Marketing Operationsis a broad term that collectively describes the people, processes, and technologies that enable marketing to operate efficiently and to scale with quality and consistency. Marketing operations is more holistic than traditional marketing because it adds a technical and analytical approach to more creative processes.
This combination of analytical and creative approaches is essential in today’s ever-growing data and technology environment. It offers opportunities to deliver personalized experiences across an increasing number of marketing channels. As a result, marketing managers that want their respective teams to function more as marketing operations teams must expand their skill sets to include analytical skills and creativity.
Marketing operations professionals often are not who would have previously been thought of as “marketers” or associated with the marketing function. The professionals that make up marketing ops (MOPs) teams frequently come from analytical or process-oriented backgrounds. A Chief Marketing Officer’s (CMO) staff typically includes financial analysts, programmers/developers, project managers, data experts, and market researchers performing marketing operations functions.
How Marketing Ops Can Help Your Business
Marketing operations strategy focuses on end-to-end marketing optimization. A marketing operations team oversees everything from planning and budgeting to execution and analysis. Marketing operations increase efficiency and drive results in marketing organizations. It builds a foundation for excellence by reinforcing marketing strategy with infrastructure, business processes, metrics, reporting, and the development of best practices.
Below are some examples of how aneffective marketing operations strategy can benefit your business:
Become Data Driven
Use data from your marketing technology stack and supporting systems to develop and track KPIs and metrics for the entire customer journey as well as your marketing investments and operations themselves. This data from your marketing technology stack can provide visibility into the effectiveness, efficiency, and attribution associated with marketing efforts, whether that be better lead quality, increased conversion, or ROI for a particular campaign. Your marketing ops teams and technologies can benefit from understanding their cycle times, quality, and process bottlenecks.
Improve Demand and Lead Generation
Marketing ops can establish processes to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of both demand generation and lead generation by utilizing your prospect and customer data, analytics, and the capabilities of your marketing technology stack. When optimized, marketing processes and capabilities can identify and accelerate movement through the purchase cycle of the highest value prospects, providing them with the best experiences while aligning efficient use of resources with your sales process.
Asset & Content Optimization
Your marketing operations department can provide analytics to understand the performance of your marketing campaigns, assets, and content. This will help you drive more strategic and effective use and future investments in them; while also driving a better experience for the recipients. These analytics include the ability to measure content and asset performance across channels and segments down to a specific person and touchpoint. Businesses can also use marketing technology data for asset creation, campaign planning, testing, budgeting, scheduling, and reporting.
Marketing automation helps you maximize the benefits of marketing operations by reducing repetitive, manual tasks to streamline marketing strategy.
Marketing automation platforms like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Pardot, and Marketo can help you overcome challenges like audience management, the application of communication business rules, and other operational duties that detract from time that could be spent on more strategic work.
With marketing automation tools, your marketing department can benefit from:
Scalable, repeatable, and automated campaigns that can be readily improved based on measurable recipient actions
The ability to engage a prospect or customer in an automated way immediately upon a change in their personal data
Marketing campaign ROI via demonstrable analytics
Increased marketing ops efficiency, allowing marketing teams to focus on more strategic activities
How to Build Your Marketing Operations Capabilities
First things first, there is no single “right” model for a Marketing Operations team since there are many factors unique to an organization that can define what it should be (and how to build it).
The factors to consider when structuring Marketing Operations teams include:
The organizational structure of the team relative to other parts of the company; which may include:
If they are to be centralized or decentralized
The number of lines of business supported by them
Do any of the planned functions and capabilities currently exist in other areas of the company?
What do the capabilities of the team need to be to fulfill their planned responsibilities?
What are your goals in having marketing operations and for the team itself?
Marketing Ops team size and role can vary based on the above, as well as the volume and type of work they will need to support.
As with building any team, a vision and goals for the team are important, but just as important is to build a team that can have some immediate impact in your organization by prioritizing the functions that can make the most immediate positive impact.
Is this a marketing data analyst to build better analytics on your audiences and campaigns?
A platform technologist to advance your platform usage for better experiences and ROI?
Regardless of the composition and steps to create the Marketing Operations team, it is imperative to have executive sponsorship for the team, since it often tends to be at the intersection of Marketing and IT. There are roles in Marketing Operations that may currently be (or are thought to be) in one of these two domains, and that can cause friction within organizations that an executive sponsor will likely need to navigate for the team to be successful.
Marketing Operations Best Practices
After working across various industries with clients of many sizes and organizational types, we have identified some marketing operations best practices for marketing operations managers and teams to follow.
Marketing Needs To Own the Customer Lifecycle
In the absence of a Chief Customer (Experience) Officer, marketing needs to own the customer experience. This will require customer journey maps and (ideally) a 360-degree view of the customer, drawn from all organizational touch points (sales, IT, customer service, etc.) and the associated data. Don’t be intimidated. You can start developing the knowledge and data you already have readily available; the major factor is making the decision to undertake this as a priority.
New Skills Will Be Necessary
Marketing teams (or IT teams) often do not possess people with all of the skills required for a marketing operations team; for example, they often don’t have marketing data analysts or platform/technology-specific experts. Existing team members may need to acquire these skills, or new team members may need to be added to the team to fill these roles. Additionally, with the ever-changing marketing technology environment, these individuals will need to continue to learn and develop their skills.
Data, Content *AND* Analytics Are Key
Customer data and content from across the enterprise should be utilized to enable the most valuable customer experiences and drive the most business value, and analytics are the key to unlocking this. Marketing operations is a natural place in the organization for customer data and content to exist; but often they don’t have the analytics expertise necessary to realize and deliver the full value possible. Data and content without analytics will hinder success.
Establish Operational Metrics
In order to understand the value of the marketing work being done, as well as that of marketing operations, operational metrics are essential. For example, for a marketing campaign, you not only want to understand the success of the campaign itself (e.g., engagement, conversion, etc.) but also metrics around the campaign execution to help you understand and refine the campaign development process resulting in more predictable execution times, increased campaign throughput, and better quality.
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