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 encompassing than the conventional definition of marketing because it adds technical and analytical approaches in addition to creative ones.
This combination of analytical, technical, and creative approaches is essential in today’s ever-growing data and technology environment to maximize the benefits for companies as well as their customers. It offers opportunities to develop better customer relationships based on the data available and deliver personalized experiences across an increasing number of marketing channels while increasing marketing efficiency and effectiveness.
As a result, marketing managers that want their teams to include marketing operations functions must expand their team’s skill set to include technical and analytical skills as well as 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 serve in marketing operations (MOPs) roles frequently come from analytical or process-oriented backgrounds. It’s now not uncommon for a Chief Marketing Officer’s (CMO’s) staff to include 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 operations can establish processes to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of both demand generation and lead generation by better utilizing your prospect and customer data, increasing the use of analytics, and advancing the use of your marketing technology stack. When optimized, marketing operations processes and capabilities can identify and accelerate the movement of the highest-value prospects through the purchase cycle, providing them with the best experiences while also aligning with your marketing and sales processes and efficiently using resources.
Asset & Content Optimization
Your marketing operations department can provide analytics to understand your marketing campaigns at a granular level, including the performance of content and individual assets. These analytics include the ability to measure content and asset performance across channels and segments down to a specific person and touchpoint.
This will inform future investments in them and drive more effective use; providing a better experience for the audiences. Organizations can also use this data for campaign development, scheduling, testing, budgeting, and reporting.
Marketing automation can help you maximize the benefits of marketing operations by reducing and automating repetitive, manual tasks, gathering marketing process data, and having the ability to add workflows to processes.
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
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; 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 skills 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 Operations team sizes can vary based on the above, as well as the volume and type of work they will need to support, but there are certain key roles typically included in the team:
Marketing operations management – leading the marketing operations function including strategy, roadmap, and planning
Marketing platform technologist(s) – expertise in the use of the platforms to build and execute campaigns
Data analyst – for data analysis across the marketing operations spectrum (e.g. audience segmentation, campaign performance, process metrics)
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 (Marketing or IT), and that can cause friction within organizations that an executive sponsor will likely need to navigate for the team to be successful.
What Are Best Practices for Marketing Operations?
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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