Digital Marketing Gets Agile

How marketing teams can thrive in a volatile world.

There are times when getting agile is the only option.

The pandemic pivot is an obvious example. But there are equally intense, albeit less dramatic, examples of forced agility happening throughout organizations every day.

In my case, it was when our digital marketing organization was tasked with rebranding our global website in less than six weeks. The project involved more than 30 teams and six geographies—and needed to happen over the holidays. Good times!

The only way we were able to accomplish this—and stay relatively sane and committed to the work—was by using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), running on the Now Platform.

In simple terms, SAFe is a set of Agile best practices that help large organizations quickly develop and deliver high-quality products and services. Now that we’ve fully embraced it, there’s no going back. It’s just that good for digital marketing management.

Digital marketing is a team sport

You can’t play soccer or basketball without people covering both defensive and offensive positions. Digital marketing is the same. Each team member contributes a particular skill set and a unique perspective to drive to the overall win. It’s vital that organizations understand the capabilities and ecosystems at hand—as well as the dependencies and bottlenecks that hinder progress—to build and deliver value.

For many digital marketing teams, this is a significant mindset shift. Employees are spread thin: Too many simultaneous projects. Too many meetings. Too few resources. Unrealistic goals. Competing priorities.

The result is a reactive mindset fueled by limited executive visibility, chaotic stakeholder communications, and too few deliverables crossing the finish line in a reasonable time frame. In turn, the value delivered to stakeholders and customers is diminished.

In short, working hard doesn’t necessarily mean you’re working strategically.

Why SAFe works

That’s why we turned to SAFe. It’s both robust and predictable: We can integrate and test digital updates quickly in a production-like environment. We can update feature pages and deliver higher-quality products to market faster. SAFe also adds a layer of resiliency. If the market shifts and gets hungry for new information or products, the digital marketing team can quickly respond with new campaigns or assets. Instead of a big bang approach, initiatives can be broken into achievable components and milestones.

Instead of a big bang approach, initiatives can be broken into achievable components and milestones.

Another big benefit of SAFe adoption is organizational agility. Our marketing teams can make decisions faster because they have better insights into deliverable complexity, timelines, resources, and techniques. The teams understand what’s required to execute a program and the inherent dependencies and risks. With smaller backlogs, the team can have open discussions about priorities. And shorter test and learn cycles inform areas to refine or replicate, decreasing risk and increasing returns.

SAFe’s emphasis on stakeholder collaboration also increases transparency. Small, frequent wins encourage listening, trust, and collaborative improvement for teams. Teams understand not only that we delivered, but the benefits their efforts created for the business.

Post-delivery retrospectives feed back into the execution loop, helping the teams analyze what went well and what could have gone better. Broader team discussions are critical because digital marketing is accountable not only to its own priorities but, more importantly, to those of the company and its product and/or solution teams. The overall result? A positively proactive mindset.

SAFe in action

The impact of SAFe became clear during our six-week brand refresh. We were able to modify SAFe processes and adopt a daily work cadence for deliverables, resulting in daily 15-minute morning standups.

Specific performance metrics helped drive continuous learning and improvement, especially as we rolled out changes to other geographies. Quick touchpoints, daily leadership updates, and daily demos showing progress helped us stay on schedule and fix issues as they arose.

With SAFe, marketing teams have a vital tool for translating the vision and priorities of digital marketing into manageable chunks of work that create great user experiences.

It’s critical for digital marketing to deliver an exceptional, holistic digital experience to customers, prospects, partners, and other stakeholders—one that supports the corporate vision and objectives, drives business growth, and fosters customer and prospect engagement. With SAFe, marketing teams have a vital tool for translating the vision and priorities of digital marketing into manageable chunks of work that create great user experiences.

Learn more

To hear more about Agile and digital marketing, be sure to watch “Now on Now: Using the Scaled Agile Framework to drive global digital marketing” (SES1385), available from the Knowledge 2022 content library. To learn more about Now on Now, visit our website.

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