Agility. It’s a word in every modern marketer’s vocabulary. But what exactly does marketing agility mean?

In a digital world, where consumers associate more with brands than with other less interesting elements of a company and the consumer controls their individual brand experience like never before, agile marketing has never been more important. Marketers need to feel empowered to be at their most creative. So it is disturbing that one of the key findings of our research is that some 47 percent of marketers believe bureaucracy is hampering the agility of their marketing operations. Despite the advent of technology to boost operational efficiency, almost one in three of those surveyed believe the lack of autonomy is impacting the speed in which campaigns are developed and delivered.

Perhaps it is little wonder that 74 percent of respondents cited ‘agility of marketing operations’ as a current marketing challenge.  Another driver of bottlenecks is business structure: over a quarter (27 percent) of marketers indicated operating in a siloed and hierarchical organisation held back their marketing efforts. Senior marketers are being pulled from both sides – they have to meet the customer’s growing demands while facing high scrutiny over ROI from internal stakeholders. Indeed, 23 percent of marketers cited a lack of vision from top management as a key challenge for their day-to-day performance.

But, I would prefer to look at the glass as being (at least) half full. Technology exists today for organisations of all sizes and scales to become truly agile and customer focused. So what are the necessary steps?

The importance of mindset and five key challenges

First, becoming an agile organisation requires a comprehensive, fundamental shift in how it thinks and acts in planning and executing marketing initiatives. Teams must understand how marketing is measured and proven to key stakeholders. Objectives are established up front: the leadership team must align with an agile approach, allowing activities and programs to flex and adjust in response to market conditions and results.

Our survey revealed five challenges to becoming agile marketers:

In agile marketing, planning is shortened from months/years to weeks/days. Marketers should consider a hybrid approach – a combination of traditional and agile marketing – where strategies and KPIs are established up-front, but flexibility is built in so marketing leaders can make adjustments based on real-time results.

The best marketing leaders determine current resource needs, and they also anticipate future needs. They know what the organisation needs so they can get the right job descriptions into the market, but they also give current and future employees the right place to land – complete with the right culture, the right processes, and the right atmosphere. Having defined processes in a system of record or a knowledge base gives new employees the visibility they need to understand their role and contribute to the outcome. Employer/employee relationships are critical - this includes building teams that incorporate remote employees and contractors/agencies, individual flexibility, tight connections, superior collaborations, and increased visibility.

To get the right campaigns into market at the right time, smart marketers increase agility, velocity, and quality of content output. Marketers need to ensure project goals are aligned with corporate objectives and that processes are both efficient and transparent.

Today’s marketing content must be focused on specific customer wants, needs, and expectations, and should be delivered at just the right time. To make that happen, marketers need to know their customers well, be equipped to deliver desired content through any channel, and be flexible enough to change marketing content to meet changing customer demands.

One of many measures of marketing quality is compliance – from adherence to brand guidelines to compliance with regulatory agencies. Marketers who are able to ensure the right approvals and reviews are in place – and can provide a pure auditing history – are the ones who are most confident in their output. Contrary to popular belief, compliance and agility are not mutually exclusive. By automating – and thereby accelerating – the review and approval process, organisations are enabled to be compliant while simultaneously keeping projects on track.

Preparing your overall organisation to embrace the fundamental change required to become more agile is the first – and arguably, most important – step to increasing and executing marketing agility. But then, marketing leaders must acquire the resources and technology that enable them to streamline their processes, tighten their planning and spending approach, anticipate staffing needs, increase marketing productivity, create meaningful content, and ensure quality and compliance for maximum marketing output.


By Jon Williams, senior vice president at Aprimo

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at

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