Build an Agile Marketing Team

March 2, 2018
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Design agile teams to deliver quick insights from your marketing data and analytics dashboards.

Tanya had only been with the marketing team for six months but could tell something was different about how it ran analytics.

For one thing, everybody had access to marketing dashboards, making it easy to run ad hoc queries and reports. Tim, her partner on the analytics team, ran more complex reports incredibly fast, enabling her to make decisions much faster than she could in her previous role. Lastly, Tim and his team could adapt to her frequently changing reporting needs driven by rapid changes in the market. When she asked the VP of data and analytics how these elements of speed and flexibility came to be, the VP responded with a one-word answer: Agile.

“Teams that adopt an agile approach are flexible, adaptable and prioritize delivery speed over process precision.”

Marketing leaders are applying agile practices to their analytics teams to drive rapid decision making and strengthen their ability to deliver quick, actionable insights to executive leaders who need to pinpoint customer preferences, sustain profitable relationships and reduce churn.

“Design flexible, adaptable teams of multidisciplinary marketing analysts capable of delivering rapid results,” says Christi Eubanks, Managing Vice President, Gartner for Marketers. “Empower these teams to organize and lead themselves.”

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CMOs cite marketing analytics as a major ingredient for business growth. According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2017-2018, marketing analytics now gets the greatest share of marketing budget spend among 13 marketing capabilities and 62% of CMOs say they will increase analytics spending in 2018. Yet shifting to this new model of project-based data teams capable of quickly pivoting in new directions necessitates change from the inside. It also requires organizations to embrace a new approach for managing teams, which runs counter to traditional norms of delivering insights from data.

Design flexible, adaptable teams built for speed

Marketing and data analytics teams that adopt an agile approach are flexible, adaptable and prioritize delivery speed over process precision. These flexible teams require three key ingredients to succeed:

  1. Composed of multidisciplinary generalists: Your team must connect customers’ behavioral dots across multiple devices and touchpoints, but few specialists have the breadth of experience necessary for this task. Staff your marketing data and analytics team mostly with generalists who possess experience across multiple analytics disciplines and can also deepen their expertise in one or two critical areas.
  2. Able to organize and lead itself: Build data and analytics teams that can self-organize. These squads of collaboration-minded teammates will work backward based on the timelines and priorities from management, but will determine among themselves how best to deploy resources and mobilize. Let teams decide who will supply the skills and fulfill the roles necessary for project outcomes. Encourage team members to rotate among roles, depending on the nature of each specific project.
  3. Able to adapt and iterate: Gartner clients report lead times of six weeks or more to develop and deliver complex reports, but in today’s marketing environment, no one can afford to wait that long for decision support. Make it easy for your team to quickly adapt and iterate by training individuals to independently access the information they need for quick answers and exploratory analysis. Reserve specialist resources and time-intensive analysis for the highest-value projects.

To enable a “test and learn” culture where swift adjustments inform what’s working and what isn’t, designate analysis and optimization “sprints” on your marketing roadmap. Augment your core analytics team with specific resources from trusted third parties to bring key skills onboard quickly when needed. Leverage relevant cross-functional internal resources when necessary.

Read more: How a Test and Learn Culture Improves Customer Experience

“Shed the rigid, slow and siloed processes of centralized teams and adopt an agile approach that embraces collaboration, change and transparency,” says Eubanks.

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