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What Marketing Teams Can Learn From Developer Workflows

Marketers are playing an increasingly central role in organizational strategy. Here are four agile marketing strategies we use at Pantheon to drive measurable results quickly and efficiently.

COVID-19 has caused chaos for sales and marketing pipelines, making the process of forecasting revenue a murky guessing game. Marketing teams are tossing out their playbooks to rethink their strategies, and it looks like the days of executing on a static, annual plan are officially over.

As this new era of agile marketing rises, marketers should look to development teams for inspirational cues. On the surface, marketing and development are two very different disciplines. In reality, though, marketing teams stand to learn a lot—and can more effectively reach their goals—by embracing some agile methodologies from developers.

At Pantheon, developers are an integral part of our cross-functional web team. We use an agile approach to iteratively brainstorm, develop, test, and release website changes that drive measurable results. 

These four tactics have helped us incorporate development thinking into our overall marketing process:

1. Say Goodbye to Silos

Collaboration is baked into the agile development process, which calls for regular peer reviews of code writing. The same is not true for marketing teams, which often end up working in silos and get so immersed in their own projects that they neglect input or help from other team members that could dramatically improve the finished product.

We sometimes forget that soliciting feedback isn’t a weakness; it’s an acknowledgment that we’re all stronger together and that fresh eyes can catch things we missed. Research shows that employees who regularly break out of their silos end up learning and selling more. When this practice is adopted across an entire organization, higher margins follow.

At Pantheon, we conduct peer reviews for every blog, webpage, and marketing campaign we deploy. We’ve found this practice gives us a fresh perspective and highlights issues we otherwise might have overlooked.

2. Watch Out for Tunnel Vision

Good development teams are always testing and optimizing their work. Marketers, on the other hand, tend to get tunnel vision—especially when it comes to long-term plans. A rigid approach isn’t the path to success, though. Instead of coming up with a static annual marketing plan, teams should revisit their strategies quarterly (or more!) to realign on business priorities and reassess progress on campaigns.

This practice will not only lead to smarter and faster decisions, but it will also fuel continuous improvement. Why wait until the end of the year to figure out what works and what doesn’t when you could instead test, recalibrate, and improve constantly?

3. Schedule Regular Reviews

Development teams rely on two tactics to overcome roadblocks. One is pair programming, which involves two programmers writing code together in the hopes of better solving complex problems and producing more accurate work. The second tactic is holding retrospectives at the end of each development sprint to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and how things can improve for the next cycle. By doing this regularly, everyone becomes comfortable with offering and receiving honest feedback and new ideas.

Marketing teams should likewise collaboratively brainstorm ways around roadblocks. This should go deeper than a surface-level client review and ask questions like: How can you better define work to ensure team members have more clarity on project objectives? What new tools or processes have you employed to help the teamwork more efficiently? Did they have the intended effect?

At Pantheon, we take an agile approach whenever we push fresh content on our website. Before a new or revamped product page launches, I meet with our product marketing manager and project manager to run a quality assurance check and to go through a comprehensive checklist of items. We put our heads together to make sure the page is following best practices for things like keywords for SEO, typography, and color-use for UX, and alt-image tags for accessibility. We also do code reviews to ensure the page was properly set up on the back end to avoid potential bugs. These efforts help our team produce more effective and engaging content.

4. Consider a Scrum Mentality

Scrum is an agile development framework for tackling difficult problems. A scrum mentality also helps teams work more efficiently by doing away with tedious update meetings and unrealistic deadlines.

In other words, a scrum mentality can solve many of the problems plaguing complicated marketing campaigns. Many members of the marketing team at Pantheon are certified Scrum Masters or Agile Marketing practitioners, which allows us to practice more agile communication and workflows. This has changed everything from our department organization and our meeting structures to how we discuss our projects.

Research backs up the value of adopting a scrum mentality. According to an AgileSherpas survey, agile marketers have greater work satisfaction than others because they have an easier time prioritizing their work and seeing progress on projects.

Marketers are playing an increasingly central role in organizational strategy. The pressure is on to execute campaigns with measurable results and to use data to back up their strategies. Adopt an agile, development-minded approach to better align with your company’s strategies, increase your organizational impact, and generate impactful campaigns.

Are you curious about where the development mindset fits into your marketing strategy? Download “The Ultimate Guide to Agile in Digital Marketing” to learn more.

Hero image by Jose Aljovin on Unsplash.

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