What Is Marketing Operations?

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The modern data-driven marketer in charge of operations plays an increasingly important role in the enterprise. Marketing Profs, the leading online marketing publication, says "Marketing operations has never been as important as it is now". The practice of managing budgets, tracking investments, and tying activity back to revenue is a highly strategic role which falls squarely onto a marketing operations practitioner.

What Is Marketing Operations?

Marketing Operations is responsible for managing Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP) using data directly from the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution and pretty much every other piece of digital solutions coming together in the marketing technology (MarTech) stack. This empowers the Marketing Operations team to tie all marketing activities into sales and revenue generated. This is a good position to be in.   The Marketing Operations term describes the overall function of the marketing organization including the processes, technology, and the people that allow marketing to generate results from marketing campaigns enabled by their MarTech stack. These newly formed departments are tasked to increase the efficiency, become agile and streamline processes while generating value for the organization.   In addition, it forces a company’s Marketing Operations department to work in a more agile way to succeed with their Marketing Operations. Many companies today are starting to adopt the model exactly for this reason.

What Is the Scope of Marketing Operations?

One of the main tasks of Marketing Operations is to empower the enterprise with the technologies they manage. This is very important, as they can help businesses by, refining and perfecting their various marketing programs, making better use of landing pages, emails, segmentation lists, workflows and automated emails from the MAP.   Marketing Operations govern both these technologies and as well as execution of marketing campaigns. The role is evolving, due in a large part to the various types of marketing technologies that have become available, as well as new strategies developed upon these capabilities.

How Can Marketing Operations Help?

Practicing agile marketing methods, modern data-driven marketers can quickly respond to changes in the customer behavior, as well as the direction of the business, and constant updates to sales processes.   Modern data-driven marketers become vital to the enterprise because they can use their MarTech to tie all their marketing activities into sales and revenue generated. This improves accountability and transparency while bringing the marketing department to the revenue table.   In the past, the sales operations department would handle a range of operations including implementation of CRM territory allocation and sales analytics.  The IT department would handle the deployment of a new website and marketing database including integrations with other systems.   However, marketing automation platforms have helped to make those aspects of sales and IT discipline much easier, such that modern data-driven marketers are now responsible for these functions without involvement from IT.

What Skills Are Required in Marketing Operations?

Marketing Operations is still relatively new, and the exact roles it will play in an organization are constantly evolving.  Because marketing teams and companies differ greatly from one another, the scope of this type of modern marketing can vary substantially. According to an article in Venture Beat, called The Rise of Marketing Ops, organizations that have fewer than 100 employees will often have the operations performed by the “demand-generation team”, while larger companies have a separate role specifically for Marketing Operations.   Some of the current roles we are working with include:  

  • Revenue Operations
  • Marketing Automation Manager
  • Demand Generation Manager
  • VP of Sales & Marketing Operations
  • Director of Marketing Operations Manager

  They also noted that in many cases, the usual type of people found on a marketing team do not engage in the Marketing Operations roles. Marketing operations professionals have a mixed marketing and IT background with strong systems thinking and understanding of technology enablement.   Venture Beat cites several examples in the article including those who had worked as a “systems engineer, web technologist, and a network technician.” Note that they had not worked in marketing before.

Success with Marketing Operations

McKinsey & Company illustrates five vital steps that can help ensure Marketing Operations success in their article titled How Digital Marketing Operations can Transform Business. The steps they detail are simple but effective.   Understand the Customers – Companies need to analyze and track customer behavior, and they need to do this in as close to real time as possible. Marketing Operations use these insights to run campaigns and generate the right leads. They are empowered to better capture buying persona’s and buying indicators of these leads.   Deliver a Great Customer Experience (CX) – Customers need to have a pleasant and useful experience as they interact with your brand, or else they will look for your competitors. Great CRM can play a role here to manage every piece of interaction from an initial lead generation to onboarding and upselling.   Use the Right MarTech Combination – A variety of solutions are available today, and organizations need to find those combinations that will work best for their business and their specific needs. Scott Brinker, thought leader and author of the Chief MarTech Blog estimates the count increased from ~1000 in 2014 to ~ 2000 in 2015 and over 3500 in 2016 in his yearly MarTech Landscape review   Managing a big MarTech stack, which is supposed to work together, can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Therefore our advice to companies is to start simple and focus on what can be put into practice faster for quick wins.   Implement Processes and Governance – Once the technology is chosen and the strategies have been decided, the implementation of the processes, as well as governance of the processes and technology is vital. Marketing Operations becomes in charge of processes and will need to make sure they are enforced.   Measure Success – As always, companies need to measure their effectiveness, and but first the right key performance indicators have to be in place. The metrics can cover a range of different areas, and they should reinforce the new processes and behaviors that have been implemented into the company. It is essential that the insights from the metrics are delivered fast to the right decision makers, so the business can make changes if needed. This will help the company to remain agile.   When each of these five steps is implemented and utilized correctly within the organization, the enterprise is enabled by the marketing technology and the customer is served a better experience.

How Can Companies Implement Marketing Operations?

In some cases, an enterprise might be able to create their own Marketing Operations team. They might hire new employees for the task or they might have some of their own current employees take on new jobs in the company to handle the Marketing Operations. See the section above on Job titles and the career path of a Marketing Operations professional. However, this is simply not possible with all businesses, especially smaller businesses. Instead, it might be a better solution to outsource your Marketing Operations and to work with agency experts who already know the field and who can implement best practices into your organization.   Working with Marketing Operations Experts agency, can help to make the search for Marketing Operations and marketing technology professionals easier. Our team of experts can help with campaign execution, generation of leads, establishing the correct metrics for reporting, sourcing the correct MarTech, marketing database administration, and more.   One of the other benefits of having experts from the outside come in to help the company is the fact that they are an outside third party providing a different perspective to the company and experience from many other companies who face the same challenges. They can help to evaluate and validate decisions without emotion or office politics getting in the way. This helps to improve the efficiency of not only the Marketing Operations services, but the overall company, as well.  

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