Step-by-step overview of what an agile marketing team does

Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by David Edelman, Jason Heller, Spittaels and Steven for the McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. To read the complete article, check out other resources, learn more about the firm, obtain subscription information, and register to receive email alerts, please click here.

To learn more about the McKinsey Quarterly, please click here.

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Here is how an agile team works:

Aligns with leadership and sets team expectations

Once the war-room team is assembled, it works with the leaders of the marketing organization and other key stakeholders to align everyone on the initiative’s goals. After that, the war-room team has a kickoff meeting to establish clearly that former ground rules and norms no longer apply and to articulate the agile culture and expectations: deep and continuous collaboration; speed; avoidance of “business as usual”; embracing the unexpected; striving for simplicity; data-trumping opinions; accountability—and above all, putting the customer at the center of all decisions.

Analyzes the data to identify the opportunities

By its second day, the team ought to be up and running and doing real work. That begins with developing insights based on targeted analytics. The insights should aim to identify anomalies, pain points, issues, or opportunities in the decision journeys of key customer or prospect segments. Each morning there is a daily stand-up in which each team member gives a quick report on what they accomplished the day before and what they plan to do today. This is a powerful practice for imposing accountability, since everyone makes a daily promise to their peers and must report on it the very next day.

Designs and prioritizes tests

For each identified opportunity or issue, the team develops both ideas about how to improve the experience and ways to test those ideas. For each hypothesis, the team designs a testing method and defines key performance indicators (KPIs). Once a list of potential tests has been generated, it is prioritized based on two criteria: potential business impact and ease of implementation. Prioritized ideas are bumped to the top of the queue to be tested immediately.

Runs tests

The team runs tests in one- to two-week “sprints” to validate whether the proposed approaches work—for example, does changing a call to action or an offer for a particular segment result in more customers completing a bank’s online loan application process? The team needs to operate efficiently—few meetings, and those are short and to the point—to manage an effective level of throughput, with a streamlined production and approval process. One team at a European bank ran a series of systematic weekly media tests across all categories and reallocated spending based on the findings on an ongoing basis. This effort helped lead to more than a tenfold increase in conversion rates.

Iterates the idea based on results

The team must have effective and flawless tracking mechanisms in place to quickly report on the performance of each test. The scrum master leads review sessions to go over test findings and decide how to scale the tests that yield promising results, adapt to feedback, and kill off those that aren’t working—all within a compressed timeframe.

At the end of each sprint, the war-room team debriefs to incorporate lessons learned and communicate results to key stakeholders. The scrum master resets priorities based on the results from the tests in the prior sprint and continues to work down the backlog of opportunities for the next sprint.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

David Edelman is a former partner at McKinsey and current CMO at Aetna Health Insurance; Jason Heller is global leader of McKinsey’s digital marketing operations group; and Steven Spittaels leads McKinsey’s marketing service line in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.


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