Most marketers (85 percent) plan to increase the adoption of agile marketing in the next two years, according to Merkle’s Q2 2020 Customer Engagement Report, which explores how brands are pivoting operations during COVID-19, as well as how recent privacy regulations are positively impacting customer engagement.

In analyzing marketers’ organizational practices across agile adoption, Merkle found that 89 percent of marketers use agile methodology in some function or team, and nearly the same percentage (88 percent) use agile in their marketing practices in one way or another.

Larger companies have been practicing agile marketing the longest; of the group with annual revenue of more than $1 billion, 25 percent indicate agile usage for over 10 years. For lower revenue groups, agile usage was just seven percent.

The retail, financial, health and high-tech segments have shown the highest levels of agile planning, whereas travel, media and entertainment segments show a less mature adoption of agile.

When asked about the barriers to the adoption of agile marketing, 39 percent of respondents cited a lack of expertise, followed by 33 percent who expressed concerns about it disrupting their business.

While the recent passing of consumer data privacy regulations, marketers have been forced to rethink the way they leverage first-party data and build new processes to address compliance. Still, marketers say they’re confident that they can adhere to them.

In May 2018, the UK established the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), restricting how companies collect and manage consumer data. California followed suit when it affected the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on January 1, 2020. Under the CCPA, brands must disclose data collection and sharing practices to customers, prohibiting them from selling personal data of consumers under the age of 16 without explicit consent. The CCPA also gives consumers the right to request to opt-out of the sale or sharing of their personal information and the right to request that their data be deleted.

Despite these limitations, 92 percent of respondents are confident in their ability to comply with privacy regulations. What’s more, 67 percent see recent privacy regulations as positively impacting marketing. Over half (54 percent) say privacy regulations have made them more aggressive in their efforts to acquire first-party data. As regulations give brands a better understanding of where their customer data comes from, they’re able to deliver more enhanced personalization.

First-party data remains a significant driver of personalization, but some use a combination: 41 percent of respondents say they use first- and third-party data for personalization. Thirty-seven percent say they only use first-party data, while 21 percent say they only use third-party data.

Merkle found that UK marketers choose first-party data most often, while US marketers use first- and third-party data together 11 percent more often than their UK counterparts.  The discrepancy could be due to long-established privacy regulations in the UK or indicate that US marketers are more mature in leveraging both types of data.

When asked which data policy components are most cornering to them, 40 percent chose keeping accurate inventory of customer data, and 27 percent chose notifying customers of how they’re using their data.

To help develop new capabilities to meet data regulations, 70 percent of respondents brought in marketing service providers, 53 percent hired legal support and 46 percent tapped a consultancy.

Through a channel lens, email (19 percent) and digital media (18 percent) are the most affected by privacy regulations. Respondents ranked point of sale (POS) the least affected.

In February, Merkle surveyed 400 marketers at major US and UK brands spanning various industries.