Historically Agile has been seen as a methodology that, while powerful, was limited to the web development process. Its goal is to make web development more effective, and to deliver partial, usable solutions early in the process.

As companies have embraced Agile, they’ve also started to ask how to apply its core principles to other aspects of business. This requires seeing not just the web development process, but the whole company as an ever-evolving and developing entity.

“Agile’s emergence as a huge global movement extending beyond software is driven by the discovery that the only way for organizations to cope with today’s turbulent customer-driven marketplace is to become Agile.”

Forbes

Why SEO requires continuous development

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SEO (the process of optimizing a website to appear high with Google and other search engines) is one of the aspects of marketing that lends itself most obviously to Agile for two reasons:

  1. SEO is another aspect of a website, therefore is a process that occurs alongside web development.
  2. Google change their algorithm continuously, therefore it requires a regular change in approach and can’t be seen as a static part of the web development process.

Some ways in which you can apply the Agile framework to SEO are:

  • As part of a web development plan, identify the priority pages you want to market and do keyword research, write good Metatags and optimize these pages first. These are your ‘landing pages’. Focus on other landing pages later on once the priority pages are fully optimized and live.
  • Ensure that there’s communication between the development team and the SEO team and make sure that your development team understands the basics of SEO. Certain development decisions can make a huge difference to your SEO – for example, Google can only index one version of a page with a single URL, so each page needs a different URL. If you have a multilingual site, it’s essential that the foreign version has different URLs than the English version and doesn’t rely on cookies alone to change the language. One way to do this is with different domains, like .fr for French, .de for German, etc.
  • Keep up-to-date with Google’s algorithm changes and periodically do keyword research and review your strategy in order to comply with the ever-changing requirements for an optimal SEO strategy. RankBrain, an artificial intelligence program that continuously refines the algorithm many times every single day is now a core part of their algorithm and means user-experience factors are just as important as keyword factors.

Personalize your marketing while applying Agile

As mentioned, organisations are now applying Agile to more than just their websites and are also looking at how they can apply Agile to their business as a whole, with some companies like Spotify and Riot Games being founded and developed on strong Agile principles right from the word go.

With offline marketing and branding, the time frame might not be as fast as web development. If you change your logo every 2 months, for example, to reflect the latest customer research and keep your customers happy, then the odds are that you will instead confuse your customers as they won’t recognize your brand in the same way as if you’d simply kept your logo design the same!

There are however some principles of Agile that fit very well with offline marketing.

Let’s explore one concrete example in depth – imagine you’re exhibiting your company at a trade fair. You’ve got your posters printed, beautifully designed leaflets ready to hand out, stylish bags with your logo design printed on them and talented sales people. Yet, despite all of this, when you get to the trade fair, on Day 1 you don’t get the response you want and your booth is empty.

Under such time pressure, a lot of teams would freeze, however by applying several Agile principles together and thinking outside of the box, you can still make Day 2 a success.

First, here are 6 of the 12 Agile principles to apply to this situation:

  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information is face-to-face conversation.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals.
  • Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.

This is an example of a marketing situation that has an urgent ‘changing requirements’. Embrace the challenge! If you’re having very poor results, then stop whatever you’re doing and meet as a team to discuss solutions. Don’t wait to the end of Day 1.

The first thing to do is establish what you can do to resolve the situation. Your team will be able to decide this better than any one individual, particularly if you can get the perspective of someone who runs your business, as well as the marketing department. Some solutions might be:

  • While you’re discussing it, have some of your team stand on the other side of the booth. This creates an air of activity to your booth that might attract trade fair visitors.
  • Is your booth too cluttered? Concentrate on one or two core messages and make sure that someone standing 10m away can easily identify what you do, how it will benefit them and have an emotional attraction to your product.
  • Remember those bags with your logo on? Ask the trade fair managers if they’re happy to give out your personalised bags to visitors as they enter the building. Everyone needs a bag at these events and this is a great way to have lots of people walking around advertising your brand. This will unconsciously draw people to your stall too.
  • If your booth is in an out of the way location, consider having one of your team approach other stalls and offer your services directly to them. They’ll be busy, so if you go this route, prepare a 30 second pitch, give them a leaflet and take a phone number to follow-up.

By welcoming the challenge and working together as a team, you can make Day 2 a success. In most marketing situations you have weeks or even months to review your process, measure the results and make improvements using an Agile methodology. The trade fair example illustrates how you can adapt to a situation even given a very strict timescale and a limited scope to change your environment.

Conclusion

The Agile principles provide a way of developing a website that give you better results sooner and more efficiently. Applying these same principles to your SEO and marketing campaigns and other aspects of business will enhance the results of your business as a whole.