For clients looking to transform their marketing reach, the obvious starting point might be to increase their content output and hope that will increase conversions. We see so many clients fixated on the belief that more content will result in more leads and greater traction.
The reality tells us that it’s not the amount or quality of the content that makes the overall difference. A continuous stream of blogs, whitepapers and social assets isn’t going to improve your marketing reach, unless you back it up with a structured review of your audience, your business strategy or without having the relevant tools in place to help you test, learn and measure quickly.
Agile methods are used widely in development teams globally. In fact, agile is progressively becoming the norm as it enables teams to work smarter, faster and achieve better business results – consistently delivering ROI for clients.
The use of agile in traditional marketing campaigns is less documented. However, campaign management can be overhauled by working this way. The ability to test and iterate on the data you have available to you as a marketer, content producer or a digital strategist, means that you can make faster and more informed decisions and crucially, to respond more efficiently to what your audience wants. It also ensures that you’re aligned at all times to the original business strategy with regular check-ins as a fully engaged team. There is nothing like fast results to bring people together and inspire future success.
Setting clear objectives with KPIs at the start means identifying the relevant data sources and measuring insights to optimise with evidence-based decisions. Test and learn constantly.
As a digital strategist at Valtech, my role is to work with our clients to find out what they want to achieve, the results they want to see and what it means to their business. Then I work with an agile team to deliver on those objectives by developing a strategy and putting it into practice.
We’ve been working with an aerospace client recently who had an interesting challenge for us. They recognised that to propel their business; they needed to hire the best talent in the market; from graduates to longer-term career professionals. They needed to increase their brand awareness to the extent that people would; A: learn who they were B: Want to join them
This gave us a conundrum. We had to reach a vast demographic and the content had to be powerful enough to engage audiences of various ages, experience levels and across channels. Furthermore, it had to be strong enough to convert these people from clicks or views, to completing an application and sending their CV to the client.
Transforming business results with traditional content and campaign methods might seem like a pipe dream, but the reality is that done right, agile marketing can supercharge your business performance at scale.
With any project we undertake, we need to sort the ‘what’s’ from the ‘why’s.’ What are we trying to achieve, how does that align with the overall business objectives and strategy of the company, and why are we doing the things we are doing? Where is the research or evidence to tell us that we are making the right decisions and, crucially, that this is a user-focused solution?
The beauty of the agile approach in a situation like this is that it gives us the visibility, tools and techniques we need to make sure we are aligned from the start. As digital marketers will know all too well, we have SO much data available to us when we are executing campaigns. We need to be able to unlock that data quickly to provide better business insights; reliable data analysis means more informed decisions about what to do next.
In the case of our client, we solidified the business objectives and strategy early on. We understood the business value in what we were doing and were lucky to have a tangible success metric. Campaign success meant increased CV submissions and hires.
At Valtech, we have always worked with a user-first approach and as digital marketers, we must deliver what users will respond to based on evidence; not make assumptions that waste crucial time and budget. Knowing your audience, and responding accordingly, has a huge impact on your results. An agile approach means you can measure, analyse and pivot rapidly and therefore impact business results, faster.
You won’t be surprised to hear that our awareness centred around media placements (YouTube Pre-roll & Google Ads display banners). We set clear KPIs on views, impressions and click-through rates (CTR).
For Engagement we looked at social media ads and set KPIs based on the engagement rate benchmark per platform; defined as Clicks + Likes + Shares + Comments / Impressions (x100 for %).
Our Conversion metric focused on Google ads and paid search. The KPIs: CTR (Click apply or send CV).
SWOT analysis and customer interviews gave us a better understanding of user needs and pain-points and we built personas to further inform our strategies.
We knew we needed to:
- Determine best practice for recruitment across multiple industries.
- Define personas and target segments; how many potential candidates can we target? (This was an important piece of data to better calculate the media budget).
- Research and understand the root cause for talent shortages (using social listening, trends research, platforms analysis) - ultimately, our strategy and concepts had to get to the root of the problem for us to solve it.
Agile projects are 3x more likely to succeed than projects managed with traditional methods such as Waterfall.
Again, agile methods enable us to be far more efficient in how we use the time we have available; when the digital strategists are working on the strategy for the campaign, the creatives are working on researching and benchmarking. That way, we can feed each other information as we go and the creative team isn’t sitting waiting for the strategy to be finalised.
Likewise, as soon as a client chooses a concept the creative team can start exploring ideas, the content lead can start developing the editorial calendar and the performance team can work on the media plan. Your editorial calendar might look something like this:
When it comes to optimising your campaign, before creating new content, it’s beneficial to do a UX audit to understand customer flows and then align this audit with Google Analytics data to understand how pages and sections are performing. This dashboard visualisation is the result of a strategic alignment between marketing activities (tactics) and KPIs or key metrics. We aligned our KPIs with the client and agreed that these metrics were the ones we would visualise and report on. Our campaigns always include data visualisation as it’s essential for being able to align strategic reporting. It looks something like this:
Which pages are working, what content is performing best and what flow are the users following? We can then use this data to provide fast evidence-based recommendations to the client and the team.
The key with all of this is that you already have so much data available to you when you are running a campaign. The smart thing is being able to identify it, understand it’s context and respond to the insights rapidly.
You can’t expect to see success off the back of what you think is impressive looking content if it’s not going to hit the right audience at the right time. You have to make sure that you’re conducting the investigative part first. Everything you do needs to be user-focused and based on the data. What are people responding to? What are they ignoring? What channel is your target demographic most likely to use and at what time of the day? Make sure you know where to look to get the best insights, and take them seriously.
At Valtech we add value to our clients’ projects by bringing various agile teams to the table. We had daily ‘stand-ups’ (15-minute meetings each morning) with the full team to review progress of the last day and plan for the current day. That allowed us to identify pain points and respond to them rapidly. It also meant we could find the bottlenecks and restructure our plan to remove the blockers. In a more traditional waterfall format, it might have been a couple of weeks before we spotted and responded to the data.
An agile team is a wonderful thing. Daily communication is instrumental to success because you’re able to respond to all of that data as a collective. Not working in silos means we are considering things from all viewpoints and aspects. Bottlenecks are quickly swept away and pain points are tackled head on, when they arise.
Agile projects can be managed with simple logical and highly visual tools. That means that you have eyes on everything, all of the time and there is great transparency between us and the client.
So, if you made it this far, you’re probably looking for some early results from that aerospace client…?
Early insights have enabled us to establish engagement benchmarks per channel, e.g., social media platforms, so that we can use that as our baseline every month. We have lowered CPC and increased engagement by creating the custom audiences that we identified in the first stages of the campaign. We’ve now developed even more targeted content and are feeding that back in.
We’ve been able to isolate the channels that were generating the most engagement and traffic to the career section and that means that we’ve been able to leverage those channels in subsequent phases as well as develop more sophisticated audiences to hit with more targeted content.
Our Agile marketing methods have enabled us to test rapidly, resulting in a 150% increase in page views in the first quarter alone.
We’re still in the early stages of the campaign, so more results to follow but the Q1 results are really encouraging.
For me, Agile Campaign management is the only way to guarantee fast and impactful marketing results. Being able to quickly interpret and act upon the mass of data flowing into the organisation gives us the supercharged power we need to transform business performance and meet that ROI.