Building a Marketing Ops team is a pretty simple process. All you need is a few spare limbs, a Tesla coil, and a mad scientist. HE'S AAAALIVE...wait, not that type of building?
At LXA, we estimate the martech industry in North America and the UK to be worth $149.7bn in 2021. We believe these results are typical of key global markets, suggesting a worldwide market figure of $344.8bn. And, as more and more of the marketing budget goes on martech, it'll lead to a larger spend on personnel that can make the most of the tech.
So, you've got to ask yourself: who am I spending my money on? Who's going to make that money into more money?
Well, most marketing teams are already made up of a mix of talented people; creative thinkers, strategists, and managers. But most teams are missing team members skilled in data gathering, organisation, and analysis. This is where MOPs come in.
Darrell Alfonso defined marketing ops in this way, during our MOPs course:
The way I like to define marketing operations is “the art and science of executing great marketing.”
So, let's go into more detail.
What are Marketing Operations?
Marketing operations are typically responsible for the administration of martech platforms, the building and execution of campaigns, the facilitation of marketing data and reports, and supporting the building of internal marketing products and processes.
Basically, it's all the processes that go on behind the scenes of a marketing team. That's the people, that's the processes, that's the platforms, that's the planning. And when all of these are well-oiled, the marketing team can be successful.
What isn't Marketing Operations?
Marketing operations often get confused with a number of different roles within an organisation.
Marketing ops isn't...marketing automation. The marketing automation platforms of today do encompass many functions that MOPs are responsible for, but they are not the same. The administrator of the MAP (marketing automation platform) might actually be a marketing operations professional. "But not all marketing is marketing automation," says Darrell. MOPs is all about executing great marketing. Automation is the programmatic part of MOPs. So, it's under the umbrella of MOPs, but they are not the same thing.
Marketing ops isn't...sales operations. Both get into the mechanics, enablement and support for their departments. But like it says on the tin: sales operations is all about sales, and marketing operations is all about marketing. Although, if your team is small, marketing operations may support both departments.
Marketing ops isn't...demand generation. This one's quick: demand generation is supported and enabled by demand generation, but is not the function itself.
What is a Marketing Operations Team?
A marketing operation team is the staff that deals with all of the above tasks, They're needed to perform the marketing operations tasks in your organisation.
A small MOPs team might only consist of a marketing operations manager, whilst larger teams may branch out into a collection of martech roles, data analysts, and other specialists.
What Does a Marketing Operations Team Do?
A marketing operations team is responsible for the end-to-end management and optimization of a business' marketing processes. They use data, analytics, infrastructure, best practices, and business processes to support and execute the organization's overall marketing strategy.
Here are some of the specific tasks that a marketing operations team might perform:
- Planning and budgeting: Marketing operations teams help to develop marketing plans and budgets, and they track and manage spending to ensure that campaigns stay on track.
- Data management: Marketing operations teams collect and manage data from a variety of sources, including website traffic, social media engagement, and email campaigns. They use this data to track the performance of marketing campaigns and to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Technology management: Marketing operations teams are responsible for the selection, implementation, and maintenance of marketing technology. They ensure that the right tools are in place to support the marketing team's goals, and they help to train the team on how to use the tools effectively.
- Process development and optimisation: Marketing operations teams develop and optimize marketing processes. This includes everything from campaign planning to lead management to reporting. They work to ensure that marketing processes are efficient and effective, and they identify opportunities to improve them.
- Reporting and analysis: Marketing operations teams collect and analyze data to track the performance of marketing campaigns. They use this data to create reports that help the marketing team to understand what's working and what's not.
- Collaboration: Marketing operations teams work closely with other departments, such as sales, product, and customer service. They help to ensure that marketing campaigns are aligned with the overall business goals, and they help to share data and insights across the organization.
So, having this team can make a huge difference in the day-to-day operations of your business. But remember: the team shouldn't be filled with marketers, but instead analytical and process-oriented professionals.
Remember: a well-functioning marketing operations team can help to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and ROI of marketing campaigns. They can also help to ensure that marketing is aligned with the overall business goals.
How Have Marketing Operations Teams Evolved?
…Marketing operations has been around as long as business in general has. Marketing ops has been the backbone of office work behind promoting and selling products."
- Darrell Alfonso
But what does marketing ops look like today? I mean, every part of marketing has evolved to keep up with martech, and MOPs are no exception. As digitisation has increased, the function of the role has changed alongside it.
Basically, the scope of responsibilities has changed in marketing, so the importance of MOPs has too. People are needed to drive the technology, organise the data, and adapt to the new landscape.
So, where will the evolution take us next? Darrell thinks the role of the CMO will see a big change.
Marketing ops touches every part of the business. It’s a function that gets results, that drives tangible business value. So with increasing pressure on CMOs to deliver on business goals, to drive revenue, to demonstrate true marketing impact, it’s logical that MOPs will be those well placed to fill future CMO roles. So it's a great place for us to be building our skills and knowledge."
How Do You Build a Marketing Operations Team?
Right, it's all well and good to say how important a MOPs team is. But how do you build one? Well, just take the following steps:
- Establish goals and objectives. Start with studying existing case studies that show how a MOPs team functions, interacts and aligns with your other teams. Build your team around your goals, not your goals around your teams.
- Define barriers. Without structure roles in place, there's not unified unit. Every member of the team should know their job and responsibilities, both within the team and within the company. But this doesn't stop at the MOPs team. All teams within your business should understand why a marketing operations team is beneficial, and how it can help them and the business. This is good for establishing responsibilities and budget. These moves require marketing leaders to communicate with the teams clearly and constantly. When this is completed, leaders need to focus on reengineering and fixing obstacles.
- Build a plan. This multi-step plan needs to consider a few components for each phase:
- Martech stack gaps
- Skills gaps
- Team roles and duties
- Organisational structure
This plan needs to consider your goals at every stage, and a plan to achieve that goal.
When considering the martech stack gaps, you'll need to identify all the tech in use, the team members responsible, how the tools are used, and what result are realistic and attainable. With the skills gap, you'll need to perform a gap analysis using a talent management programme, outsource the operation to a professions, or upskill your current team members.
How Do You Structure a Marketing Operations Team?
Darrell suggests a framework originally conceptualised by Edward Unthank, Founder and CEO of Etumos.
His approach is to organise our team into 4 key areas: Platform Operations, Campaign Operations, Marketing Intelligence, and Marketing engineering.
So, let's start with Platform Operations. Platform Operations are the admins of martech. They provide system support, training, stack interconnectivity and more. If the team is large, each individual may have a specific specialisation; from managing the CRM to marketing automation.
Campaign operations can be done in a central, agency-model way, with experts who in-take campaign requests and build to spec, and consult on best practices. They can also be set up in a decentralised model, in which any digital marketer can build campaigns.
Marketing intelligence is responsible for reporting and analytics. It can be a hybrid role, for someone on the team already, or involve a designated specialist skilled in data science and analytics.
Marketing engineering is often seen in large enterprise companies, which have development resources assigned to marketing, in order to build products and data management. Smaller businesses will have shared resources or will use third parties, such as agencies or contractors.
How Do You Prove Marketing Operations ROI?
Our ability to show the tangible value of marketing ops will be the difference in gaining or retaining our marketing budget, building headcount and being able to get the leadership support to deliver on new initiatives.
Simply put, if we show we are removing wastage, increasing revenues and improving the customer experience, we are doing our job and can look to drive business performance further with more investment."
If a MOPs team shows its value company-wide, and to the highest leadership level, the cash will come rolling in. And this cash will help support the team's goals and vision. It doesn't hurt individual career goals too.
So, the trick to proving ROI is to avoid vanity metrics and focus on what really matters. This means figuring out a few key performance metrics, all reported in a consistent, clear, and transparent way:
Step One: Know your numbers and narrative. Keep it concise and clear.
Step Two: Connect these numbers to the wider business goals and strategy.
Step Three: This isn't about asking for money. It's about proving you'll be making money. MOPs should be seen as a revenue-generating department, not another cost. Make sure you show the senior leaders what this new piece or tech, or new team member, will be bringing in regard to business performance.
Step Four: Contextualise the need for investment in the current landscape. Think trends, tech changes, consumer behaviour, and competitor actions.
Step Five: Keep it short.
Number Six: Detail what the investment will deliver for the business based on outcomes, not technical detail.
So, who are the marketing operations stakeholders? Who will the team serve in order to prove they are efficient and working at a productive level? Let's start with the:
- Chief Executive Officer, or CEO. They'll expect the team to grow revenue, and align with the rest of the organisation's goals.
- Chief Information Officer, or CIO: They'll want the team to be using software tools to the best of their ability, whilst keeping costs down. They'll also be involved with the team's evolving of strategies to keep up with technology.
- Chief Marketing Officer, or CMO. This individual will expect the team to align with sales, build a marketing funnel, and create scalable processes.
- Director of Marketing. The director expects the team to work closely with the creative team to inform campaigns, track data, and keep an eye on the campaign when it's live.
What is the Future of Marketing Operations Team?
Marketing Operations Professionals have the skills and abilities to go far. According to Darrell, these individuals will rise to the top, because of their broad exposure to multiple areas of the business, and their ability to get stuff done. They have the context, the birds-eye view, and the applicable skills to approach a number of different issues, in a number of different teams in a single business.
Marketing operations professionals will be the future marketing and business leaders"
- Darrell Alfonso
Tomorrow’s CMOs will be marketing operations professionals of today.
But these professionals, as an integral part of their position, will need to keep up with the technology. So, continuous learning will become the backbone of the marketing ops career. If the role has a direct impact on the business, the business will provide more funding, which will allow the role to have more impact on the business, and on and on.
So, as the marketing stacks need to be upgraded based on tech advancements, and a changing world, a MOPs professional will need to upgrade their personal skills stack.
From a trends perspective, we will see a lot of continuation. This means more data, more complex customer journeys, new ways to engage customers, greater privacy, and sales and marketing alignments.
Martech tools will continue to democratise tech, meaning marketing ops will have the ability to use low and no-code technologies to be in control of their tech and processes, without the need for developers.
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