5 Ways Agile Marketing Helps Elevate SEO Strategies
We all know the story when it comes to SEO: whether your goal is to reach a hyper-niche target audience or build an indelible web of backlinks, it’s a long game. No matter how time-bound your KPIs are—or how swiftly the rules of the game change—it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Agile methodologies offer us some of the best tools for operating in lockstep with SEO’s slippery rhythms. With Agile marketing approaches—and an Agile perspective—we glean fresh, actionable insights from existing SEO strategies and have the framework to make them operable.
Today, the goal of SEO isn’t just to fight tooth and nail to vault to the top of SERPs. Encountering and cementing relationships with consumers demands a human-centered approach. And with people, as it happens, is precisely where Agile started.
What Is Agile?
Agile is an approach to product development that was born in the software industry, but it’s since been deployed well beyond the tech world, across and between multiple market sectors. Whatever the context, Agile operates on four core values:
- Keeping human beings at the center of the work
- Generating adaptable, flexible products
- Embracing collaborative, goal-oriented workflows
- Responding to change rather than fixating on solutions
Since its codification in 2001, not only did Agile’s forebears predict the modern market climate, but they also furnished professionals with the tools they need to keep pace. Marketing is just one arena where those techniques can take root to hasten an industry’s evolution.
What Is Agile Marketing?
Today, companies and marketers are firing at the speed of 1s and 0s. But without the right tactics in place, our development processes lack discipline, and the solutions we deliver can fall flat. Agile marketing tenders a way of working with and channeling that pressure rather than letting it best us. The objective here isn’t to work harder—it’s to work smarter.
For SEO purposes, that means:
- Meeting the need for speed by economizing our workflows
- Combining knife-edge creative with test-driven experimentation
- Driving up content quality by centering human beings
- Building data-informed relationships with consumers
- Building data-informed relationships with allies
- Embracing growth-oriented, rather than traditional, marketing
5 Ways Agile Marketing Mobilizes SEO Strategy
The benefit of Agile marketing is that it calls on quickfire techniques to help you make the most of SEO investments and catalyze a slow-to-smolder strategy. These five Agile approaches showcase how brands can reap more from their existing strategies and drum up new ones to surmount their SEO goals.
#1 Break Up Big Goals
SEO is multifaceted and ever-evolving. Not only do brands need a steady churn of content, but the moment they establish an SEO strategy is the same instance the algorithmic wind changes and it’s time for adaptation. To that end, Agile is built for both speed and consistency. Rather than scrambling to summit a titanic milestone—be it to draw a higher volume of traffic or higher-quality leads—Agile marketing teams use these techniques to meter their productivity:
- Sprints – Agile teams break up big goals into iterative stages called sprints—bounded bytes of time dedicated to meeting a specific, measurable objective. In traditional Agile style, sprints tend to span between 1-4 weeks of goal-oriented work. At the end of a sprint, a product is presented for evaluation by stakeholders across the workflow continuum.
- Stand-ups – Think of stand-ups as a daily beat that keeps sprints on tempo. They’re a timeboxed huddle where teams communicate on what they’re tackling, any obstacles they forecast, and how swiftly a sprint is progressing towards its goal. In the marketing world, stand-ups are key for internal transparency as well as creative cross-pollination.
- Retrospectives – When a goal is reached or a sprint completed, retrospectives carve out space to let team members analyze that period of work. This is essential for progressive instrumentation—web, marketing, and product analytics only have merit when we reflect on how to turn their yields into action.
The quicksilver nature of SEO means marketing professionals and brands themselves need flexible workflows that can change shape, cadence, and even direction on a dime. When timing is everything, Agile offers the structure to adjust to a rhythm that won’t stand still.
#2 Combine Creative Thought With Experimentation
The winds of SEO are shifting, and two trends emerging in parallel signal some seismic changes on the horizon:
- User Intent– As search engine algorithms grow more sophisticated, user intent has become the single most important factor organizing search result hierarchies. Beefing up content with keywords won’t age well, and brands need new strategies—ones centered on quality content and humanized UX—to appease both consumers and the SEO gods.
- Privacy crack-downs – Consumers know the value of their data footprint in the marketplace, and they’re growing ever more protective of their privacy online. Courts around the globe are following suit, with two major pieces of legislation—the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA—garnering consumers more control over what they share with brands. With privacy-centered search engines like Brave and DuckDuckGo giving Google a run for its money, privacy is now a product in itself. For brands, these trends present a paradox.
On the one hand, harmonizing with your target audience’s objective requires an intimate knowledge of who they are. Without it, your SEO could suffer—bounce rates, “pogo-sticking,” and every click-back is a penalty from Google’s perspective. On the other, court-ordered restrictions suggest businesses will be navigating significant limitations in how they retrieve and interpret that knowledge.
Let’s check our Agile toolbox for three tools that help us resolve this riddle:
- Customer personas – Customer personas are a design tool used to envision who individuals in your target audience are. They break down your prototype customer into their values, goals, obstacles, and how they evaluate whether or not they’ve achieved them.
- User stories – User stories or journeys imagine the contexts in which an individual encounters and interacts with a company and its products or services. This tactic enabled software engineers to optimize UX so adeptly that their product became indispensable to their end user. For marketers, it teaches us which channels to target, how to deliver our value props, and what a relationship with lasting power looks like.
- Scrum – Scrum is a model used for Agile product development that draws on the scientific method: start with a hypothesis, test it, and use what you’ve learned to cash in real-world value.
Combining these three techniques isn’t just effective. It’s liberating. Agile marketing welds creativity and experimentation so that businesses can understand their audience deductively while earning consumers’ confidence. Remember: when privacy has market value, trust is currency.
#3 Solve Complex Problems With Compound Solutions
SEO isn’t solely for boosting visibility wholesale. With Agile marketing, SEO can be harnessed to surmount the complex challenge of reaching a hyper-niche set of consumers. We’ll give you an example.
Our marketing agency has a long-standing partnership with a heavyweight bi-coastal law firm operating in three major American cities. Recently, they asked us to champion an outreach campaign to locate a consumer group organizing a class-action suit against a renowned car company. Our mission: to educate consumers about the advantages of hiring a private firm for the lawsuit and, ultimately, convert them into clientele.
In this scenario, it wasn’t enough to put the usual SEO gears in motion. We needed a propulsive mechanism on our backend to track down and earn the favor of a specific group of users online—and tout de suite, at that.
Using Agile marketing techniques, we:
- Mounted search engine advertisements powered by social media data to locate consumers affected by the car company in question.
- Designed captivating creative and positioned them on Facebook to forge a pathway between users and our partner law firm.
- Built trust with consumers by educating them on the value of working with a private firm rather than pursuing a class action suit.
- Gave users the opportunity to talk to a real human by prompting them to leave their contact information so that a law professional could reach out to them directly.
Our campaign sprint lasted just 6 weeks, but the results were manifold. We generated 250+ high-quality leads and locked in 31 new clients for the firm. Not only did we track down our target audience, but we also laid the foundation for relationships built on trust.
The takeaway: no matter what the primary objective is, Agile marketing follows SEO’s tidal shift to put human beings first, on both ends (and at every stage) of the funnel to develop marketing solutions as nuanced as they are.
#4 Drive Off-Site SEO
Competitive positioning—the practice of familiarizing oneself with competitors and their position in the marketplace—is essential for any Agile marketing agency. But did you know the same tools can be used to forge bonds with your allies? Building backlinks and off-site SEO is critical for crude rankings and establishing brand authority. The richer your network, the more pathways to your online home base.
Here’s how to use Agile to flip competitive positioning on its head and weave an ironclad network:
- Key allies – The SEO ecosystem isn’t solely made up of competitors—there are game-changing advantages to partnering with peer companies for the reciprocal benefit of both. Where competitive positioning identifies key players competing for your target audience, constructive positioning urges you to locate key allies to start building your backlink repertoire. Here, you’ll identify who those organizations are, your overlapping audiences, and the hand-in-glove benefits you both can offer.
- Constructive matrixes – Competitive matrixes map where a brand lies in relation to competitors. Constructive matrixes suss out where cross-industry brands overlap. For instance, a food sensitivity testing company can’t provide therapy modules to balance out their consumers’ holistic health profile—but they can refer users to a peer brand that connects consumers to teletherapists. Locate where your customers’ interests converge, and build bonds from there.
The takeaway: on-site SEO gives companies complete control over their marketing efforts, but rounding out their strategy demands an investment in relationships—not just with consumers, but also with allies.
#5 Embrace A Growth Mindset To Change The Content Climate
Ultimately, Agile isn’t just built for garden-variety marketing, It's built for growth marketing—a progressive take on the advertising of old that trades messaging blitzes for building fruitful relationships with consumers. An Aesop’s Fable may help illuminate the distinction: there’s a guy wearing a heavy coat, and the wind and the sun make a bet to see who can get him to remove it first. The wind attempts to blow his coat off using sheer force—and fails. The sun, on the other hand, gradually changes the climate until he’s warm enough to remove it himself.
The wind is traditional marketing—the sun is growth marketing. Coupled together, Agile and growth marketing strive to:
- Change the overall climate of the marketplace
- Improve the quality of products (true for software, and true for content)
- Invite consumers to your storefront, rather than hammering in a message
- Treat every initiative—whether successful or not—as a valuable resource that helps you better understand your audience
Whatever your industry, product, or SEO agenda, Agile helps to raise the bar internally and set a new standard for the market ecosystem writ large.
No matter your business, SEO is paramount. Agile techniques can help brands move like the wind…but Agile marketing is how they recoup control, elevate their campaigns, and give an authentically human message its place in the sun.
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