Marketing teams are asked to do the impossible: create engaging content, drive high-quality leads, build lead nurture campaigns, and much more — all on a strict budget.
Not to mention, they’re bombarded by sales teams for content and asked to prove their worth to the executive leadership team.
Many marketers feel they’re juggling a million things all at once.
This diverts their focus from the few key activities that truly matter. And that also means they’re sacrificing the quality of their work.
That’s where Marketing Operations come into play.
A well-run marketing operations team helps to fine-tune the marketing, so the marketing department achieves the goals set forth by the executive team.
In this post, we’ll cover what marketing operations is, why you need it and how to implement it into your business.
What are marketing operations?
Marketing operations (or marketing ops) is creating processes and allocating team resources to increase the efficiency and results of the marketing department.
Marketing ops incorporates a data-driven and analytical approach to the marketing team’s efforts.
Unlike traditional marketing, which focuses heavily on creativity, marketing operations aim to boost efficiency by ensuring all activities lead towards company objectives.
The primary elements of marketing operations are:
- and Data.
Marketing ops teams aim to improve these key marketing areas so the company can achieve its key objectives.
Scope of Marketing Operations
Below is a general scope of what the responsibilities of marketing ops entail:
- Collateral creation and maintenance: This encompasses the planning and production process of all creative aspects of marketing.
- Demand generation: Demand generation specialists are involved in the marketing team to help align the touchpoints in the customer journey and strategically nurture prospects through the sales cycle.
- Reporting and analysis: Marketing ops must put sophisticated analytics and reporting in place to accurately evaluate performance and accurately forecast results.
- Project management: Creatives need processes to follow to guide them in the right direction and ensure the project is successful.
- Compliance and risk assessment: All brand assets must remain consistent with meeting quality standards and abiding by advertising practices.
- Marketing tech stack management: Every marketing team needs the right mix of technology that integrates their data and avoid overlapping features.
In addition, marketing ops are also responsible for cross-team communication so that marketing activities align with other departments such as sales, admin, and finance.
Marketing operations are critical because it:
- Boosts productivity, efficiency, and results for your company’s marketing efforts
- Reinforces marketing strategy with metrics, infrastructure, and best practices
- Impacts your marketing strategy and campaign when combined with automation
- Focuses on optimizing the consumer experience so that prospects receive what they’re looking for
Typically, marketing operation team members are process and analytical-driven professionals. In contrast, marketers are creative talents who can think outside the box.
The operations professionals need to ensure that the content, campaigns, and lead nurturing deliver the results that the executive team is looking for.
They aim to measure the ROI of all activities so that they correlate with revenue. This helps to minimize unproductive activities, streamline scalable activities and produce results.
The challenges for marketing teams
In today’s modern business world, no other department has had to adapt as much as the marketing team.
Think about it. New technologies are evolving, customers are becoming more informed, and they are interacting with brands in new ways.
Marketing teams are constantly under heavy scrutiny. CEOs and executives expect the marketing team to stay within budget while delivering astronomical results.
Here are some of the problems that doom many marketing teams in today’s landscape:
1. Lack of experience
Plenty of experience and knowledge is required to execute a successful marketing strategy. Your team needs to understand lead generation, SEO, lead nurturing, advertising, content marketing, social media, and more!
Depending on the size of your organization, it might mean that marketing team members are required to be proficient in multiple areas. However, wearing too many hats at once prevents your team from producing their best quality work.
There are a few solutions available to you, such as:
- Hiring a marketing agency that helps your organization develop processes and strategies to grow and develop the in-house marketing team sets you up for future success.
- Bringing in a top-level outsourced CMO on an as-needed basis.
- Providing internal training to your in-house employees
The marketing ops team can help improve skill levels by identifying skill gaps and providing specific training to all employees. Additionally, they can make up for marketing gaps by using technology and data analytics to focus on a few key areas of improvement.
2. Lack of processes
Many marketing teams lack internal and external processes. Internal marketing processes are the steps a marketing team must go through when executing marketing campaigns — from ideation to launch.
For content marketing, this means having a series of steps such as competitor analysis, keyword research, outline, creating a draft, editing, graphic design, and final approval.
Here’s an example of what an internal process would look like:
Each task is assigned to specific roles within the team, and the table shows the sequence of steps needed to produce and publish content.
The best way to adopt marketing processes is to use project management software that can notify team members when each process stage is completed.
These internal processes need to be created so that marketing teams work more efficiently and achieve better outcomes.
External marketing processes are how the target audience experiences each stage of the sales and marketing funnel. Far too often, marketers focus on creating the marketing material without receiving feedback on how consumers react to their content.
Are consumers engaging with your content? Do they feel compelled to take action by submitting their contact information? Does it entice consumers to book a consultation or demo call with a sales expert?
Continual improvement of the customer journey is needed to ensure your potential buyers are seamlessly moving down the funnel and ultimately ready to buy.
Encharge, for instance, allows you to personalize the onboarding experience by segmenting your audience based on various characteristics.
For example, based on a prospect’s “job title,” you can send unique emails that are more relevant to their role within their company. This creates a personalized experience, which ultimately improves conversion.
3. Lack of technology
A report performed by Econsultancy found that 64% of companies believe that their team didn’t have the skills needed to maximize the use of marketing technology. Nowadays, digital businesses need a marketing technology stack, where a group of tools is used together to enhance their marketing performance.
Many marketing teams lack the tools simply because they aren’t up to date with the current market trends. This means not being aware of the existing tools that the most innovative brands are using. For example, nowadays, tools like Hotjar monitor the behavior of web visitors on your site, and Chatbots can be used for capturing leads.
Here are the common types of marketing technology categories:
- Social media management platforms are used to create, manage and analyze social media content.
- Marketing automation platforms like Encharge help nurture leads through email lead nurturing sequences, segmentation, and lead scoring.
- Webinar software lets brands sell to a large group of people at once.
- Predictive technology uses data and past outcomes to predict the success of future campaigns and the likelihood of leads converting.
- Advertising tools can create and manage ad campaigns, which include retargeting campaigns.
- Data and behavioral analytics tools are used to monitor the behavior of your prospects and track key metrics and KPIs of your marketing campaigns.
- SEO tools offer specific features to find keywords and help you produce content for ranking purposes.
The marketing ops team must identify the right tools for your company size by seeing which software has the right features to help best facilitate your team. They might factor in budget, ease of use, features, etc.
Additionally, the marketing ops team must choose software that integrates with other platforms so that data can be shared between platforms.
For example, you’ll want to pass data from your marketing automation tool to your CRM so that your sales reps have as much information about the prospect as possible and how they have interacted with your brand before the sales meeting.
Encharge, for example, integrates with dozens of software systems such as ad tools, analytics platforms, CRMs, form builders, chatbots, and more.
4. Lack of reporting
It’s common for marketers to get overwhelmed by measuring their marketing efforts. After all, if they’re using Facebook Ad Manager, Google analytics, or any other platform with data tracking, it can be challenging to decide which metrics matter.
If your marketing team doesn’t have data analytics to track and analyze your campaigns, your team is left in the dark, without knowing what’s driving results and what activities are a waste.
A mistake many marketers make is focusing too much on “vanity metrics”. Vanity metrics are a significant roadblock to achieving sales and marketing alignment. They make employees feel productive and positive. After all, who doesn’t like to see more social media likes, page views, and email addresses gathered?
While it’s great to see these numbers trending upwards, they are less significant compared to new MRR, expansion revenue, closed deals, and other metrics focused on revenue generation.
Some important metrics a marketing team should track include booked meetings, sales accepted leads, and free trial sign-ups.
Here are metrics you can ignore and what metrics to replace them with:
Ignore page views: This only means people are visiting the site, but it doesn’t mean they’ve taken action to engage with your brand any further.
Replace with conversion rates: Conversion rates usually mean the visitor has turned into a lead by submitting their contact information.
Ignore video view count: Video content shouldn’t be measured by how many viewed it.
Replace with video engagement: Look for people that have watched the entire video.
Ignore email-open rate: While you want prospects to open your emails, that’s not the end goal.
Replace with click-through rate: Prospects who click on your links are actively engaged with your brand and more likely to take action.
Marketing operations teams help identify the key metrics and shift marketers’ focus in the right direction to drive results for their organization.
5. Lack of communication
Many underperforming marketing teams fail to communicate, especially with other departments.
For example: While focusing on delivering Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), marketing teams still often find that sales reps complain about the quality of the leads.
The lack of agreement on what makes qualified leads causes a lack of synchronization between both departments. As a result, both teams’ performance suffers.
The marketing ops team helps bring both teams together by ensuring a clear communication plan between sales and marketing. They might implement a system where both teams can offer feedback.
For example, a weekly standup meeting when sales reps can point out specific leads that are not qualified. Or the marketing team and operations staff can work together to provide sales enablement content to better build value during the sales call.
High-performing marketers are about 1.5x more likely to collaborate with their sales teams than underperformers.
Nowadays, 62% of marketing teams say they are aligned more than ever. But that means 38% of organizations still lack sales and marketing alignment.
Types of marketing operations
Marketing operations is a versatile area that delves into many aspects of marketing.
One team member might be focused on the data-driven aspect to create reports and analyze the marketing team’s performance.
Another team might be in charge of evaluating the company’s brand compliance and asset management to ensure all marketing material is in alignment.
Here are the various types of marketing operations:
Reporting and analysis
For marketing ops to effectively guide an array of marketing activities, they must provide detailed analytics and reporting. Once the activities have been properly managed, marketing ops professionals can efficiently sort through the data to access campaign performance, forecast results, and make important decisions for the team. These decisions might shift focus on their campaigns, adjust their targeting or even build new lead magnets.
Perhaps video content is driving results. Marketing ops may recommend scaling the video efforts by hiring more personnel or assigning more personnel in that area.
Here are some of the common marketing analytics and reporting activities that the operations team may perform:
- Preparing a variety of reports to access and gauge performance.
- Building dynamic dashboards to present information in an engaging and insightful manner.
- Presenting their key findings to the executive team or stakeholders.
- Utilize analytics to predict and forecast future performance.
- Diagnose changes in the team’s performance.
- Report the areas that are performing well and areas that need improvement.
- Use data and analytics to determine future actions.
The marketing ops team will aim to monitor the right metrics. It’s best to use custom dashboards to filter out unimportant metrics. This way, marketers can focus on the right KPIs, so they won’t get distracted or confused. Doing so will help the team work as effectively and efficiently as possible.
When evaluating your marketing ops, you should be evaluating them on these key metrics. It’s their job to improve the marketing team’s work efficiency, alignment to business goals, and utilization of technology.
Marketing ops are responsible for managing projects and processes for marketing teams.
This requires a systematic approach covering all campaign aspects, from concept to creation to completion.
The main benefit of structured project and process management is that it sets specific requirements and goals. As a result, every activity and task focuses on maximum efficiency. It helps to reduce complexity, shorten timelines and improve performance.
Marketing projects often involve stakeholders, and they can be incredibly complex. If you’re going to get the best results from your marketing endeavors while keeping your team happy and productive, you’ll need to engage in marketing projects and process management.
Here are the benefits of project and process management for marketing teams:
- Project efficiency: Effective project management ensures that each task and activity serves the project goals and aims to deliver the desired business outcome.
- Streamlined communication: Being in touch with everyone involved in these projects, so they can address roadblocks and move the project along. Communication tools like Slack and Asana are great places to assign tasks and deadlines and communicate to members directly.
- Accountability: Marketing ops hold marketers accountable for their work. Instead of simply producing “creative” work, they are responsible for delivering results that lead to a better experience for prospects. They also help to encourage prospects to take action.
- Leverage resources: The marketing ops team aims to provide all the necessary resources to help marketing teams succeed. Perhaps they’ll hire outsourced freelancers to bring in higher-quality graphics. Or they might upgrade their tech stack, so marketers can get the job done faster.
- Shorter timelines and increased productivity: Projects move along quickly when everyone is on the same page and focused on a single goal. All non-essential tasks are eliminated, allowing purposeful work to be completed.
- Predictability: The ops team will gather the data and results when marketers complete their projects and campaigns. They’ll use what works and discard the rest to build new company best practices.
- Trackable ROI: The marketing ops team always measures the ROI of campaigns and projects to gauge their effectiveness. For example, here’s an MROI calculator that they can use. Using this template, marketers can determine the revenue generated from the content minus the cost of content production. They’ll be able to determine which types of content are more effective for generating sales or closed deals.
Compliance and risk assessment
Marketing compliance ensures that the marketing, sales, and advertising content abides by the company standards and regulations in your location that protect the consumer and their data.
Governments and other organizations have laws to protect consumers from abuse of their data and false claims.
Consequences for breaking certain laws may include facing steep fines and suffering significant reputational damage.
Here are some of the most common marketing compliance use cases:
Successful branding requires consistency across all channels of marketing. Brands with consistent brands are 3.5 times more likely to have greater brand visibility than those with an inconsistent presentation.
Product prices and specifications
Anytime products are involved, the Federal Trade Commission has strict “truth-in-advertising laws” that require advertisements to be based on evidence and truth.
The marketing team amasses a ton of consumer data, so it’s essential to manage the data effectively.
It’s always best to tell prospects and customers what to expect from a communication standpoint, such as how often you expect to contact them and what type of content they’ll receive. Also, always make it easy for consumers to opt out, so you only have the most recent and accurate customer data.
Some of the data management tasks that the marketing ops team may perform are:
- Cleaning up inaccurate or outdated customer data.
- Securing approval from your company’s key decision-makers.
- Reviewing and approving marketer’s creative content.
- Sourcing and utilizing the appropriate review and approval tools.
Most marketing operations teams will develop a systematic review and approval workflow. This workflow helps all members to understand the sequence and ensure they never skip the compliance process.
For example, the content editor and manager may be tasked with checking for brand compliance issues. Involving multiple parties to review the project will cover all bases and prevent accidental slip-ups that could hurt your brand image.
Marketing tech stack management
Customer expectations are at an all-time high. Many similar brands compete for the same target demographic, meaning they have to offer better consumer experiences and products and bring something different to the table.
Consumers want their interactions to be seamless. As a result, brands are required to build meaningful relationships based on where they are within the customer journey.
Finding the right tools is a crucial aspect of the marketing operations team. It’s certainly not an easy task since there are so many emerging tools every year, not to mention all the new updates and features rolling out.
Sourcing, managing, and maintaining the right tools are critical to a marketing operation’s success. It’s no easy task, though, given that new tools emerge regularly and small updates can affect the balance of your tech stack.
Some of the most common marketing tech stack activities that the marketing ops team will perform are:
- Assessing and analyzing the suitability of new software.
- Maintaining, updating, and monitoring usage of existing tools.
- Managing permissions and accounts.
- Contacting support and troubleshooting.
The marketing ops team must avoid overlapping the features of each tool to help save on cost and prevent confusion.
Many marketing teams use about 12 different tools for their role, and some use up to 31 tools to manage their data and campaigns. This means that many teams have software with overlapping functionality, which can negatively impact the profitability of projects.
Also, make sure to monitor current and future needs. This requires the ops team to develop a roadmap by accessing where the company is headed.
For example, if the brand wants to add more tutorial content for their knowledge base, they might need screen-recording software to complete the project. The marketing ops will need to plan these future projects in advance to ensure the technology is set up before starting.
How to build your marketing operations team
For any marketing ops team to thrive, the top of the organization must buy into the idea of the marketing ops team.
Ideally, the CMO needs to understand the capabilities of marketing technologies and how they can help enable the entire sales and marketing team’s success.
Without the support from the executive team, marketing operations won’t be successful, and there may be a disconnect as to why they are even here.
Before hiring for marketing operations, you’ll need to assess your goals and strategy.
Here are the essential steps to building a rock-solid team that enhances your marketing team and ensures they hit their key objectives:
Set up objectives across the organization
The challenge that many organizations face is that they lack the knowledge of how these teams should function and what their responsibilities are.
Fortunately, to overcome this challenge, you can study existing case studies that showcase how the marketing operation team functions, how it helps align their team with the sales team, how the operations team interacts, and how each task benefits the company as a whole.
Building your marketing ops team starts with setting business objectives that lay the foundation for the marketing work. Marketing executives must establish the objectives and mission statements for the marketing ops team to help guide every action.
Here’s a case study of how Macro, a marketing operations company, helped their client (a company in the financial services industry).
These are the key takeaways:
- The client enforced the proper Martech, including Marketo, Salesforce, WordPress, Asana, and Zoom.
- They made improvements to their digital campaign assets and execution process. For example, they provided templated and dynamic sections to ensure faster campaign execution.
- Macro implemented the Agile Project Management framework and used a Kanban system for tracking campaigns.
- The result was a 200% increase in the number of campaigns executed monthly, a 106% increase in clients reached, a 5.5% increase in click-through rate, and a 55.31% increase in lead to MQL ratio.
Finding case studies on how marketing operations have helped organizations and the tactics used will help you to establish a foundation for building your own team.
Create a multi-phased strategy
Many organizations think they can build a robust marketing operations team and implement the strategies overnight. Unfortunately, that isn’t very realistic.
Instead, companies must adopt a multi-phased strategy to construct their team carefully.
Each component will need a well-thought-out plan to ensure the execution is effective.
Here are the common areas that need to be addressed — one at a time:
- Skill gap existing in the in-house marketing team.
- Current marketing tech stack and the gap in features, knowledge, or usage in these tools.
- Assessing the current processes and finding any bottlenecks that are slowing down performance and inhibiting results.
- Determine the operation’s team members’ roles and duties.
- Developing the organizational structure of the marketing ops team.
This multi-phased marketing strategy requires defining the objective for each stage so that everyone knows when each stage is completed. Action items are needed to address these areas, which will make up your multi-phase strategy.
For example, when analyzing the Martech stack, the ops team needs to know what essential features are needed. E.g. consumers need personalized content and solutions, while the marketing team needs data-driven technology and ease of use. For example, having tools that offer dynamic templates can help to save marketers time in execution.
A platform like Encharge has a drag-and-drop email editor, a flow builder, and personalization tags to make creating email sequences a breeze. It saves marketers hours in designing emails and lets them focus on creating the content of the email.
Define roles and responsibilities
No marketing ops team can function properly as a unified unit without defined roles and clearly structured teams.
For instance, there needs to be stated roles and responsibilities that the member must follow. Like any other team member in the company, a marketing ops manager should be able to evaluate the performance of their team members.
Here are ideas to help get you started on defining the responsibilities of each team member:
- One team member must take ownership of the marketing tools and processes from the tech stack.
- Team members who must make customization, updates, and deliver reports from the marketing automation platform.
- The communication between how the marketing team will interact with the sales team and other departments
- Team members who gather and interpret the data by the marketing team. Then they’ll present the findings.
Additionally, the leaders will have to set roles for any vendors or consultants that the organization works with. They’ll need to set the initiatives to execute with the marketing agencies to ensure they deliver on what’s needed for the company.
This helps you hire and bring the right people into your marketing operations team.
Choose the right marketing technology tools
About 32% of CMOs have stated that they don’t currently have a strategy for managing their marketing technology. Many of them will add new tools on a case-by-case basis.
According to the chief marketing officer of Fullstory, most marketing teams only utilize about 25 to 30% of the capabilities of the marketing technology. This means that there’s a lot of wasted money going towards maintaining and using these tools.
“Define your outcomes and strategy first, then triage the tech you already have to identify what’s underutilized and where you have real capability gaps. Most marketers only use 25-30% of the capabilities in their existing martech portfolios”Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, CMO at Fullstory
Here are some foundational tips for building an effective marketing tech stack:
- Outline the marketing strategies your team will use. This way, you can identify the tools needed for your various strategies.
- Conduct a survey of your marketing team. This helps to identify where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Try to find software that helps to aid in their weaknesses. For example, software like Canva has a lot of graphics that can help a team that lacks graphic design skills.
- Set a budget. Make sure your tech stack fits within the company’s budget for your marketing operations team.
- Research the tools and see what features they have.
- Look into adding non-marketing tools. This includes project management, data sync, and other collaboration platforms.
- Analyze how effective your current tools are. Then determine whether you need to switch or upgrade the plans in your tools. In some cases, you may have to eliminate certain tools.
Remember that the tech stack shouldn’t only complement your marketing team. It should help to address the customer’s needs. Michael Shen, the director of marketing for Zapier, recommends understanding your customers’ needs, then working backward to find the right technology.
“Understand the needs of the customer and then work backward to the technology. This ensures your investment is actually helpful for the end-user and not just a shiny new tool.”Michael Shen, Director of marketing at Zapier
What is the optimal structure for your marketing operations team?
Depending on the size of your organization and how much support is needed, you may have different marketing operation needs.
However, if you need an idea of where to start, here’s a good starting point:
A small-sized company should have:
- A marketing ops manager.
- Marketing tech specialist or a marketing automation specialist.
- Demand generation specialist.
In addition to the three positions mentioned above, mid-sized organizations will need:
- Data and analytics expert
- Process manager
- Project manager
Large companies with over 500 employees will need a more robust marketing ops team. The larger the organization, the more important it is to have a well-functioning marketing operations department.
- Vice President of Marketing Operations
- Marketing Tech Manager
- Data and Analytics Manager:
- Web platform manager
- Content Manager
- Process Manager
In addition, you’ll need to hire specialists to work under these managers to help them carry out the required daily activities.
No matter the company’s size, it’s imperative to convince the chief marketing officer and chief executive office of the value of well-structured staffing in marketing operations and how it would lead to the organization’s success.