How to Make Agile Content Marketing Work for Growing Startup Teams

Emily Nielsen
Emily Nielsen

June 23, 2020

Make Agile Content Marketing Work

In the last post, I discussed what agile content marketing is and some strategies companies can use to create an agile content marketing strategy. In this post, I will be lifting the veil on our approach at GraphCMS.

As we reevaluated our marketing team’s structure, the goals for GraphCMS were to both create a customer-centric content strategy that gave us the flexibility to be reactive and reduce the number of projects that were abandoned before finishing at least the first iteration. This need for strategy revamp was born out of our content team increasingly facing the issue of shifting priorities or other quick projects that interfered with planned content. After completing other spontaneous tasks throughout the week, there would simply not be enough time to circle back to the original planned project or it would be abandoned for yet another new idea.

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For our company-wide overview, we use a Notion board called the Content Backlog where anyone in the company can enter content suggestions. Before or during the Monday weekly Marketing meeting, a team member will pick an idea from the Content Backlog, pull the content into a new status, set the content format and discuss it with the team. During this meeting, we also consider our KPIs for this particular piece of content and determine the target audience. We also indicate how much effort it will require from the team, the priority, the timeline, and the impact of the piece. If the project is a shorter content piece that is low effort, then we just get to work. If the piece is a longer piece that requires more effort and possibly collaboration, then we create a project in Linear where we track the progress of the project.

The benefit of Notion in this case is that the entire company can see these content ideas, and the corresponding target personas and KPIs. A key priority from the marketing revamp was to make sure that we are focusing on the target personas and that we have a clear understanding for the KPIs from each content piece or project. Making these KPIs visible to the entire team makes it clear what the intended outcomes are. These KPIs can range from building more community around GraphCMS or answering questions of the users. Because these KPIs are clear from the beginning, our team can quickly determine if the project was successful enough to warrant another iteration.

Attaching target personas to the content pieces also allow us to be flexible and coordinate between sales and marketing. If the sales team is starting a new initiative with a very specific target persona in mind, they are able to see if there is a content piece that matches that in the works. If any team member has an idea for a necessary content piece, they can also add it here and lobby the marketing team to pick up the content piece.

For our internal tracking on longer content pieces and other projects, we use Linear, which allows us to create projects, update the progress on these projects, and request feedback from other teammates when needed. It takes virtually no time to make changes to Linear and allows the whole team to retain a clear understanding of what content is in the works. Longer pieces of content require more effort than a simple blog post or may span across two weeks. Our individual sprints are one to two weeks depending on the type of content and the amount of effort it requires. In a quick weekly meeting on Mondays, our team does a quick overview of the projects in progress (if they are on a two week sprint) or upcoming projects if they are in a one week sprint.

In order for these systems to work, we have a couple of assumptions that we have laid out for ourselves:

  • Our team will be focused and deliver what is proposed without being pulled off track by other tasks
  • Priority will be given to content that is timely or requested directly from customers
  • Our team is realistic about how much can be accomplished in one to two week cycles (which is easier said than done!)

Our goals with this system are to create an agile marketing system that works for our team and avoid constantly shifting priorities which lead to too many abandoned projects before they are finished. While an important component of agile marketing is working to only create content that brings value, we accomplish this by creating projects that are relatively short term (1 or 2 week sprints) and then assessing the ROI. It is tricky with agile content marketing to find the balance between giving up on an initiative before enough work has been put into it to see the benefits and spending too much time on a project that in the end will bring very little value. We are hoping that this system allows us to do that, but in keeping with the spirit of agile marketing, this is only one iteration of the system so if there are redundancies or improvements we can make adjustments accordingly.

We’d love to hear about your team’s agile content marketing best practices! Drop them in the onsite chat with your email address and we will send you some free stickers :)


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