As part of a recent digital transformation program, I’ve been looking for a succinct way of describing this new part-art and part-science approach to marketing that is unfolding around us.

The art being the growth of content and social over the ‘old world’ reliance on disruptive distrusted paid media. Science being the increasing automation and personalisation of all aspects of the customer experience.

This search has taken me on an interesting journey with the likes of Kotler’s Marketing 3.0 certainly offering a good read but sadly not the summary I was looking for.

So I decided to have a stab myself, providing a starting point for others to refine and build on.

Since then, Econsultancy rode into town with the brilliant Modern Marketing Manifesto. If this had been released a little earlier I almost certainly wouldn’t have tried to tackle this myself.

However I’m quite glad I did because I think I’ve arrived at a concise and formulaic representation of this manifesto with a couple of twists.

The first twist addresses the prevalent and neo-classical view that our decision making process is a rational one.

Between Kahneman winning the Nobel Prize in 2002 for his work in this area and the subsequent brilliance of Dan Ariely and co; in order to satisfy other behavioural economics geeks any future marketing model needs to allow for our irrational heuristic based behaviour.

Also, as someone who was very taken with Mark Earls' herd theory, painting us as nothing more than super social and super bright apes that primarily learn through imitation, it felt remiss not to make advocacy marketing a core part of any model.

After all, the ultimate goal in this new world is to be a remarkable company reliant on advocates and value proposition, not spin. What Seth Godin would call a purple cow.

Finally, as a big fan of agile development, preferring Forrester’s description of agile commerce to the more widely used omni-channel, agile also had to play a prominent role addressing the increasingly complex mobile multi-screen environment.

An approach to commerce that enables businesses to optimise their people, processes, and technology to serve customers across all touch-points.

This brings me to the definition and proposed Agile Marketing Model. An approach that uses creativity and craft to first build engagement, followed by the application of science and technology to automate, optimise and personalise all aspects of the customer experience.

Taking inspiration from user centred agile development, agile marketing is customer focused, responsive, collaborative, and employs a continuous cycle of test and learn to optimise performance. 

Ideally deployed by multi-discipline teams working closely together, primarily comprising of content, social, design, tech and insight people; empowered with the right tools and encouraged to experiment and innovate.

The goal of the Agile Marketing Model is to improve advocacy, relevance, and adaptability of the marketing function by using creative and technological capabilities to their fullest.

Agile Marketing Model

(Social + Content + Advocacy) + (Behavioural Economics + Automation + Personalisation)

Agile Marketing Model 

The Art…

  • Social: Building owned and earned communities that are incentivised to participate in all areas of the business whilst capturing social data to further improve customer experience.
  • Content: Creating content and experiences that either improve the customer experience or help build deeper connections by being intrinsically interesting and sharable.
  • Advocacy: Designing all aspects of the business to encourage customer advocacy and sharing, empowering your customers to be your biggest marketing vehicle.

The Science…

  • Behavioural Economics: Applying and testing behavioural economic theory to better understand and predict the likely actions customers may take during their decision making process.
  • Automation: Using data, algorithms, and technology to automate marketing and customer communications with real time bidding on paid media.
  • Personalisation: Using customer data to improve relevance across all aspects of the customer experience including products, promotions, adverts, content, service, and UX.

So there you have it, incomplete and awaiting the input of others, but the best definition I could muster to encapsulate the many faces of modern marketing.  

Gavin Merriman

Published 11 November, 2013 by Gavin Merriman

Gavin Merriman is Head of Ecommerce at Universal Music Australia and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with Gavin on LinkedIn or Google Plus. 

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Comments (3)


Keith Finger

Overall a good article. As an Agile Marketing trainer and certified scrum master, I must disagree that Agile Marketing always involves social media, advocacy and personalisation. These elements are present depending on the roles of the marketers. For example, a social media practitioner would obviously be using social, while a product manager may not.

The elements that are always present in Agile Marketing are customer stories (to keep focus), use of the scrum process, and applying lessons learned during the sprint to the next sprint (iterations).

Keith Finger
Marketing Leadership for Manufacturers
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almost 5 years ago

Gavin Merriman

Gavin Merriman, eCommerce Director at Universal Music Australia

Hi Keith

Good comment and I totally agree that most the elements included in this model aren't always involved in agile marketing.

This isn't an attempt to describe agile marketing, many others already done a great job of nailing that.

This is a broader definition and model which incorporates agile commerce (omni-channel) and uses agile as a methodology for development and marketing. I don't believe there is an established name for what I was trying succinctly define. The Agile Marketing Model seemed the best fit but it's meant to be much broader than existing methodology by also addressing the creative and technological sides of modern marketing.

I thought using the term agile might create confusion because of the existing methodology, but this is a new model that also uses the term in a broader context. Sorry for any confusion.

More closely aligned to the Modern Marketing Manifesto than the Agile Marketing Manifesto, but attempting to incorporate both. Does that make sense?


almost 5 years ago


Sandhya Ramesh

A good article, Gav. I agree with every point that has been stated. At Agile CRM (we even used the keyword in our name!), we strongly believe the exact model mentioned in this writeup. I'd have to disagree with Keith above. Given the power of social media today, I think *every* employee must be aware of how to take advantage of a social media feature and Agile Marketing does always involve social media today, if customers can be found on it.

almost 5 years ago

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