operation, for example in agile marketing?
Agile marketing is a relatively new concept, but it offers many benefits over traditional marketing methods.
In this post, we will draw back the curtains on agile marketing and sprint planning. We explain what an agile marketing sprint looks like and provide tips to help you get the most out of this helpful approach.
Ready? Let’s get started!
What Is Agile and an Agile Sprint?
What Is Agile?
“Agile is the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment.”
Agile was initially developed as a software development philosophy that prioritizes regular iterations, frequent releases, and continuous evaluations instead of a “big bang” launch.
With agile software development and project management, teams complete deliverables in small, consumable increments and regularly evaluate their progress and quality. This “agility” enables them to quickly respond to change and deliver value faster.
Agile also focuses on collaboration among self-organizing, cross-functional teams using the appropriate frameworks and practices to inform and guide their work.
What Is Scrum?
Scrum is a prescriptive framework that’s characterized by clearly defined roles, multiple required ceremonies (also known as events), and numerous iterations or “sprints.” The basic idea is to regularly check-in to see if the team is heading in the right direction and make immediate corrections it’s veering off-path.
The terms “agile” and scrum” are not interchangeable. Agile is a set of principles geared towards delivering work frequently. Scrum is a framework to get stuff done. It values transparency, review, and adaptation – all of which enables teams to complete projects on time and produce consistently excellent output.
What Is a Sprint? What Happens in a Sprint?
A sprint is a short, time-boxed iteration to plan, review, and execute work. Sprints are beneficial because they allow project teams to:
- Break down big or complex projects into more consumable, bite-sized pieces
- Consistently drive a project forward within its timeframe
- Streamline workflows
- Meet deadlines
- Ensure that execution happens correctly from the get-go
The achievement of these goals depends on proper sprint planning. This collaborative effort involves multiple stakeholders:
- A scrum master to facilitate the meetings
- A product owner (or marketing owner) who tracks the sprint backlog items and clarifies their acceptance criteria
- Agile team members who do the work to meet the project’s or sprint’s goals
But what does all of this have to do with marketing?
Agile, scrum, and sprints may have started as software development concepts, but marketers have also realized their value.
What Is an Agile Sprint in Marketing?
Like software development, agile sprint planning in marketing is a short, definite, and discrete period to plan and execute work. The agile marketing team works collaboratively in sprints to focus on one task and complete it as efficiently as possible.
In marketing, an agile sprint typically lasts two or four weeks, depending on the project’s complexity. We recommend sticking to two-week sprints if you’re just starting with agile marketing. It’s essential to maintain this cadence throughout the project. A consistent rhythm can improve team efficiency, productivity, and quality.
What Does an Agile Sprint in Marketing Look Like?
The Start of a Sprint
At the start of each sprint, your agile marketers will have a sprint planning meeting to plan the amount of work to be done during that sprint. In this meeting, they would:
- Review what they completed in the previous sprint
- Set or review the current sprint goals
- Determine task priority based on these goals
- Break down big tasks into smaller subtasks
During a Sprint
The daily standup or daily scrum is also an essential component of agile marketing. In this meeting, team members discuss their progress and challenges in the context of the sprint goal. The scrum master should limit standup meetings to 15 minutes or less.
During each sprint, the marketing team would work on the most critical tasks first. They also keep track of completed and pending tasks. This information is captured in a burndown chart – a 2D visual representation of the work completed in the sprint period and how the overall project is progressing in the prescribed time.
In every sprint, an essential subtask is a user story, representing a unit of work that can be accomplished within the determined sprint period. User stories follow this general format: “As a [type of user], I want [some goal] so that [reason].”
For example, one user story could be:
“As a new customer, I want to be able to create an account on the website’s e-commerce portal, so I can start shopping with minimal delay.”
The End of a Sprint
At the end of a sprint, the work has been completed. The team gathers for a sprint review or sprint demo meeting to review if the stated sprint goal has been met. This meeting is not about edits or quality assurance. The team verifies what has been completed and defines the game plan for the next sprint.
- Discuss what they have completed during the sprint:
- Content marketing campaign
- Email campaigns
- Paid search ads
- Social media posts or ads
- Change the backlog items and acceptance criteria
- Adjust priorities, budgets, or timelines, if required
- Consider next steps for future sprints. For example:
- A second retargeting ad on social media
- A follow-up email campaign to nurture leads or re-engage with old customers
- A new PPC ad for search engine results pages (SERPs)
After the sprint demo, marketing teams may also have a sprint retrospective meeting in which they do a self-assessment of their processes and look for opportunities for continuous improvement. The outcomes from this meeting can impact, inform, and guide the next sprint planning meeting.
What Are the Benefits of Agile Sprints in Marketing?
The agile methodology sprints are a great way to manage marketing projects and offer many benefits.
Teams Quickly Adapt to Changes
A discrete and definite sprint allows marketing and digital marketing teams to quickly adapt to changes and resolve any challenges that may crop up. Such agility enables them to keep the project on track towards its ultimate goal – whether it’s lead generation or nurturing, demand generation, customer acquisition, or brand awareness.
A short, well-planned sprint helps your marketing team break down larger projects into smaller pieces, making it easier to complete each part on time. An overwhelming endeavor becomes many small steps with shorter deadlines to enable more frequent feedback and inputs.
If your company’s priorities have changed, you may need to quickly update your marketing strategies. By working in sprints with clear objectives and shorter timelines, the marketing department can more easily rebalance priorities. Plans and activities can be easily adjusted in the next sprint.
Work More Efficiently and Productively
The start-of-sprint planning meeting clarifies the sprint’s goals and timelines before marketing work begins. Each team member clearly understands their role and responsibilities. Work is divided up based on each person’s competencies and skills. This improves efficiency and enables them to be more productive, timely, and quality-conscious.
Eliminates Ambiguity, Increases Transparency
Since the team knows the goal of each sprint, they can work with complete clarity on the objectives, key metrics, and acceptance criteria. Such clarity removes ambiguity and confusion while increasing transparency and accountability.
Some Tips to Make the Most of Agile Sprints for Your Marketing Team
Here are some quick tips to help you get the maximum value from the agile approach to marketing:
- Set goals and priorities based on project information from stakeholders
- Create a product backlog – a list of to-do tasks to achieve your marketing goals
- Determine the sprint length – and stick to it
- Break down each task into small, manageable chunks
- Assign each task a priority, a timeline, and team members
- Create a schedule of to-do tasks to help the team stay on track
- Don’t skip the sprint planning meeting or sprint demos
It’s also beneficial to create a contingency plan with best- and worst-case scenarios, plan B action items, and buffer times. This plan can ensure things keep running smoothly, even if there are hiccups along the way.
How Interrupt Media Can Help with Your Next Agile Marketing Sprint
Marketing can be a complex endeavor in today’s dynamic, hyper-connected world. As customer demands evolve, your marketing team can’t afford to spend months or years planning, executing, or tracking marketing campaigns.
The agile marketing approach provides a way to keep up with the changing world, focusing on fast iterations, short sprints, and self-inspections. Your digital marketing efforts will yield quicker results by implementing an agile approach.
At Interrupt Media, we use agile sprint planning to work efficiently, keep moving forward, and generate innovative ideas that impress and delight our customers. Want to try an agile marketing process in your organization? Contact us today to get started.