Marketing Accountability: Who Owns What and Why It Matters

Marketing Accountability: Who Owns What and Why It Matters

In budget discussions, we rarely argue over the very obvious line items that are to be included or excluded from the budget. We spend most of our time debating items near the cut line. It’s the same when discussing which function in marketing is accountable for what items.


Rise of the Strategic Marketing Operations Function White Paper


Ownership is clear for items such as reporting, budget management, marketing automation platform execution, or digital property management. But the addition of marketing operations as a function, or the creation of a center of excellence, makes it tricky to pin down exactly which marketing group is accountable for what.

  1. Who owns data quality management (DQM)?
  2. Who owns defining the program and campaign calendar?
  3. Who owns driving the editorial and content calendars?
  4. Who owns the coordination of digital communications with customers?

Let’s address them one by one and create some guiding criteria for coming up with the best answers.

1. Who Owns Data Quality Management?

Within marketing, most would agree responsibility falls to marketing operations. But the real question here is if marketing should own this at all, or should sales operations or information technology (IT) own it?

Certainly, there are unique data in the marketing automation platform (MAP) that are not synchronized to the CRM. But much of the data is shared by both platforms, and the CRM is usually governed by sales operations. This problem is solved in some companies by merging marketing operations and sales operations into one function. Here are the criteria to help arrive at an answer when the functions are not unified:

  1. Who has the skills to report on DQM, can be an admin in the CRM and MAP, and understands at a deep level the data needs of marketing and sales?
  2. Who has the relationship with data vendors to support data cleansing and appending of the database?
  3. Who pays the licenses for the software systems involved, and does the licenses cost scale with the number of contacts?

Given the increasingly complex data needs of marketing, and the increases in budget allocated to marketing technologies, it seems likely that the expertise and therefore accountability for this function will shift from IT and sales operations into marketing operations over time.

2. Who Owns the Program and Campaign Calendar?

When a marketing organization has a field marketing team and a headquarters team, the question often arises: Who owns the program and campaign calendar? On one hand, the field marketers are closer to both the customer and the sales organization and know their unique market needs better than HQ. On the other hand, a centralized approach to program and campaign planning will ensure maximum reusability of developed content and assets, consistency in execution, better brand alignment, better best practices adoption, easier reporting rollups, and potentially the ability to focus on programs and campaigns that are delivering the best results. So, the criteria for a decision are:

  • Skill level of the field marketers for ideating, designing, and building multi-channel campaigns
  • Clarity of the brand materials so that consistent application is easy at the regional level
  • Ability of the content/creative group to roll up diverse requests from many regions to create a single content calendar without duplication of effort
  • Availability of creative talent in the field
  • Quality of best practices management and communications
  • Quality of inter-region collaboration and information sharing
  • Frequency of global marketing planning sessions
  • Degree to which regional markets are similar in their needs, maturity, and messaging

The dominant criterion is likely to be the availability of skilled marketers in the field who can design multi-channel campaigns including social and email channels. Even if the execution (build) is centralized, one could decentralize the designs if the skills were available in the field.

3. Who Owns Driving the Editorial and Content Calendars?

If your program and campaign design is distributed, wherein the field can create their own campaigns from scratch, it is likely they will want to keep control of the asset design too. Since up to 30 percent of marketing program budget goes to content creation, it may behoove us to wrest control of the content calendar any from the regional leaders and centralize it. Additionally, content is now coming in other forms than the white papers, videos, and PowerPoints we had in days past. Do we really want to foster creative agency contracts in each region? The criteria for a decision are:

  • Are the markets in the different regions sufficiently similar in their needs, maturity and messaging to support a high percentage of content being applicable to most regions? Language translation is of course still going to happen locally.
  • Are the major marketing themes and programs decided centrally or are they unique to each region?
  • Do we have the skills in the regions to ideate on, and create, assets and content in many forms, including interactive content, videos, quizzes, surveys, podcasts, webinar materials, white papers, etc.?
  • Is it cost effective to have creative agencies in each region that do more than localization of copy or can the language localization be done in-house foregoing any field creative agencies?

Just as before, the availability of skills is likely to be a dominant determining factor in the decision to drive a single content and editorial calendar for all regions.

4. Who Owns the Coordination of Digital Communications With Customers?

If we ignore the communications from sales, support and finance, and just focus on the various marketing teams, there needs to be some form of coordination. The alternative is to run the risk of different marketing teams all emailing the same individuals on the same day. In many cases this can be handled with governance programs created in the marketing automation platform that basically filter individuals out of email sends if they received a communication in the past  seven days, and some even queue up the suspended communication to be sent at a future date. No criteria needed for this one. Marketing operations owns setting up automated governance rules based on a shared understanding across marketing.


Marketing Operations Leader Guide to Strategic Planning, Budgeting & Management


As a CMO, I see questions of ownership and accountability come up every week. It is part of the job description to drive clarity in these areas, especially the ones where it may be hard to determine the best answer. Tackle the ones that cause the most strife and confusion first, and insist that the teams either agree and commit or disagree and commit. Regardless of opinion, all marketing teams must work towards shared organizational goals.


As previously published in 04/26/18.

About Kevin Joyce
Kevin Joyce is CMO and vice president of strategy services with The Pedowitz Group. He holds a unique combination of marketing skills and sales experience that helps companies to bridge the gap between sales and marketing. Kevin is a marketing executive with 35 years of experience in high tech, holding positions that include engineering, marketing, and sales. For more than 16 years, Kevin has worked with SMB to enterprise companies on their journeys to transform their demand generation strategies as it relates to the six key components of a successful Revenue Marketing™ engine: strategy, people, process, technology, customers and results. Kevin has successfully launched numerous products and services as a director of product marketing at Sequent, as a director of sales at IBM, as vice president of marketing at Unicru, and as CEO at Rubicon Marketing Group. He holds a BS in Engineering from the University of Limerick, Ireland and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Portland.

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  • Posted by Kevin Joyce
  • On 10/26/2018

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