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Olga Keating
08 July 2020

How Agile are the UK and European marketers?

Interim results based on The Future of Marketing Survey
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The world is changing, the way we do business is changing and of course, marketing itself is changing. Marketers are needing to pivot and respond to changing conditions on a daily basis – as evidenced most recently by the Covid-19 crisis. The world changed overnight and marketers are drawing on their own and their organisations' agility to respond.

Last year a question was raised about the state of Agile Marketing in the UK and we realised that whilst there was anecdotal evidence and instinct it would be interesting to back it up with research. We combined our efforts with Pam Ashby (who is an Agile marketing specialist, a certified coach and a communications consultant) in order to learn more about the state of marketing in the UK as well as in the whole of Europe. We launched a quick and simple survey via the Fastuna platform and sent it on its viral journey across social media to learn about the way people are working now, the way they look into the future and what challenges they experience.

We believe that this study will bring great value to anyone interested. Just by completing the survey itself it will make you aware of the new principles. Broadening the understanding of what agile means to different groups and how we can be flexible in using those principles. It is interesting how polarising the very attitude to Agile can be. Here are a couple of definitions offered by our survey respondents:
A method to deliver Marketing that involves setting customer focused clear goals, then collaborating cross team, working iteratively to achieve them. It also involves using data to make decisions and a test and learn approach
Anonymous marketer
It’s an excuse for marketers not to do long term plans and to not commit to anything
Anonymous marketer
This survey is helping us explore how we, as a marketing industry, can respond to the new world of change. It also questions the assumptions around agile marketing. That is why we call it the 'Future of Marketing' survey and refrain from using the term 'agile' in the survey. Many people understand agile marketing as a process used to run digital projects. As with all new buzzwords agile is often misunderstood or understood to only a limited degree. So we headlined the survey in that way to avoid that and to obtain unbiased results and capture existing agile thinking amongst companies and marketing practitioners: including individuals and organisations who are making changes towards a more effective and customer centric way of working without labeling it.
The survey was mainly answered by marketers or people involved in marketing in some way. 57% of respondents live in the UK and other countries in Europe. About 70% of all who answered the survey were from SMEs and a ⅓ works within large companies.
Best practice — which elements of agile marketing have they already adopted
So how Agile are they?

We can see that the majority (67%) actually use some elements of an Agile marketing approach and they have plans that are flexible and change often.

Looking more closely at what they say, we can see that Agile practices like daily standups, sprints, Scrum/Kanban etc. are getting integrated into the marketing process, though spreadsheets are still rather common in many organisations. Moreover, only 16% of survey participants mentioned principles as specific to Agile as 'Minimal Viable Product' (MVP).
Areas for improvement
It is great news that over 80% of our participants are really enjoying what they do and love their jobs. Nevertheless, we can see that there is room for improvement within these marketing departments. Over ⅓ of respondents, whilst seeming happy overall, feel dissatisfied with the way their marketing department currently works.
Yes it does need to change, because the market is changing really fast at the moment and we are lagging behind. We waste too much time on stuff that is not important.
Anonymous marketer
Almost a half claim they have many urgent tasks and that they run out of time to complete them all and over a ⅓ feel challenged with too many priorities.

However, the majority feel they are allowed to make mistakes and that their job provides them an opportunity to grow, which is a great foundation for a flexible and adaptive mindset.

Marketers feel there is plenty of room for improvement within their departments. Moreover, the areas requiring most attention are faster decision making, better understanding of their consumers and improved collaboration with other departments and suppliers.
We do a lot of A/B testing for our email marketing but the analysis comes a bit too late for the next campaign and therefore we cannot apply the improvement quick enough for a better engagement. We don’t respond to customers' needs and we stick to our Marketing plan a bit too closely.
Anonymous marketer
More responsive, flexible. Marketing is something everyone should do, not just a team.
Anonymous marketer
1) We need to have clear solutions to prioritise better, which would allow us to make faster and better decisions
2) We need to have better team planning software — we don’t use any internal project planning software and it is really difficult to monitor who is doing what
3) We need to work more on getting longer term relationships with partners — and build co-marketing initiatives together. We do it now, but it’s all so last minute
4) All of us need to be in the mindset of scrum, by delivering constant small improvements to make customers happier
Anonymous marketer
It will integrate others into the development of materials — we are not subject matter experts, we are experts in making sure it says the right thing, looks good, and is utilised by the correct medium.
Anonymous marketer
We’re a small company now and plan on expanding in the future. We see ourselves gaining greater depth of knowledge within the team through cross-training (moving towards a pi-shaped model instead of a more generalist model for the team-members.)
Anonymous marketer
Some already do practise elements of Agile marketing, however the majority are still working within the more traditional (spreadsheet and annual planning) frameworks.
We need a clearer understanding of our client’s objectives first and foremost. Moving on from this, we would benefit from a clearer annual plan for delivering on their goals. As for individual projects, working more closely with clients would help us work more productively according to the strict critical time paths we set out which the client does not always respect.
Anonymous marketer
We are still in the process of collecting people’s views and looking forward to learning more abut the changing trends in marketing and contributing to the industry as a whole. Please share far and wide.
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