Marketing automation is a broad, nebulous term. Different companies mean different things when they refer to marketing automation. That’s why we decided to find out what actually are companies hiring “marketing automation specialists” to do.
What responsibilities should a marketing automation specialist expect to have? Should a marketing automation specialist have a good command of software tools? What marketing and growth skills are in demand?
We set out on finding answers to these questions.
In January 2020, there were 1,293 active job postings on LinkedIn (at the time of writing this post) related to marketing automation — this includes “Marketing Automation Specialist”, “Marketing Automation Manager”, “Marketing Automation Strategists” and other similar positions. 435 of these were in the US.
Indeed.com boasts a slightly larger number with 1,996 active jobs, but the range of the roles is somewhat broader, including offers for “marketing operation specialist”, “email marketing specialist”, and others.
We analyzed 55 LinkedIn job openings related to the “Marketing Automation Specialist” role. The job postings were from companies across the US and Europe with team sizes ranging from early-stage startups with less than 5 employees to tech conglomerates like Panasonic and Thomson Reuters. All of the job offers were submitted within the last 30 days.
Here’s a list of the key takeaways we gathered:
- The #1 thing Marketing Automation Specialists own is Campaign Implementation.
- In 2020 Marketing Automation is still closely related to Email Marketing.
- Marketing Automation Specialists spend more time on automated campaigns than ad-hoc campaigns.
- Marketing Automation Specialists function more like tactical executors than strategic leaders in the organization.
- 36% of companies expect that the Marketing Automation Specialist to have previous experience with marketing automation.
- Analytical skills are the 2nd most important skills for Marketing Automation Specialists.
- Marketing Automation Specialist don’t own a specific KPI or metric.
- 29% of employers expect the Marketing Automation Specialist to know at least one programming language.
- Marketing Automation Specialists are NOT expected to create content.
- Marketing Automation Specialists are expected to work with a marketing automation tool.
- The hierarchical position of the Marketing Automation Specialist within the organization is not clearly defined, but new marketing automation specialists are onboarded by other members of the marketing department.
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Job Postings — Data Sample Breakdown
By Job Role
Of the 55 job postings:
- 33 (60%) were labeled as “Marketing Automation Specialist”.
- 3 (5.45%) as “Senior Marketing Automation Specialist”.
- 9 (16.4%) as “Marketing Automation Manager”.
- 2 (3.64%) as “Marketing Automation Consultant”.
- 1 (1.82%) as “CRM Marketing Specialist”.
- And 7 (12.7%) were labeled as other related roles such as “Digital Marketing Specialist” or “Product Owner – Marketing Automation”.
By Business Model
- 17 (30.9%) were product/software companies — this includes software startups, as well as IoT, and other high-tech product companies.
- 15 (27.3%) were service companies — consultancies, production houses, digital and outsourcing agencies, and others.
- 13 (23.6%) were online businesses — media companies and other types of online-first companies.
- 10 (18.2%) were traditional offline businesses with an online presence — insurance companies, law practices, manufacturing, and so on.
By Company Size
- 10 (18.5%) by companies with more than 10,000 employees (like Vodafone, Panasonic, Sage)
- 7 (13%) by companies with 5,000 – 10,000 employees.
- 12 (22.2%) of the job postings were submitted by companies between 1,000 and 5,000 employees.
- 5 (9.26%) by companies with 500 – 1000 employees.
- 6 (11.1%) by companies with 200 – 500 employees.
- 7 (13%) by companies with 50 – 200 employees.
- 7 (13%) by small companies and upstarts with less than 50 employees.
Insight 1: The #1 thing Marketing Automation Specialists own is Campaign Implementation.
56% of job postings had the Marketing Automation Specialist responsible for creating and implementing marketing campaigns. Followed by Email Marketing (49%) and Data Analysis and Reports (47%).
Campaign implementation included the successful design, execution, delivery, optimization, and management of marketing campaigns across the whole customer lifecycle.
As a part of this responsibility, marketing automation specialists were asked to track and report results, as well as “help proactively share best practices and learnings from campaigns”.
Below are examples of how companies include this in their job descriptions:
“The Marketing Automation Specialist will be responsible for the design, testing, execution, maintenance, and reporting of automated online marketing campaigns.”
“In this critical role, you’ll help us drive member enrollment by designing, implementing, testing, launching, and tracking marketing automation journeys and campaigns.”
“Strong campaign management skills; ability to handle multiple program execution simultaneously and independently.”
“A core responsibility is the delivery of repeatable, measurable programs/campaigns that focus on spend optimization, produce highly qualified leads, improve the customer experience, and increase retention.”
“Knowledge of industry best practices related to nurturing campaign design, inbound marketing, demand generation, customer behavior, etc.”
“Ownership of reporting and best practice information sharing to demonstrate the value the technology element of the integrated campaign is delivering, including but not limited to typical email campaign reporting, the generation of MQLs, SQLs, opportunities and pipeline (visibility allowing)”
The responsibilities of the marketing automation specialist are extremely broad as we identified at least 19 different recurring topics, including:
- Design and building of automation workflows (40% of job postings)
- Cleaning, enriching, segmenting, and managing of the contact database (32%)
- Overseeing and executing strategy from start to end (29%)
- Demand generation — lead capture and lead nurturing (27%)
- Landing pages and form building (21%)
- Setting up and managing overall marketing processes (20%)
- Lead scoring (16%)
- As well as a long tail of broader marketing-related activities such as content creation; paid and organic acquisition; integration and implementation of the marketing stack; IP and domain reputation; outbound marketing campaigns; creation of presentations and team documentation, and others.
Insight 2: In 2020, Marketing Automation is still closely related to Email Marketing.
Unsurprising, marketing automation specialists still need to have experience with email marketing. Almost half (49%) of the job ads required applicants to own email marketing as a part of their responsibilities, while 7% of companies asked for past experience in email marketing.
Conversely, only 5% of the companies mentioned SMS, chatbots, Whatsapp, or other customer communication channels.
“Manage various email campaigns and nurture flows, including implementing designs, content, and testing.”
“Manage and help develop email and landing page templates.”
“Creating and sending marketing emails.”
“If you have experience coding for email, a solid understanding of email best practices…”
“Setting up, testing and launching emails, landing pages, and automated campaign flows.”
Insight 3: Marketing Automation Specialists spend more time on automated campaigns than ad-hoc campaigns.
16% of the companies explicitly indicated that their marketing automation specialists work on automated trigger-based campaigns. Behavior-based email campaigns have a 70% higher engagement than one-off emails, so this requirement comes as no surprise.
Still, some companies (although a much smaller portion) asked of their marketing automation specialists to deal with ad-hoc campaigns and newsletter creation.
“As an integral part of our team, you will set-up, QA, deploy, test, and report findings on both ad-hoc and automated trigger-based marketing programs.”
“Proven experience in activating multiple marketing automation workflows; e.g.: welcome and onboarding; lead nurture of newly acquired leads; recycling of discarded leads and opportunities; multichannel automation using email, text, social ads; trigger-based campaigns that react to changes in behavior and/or profile data.”
“Programming of business rules and marketing triggers.”
“Build, optimize, and measure the performance of email marketing campaigns – including engagement programs, behaviorally-triggered campaigns, email templates, forms.”
Insight 4: Marketing Automation Specialists function more like tactical executors than strategic leaders in the organization.
Out of the 36 job postings labeled as “Marketing Automation Specialist” and “Senior Marketing Automation Specialist”, only 10 (27%) implied any strategic responsibilities for the role.
Conversely, the job descriptions listed a lot more obligations in the solution-oriented domain that require technical expertise and execution skills.
Marketing Automation Specialists function more as tactical project managers than “empowered” leaders that drive the overall strategy of the company.
The strategic-oriented requirements were more prominent within the roles of the “Marketing Automation Managers” with 44% of their job descriptions mentioning strategy:
“Collaborating cross-functionally with your team and other departments, you’ll develop the strategy for translating Livongo’s enrollment goals and company objectives into tangible and trackable journeys and campaigns.”
“Provide strategic guidance on marketing automation campaigns for customers and internal marketing teams.”
“Develop and implement the marketing automation strategy for Keypath’s university portfolio.”
If you’re looking for a strategic marketing automation role and not a production job then you should strive for a management-level position within the organization.
Insight 5: 36% of companies expect the Marketing Automation Specialist to have previous experience with marketing automation.
It probably comes as no surprise, but if you want to become a Marketing Automation Specialist, you must have some past professional experience with marketing automation.
More than half of the job postings asked that the applicants have at least some prior experience in the field, with some of the manager-level jobs asking for 4+ years of experience.
Inexperienced candidates that want to enter the field would be more successful by starting their marketing automation career as an email marketer, marketing generalist, or an assistant to the marketing manager. That way, they can learn the ropes of the job before the company throws the execution of a challenging customer campaign at them.
Insight 6: Analytical skill is the 2nd most important skill for Marketing Automation Specialists.
Marketing Automation Specialists are expected to have analytical skills and data-driven thinking. This was reflected in the job postings that we analyzed — 23% of which indicate that analytical skills are required for the job.
Analytical skills come 2nd after skills and previous experience with marketing automation.
Moreover, almost half of the companies (47%) stated that the MA specialist would be responsible for data analysis and reports.
Data analysis and reports rank as 3rd most common responsibility after “Campaign Implementation” and “Email Marketing”.
“Provide simple to complex data and market analysis to various stakeholders within the organization. Recommend the appropriate type of analysis based on the objectives at hand.”
“Tech-savvy and analytical mindset, with a focus on data-driven results.”
“Excellent data analytical abilities to help drive decisions.”
“Troubleshoot and QA workflows, data issues, and other key marketing ops functions.
Ensure required data is captured at all buyer engagement stages and accurate multi-touch attribution is reported”
“Post roll-out analysis using tools including Google Analytics, Big Query, firebase, Apps Flyer, and Google Data Studio.”
“The ideal candidate is passionate about and already engaged deeply in customer acquisition strategies and data analysis.”
“Ability to understand data and make decisions and recommendations based on analysis.”
Insight 7: Marketing Automation Specialist don’t own a specific KPI or metric.
Marketing automation specialists are asked to be data-driven, but most of them are not asked to report or improve on a specific metric or KPI.
This is echoed in the larger portion of the job postings that we analyzed — 63% of the job descriptions didn’t mention anything about a specific KPI/metric or set of metrics.
12% talked about metrics and KPIs in general — e.g., the increase in Conversion Rates across the business.
Only 25% of job posts stated explicit ownership of a single metric or well-defined set of metrics. Among the metrics mentioned were:
- Email-related metrics — open rates, clickthrough rates, etc.
- MQL/SQLs generated — especially within the job descriptions with a focus on demand generation.
- Retention — just one job posting mentioned responsibilities for reporting data tied to a stage of the customer lifecycle/funnel.
- And one other job posting with KPIs related to processes, technology usage, qualitative customer feedback, and number of campaigns launched.
“Create and maintain metrics reports on marketing and sales activities, effectiveness, and business impact.
Excellent understanding of email marketing concepts and metrics such as Sender Score, deliverability, and sender reputation.”
“In collaboration with the Business Intelligence team, work to develop email KPIs to determine the success or failure of email strategies.”
“Knowledge and experience developing KPIs and success measures used to evaluate digital channel performance.”
“Translate business needs into programs that drive better CTR and engagement.”
“Increase conversion to MQLs.
Manage process for MQLs to sales acceptance. Assess a lead’s need, qualify, and distribute accordingly to the appropriate sales rep.
Work closely with Account Executives to ensure leads are worked through the buyer’s journey.
Maintain monthly executive summary on MQLs, SALs, SQLs, Opportunities, and closed win/loss.”
“You are part of one of the “Customer Relationship Management” Team, which has a clear focus to improve retention, based on clear data-insights developed in cooperation with our Data and Analytics team.”
A possible explanation of the lack of clear priorities is that the marketing automation specialists are in charge of implementing campaigns that span across the whole customer lifecycle and work with other departments across the organization.
If this is true, this means that someone else owns the metrics: salespeople are in charge of KPIs related to demand generation, the customer success department is responsible for retention, and so on.
One thing is certain — marketing automation specialists will have a hard time quantifying the success of their efforts unless they establish clear KPIs and figure out what data really matters.
Insight 8: 29% of employers expect the Marketing Automation Specialist to know at least one programming language.
10% of companies needed the MA specialist to have a command of databases (SQL), and 5% asked the candidates to know a back-end language like PHP, Java, or REST API.
Out of the 55 companies analyzed, a couple were in search of a technical marketing automation specialist, while the rest indicated a strong preference towards people with technical knowledge.
Among the skills required, 7% of the companies also indicated that an understanding of agile/scrum methodologies is preferred.
“Light HTML coding to handle small adjustments or ESP specific coding.”
“Creating and modifying HTML emails & landing pages.”
Insight 9: Marketing Automation Specialists are NOT expected to create content.
Only 5 out of the 55 companies analyzed have mentioned responsibilities and activities related to creating content. This is the case mostly within smaller organizations where the MA specialist is expected to write email copy, newsletters, and other marketing collateral.
“Own the end-to-end marketing automation workflow from strategic planning, content creation, audience targeting, and post-send analysis.”
“Own and manage content publishing and scheduling across multiple digital platforms.”
“Produce engaging content and sales collateral that attracts and converts our target audiences, including blogs, white papers, case studies, and website copy.”
About the same number of companies have mentioned activities related to managing and organizing content assets, including the management of an editorial calendar.
Combined with the previous insights, these stats affirms the sentiment that the marketing automation role is more of a technical, execution-oriented job than a creative one.
Insight 10: Marketing Automation Specialists are expected to work with a marketing automation tool.
The majority of the postings (83%) said that the MA specialist would work with a marketing automation tool.
Among the top used tools are:
- Salesforce (38%)
- Marketo (32%)
- Pardot (16%)
- Hubspot (14%)
- Eloqua (14%)
- Adobe Campaign (5%)
“Act as a legal business subject matter expert related to the migration of disparate marketing automation systems into a single instance of Eloqua that unifies demand gen practices and lead management process.”
“Reporting directly to our Content Manager, this critical new role will own the day-to-day operations of our SalesForce Pardot platform, serving as lead in executing, analyzing, and optimizing workflows and automated campaigns.”
“Optimising the Lead flow from Eloqua -> Salesforce (CRM platform).”
“Build marketing automation “journeys” using Salesforce Marketing Cloud (ExactTarget).”
Apart from marketing automation platforms, the employers asked that candidates are comfortable with tools such as Google Analytics (18%), Excel or Google Sheets (10%), CRM (9%), and the Microsoft Office suite (7%).
Insight 11: The hierarchical position of the Marketing Automation Specialist within the organization is not clearly defined.
When we researched the place of the MA specialist within the organization, we struggled to extract enough data points to conclude a finding.
Only 16% of companies have indicated who the MA specialist will report to (mostly the Marketing Manager or VP of Marketing). And even less have specified who the specialist will work with — with results equally spread between production, marketing, design, and sales teams.
Marketing Automation Specialists are expected to have a wide range of multidisciplinary skills so that they are able to communicate across different departments of the organization.
Apart from being able to communicate effectively, the MA specialists need to have a strong technical foundation to be able to execute challenging campaigns from start to finish. This includes knowing at least one programming language.
MA specialists are expected to be great communicators, data-driven analyzers, and technical executors. Still, MA specialists are not expected to create heaps of content, unless explicitly required.
Setting up a marketing automation platform, integrating the whole marketing stack, segmenting, enriching, and lead scoring the contact database, and then executing complete lifecycle campaigns are just a portion of the tasks and responsibilities of the MA specialist.
With this report and our findings, we hope that we cleared up some confusion for you and helped you understand the challenging but rewarding job of the Marketing Automation Specialist.