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How to Adapt to Change – Why Constant Retrospectives Matter

Courtney Beasley

Courtney Beasley

Time and time again, we’ve all heard the saying “the only thing constant in life is change”, but what isn’t often heard as a follow-up is that unless we embrace change, especially as marketers, progress is harder to reach.

Over the last month, a lot of unexpected changes have been thrown our way. In order to adapt, marketers have had no choice but to move quickly and adjust their strategies throughout this transitional period to meet the new needs of their audiences. However, when marketing activities are moving a mile a minute, it’s crucial that you still take a second to step back and formally assess whether those activities have been effective in hitting your goals, and how you can continue to modify them to be successful moving forward.

Retrospectives are a great way to evaluate and capture key learnings from a marketing campaign, which you can then implement for future iterations. Before we share our recommendations for how to best run a full retrospective, let’s first examine what retrospectives really are – and why they are a key component to strengthening your marketing strategy during this time.

What are marketing retrospectives and why do they matter?

Originating from the Greek word retrospectare, which translates to “look back,” retrospectives are team meetings designed to help you assess the performance of a campaign or marketing initiative, and identify actionable ways to improve for the next phase in the campaign or the next time a similar project is executed. As marketers continue to adjust their programs during this time, retrospectives are an essential way to ensure you’re making effective decisions and pivots that will yield the best results.

Retrospectives offer teams the opportunity to talk through all processes that have taken place throughout the campaign while analyzing what has worked and what hasn’t, following by and determining how to best move forward. While you may evaluate the success of your marketing campaign throughout its duration, setting time aside for this type of designated review after the completion of a campaign ensures it gets done consistently. You don’t have to wait until the campaign is over to discuss improvements, but retrospectives are helpful for analyzing the marketing activity as a whole and assessing its effectiveness in its entirety.

Not only do retrospectives help with improving your campaign’s performance, but they also help with improving the relationships on your team. The best retrospectives are ones where everyone is prepared to have a constructive dialogue about what necessary changes must be made to ensure the team is successful moving forward. By requiring teams to discuss problems and success stories openly, retrospectives can create transparency and trust amongst team members, and ultimately bring teams closer together.

How to run a productive retrospective

Retrospectives work best as a timeboxed meeting to allow key stakeholders to give timely feedback and share any impediments they are currently facing. When running retrospectives throughout a number of different campaigns, one-hour meetings work sufficiently to address changes needed and the next steps in the process of the campaign.

While there are numerous approaches to running a retrospective, all retrospective meetings require structure to be effective. Here are our recommendations for discussion questions you can use to help guide your marketing retrospective:

What does the data tell you?

Start with the data to help guide the conversation. Look into what the data is telling you to answer questions such as: What has happened since the launch of your campaign? Have you seen a high conversion rate? How many touchpoints have your campaign members received? Are you sending emails? If so, what are the click through rates and open rates? By analyzing the data before the retrospective, teams will have a starting point to discuss the questions below.

What went well?

Asking what went well continues the retrospective meeting on a positive note and allows your team to acknowledge all the good things that have come from your campaign. Have you generated any new leads or closed new business? Received a significant number of downloads on a piece of content you’ve been promoting? Think big picture to ensure you encompass all the successes, but also rely on your campaign data to point to specific details. Getting a full understanding of the positive can help your team replicate it in the future.

What didn’t go well?

After addressing the successes, it’s important to be honest about what didn’t work this time around. Referring to your campaign’s initial goals and performance metrics, identify where you fell short and discuss any problems you’ve faced throughout the process. What were the roadblocks? Did the campaign run long enough? Did the campaign yield the results you were hoping for? Did the team communicate effectively? If not, discuss how to avoid this from happening in the future. Think critically to understand the causes of the shortcomings and work with your team to pinpoint what specifically needs to be addressed to prevent those problems from recurring.

What needs to be changed?

Accepting what went wrong only opens up an opportunity to be better. Once you acknowledge what didn’t go well, determine the specific steps your team can take to improve your campaign execution moving forward. Remember, the whole reason you’re holding a retrospective is to iterate on your process and strengthen your strategy. Establish next steps and action items your team can take that are actionable and ownable, and be sure to document them so you can follow up on your progress in your next meeting.

When you take the time to continuously review the performance of your marketing efforts in detail, you empower your team to learn, grow and be successful. If you find yourself needing additional help with identifying how to best adjust your B2B marketing strategy, we’re here to help.