30 second summary:
- Old point-and-shoot methods of search engine optimization are not sustainable.
- Agile marketers pave the way for combining technology and talent.
- Machine learning helps search engine marketers remove repetitive and mundane tasks.
- COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation that has long been underway.
- The combination of business intelligence and search intelligence is a must.
- Jim Yu, founder and CEO of BrightEdge, explains the basics of being an agile marketer.
“I’m looking for a marketing and search optimization expert with proven skills to understand the search ranking process, strategically lead and collaborate with other teams and departments, developing new processes to streamline tasks and drive efficiency gains, the brand’s strategy – To advance storytelling across channels… ”- To be a digital marketer In the job market there is a mix of descriptions like this and the following that point to the search for agile marketers.
“Must be experienced in HTML, CSS, PHP and web standards … own and execute digital strategy, including brainstorming and content creation …”
“Do A / B testing, own the marketing database, do full SEO audits … add thought leadership by blogging and speaking at events …”
It’s not your imagination, clients and recruiters are actually looking for digital hybrids – equal parts technical know-how, strategic insight, and creativity all in one neat package.
Once upon a time, these seemingly contradicting characteristics existed in very different roles. Those days are long gone. SEO is no longer a tactic and an isolated team, but an integral part of a holistic digital marketing strategy. Search results reveal consumer behavior and trends that are critical to marketing performance. Thanks to recent developments in AI, we can monitor and understand more of this data than ever before.
If you want to be successful as the market leader in marketing today, you have to be agile in the truest sense of the word: you can move quickly and easily. Across teams and departments, between campaigns and tools, across different channels and market segments, the agile marketer has the analytical know-how and emotional intelligence to effortlessly navigate and guide others through the vast digital marketing landscape.
Here are two specific areas where modern marketers can focus on increasing agility and value:
A. The technology and knowledge available to you
Monitoring, evaluating and activating search results of any size has proven to be a challenge for SEOs who are still trying to put together a workflow from different tools. Over the past year, research by BrightEdge has shown that the average search engine marketer relies on four to six SEO tools and data sources to execute their strategy.
These tools are inherently responsive as they tend not to “talk” to each other. Data must be edited, reformatted, and parsed before recommendations can be provided. By using point solutions, SEOs must meet consumer needs as they were expressed days, weeks, or months ago. To measure the impact of a search update, formulate a new strategy and only then can you react.
Both search technology and consumer behavior have far outperformed this approach. Data silos and point solutions limit the reach and efficiency of any digital marketing activity and hinder your ability to increase traffic, leads and revenue. Companies that base their decisions on data are 58% more likely to meet their revenue goals, but the quality of that data is essential.
It just doesn’t make sense anymore to build a huge data warehouse with potential use cases. The path to operationalizing this data is too long, cumbersome and far removed from its actual use in marketing.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to move beyond this time-consuming and labor-intensive approach. Find a platform that gathers data from all relevant sources, automates repetitive tasks, uses AI and deep learning to make meaningful recommendations, automates support, and keeps up with changes in search – all within a single interface.
Smart automation and this tier enable agile marketers to meet consumer demand – to meet website visitors in their moments of need with personalized content that is relevant, timely and directly addresses their unique behavioral traits. Your tools and technologies need to empower your marketing team, not frustrate them or create more work. You need to free up time for more creative and impactful activities.
B. How to use these insights and tools
To incorporate agility into your marketing strategy doesn’t just require you to acquire a few new skills or switch tools. It’s a mindset, a culture that changes your marketing strategy from SEO to CMO from start to finish.
According to a recent Aprimo survey, 95% of agile marketers plan to adopt the approach within the next 12 months. The same respondents said that 74% of agile marketers are happy with the performance of their team, and that agile teams feel better able to get work done quickly than their peers.
Top tips to help you and your team become agile marketers
1. Take a page from our friends in software development
Familiarize yourself with the tenets of Agile as it has been used successfully by technology and development teams for years. The Agile Manifesto of Software Development, the Agile Bible, produced by 17 people in 2001, is a good place to start.
This mindset was based on four key values:
- Individuals and interactions via processes and tools
- Working software through extensive documentation
- Customer cooperation through contract negotiations
- Answers to changeover according to a plan
Agile started out as a method of developing software, but has evolved into an ideology applicable to all types of digitally transforming projects like the Agile Marketing Manifesto.
The four key values, when specifically applied to marketing, become seven and are:
- Validated learning about opinions and conventions
- Customer-oriented cooperation via silos and hierarchies
- Adaptive and iterative campaigns via big bang campaigns
- The process of customer identification via static prediction
- Flexible vs. rigid planning
- Answers to changeover according to a plan
- Lots of little experiments over a few big bets
2. Decide what you want to achieve with your agile approach
Understand the benefits of agile and decide how to apply them in your own organization.
Reducing time to market, improving the ability to manage changing priorities, increasing productivity, and improving the alignment between IT and business goals are among the main reasons organizations adopt agile methodologies. But what do you expect from you – and how will you measure the results exactly?
3. Understand the characteristics that define agile team members
As I said, agility is a mindset. As you build your teams and hire new hires, be sure to build the culture you want to achieve. Marketers who have qualities like collaboration, openness, creative thinking, and resilience are good choices. Rigidity, complete ownership of processes and ideas, unwillingness to change once a plan is in place, and protectionism are red flags.
Being an agile marketer doesn’t mean you stop planning. This means that you will build the ability to make changes and quickly fit into your plans. At the executive level, agility requires that you have an overview of the tools, data, and people involved, but most importantly, that you have the emotional intelligence to understand the motivations and needs of each stakeholder. An agile marketer can quickly and continuously “read” the room to make incremental decisions and make adjustments as the plan is executed.
Learn all the time. Test constantly. The coronavirus was a clear reminder of how quickly things can change. Consumer behavior, service delivery models, market segments and entire organizational models had to change overnight. Companies have been forced to rethink entire lines of products and services and, in some cases, move into new industries.
Agile marketers are best positioned to succeed in the next few steps. You have laid the solid foundation of the skills, technology, and talent required to process and activate new information constantly.
Is that you?
Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading platform for enterprise SEO and content performance.