How to achieve agile content operations | Turtl
As marketers, we like to think we’re pretty digital savvy and clued-up on what tech can do for us – but is that really the case?
How to achieve agile content operations
Are you stuck in an offline hangover?
The offline hangover
Why you might be pursuing a flawed model
Before the advent of the internet, marketers adopted a certain style of thinking:
- Make a big, complex strategy
- Make a lovely, shiny content schedule
- Assume everything will resonate and nothing in the market will change
- Ignore the last 999 times this model failed
You have to do this in the offline world because of lead times, print schedules, etc...
And when it all goes wrong (if we even realize it's gone wrong), we shake our heads and repeat the exact same process with slightly different variables and expect different results.
The world moves faster than ever and your annual, bi-annual, quarterly or even monthly strategy just won’t cut the mustard if it's left unattended.
The whole approach is outmoded and unfit for the modern world.
Five principles of the agile mindset
Put that hangover to rest
1 / Publishing is the beginning, not the end
When we finish a piece, we send it out, breathe a collective sigh of relief, pat ourselves on the back and then move on to the next one.
In the offline world, there isn't a huge amount more you can do. For one, dead trees don't do metrics. You also can't edit something that's been printed and shipped.
Online is a different story.
Online, we have the opportunity to measure our audience's response to our content. We also have the opportunity to edit something after it's published.
What does this mean?
We need to see every piece as a test, not a finished product.
Dead trees don't do metrics
With offline content, you can't deviate from timelines and plan on the fly as you have to book in printing, media distribution and so on. There's inevitably a deadline.
With online content, deadlines are redundant.
Certain formats, like blog posts, are incredibly cheap to produce, and as such, they can play an important role in testing ideas. Think of them and other quick content as minimum viable products (MVPs).
They’ll quickly tell you what’s working and what isn’t with the smallest amount of upfront investment in the content idea.
You can make them fast, on a whim, see how they go, and learn from them. They are your canaries in the content coal-mine.
When you know what people are responding to, you can sit down and think about some longer pieces. You can then iron out the kinks as you go.
In the offline publishing world, failure can be immensely costly - both in terms of time and money. This puts a limit on how much people are willing to take risks and innovate.
Online, if you're not failing some of the time, you're not trying hard enough. Facebook developers are expected to fail 50% of the time. As a result, they experiment more, try brave ideas and come up with new ways to get a result.
Don’t punish failure, learn from it. You should try risky, brave new ideas which may not work out...and that’s fine.
With each lesson you'll take a step closer to cracking the nut.
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently
With printed content, the most novelty you're likely to find in terms of experience is a pop-up or fold out. We accept that as a limitation of a format made of dead trees.
Online, we are spoilt rotten
Through apps, social media platforms and innovative websites, we are presented daily with opportunities to interact with and customize our experiences.
Online marketing can include gamified interactivity, video, real-time communication, animation, VR, AR and so much more.
…but there goes another marketing manager, off to produce yet another PDF to host on their website.
Why aren’t more of us experimenting and exploring new ways to deliver a better experience?
The web is capable of so much, but we try so little.
Talk about the skills gap in marketing often misses the mark. In most instances, we don't need more training, we need better tools.
If you wanted to send a message to the whole world 20 years ago, you needed to know about HTML, FTP, DNS.
Nowadays you just need the internet literacy required to send a tweet.
We don't need more training, we need better tools
Click & go
The sophistication of online applications and user interfaces have come a long way in a short space of time.
With the right tools, you no longer need to:
- be a designer to make something that looks great
- have dev skills to do something with interaction
- be trained on analytics to understand performance
New tools can give us superpowers. No training needed.
Where to start?
3 practical takeaways
1/ Start treating your blog posts like MVPs
What topics did readers lap up? Can those ideas be expanded on in a meatier piece of content, like a whitepaper or ebook?
What blog post formats did they prefer? Can that format be applied to other media like video (e.g. lists)? or audio? (e.g. Q&A)
2/ Audit your process for offline habits
Are you working to arbitrary deadlines? Are you prioritizing perfection above function?
Take a look at where you can simplify your processes to speed up production and testing. If you're not testing ideas, refer to the previous point and get started!
3/ Build failure into your culture
Opening up the opportunity to fail takes you a step closer to a culture of innovation. You can't hone in on what works without trial and error.
Focus on learning opportunities. If a project fails to perform, do an autopsy, take note, learn, and try a new approach.