Marketing teams are falling in love. The object of affection? Agile workflows. A recent study found that 37 percent of marketers have already implemented some form of the methodology. And I can see the appeal. Agile marketing encourages rapid iteration and constant improvement. It is especially attractive to content teams since these folks are continually under pressure to publish, publish, publish.
But I have to wonder — is what these teams are publishing so fast having a real impact?
Of course, agile used to be something known only to the world of software development — a way to plan and launch quickly. Over the years, this iterative approach has made its way into the marketing space, influencing how teams plan and create marketing programs. But what is agile content marketing, really?
Agile content marketing is a method for producing valuable content iteratively — using data and audience insights to inform what comes next. From concept to creation, the focus is on measuring how each new piece performs based on metrics that matter to the business. The team then pivots based on those learnings. The goal is to drive more customer engagement and grow the audience.
It definitely seems appealing but there are issues too. When you focus on rapid output and iteration above all else, it is easy to forget about the larger goals and purpose of what you are publishing. As a result, quality can suffer and leave your audience confused about what it is you are trying to convey.
Working faster and more iteratively does not deliver impactful content — you also need a content strategy and plan for production.
In the past, you may have simply created your editorial calendar, plotting out what to publish in the next month or quarter. But you also likely had some kind of content strategy — the “why” behind the topics you write about and how those content pieces will support the business goals.
An agile content marketing roadmap is where both of these artifacts come together. It is a visual timeline for how the content team will produce meaningful work while staying flexible.
The good news is that you can do both — move fast and be strategic. You just need a guide. Here is how to get started:
Create a content strategy
Depending on the larger marketing and business objectives, your content strategy might include driving customer conversions or becoming a recognized thought leader in your industry. Overall, the focus is on how you will build an audience and use content to grow the business. You will also want to create personas that you can map each piece of content to.
Define specific initiatives
These are the broad areas of work necessary to achieve your strategy. For example, you might have an initiative to publish a series of infographics, launch an email campaign, or improve how you merchandise content on your website. The key is that you link these big efforts to the goals so the team can easily visualize how the work they are doing ties back to the strategy.
Set a thematic calendar
An agile roadmap creates space for flexibility, but you still need to include dates for when you plan to publish new content. Set your major content themes first, mapping them to your strategy. Then you can organize the calendar by time, such as week or month, and by channels like blog and social. Share the calendar with the rest of the marketing team to make sure you are delivering a cohesive message.
Detail lightweight workflows
When the team can see the work that needs to be done — including the status of a piece of content, such as outline, draft, or copyedit — they can iterate faster. Break each piece into activities, or discrete units of work, and then identify the repeatable requirements needed to create and publish. Then assign these tasks to teammates and use colors to indicate status. This ensures that everyone can track progress and collaborate to deliver content quickly.
Choose metrics and measure
Page views, number of visitors, comments, and social media shares are a few metrics you may want to monitor on an ongoing basis. This is valuable information to share with stakeholders who want to know how content is doing. This performance data will also guide your decisions about what topics you will write about next and how.
Producing high-quality pieces that audiences crave requires a steady stream of new ideas. So listen up. Monitor and collect feedback — from blog post comments, email responses, and social media interactions. And actively interact with your audience when you can. Look to internal teams, such as customer support or sales teams too. You will start to see signals that allow you to create new and relevant content even faster and have a more meaningful dialogue.
An agile content marketing roadmap helps you organize and prioritize the team’s work — so you produce great content quickly but with purpose.
Are your blog posts, videos, and podcasts actually landing with the intended audience? Is your content truly serving the larger marketing goals? Once you can answer these questions definitively, you will be able to strike the right balance between moving fast and staying aligned with your content strategy.
How does your marketing team build content plans?
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