Why Agile holds the key to content planning in the digital age - Mediablaze
The content calendar is dead - Mediablaze, digital marketing agency London

The content calendar is dead: why Agile holds the key to content planning in the digital age

In today’s fast moving world of multiple online platforms, live feeds and disappearing content, marketers have to react and predict to survive.

  • Marketers using Agile project management are 252% more likely to report success
  • 32% of marketers are using some elements of Agile to manage their projects

Gone are the days when marketing was planned to the nth degree for an entire year. In today’s fast moving world of multiple online platforms, live feeds and disappearing content, marketers have to react and predict to survive. The content calendar is dead.

Welcome to Agile methodology

Originally an approach spawned by software teams to plan and execute large projects more efficiently, Agile has since been embraced by numerous other sectors, not least marketing. According to research by CoSchedule in 2019, marketers using Agile project management are 252% more likely to report success.

Agile is a way of breaking work down into manageable chunks, and enabling teams to continually test and learn, tweak and adapt. Done well, it breaks down barriers, promotes a more collaborative and responsive way of working, and minimises wastage, leading to a more efficient — and effective — operation.

Agile holds the key to content planning - Mediablaze, digital marketing agency London

So how can Agile transform your content marketing planning, and what are the first steps?

There are several frameworks in which you can organise your work within Agile. One of the most common is Scrum. This involves pulling together a prioritised to-do list (the ‘backlog’) and writing detailed descriptions of what each task entails, such as research, customer interviews and capturing video footage, for example, depending on the content type.

Each task is categorised into ‘to do’, ‘doing’ or ‘done’. This enables team members to see the progress of each task at any given time. Teams meet for daily updates – or daily scrums, often fast and focused 15 minute stand-up meetings.

A Scrum Master is put in charge of prioritising the smaller tasks that need to be completed. These will be divided into ‘sprints’ of typically two- to four-week periods (although they can be as short as a week) with a firm deadline. Each sprint ends with a review of the work, including a discussion of ways to improve the next sprint.

Within content marketing, the enforced discipline of Scrum means content creators agree to produce a realistic amount of content before a deadline, minimising the risk of being interrupted with urgent requests to produce content for another project.

Mediablaze adopted the Scrum methodology when working with sofa.com to optimise its conversion rate through digital marketing.  We began with a discovery workshop and rapid data analysis to identify barriers in the customer journey. We then created a prioritised list of experiments.

Within two weeks of project kickoff we were running experiment sprints to put our hypotheses to the test, fostering a culture of experimentation.

Adopting an agile approach - Work with digital marketing agency Mediablaze

Our approach included moving users from promoted Facebook and Pinterest posts to shoppable content pages, rather than linking to product pages. This increased product views, sample orders and sales, resulting in a 40% increase in product page interaction from social. 

We also created thematic landing pages around high-volume search terms, such as ‘blue sofa’, driving conversion and reducing CPAs to 20% below target.

Our work increased sofa.com‘s monthly revenues by over 40% YoY, and applying Agile ways of working enabled us to work quicker and smarter.

Scrum’s success is rooted in transparency. A Scrum Board presents a visual repository to organise the backlog and detail the state of current sprints. This could be a noticeboard plastered with sticky notes, or a digital board, such as Trello, which enables you to organise ‘cards’, or tasks you want to tackle.

A Scrum Board is designed to put an end to lengthy email trails and time-consuming meetings, instead replacing these with dynamic task cards in a single location, showing what each team member is working on and how advanced they are.

Different ways of Agile working

Another popular Agile way of organising your work is Kanban. This is less structured than Scrum and doesn’t impose time restrictions. Instead of linear sprints it aims to achieve a state of continuous flow.

According to the 2019 Annual State of Agile Marketing Report, 32% of marketers are currently using at least some parts of Agile to manage their work, such as daily stand-ups, a backlog, sprints or a Kanban board.

Within content marketing, this could mean dividing the content schedule into two parts: ‘near future’ and ‘priority’. ‘Priority’ ideas can be pulled from the ‘near future’ section to form a weekly calendar, while the ‘near future’ area forms the ideas backlog. This enables content to be reactive and flexible while maintaining a flow of inspiration.

Kanban also has Work in Progress (WIP) limits. This means a pre-defined number of projects must be finished before others can be started. This reduces the wasted time spent switching from one activity to another, and gives team members the optimum amount of ‘slack’, which can encourage creativity.

Different ways of Agile working will suit different companies. The answer might lie in cherrypicking a mix of processes from both Scrum and Kanban and melding them together to meet your particular content marketing goals.

This hybrid approach — Scrumban — lends itself well to content planning, which demands constant shifts. It provides the flexibility of Kanban and the formality of Scrum, allowing structure, organisation, accountability and transparency, with the ability to adapt and respond to change.

The challenge is to bring your clients on board to work in an Agile way, which can be difficult with rigid organizational structures. Making it work is the key to success to drive positive change.

As the pressure grows on companies to produce engaging, relevant content on a consistent basis, Agile holds the key.

Talk with the digital marketing specialists

If you’re looking to optimise your conversion rate and identify barriers to point-of-purchase in your customer journey we would love to talk. Get in touch with Roger Barr, our Chief Digital Officer to organise a masterclass.

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