A recent survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) suggested that “while marketing leaders have a good idea of where they need to go, they don’t have a clear vision of how to get there.” I was particularly intrigued to read that of those surveyed, “Ninety percent believe that active testing and learning is the number one strategy for responding effectively to disruptions. However, only 55 percent employ agile marketing processes.”
Queen Victoria, an Early Innovator of Agile Methodology
Agile Methodology, first devised and formally documented by software engineers in the early 21st century, has been adapted to suit other disciplines. Two years ago, I went through agile training and I became a Certified Scrum Master. However, I never learned there, or in history class that the 15-minute daily stand-up meeting, a widely hailed feature of agile methodology, was an innovation introduced by Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century. Rather than hunt down my old text books (thank goodness there is now SEO), I performed a search and found that yes, indeed, the Privy Council to this day meets standing up, as author Robert Hardman writes, “The emphasis is on brisk efficiency, hence the fact that meetings are conducted standing up, a time-saving mechanism famously introduced by Queen Victoria.”
Simon Upton, former New Zealand member of Parliament writes “…by tradition, meetings are held standing up – an ‘innovation’ instituted by Queen Victoria with an eye to assisting the speedy completion of business.”
Ok, the stand-up meeting is just one component of agile methodology, but why do some ideas require over one and one-half centuries to catch on?
“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”
Hmmm, this might be one reason: “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine,” was famously said by Jim Barksdale, former President and CEO of Netscape. Agile marketing values customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy, but this doesn’t mean that someone at the top of a hierarchy, or in the case of Queen Victoria, a monarchy, doesn’t have good ideas. It means that all voices within an organization provide insight from their unique perspectives and it behooves all of us to listen thoughtfully to each other, bearing the customer always in mind. Synthesizing the insight from interested stakeholders, including those on the front lines, creatives, researchers, strategists, those in upper management, and a myriad of other departments, setting aside ego, and focusing on the customer yields the type of truly collaborative engagement required for creative thinking and problem solving.
Oh yes, my own editorial comment as to data and opinions is the following: if all we have are our opinions, it’s time to gather and analyze some data, ideally in real time.
Agile Marketing Values
Many of you are familiar with agile marketing, and whether you are new to these values or would like a refresher, here they are, as stated in the Agile Marketing Manifesto.
- Validated learning over opinions and conventions
- Customer focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
- Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns
- The process of customer discovery over static prediction
- Flexible vs. rigid planning
- Responding to change over following a plan
- Many small experiments over a few large bets
As agile marketing continues to be informed by the agile software development movement, I believe it is germane to note the following: one of the founders of agile software proposed the value “Craftsmanship over Crap,” and likely realizing the queen would faint at such language, changed it to “Craftsmanship over Execution,” which is equally applicable to marketing.
The concern is that quality can suffer from an over-emphasis on speed and quantity, and of course, quality output and an exceptional customer experience is the goal of agile methodology. In other words, agile does not value speed for the sake of speed alone, but rather as a support to adaptability and the flexibility needed to respond quickly to a changing environment and changing customer behavior and preferences.
SEO: A Foundational Element of Agile Marketing
While the three most important factors in real estate are “location, location, location,” the three most important factors in conversion optimization are “test, test, test.” Successful agile marketing has a solid foundation in SEO, and testing is an integral component of both. The ability to adapt your marketing plan to lessons learned from real-time data to align with customer behavior and expectations is crucial. Let’s take a look at how one German company leveraged SEO and agile techniques, entering the highly competitive online video market as a startup to becoming the second largest German-language online video service in less than a decade.
MyVideo: Viewing Success from a Foundation of Search Marketing & Agile Marketing
With the incredibly ambitious goal for a start-up to compete on the level of online video content provider giants, MyVideo identified three major challenges:
- Gainadvantage in hyper-competitive online video market
- Manage six million keywordsand campaigns with limited budgets and small staff
- Expand audience reach, customer engagement, and loyalty to increase revenue
MyVideo (owned now by ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG) has grown to include 10 million unique users monthly, and you may be wondering, “How did they do that?”
Through the implementation of Adobe Media Optimizer, Florian Kiel, Online Marketing Manager for MyVideo, states: “We manage nearly six million keywords and campaigns to market our vast array of content, from TV series and movies to music videos, labels, and artists—all with a team of just six people.”
With testing, iterations and real-time optimization, MyVideo reported these additional impressive results:
- An increase of click-through rates via optimized keyword selection of up to 60%
- Reduced cost per click on average by 40% while increasing advertising ROI
Take Away Message
In an intensely competitive market, Holger Kuntz, Senior Online Marketing Manager for MyVideo, notes the necessity of being “nimble,” which is, of course, a synonym for agile. What stands out most to me is the interconnectedness between search marketing, agile marketing, and all the stakeholders who work to increase KPI and bring customers the best experiences possible. You never know what direction a royally good idea may take, so keep standing up, keep talking, keep listening, and let me know if you have a great story to share on SEO and agile marketing.