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Agile Marketing: The 'Flop'

  |  May 11, 2011   |  Comments

Understanding the new movements required in an online marketing organization, with the help of a high jumper and an agile marketer. Part one in a three-part series.

It must have been very strange to watch the high jump event in the 1968 Olympics. The high jump event seemed straightforward enough. You run to the bar, get as much air as you can, and keep your tummy and nose from touching the bar as you clear it, straddle-style. This technique, the Straddle, was the way athletes got over the high jump bar in 1968.

But, Dick Fosbury did something very different. He went over the bar face-up, arching his back and kicking his legs out. This technique, the "Fosbury flop" made Fosbury look more like a fish fighting a fisherman than a premiere Olympic athlete.

Fosbury's flop won him the gold medal.

You may expect that every high jump athlete went immediately to their gym and began "doing it backwards." However, athletes had to completely change their approach. It required studying a new method and then slowly untraining their muscles so that they could take the new movements.

It's a lot like online marketing. We insist on doing things the old ways, the ways that broadcasters and brand marketers and direct mailers and print advertisers have done. The online marketing department is different from marketing departments of the past.

As I write this, I must admit my own reluctance to change. That is why I surround myself with smart people who, by some providence have let go of past notions of how things should be done.

In this regard, Rose Holston is my Dick Fosbury, and I've asked her again to help us understand the new movements required in an online marketing organization, and agile marketing organization. I've asked her to outline the steps we must take to start winning marketing gold in our businesses.

Goals and Reporting

Creating a success in online marketing is rather a subjective feat. What defines success must go through various layers of scrutiny before being blessed. Every organization requires communication that addresses three levels:

  1. C-Suite: Those with a "C" in their title set the agenda. An "agile marketer" must have visibility into what is defined at this level of the business. Through various business tool processes, we can identify where an organization is headed through an understanding of the goals this level wants to achieve.
  2. Management: Mid-level managers attempt to understand the C-level goals and are responsible for allocating the resources to achieve them. At this point, communication has already transferred from one layer to the next.
  3. Implementation: The agile marketer must have in place not only the tools to implement strategies but a method to understand clearly how to measure those goals.

Reporting becomes the center of communication among the three levels of business.

Building Competencies for Reporting

Reporting for our agile marketer is not the same as for management and certainly not the C-suite. A strong set of competencies is necessary to build and implement online marketing strategies and to illustrate how effective those efforts are in terms of the company's goals.

  • Agile marketers or implementers depend on analytics details in order to understand what is working and what is not.
  • Management needs to be able to understand what benchmarks have been or have not been met and why so that they can report this to the C-suite.
  • The C-suite expects a brief summary that enables them to make decisions about the direction of the company.

When we talk about reporting, we don't mean Google Analytics reports that show high-level statistics. An agile marketer requires a clear understanding of the high-level business goals as understood by management and the C-suite. The competencies necessary fall under:

  • Business goals
  • Target audience
  • Web analytics
  • A/B or split testing
  • Process for communication

Business Goals

There are various business tools that can help you brainstorm with the C-suite ways to articulate business goals and build consensus in the work that the agile marketer is tasked to implement.

Target Audience

Persona development is a method that becomes the center of conversation in any business. By building profiles of customers, personas become a tool to articulate the needs and desires of the visitors you are trying to move through the complicated process of lead generation or e-commerce.

Web Analytics

Competencies in this arena are necessary only in understanding the key metrics that you are attempting to translate and how to introduce them into reporting.

  1. Tracking third-party links that take visitors off your website. Learn where visitors are going and develop theories as to why.
  2. Segmenting traffic in a way that helps to understand customers better and to help make decisions.
  3. Custom reporting that is in line with how the C-suite and management assess benchmarks.

A/B or Split Testing

Your understanding of how to build a true incremental testing platform is difficult to communicate to both levels above the agile marketer. Changes and new content are no longer spun out to your website and other channels because they may affect one or more tests in progress. Each change requires more work, as you must document the test, put measurement in place, and often create multiple versions of your communications.

You look less agile as you get more agile. Communication is critical to counter this seeming paradox.

A Process for Communication

Process takes a front seat in the reporting arena for the agile marketer. Imagine the amount of work being tasked and implemented throughout the life of a project. Dependencies exist in getting work done that each layer does not take into account and expectations are high. Often it takes stepping back to create a communication process that becomes a part of how an agile marketing team communicates in order to get things done.

The Story

Your organization will become agile over time. It is a journey that starts and finishes collaboratively as a team. Reporting is the foundation that delivers the information to the C-suite in a way that is easy to translate and useful in making decisions for the overall company and begins the day you are tasked with a project.

In part two of this series, we will learn how to build on competencies that put together a story, a historical perspective of where the organization started and where they are headed, and more importantly, where they want to be. Through the use of business tools, web statistics, and the development of processes for communication, we will develop a story that can be shared with all levels of the organization, showcasing the collaborative work that has been done, and delivers the knowledge learned by the organization to the layer that sets agenda and makes decisions based on the evidence supplied by testing different elements.

Rose Holston is the SEM Coach at Aviso Communications. Her agile marketing program guides marketers as they embrace the new world of online marketing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Massey

With 15 years of online marketing experience, Brian has designed the digital strategy and marketing infrastructure for a number of businesses, including his own technology consulting company, Conversion Sciences. He built his company to transform the Internet from a giant digital-brochure stand to a place where people find the answers they seek. His clients use online strategies to engage their visitors and grow their businesses. Brian has created a series of Web strategy workshops and authors the Conversion Scientist blog. Brian works from Austin, Texas, a place where life and the Internet are hopelessly intertwined.

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