Can Agile Content Marketing Help Your Team Waste Less Time?
Content marketing works. But if you keep throwing money at the concept without seeing results, that general truth probably means little to your business.
Especially when marketing a small business, resources tend to be limited. Can you really afford spending your marketing budget on a long campaign with no idea on whether it will actually succeed and with no opportunities for adjustment in the process?
That's why agile content marketing is so crucial for businesses like yours. Rather than simply hoping the budget you spend on drawn-out content development processes will actually result in a positive return, you can make sure it does.
In return, your business wastes less time while simultaneously improving its marketing strategy and spend.
What is Agile Content Marketing?
In short, agile content marketing helps improve the efficiency of your marketing efforts through data and automation. The concept takes the sometimes lengthy process of creating content good enough to draw in your audience, and maximizes its success while minimizing the time spent to create it through a more streamlined, less linear process.
Agile borrows its core philosophy from the process that has revolutionized the software industry. Increasingly, businesses of all types are developing software based not on a linear 'waterfall' model, but a more nimble and test-oriented alternative.
In software development, agile has become the status quo thanks to the improved quality of the finished product despite less time and budget spent.
Solving a Common Content Marketing Issue
What makes content successful? Most research suggests an intersection of relevance and quality. Your audience needs to be drawn to the content because it touches on a common problem or pain point, while at the same time feel inspired to take action or share.
Attempting to achieve both of these goals can lead to plenty of issues, especially for small businesses with limited resources. The ideal length of a blog post surpasses 2,000 words, and you need to publish a blog every other day for maximum success. The time to develop a piece of gated content that actually generates leads is much longer.
Before you know it, you won't spend much time doing anything but writing and research in trying to market your business.
That is, of course, unless you can find a method that helps you optimize your content marketing processes. You need to waste less time on content creation, while also adjusting your content based on audience feedback.
Enter agile content marketing.
How Data Can Lead to Marketing Flexibility
Imagine writing a piece of content not because you have a hunch it might succeed, but because you know it will. Imagine spending the time it takes to develop a whitepaper with an exact idea of the return you'll get through the leads it will generate.
Suddenly, your digital marketing efforts become both more focused and flexible. All you need is an efficient process to collect real-time data on audience preferences.
In the age of big data, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the plethora of statistics that may or may not tell you about how successful your content marketing efforts actually are. Through agile content marketing, you move from a data collection approach to focusing on data insights instead.
The process is simple: start with research—figuring out exactly what your audience would like to see or read. Then, you develop that content, while immediately starting to collect feedback on its success. That feedback immediately flows into your next piece of content, closing the loop and continuously improving your efforts.
Because you're breaking down your larger content marketing strategy into small 'sprints', your efforts become much more flexible.
If you need to develop a high-quality blog post or ebook quickly, you can more easily do so to respond to real-time audience needs and preferences.
Maximizing the Efficiency of Your Marketing Team
In small businesses, it's common for marketing professionals to wear multiple hats. One person can easily be responsible for marketing and audience research, strategy, and content development. Through agile, you can more easily combine these roles in order to maximize your efficiency.
The reason: less waste. In many ways, agile builds on the lean manufacturing philosophy, which seeks to eliminate waste from business processes. In content marketing, that waste consists of money and time.
Even if your market research has found your audience would love a specific piece of content, their needs may have changed by the time you actually develop it using a linear, waterfall approach. But the more flexible agile alternative maximizes your chances of a positive ROI, while at the same time minimizing the time it takes to actually create content.
How to Measure the Effect of Agile on Your Marketing Efforts
Since we've spent almost 1,000 words describing exactly why agile content marketing succeeds, it seems only fair to point out how you can measure your success. More efficient and effective use of data drives agile success, but you can also use a number of KPIs to measure the success of the strategy itself. Here are a few of them to start, courtesy of Forbes.com:
- Achieving marketing goals. Naturally, increasing your leads or customers as a result of switching to agile is an indicator the philosophy works for you. Be sure to focus on outcome measures (leads and customers generated) rather than vanity metrics (impressions and social media likes).
- Cycle time. If a goal of agile is minimizing the time it takes to develop content, this KPI can help you measure its impact. Simply put, it focuses on the time it takes to bring a blog post, whitepaper, or other piece of content from idea to publication.
- Cadence. This common agile concept measures the frequency at which you make marketing and content decisions. The higher the cadence, the better your indication your content marketing is becoming agile and flexible.
- Cumulative flow measures the regular input by your team, allowing you to discover and eliminate waste.
Ultimately, these are just a few of the many KPIs you can use to measure the success of your agile content marketing. No matter what you do, keep measuring your success to make improvements dynamically as needed.
Agile Content Marketing in Action
Only 8% of content marketers are using agile concepts in their current strategy, making success stories difficult to find. But they do exist.
After adopting the concept, for example, one marketing writer was able to publish 200 long-form articles in a single year on high-profile websites. Contently, meanwhile, has grown from a small blog to a 120 person-strong company by embracing agile concepts.
In eCommerce, the concept is a bit more familiar. Nimble brands regularly newsjack current topics and hashtags to maximize their own exposure using social media, email, and blogs. The (often impressive) results speak for themselves.
If you've been intrigued by the content marketing concept but intimidated by its complexity, agile content marketing may be just the right solution for your small business. Through real-time data, you can create and adjust content more easily to maximize your content marketing success.
Content marketing fails not because you cannot come up with a single great blog post, but because you need 50 of them to reach your goals. Through agile, you can achieve that goal even on a shoestring budget.
The results will speak for themselves. Over time, you'll build templates for success that enhance the speed with which you can deliver high-quality content even further. As a result, you'll be able to build a successful multi-channel marketing strategy for the same resources and within the same time frame of your previous single-channel efforts.
So yes, agile content marketing can help your team waste less time. But executed the right way, it can do so much more. Thanks to a data-driven approach that focuses on statistical insights and audience feedback analysis, you can build a content marketing strategy that is both successful and sustainable in growing your business.