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At the last responsible moment

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At the last responsible moment


The following is a selection from the e-book “MarTech’s agile marketing for leaders.” Please click the button below to download the full e-book.

There’s a big misconception in agile marketing and that’s, “We’re agile—we don’t have to plan.” Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, agile marketing involves even more planning than most traditional marketing, but there’s one key difference — you always plan at the last responsible moment.

Let’s say you want to take your dream vacation to Europe in two years. Now, what if I told you that today you needed to know where you were going to eat each day and what meals you were going to order at the restaurant. That seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet that’s the same mentality we’ve had in marketing planning for years — trying to know everything upfront.

Now, pretend that you actually did decide what restaurant you were going to eat at, what time and what meal. Wow, you’re really on top of your game! But guess what — two years goes by and more than half of the restaurants you chose aren’t even in business anymore! Could your marketing plan also be irrelevant if it’s too detailed too soon? Absolutely.

Let’s dive into the idea of planning at the “last responsible moment.”


Diagram of ‘Last Responsible Moment’ planning

Quarterly planning across all teams

If you’ve been doing annual planning, the first step in agile marketing planning is to move towards quarterly planning. A year ahead is just too far into the future and your efforts may be a big waste of time. Some companies work off of an annual budget, so if you can’t change that at this point, see if you can at least move from specific deliverables to “buckets” of types of work for funding approval.

Read next: 7 leadership behaviors for marketing agility

There are three key deliverables that should come out of quarterly planning: Wildly Important Goals (WIGs), a marketing roadmap and an initiatives backlog. These are all items that should span the entire marketing department and encompass all teams.

A key thing to remember is that planning needs to be collaborative. At this point, marketing leads, strategists and product owners, along with stakeholders, should be involved.

Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)

Setting Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) across all of marketing is what aligns everyone to a common mission. This should be one, maybe two things that everyone can rally around and it impacts the entire marketing department. These are the key things that everyone believes must happen in the coming quarter to consider it a success.

Some examples are:

  • “Promote the opening of our new hospital to residents in the surrounding community.”
  • “Share the latest scientific research around COVID-19 with the public.”
  • “Promote our smart refrigerators beyond the home user to new markets, such as offices and clinics.”

Marketing roadmap

The marketing roadmap should include large initiatives or key themes that need to happen across the marketing organization to meet the needs of the WIGs. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but everyone involved needs to come up with these initiatives and themes together and agree that they are key priorities. Your leadership team should also set goals and success metrics for these initiatives.

Here’s an example for the smart refrigerator:

Sample roadmap

Initiatives backlog

The initiatives backlog is simply taking the portfolio level (i.e. strategic) roadmap items, getting agreement on their order of priority and putting them in a tool for further decomposition — the process of breaking down user stories into smaller user stories and tasks — by the agile teams. Make sure the list is ordered top to bottom and there can’t be multiple number one priorities!

Here’s an example:

  1. Awareness Marketing to Corporate Office Managers
  2. Awareness Marketing to Hospital Office Managers
  3. Lead Generation Campaigns
  4. New Product Pages on Website
  5. Promotional Offers for New Customers
  6. National TV Ad Campaign

Planning at the team level

The agile teams will also create their own WIGs, which should tie into the overall marketing department’s WIG, but it may be a little bit more specific to what the team hopes to accomplish in the coming quarter.

An example may be, “Launch a grassroots campaign to get lobbyists to talk about vaccination success.”

While the team may still work on other campaigns or projects during the quarter, this is the big North Star that the team knows is really important. It helps ground the team in what success looks like and allows them to say no to stakeholder requests that may derail them from that goal.

Team roadmap

A roadmap should be created by every agile team giving a high-level look at what they plan to accomplish in the upcoming quarter. This is the best document the team can have to communicate what they’re working on to stakeholders without getting into the weeds.

The team roadmaps should be reviewed often with stakeholders to see if the planned work is still the most important thing, whether or not new priorities have come into play or if timelines are shifting. It brings a great level of transparency between the team and the stakeholders, but ultimately it’s owned by the team.

Marketing backlog

The marketing backlog is the team’s ordered list of everything it plans to do in the future. The backlog can begin with roadmap items, but typically those are very large, so they get broken into even smaller chunks, which are referred to as stories. Anyone can add work to the marketing backlog, but a single team member should be accountable for prioritizing the work with input from stakeholders.

The marketing backlog is a fluid artifact that can and should change daily based on market response and new information learned.

Sprint plan

The sprint plan is where the team meets to decide what they will commit to working on in the given sprint (a sprint is a time-boxed period, typically one or two weeks in duration that stays constant). The team looks at the prioritized marketing backlog of work and determines how much they confidently feel they can accomplish. They spend the time discussing how they’ll approach the work and what tasks are needed to get the work done.

The sprint planning meeting is something that leaders need to stay out of in agile. The team should be transparent about what they’re doing, but as an agile leader, your job is no longer to manage work.

Daily standup

This daily meeting, which should be short and sweet (15 minutes or less) is really the team’s way to touch base, get help from each other and discuss what might be getting in their way. Daily interaction is important to do with all team members because it helps them solve problems quickly and allows everyone on the team to know what’s happening.

As you can see, there really is a lot of planning that happens in agile marketing. However, planning at the last responsible moment and with flexibility is what makes it agile.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”



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MARKETING

2022 YouTube and Video SERP Result Changes

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2022 YouTube and Video SERP Result Changes

When you think of video results on Google in 2022 (and video optimization), you might think of something that looks like this (from a search for “flag football”):

In mid-October, we noticed a drop in this type of video result, and that drop became dramatic by late-October. Did Google remove these video results or was our system broken? As it turns out, neither — video results have split into at least three distinct types (depending on how you count).

(1) Video packs (simple & complex)

The example above is pretty simple, with the exception of “Key Moments” (which debuted in 2019), but even the familiar video packs can get pretty complex. Here’s one from a search for the artist Gustav Klimt:

All three of the videos here have Key Moments, including a pre-expanded section for the top video with thumbnails for each of the moments. Some specific SERPs also have minor variations, such as the “Trailers & clips” feature on this search for “Lion King”:

Video packs are still often 3-packs, but can range from two to four results. While only the header really changes here, it’s likely that Google is using a modified algorithm to surface these trailer results.

(2) Branded video carousels

Some videos are displayed in a carousel format, which seems to be common for branded results within YouTube. Here’s an example for the search “Dave and Busters”:

While the majority of these “brand” (loosely defined) carousels are from YouTube, there are exceptions, such as this carousel from Disney Video for “Lightning McQueen”:

Like all carousel-based results, you can scroll horizontally to view more videos. Google’s mobile-first design philosophy has driven more of this format over time, as the combination of vertical and horizontal scrolling is more natural on mobile devices.

(3) Single/thumbnail video results

Prior to breaking out video into separate features, Google typically displayed video results as standard results with a screenshot thumbnail. In the past month, Google seems to have revived this format. Here’s an example for the search “longboarding”:

If you hover over the thumbnail, you’ll see a preview, like this (edited for size):

In some cases, we see multiple video results on a single page, and each of them seems to be counted as one of the “10 blue links” that we normally associate with standard organic results from the web.

There’s also a variant on the single-video format that seem specific to YouTube:

This variant also shows a preview when you hover over it, but it launches a simplified YouTube viewing experience that appears to be new (and will likely evolve over time).

(4) Bonus: Mega-videos

This format has been around for a while and is relatively rare, but certain niches, including hit songs, may return a large-scale video format, such as this one for Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero”:

A similar format sometimes appears for “how to” queries (and similar questions), such as the one below for “how to roundhouse kick.” Note the text excerpt below the video that Google has extracted from the audio …

While neither of these formats are new, and they don’t seem to have changed significantly in the past month, they are important variants of Google video results.

(5) Bonus: TikTok results

Finally, Google has started to display a special format for TikTok videos, that typically includes a selection of five videos that preview when you hover over them. Here’s an example from one of my favorite TikTok personalities:

Typically, these are triggered by searches that include “TikTok” in the query. While it’s not a standard video format and isn’t available outside of TikTok, it’s interesting to note how Google is experimenting with rich video results from other platforms.

Does YouTube still dominate?

Back in 2020, we did a study across 10,000 competitive Google searches that showed YouTube holding a whopping 94% of page-one video results. Has this changed with the recent format shuffling? In a word: no. Across the main three video formats discussed in this post, YouTube still accounts for 94% of results in this data set, with Facebook coming in at a distant second place with 0.8%. This does not count specialized results, such as the TikTo results above.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re tracking video results, and have seen major changes, be aware that they may not have disappeared – they more likely morphed into another format. This is a good time to go look at your SERPs in the wild (on desktop and mobile) and see what kind of video formats your target queries are showing. Google is not only experimenting with new formats, but with new video-specific markup and capabilities (such as extracting text directly from the soundtracks of videos and podcasts). You can expect all of this to continue to evolve into 2023.

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