Agile isn’t a new concept – it’s been in practise by developers and successful organizations for years. In today’s fast paced business environment many industries are using Agile practises to drive not only their technology, but also their marketing. But in a complex industry like finance can Agile be applied?

Although change has often moved slower in the financial and asset management industries, disruption still occurs and Agile marketing may be the answer. You can find the Agile marketing manifesto here.

Financial Services Embraces the Agile Approach

According to the Financial Brand several major firms have started to embrace the Agile marketing concept in financial services. Citi, Capital One, Scottrade, ING, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America are aspiring to become more adaptive and customer-focused.

However, we all know that it is not easy to make changes in this complex industry. Marketers face many challenges. To name a few:  unintegrated systems, no data sync, complex internal and external processes, lengthy speed to market, and numerous legal and compliance reviews. Many marketing teams are working in silos, outlining the complicated roadmaps, trying to carefully plan out their collateral, and avoiding any potential changes as these would delay the release of their marketing campaigns.

Challenging, but possible

In truth, marketers are already using elements of Agile approach to their work. Many set up regular meetings when planning their marketing activities – this time it’s used to find common goals, review the related metrics, discuss any possible improvements, identify, prioritise and distribute tasks.

The overall objective is to have a fast response to market changes, rapid amendments of the exiting campaigns, testing and optimisation for each deployment, collaboration with other teams or team members, and embracing a data-driven approach for the marketing collaterals.

Potential pitfalls

Embracing change means challenging many existing frameworks and processes, legacy systems and infrastructures that have been used for years. Companies may even need to rethink organisational structures, functions, and internal disciplines.

Models such as command and control, top-down approach, or tunnel-vision marketing should be shifted towards autonomous teams and collaboration. It doesn’t mean that current processes of approvals should to be ignored, but there needs to be room to make decisions to be effective. And the required sign-offs should be timely to allow the team to respond to ideas, changes and suggestions.

Financial services should find ways to make their systems talk to each other. Sharing of the real-time metrics, data and feedback, and even notes amongst the team members shouldn’t be complicated.

Testing needs to become an integral part of every marketing campaign: when you test an idea, you get data back. Your team can learn and respond based on these metrics. Financial services are still relatively slow in finding new ways to test their marketing, as it usually requires a lot more cooperation, time, and help from other teams, such as compliance. It’s recommended to revisit the existing processes and aligning marketing efforts early in the planning stages.

Implementing Agile in Marketing

There are many tools marketing can utilize to adopt Agile, but such technology needs to be fast, easy to use, and show real-time data. There are various software programs that offer continuous integration, help to plan, create and track workflows, and present reporting to improve team performance.  And most likely, you have at least some of them at your disposal.

When it comes to email outreach, using behavioural tracking to advance your email strategy is one of the Agile methods. When your contacts respond to your calls-to-action, or, for example, show interest in one fund amongst several promoted in your email, they could be dynamically pulled into client segments for your future deployments. StoneShot’s engagement scoring can help you achieve that – it allows you to prioritise the interactions and identify the engagement points using innovative tagging features.

Personalisation brings Agile – you can personalise and A/B test subject lines, content, and even create trigger messages, for instance, to your inactive subscribers. Agile also means eliminating unnecessary steps – internally for you and your team, and externally for your clients.

In order to stay ahead of the competition marketers should create Agile content plans. Preparing and revising your content in short sprint cycles will help you increase your speed to market. For example, marketers can have pieces of content ready in advance when anticipating market reactions to major events or market triggers such as the Fed announcements. This way, once you have the results, you can amend your content if needed, and deploy your marketing campaigns quickly. The sooner you send out your content, the more relevant the message is to your clients. With many rapid changes in the industry, delayed messages can become out-of-date really quickly – and professional investors value relevant content. If producing a lot of content a dynamic content strategy may be best for you and StoneShot can help!

There are many ways to implement Agile approaches to your event planning too. Part of being Agile means finding ways for continuous improvement. And the best way to do that is to evaluate the performance of your events. Post-event surveys for attendees and even speakers will give you a good opportunity to collect feedback and act upon it – many attendees have really high expectations.

Reviewing experiences and the feedback with the team is important – a comprehensive post-mortem will present a good opportunity for collaboration with the colleagues to find areas for improvement and address any issues.

Agile marketing is here to stay

When creating your marketing campaigns, look at your deployments on a sprint-by-sprint basis, collaborate with your team to discuss and analyse the results, come up with suggestions, and then optimise your further marketing materials. Continuous analysis of your results will create a feedback loop – with methodical testing you will identify opportunities for further optimisation and ultimately achieve more successful results. Want to talk more about Agile marketing?

StoneShot will be exhibiting at the 2017 PAICR Annual Conference taking place in New York where investment services marketers and communication professionals will be gathering to learn more about Agile marketing in the times of disruption. We hope to see you there!