How to Use Scrum for Content Marketing

How to Use Scrum for Content Marketing

Certain Agile concepts and ideas have been part of the content marketing conversation for some time now. In practice, however, this way of doing content marketing can be quite eye-opening. Scrum benefits for content teams This iterative approach gives the content marketing team clearly defined increments of work, which can be analyzed and modified quickly without wasting time on something that provides no value to the blog, the company, or the readers. For content marketing Scrum teams, it is more likely the product owner and the Scrum master also will be part of the development team, i.e., doing practical work. Sprint backlog When it’s time to start a new sprint, the development team pulls the product backlog items needed to reach the sprint goal into the sprint backlog – a list of ordered PBIs to be worked on in that sprint. Sprint planning The sprint planning meeting happens before a sprint starts. At the planning meeting, the product owner suggests product backlog items that the team should work on and the development team then discusses what to take on and the best way to do the work. Example: In a daily Scrum meeting, the development team member working on the social media sharing strategy has spent time on it, but it isn’t progressing as quickly as necessary. Sprint review After the sprint, the Scrum team members meet to review the work accomplished. Example: In the sprint review meeting, content Scrum team members review the blog post and identify ways it could be improved.

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Certain Agile concepts and ideas have been part of the content marketing conversation for some time now. Scrum is one concept that’s often part of these conversations. But bundling it with Agile causes all kinds of confusion.

This article focuses on how a Scrum-based approach to content marketing could work, as told through the experience of a hypothetical content marketing team.

Scrum is incremental

The Scrum concept revolves around iterative, incremental delivery. In software development, the Scrum team strives to deliver increments of working software in short, time-boxed iterations called sprints. These sprints have a clearly defined beginning and end (between one and four weeks) and a clearly defined goal.

A content marketing Scrum team would operate similarly, with a set sprint length (which should remain the same for all sprints to make track efficacy easier) and a defined goal or goals. The content team collaborates to reach that goal within the designated time frame.

It may seem counterintuitive to adopt the Scrum approach for something like content marketing, which is an ongoing effort. In practice, however, this way of doing content marketing can be quite eye-opening.

Example: The content team decides on a two-week sprint. The goal is to write a comprehensive post for the company blog (complete with keyword research, visuals, etc.), to share the post on social media, to formulate a link-building strategy, and to reach out to third-party sites for the purpose of building links to this article.

Scrum benefits for content teams

This iterative approach gives the content marketing team clearly defined increments of work, which can be analyzed and modified quickly without wasting time on something that provides no value to the blog, the company, or the readers.

Scrum’s emphasis on empiricism encourages Scrum teams to be fully transparent, to review and analyze their work, and to adapt accordingly.

Sprints provide added structure and focus for the team, enabling it to identify and work toward achievable goals. This aspect of Scrum creates an atmosphere of steady accomplishments, which is important because content marketing can feel like an endless endeavor.

Finally, executing content marketing in sprints helps teams better understand how much time and effort is needed for certain types of work, so they can improve their planning.

People on a Scrum team

The official Scrum Guide™ (you can check it out here if you wish) prescribes three distinct roles with distinct responsibilities for an optimal functioning Scrum team:

  • A product owner, whose main responsibility is to maximize the value delivered by the Scrum team. The PO maintains the product backlog (I’ll explain that later), clearly defines and orders the product backlog items, and makes sure everyone understands them well enough to work on them.
  • A Scrum master, who acts as a servant-leader for the team. The Scrum master helps everyone understand and practice Scrum through advice, coaching, and making sure the framework is applied properly. The Scrum master is also responsible for removing any impediments (internal and external) that prevent the team from doing its work.
  • A development team, which includes people who deliver a “releasable increment of the product” (more on this later) and which has the final say in what will be done in a sprint.

The development team has no hierarchy, titles, or sub-teams.

Some teams have product owners and Scrum masters who dedicate their time to their roles. For content marketing Scrum teams, it is more likely the product owner and the Scrum master also will be part of the development team, i.e., doing practical work.

Organizing content work

Scrum provides a great structure for organizing the work in a way that makes clear who is working on what and why something is being done.

Product backlog

The product backlog is a prioritized list of everything needed for the product. For a content marketing team, that product may be successful content pieces that bring in leads and boost conversion rates (or anything else that your team is focusing on).

The product backlog includes product backlog items (PBIs), which describe the work the team must do to add value to the product (successful, sustainable content marketing).

All PBIs have the following:

  • Clear descriptions
  • Order in which the items will be done
  • Value (determined by the team)
  • Estimate on how long it will take to complete

As I mentioned, all of this is the responsibility of the product owner. The product owner can (and should) consult the rest of the content marketing Scrum team about the product backlog. But, being the sole person responsible for the backlog, the product…

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