Why Marketers Must Go Agile or Go Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught marketing executives everywhere some harsh lessons, and it’s also underlined some trends that were already happening. One of them is the growth of agile planning. The big holding companies have been talking about the need to get more agile in planning for a few years.  Businesses that have figured out how to create more nimble marketing campaigns using tools such as keyword research are best positioned to adapt to a world in which marketers are now preparing for a holiday shopping season unlike any other.

COVID-19 Wreaks Havoc with Seasonal Campaigns

Creating annual marketing campaigns was gradually going out of fashion as digital gave enterprises better ways to sense and respond to customer behavior. But the pandemic has wreaked havoc even with seasonal campaigns. For example:

  • Back-to-school season is traditionally a time for retailers to plan campaigns based on the familiar sight of kids playing in fun-filled schoolyards or young adults returning to bustling college campuses. But how could any business plan a campaign around the 2020-21 school year? Even up to late August, secondary school districts around the United States were debating how to handle the school year, and colleges welcomed (sort of) students back to campuses with empty football stadiums and quads.
  • Now consider the 2020 holiday shopping season. Retailers that created seasonal campaigns assuming people would be gathering with friends and families to celebrate another festive season have needed to scotch those plans. Retailers must plan amid uncertainty, including the possibility that more brick-and-mortar lockdowns could be on the horizon.

What’s a retailer to do? The answer is to use a tool that have been there all along to create nimbler, more adaptable marketing campaigns:


Sensing and Responding with Google

Many marketers have built successful careers based on their ability to understand how to create content tied to how people search. That’s old news. But marketers are still figuring how to use Google to create marketing campaigns that sense and respond to changing consumer behavior. In fact, Google is an incredible real-time barometer of consumer shopping intent.

I’m working with one business right now that understands the power of Google to create an agile plan for the holidays. The business, a floral company, was originally planning a campaign based on the sentimental value of flowers themselves. But Google said otherwise. A quick review of consumer search behavior showed that floral baskets and do-it-yourself kits are more attuned to what my client’s customers want. My client quickly adapted its approach for a digital advertising campaign.

And here’s why our plan is agile: if Google reveals a change in search behavior or shifts results as the holidays get closer, we’ll revise the campaign – and again if we need to.

What You Need to Do

  • Think of search as a form of consumer listening – akin to a digital focus group, as noted above.
  • Invest in the right tools and expertise. Agile marketing is not about using Google Trends to squeeze in a casual analysis while you’re killing time before your next meeting on Zoom. Agile planning requires the use of more robust tools coupled with expertise into reading data and making sense of it. Even professional tools require nuancing and interpretation. From there, you need to pair the data with insight into how to apply the data to create better marketing campaigns.

Agile planning is no longer optional, but neither is agile planning a slam dunk. With the right people and tools, you can be far more responsive to your customers than ever – and that’s good news now and in the future. Contact me to learn more.

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