“Our digital marketing team is practicing agile marketing […] to get work done faster and in increments […. It’s] really so that we could reach our customers faster.” – Adelyn Zamona, Global Marketing Manager at Brady Corp.
The changing nature of the B2B buying process has left organizations with a new set of problems. With growing demand for insightful content, greater competition from rival businesses, and consumers engaging with an ever-growing selection of digital touchpoints, it’s no longer a question of creating the right content; it’s also a question of delivering it at the right time.
This is real-time marketing: monitoring the needs of your customers and the strategies of your rivals, and delivering the perfect piece of content in response. By incorporating agile processes into your marketing strategy, your organization can capitalize on these previously missed opportunities.
1. Develop Listening and Alerting Mechanisms
The first step in responding to real-time marketing is to identify opportunities as they arise.
It’s a great idea to have a dedicated team member responsible for monitoring key channels for these opportunities. While agile marketing should only take up a small portion of their daily activities, it’s helpful to have somebody accountable for the role.
Alongside the more obvious sources like competitor websites, press releases, and industry publications, there are a few tools that make it easy for marketers to stay abreast of new opportunities:
- Google Alerts allows you to monitor the web for new instances of particular keywords. If you want to keep tabs on rival marketing strategies, you can set up Alerts to track and notify you of all new mentions of their brand names
- Social media channels often provide the quickest way to be notified of new branded content. They also provide invaluable opportunities to monitor customer feedback and earned content
- RSS feeds allow you to aggregate blog content from hundreds of individual feeds. With business blogging an increasingly crucial enterprise marketing tool, a resource like Feedly will allow marketers to efficiently monitor content from dozens of competitors
2. Empower Your Staff to Respond to Emerging Opportunities
Many enterprise organizations have extremely long internal approval processes. Even if new marketing opportunities are identified quickly and efficiently, these organizations will never be able to plan, approve, and enact a response rapidly enough for it to be effective.
Organizations need to empower their marketing teams with a degree of autonomy. Some real-time marketing opportunities (like responding to a tweet) won’t necessitate the same degree of approval as more complex opportunities (like issuing a press release in response to a competitor’s). In these instances, there’s no need for a long-winded approval process.
Marketers simply need to understand the scope and limitations of their autonomy—that is, which opportunities require approval, and which don’t.
At the edge of their authority, marketers need a clear understanding of how to gain approval: who they need to talk to, and how long approval should take. The quicker the approval process, the more effective your response, and the more likely your marketing team will be to engage with emerging opportunities. As a result, it’s a great idea to create a single point of contact between marketers and the C-suite.
3. Introduce Iterative Marketing Strategies
Most traditional marketing campaigns rely on the waterfall methodology—a process of rigid sequential development that relies upon each previous process being fully completed. While these strategies still play a vital role in many marketing campaigns, they make real-time marketing extremely difficult, for the following reasons.
- Long, rigid development cycles can render marketing campaigns ineffective and outdated by the time they finally go live
- Campaigns are much more challenging and expensive to refine if they follow a strict waterfall style
- Some of the most effective and cost-effective marketing opportunities have emerged from agile strategies
- Waterfall enterprise organizations will find it increasingly challenging to respond to agile marketing strategies, and may begin to lose out as a result
It’ll be far easier to develop a process for responding to real-time marketing if some of your existing marketing campaigns follow an iterative process: testing out new concepts in a small environment, assessing their results, and refining your strategy accordingly.