Agile marketing is an adaptive marketing methodology that focuses on taking small steps, learning quickly, and being ready for change.

Teams work in short, incremental work cycles, allowing them to rapidly adapt their stories and messages to ensure market relevance. Decision-making is data-driven, providing a frequent feedback loop to help recalibrate marketing efforts.

Agile marketing is an alternative to using a traditional or sequential “waterfall” methodology. Traditional marketing typically involves executing a few “big bang” campaigns, while agile marketers try a lot of small initiatives, review performance, and then scale up what is working.

The goals of Agile Marketing are to improve the speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability to change of the marketing function.
— Jim Ewel,

A review-and-adapt approach to marketing initiatives can help maximize resources and greatly reduce the costs of failed campaigns. In a traditional model, significant investments are often made before any data is available. Instead of committing to a fixed campaign concept many months or even a year in advance, agile marketers remain flexible and continuously refine their efforts.

Proactive and Reactive Agile Marketing

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.
— Stephan Quinn, Walmart CMO

The agile paradigm is both proactive and reactive, empowering marketers to have greater control over their efforts. The ability to act quickly is greatest in digital media, where technology has given marketers real-time access to review data and optimize their content.

Proactive Marketing

By making small bets and re-calibrating often, marketers can scale up successful efforts and phase out failed ones. Campaigns are planned with change and optimization in mind.

Instead of committing to unproven ideas, being agile empowers a team to continuously improve a campaign's value throughout its lifecycle, improving the effectiveness of the marketing efforts overall.

Reactive Marketing

As opportunities and risks arise in the market, agile teams can make use of the short work cycles to respond to unpredictability.

This can be both planned (e.g. a financial services company plans to change messages when the stock market is down significantly) and unplanned (e.g. a brand’s celebrity spokesperson makes the news and the brand wants to capitalize on the newsworthy event).

In both cases, agile marketers are able to tap into everyday moments to maintain relevance.

Agile Marketing Cycle:

While the exact execution of agile marketing varies from business to business, most agile marketers use a cycle like the one above. Each cadence of work has common elements:

  1. Listen: Observe what is happening in the market and what stories and messages are resonating with consumers.
  2. Program: Determine and develop what messages and stories will be meaningful.
  3. Update: Post new content, run new ad creative, and otherwise modify existing messages and content where appropriate.
  4. Measure: Review the impact of changes to determine what’s working and derive indicators of what to do next. This can also include a retrospective of what went well for the team's internal process.

These steps — listen, program, update, measure — may be repeated multiple times within each initiative. Sometimes efforts may be "always on", meaning they are continuously monitored and updated as necessary.

Do Agile Marketers Use Scrum?

Scrum is a popular project management process for agile teams. Originally used for software development, scrum has been adapted to meet the needs of a marketers as well. 

Scrum leverages the innate traits and characteristics in people to allow them to do great things together.

Work cycles are called "sprints" and tend to be one to four weeks long. Sprints are book-ended by planning and review meetings.

Scrum emphasizes self-management and empirical feedback, attempting to improve both the success of marketing efforts, and the processes behind those efforts themselves.

Learn more about how marketers use scrum for agile marketing at


Want to apply agile marketing to display advertising? 

Download the comprehensive guide for agile marketing specifically for display. 

The Ultimate Guide to Agile Marketing in Display Ads