Realize The Value Of Marketing Operations

Dr. Debbie Qaqish walks you through how to build a business case for your marketing operations in this blog!
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Written by Dr. Debbie Qaqish

April 9, 2021

Are you ready? That’s the lingering question left from my blog explaining why the C-suite should care about marketing operations.

To answer this, let’s discuss the elements you need to produce a world-class marketing operations team. With this team in place, your marketing function as a whole will jet propel into a revenue-generating center of excellence.

Goodbye being seen as the “pens and mugs” department … hello revenue!

See how F5 Networks generated 4x more leads by unifying marketing operations!

In order to realize the value of Marketing Operations, you will need to:

  1. Understand the Definition of Marketing Operations
  2. Assess Your Current Marketing Operations Maturity
  3. Develop Team Structure
  4. Identify Key Roles and Find Talent
  5. Establish Team Goals and Strategy

Click a link above to jump to a section, or start to dive in with a definition!

Want even more? Click here for details on Dr. Debbie’s latest book on marketing operations, or assess your own team’s maturity here.

Definition Of A Strategic Marketing Operations (MOPs) Function

At its core, marketing operations is a team of people skilled in marketing technology; Software as a Service (SaaS); data management; vendor management; process innovation and optimization; and metrics, reporting and analysis. They provide the infrastructure, processes and reporting that power the revenue marketing.

Frequently, this group also manages the training and education services for marketing. This group is not only expert in the technology execution, but in best practices governance that should be followed, ensuring a cohesive customer experience of brand through all outbound and inbound campaigns.

This definition can seem really broad, because, well… it is!

We’ve seen roles and responsibilities vary widely from company to company who have invested in a marketing operations function. The largest factor to this variation has to do with a company’s Revenue Marketing maturity.

The Marketing Operations Maturity Model

Now that we have a broad definition, let’s figure out where your team might fall in terms of maturity.

Over the course of 15+ years, we’ve seen a gradual evolution in marketing operations teams. While you may not have a formal team, pay attention to the markers of each maturity stage – you may be surprised at what capabilities your organization already possesses!

Dr. Debbie Qaqish's marketing operations maturity model
  • Stage 1 – Unaware is when marketing is unaware of the need for a dedicated MO organization. Clearly, we are moving past this!
  • Stage 2 – Efficient/Effective, in which the MO team focuses on doing things well. Examples include optimizing the use of the marketing automation system and ensuring systems are implemented and integrated correctly. This is largely a reactive organization taking assignments as they occur.
  • Stage 3 – Get Revenue is characterized by doing the right things. In the get-revenue stage, the training wheels come off. Leveraging the foundation established in the Efficient/Effective stage, this stage is all about applying people, process, technology, and data to drive a business result: revenue.
  • Stage 4 – Customer Centric, the stage where the company pivots from a product-centric to a customer-centric organization. Team members work as collaborators across functions to ensure the exchange of customer data aids the customer journey across all touch points.
  • Stage 5 – Next Generation is characterized by a radical new organizational structure in which all customer-oriented operations and functions report into one organization. This group becomes the “owner” of the all the threads that create an optimal customer experience.

Your Marketing Operations Structure

Marketing Charter

Before we dive into structure, let’s talk about intent. As a leader in your marketing organization, you need to set the intent of this Rockstar team. Establish a charter and your structure will follow.

Here are a few examples of charter statements we’ve seen over the years:

“To take a holistic and single-threaded approach to optimize technology, process and data across the entire customer life cycle to drive revenue and growth.”

Alex Simoes, RevOps Pioneer
  • “Optimize marketing effectiveness with leading-edge technology, optimized process, clean and current data, and rigorous analysis.”
  • “With digital transformation as the foundation, to build a unified operational capability that improves revenue performance through one line of sight to the customer.”

“Our charter is to enable the marketing team to achieve our overall goals. And our goals are—all around—creating pipeline and delivering on our revenue contribution.”   

Kira Mondrus-Moyal, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Tricentis

Can we talk about org structure now? I need to start hiring!

Almost J With your charter articulated, you can now begin to focus on structure. Your first goal is to centralize the management of technology, process, data and marketing analytics to make your revenue generation efforts more efficient, effective, transparent and accountable.

To do this, you’ll need to collect a number of responsibilities in this unit. Typically, many of these already exist across your organization:

B2B marketing org charts needs a specific marketing operations function.
  • MarTech strategy, selection, integration and optimization
  • Vendor management
  • Data management, governance and optimization
  • Process engineering and optimization
  • Measurement, analytics and reporting
  • Project management, training and education
  • Change management
  • Campaign execution and content operations

All MO groups are a function of the unique needs of their company. We see many configurations, and there is no right or wrong. What is important is to be intentional in the structure and to ensure the structure meets marketing’s strategic demands to achieve the company’s measurable growth objectives.

Below is the most basic of organizational charts:

A recommended marketing operations org chart

Related: Read how to build a modern marketing team for success

Identify Key Roles and Find Talent

Okay, you made it. Let’s talk about roles and talent. At its very core, your marketing operations team needs the following roles:

Director OR VP of Marketing Operations. Find a change-loving marketing “ninja” who is comfortable with technology, building consensus, and has a business and process mindset. It’s important to be at home with revenue accountability, finance, and reporting as well as the creative pursuits that marketing is more typically known for.

Finding someone with this balance is generally very difficult!

Reporting to the VP of MO are key functions led by:

  • Director of Marketing Operations
  • Marketing Automation Manager
  • VP of Analytics
  • Senior Analyst, Marketing Collaboration

Completing The Team

Completing your team is the next challenge, and this is your hiring priority list:

  • Technologist: someone who can set the direction, lead governance and integration initiatives. They also take on vendor management.
  • Data whiz: this could be a data scientist, or someone well versed in reporting and analytics.
  • Process Engineer: Outsource this to someone high level who can step in and lead change through the transition.
  • Trainer: Another role right for outsourcing, since the skills span different systems and your vendor support is the best bet for quality instruction.
  • Project manager: borrow a good project manager from your IT function until the team has need for a full-timer.
Learn more about From Backroom To Boardroom from Dr. Debbie Qaqish!
Learn more about Dr. Debbie’s new book on marketing operations!

THE RISE OF THE REVENUE ANALYST

I’ve rarely seen this role on a marketing operations team. It seems to fall on the VP or CMO to figure this out (on top of everything else they’re responsible for).

My premise is that if a marketing ops team had a dedicated revenue analyst, marketing would overachieve their number. Let’s look at two key elements for this proposed role:

Sales background

The focus of the revenue analyst is to optimize not just marketing performance in general, but a specific number. That number might be the contribution to the pipeline or closed business in terms of percentage and dollars.

It would not be a number of MQLs. With this focus, I suggest this role needs a sales background and needs to be intimate with how a sales funnel works.

Deep knowledge of customer lifecycle

Next, the revenue analyst needs to be an opportunity spotter.

Translation: she uses data to continuously examine the entire customer lifecycle from acquisition to expansion to advocacy (think The Loop) and determines the best opportunities where marketing can invest and get the greatest return.

With a deep analytical acumen that is passionately applied to spot the best ROI opportunities, the revenue analyst is poised to optimize MarTech for its ultimate purpose – making marketing accountable for revenue.

Clearly, marketing has other responsibilities such as customer engagement. My argument is that the revenue analyst can only drive optimal revenue results based on a deep understanding of the customer.

In this sense, the revenue analyst role is a potential two-for-one win.

Finding Talent

As frustrating as talent acquisition may be, there are only a few ways to approach it. There are no shortcuts, and there are really four main strategies to get your team up and running as fast as possible:

  1. Rent the talent and hit the ground running.
  2. Hire outside experience and hit the ground running.
  3. Transfer talent from within and develop.
  4. Hire young professionals and develop.

The Need To Be More

Marketing operations is a capability. If someone leaves the organization, the capability does not. It is driven by strategy and operationalized through people, process, data and technology.

It delivers a business result.

This is why it is CRUCIAL to invest in knowledge management for your marketing operations team. Talent is hard to find and harder to keep. Without documentation to help with transitions, you’ll find yourself in a cycle of reboots without any tangible results!

Goals and Strategy

With a team in place or on the rise, it’s important to clearly set their direction. This becomes the most important role for leaders at the top of an organization.

We typically see the following five demands drive organizational change and the need for MOPs, so they are a good place to start with chartering your team. And you can assess your own team on key areas!

  1. Increased need for marketing efficiency and organizational agility
  2. Changes to meet customer behavior, market conditions and business direction are too slow
  3. Revenue, margin, profit and market share need to improve.
  4. Marketing is not valued and seen as a cost center instead of a business, with formalized best practices, processes, infrastructure and reporting
  5. Data to make market, customer, and product/service decisions that create value for customers and shareholders must be better leveraged.
Our Revenue Marketing 6 (RM6) methodology is core to all of our services!

Addressing these questions means a focus on six key areas (which happen to align to the pillars of revenue marketing), each with questions to consider while setting goals.

Strategy

In the earliest days of a MOPs initiative, there’s some necessary navel gazing to understand where to start within your organization.

  • How willing / ready is your company and leadership?
  • Do sales and marketing work seamlessly together? Or is it a fractured relationship?
  • Is your marketing team “in the know” on what product teams are doing, and is there a strong working relationship between teams with good, proactive communication?

People

This pertains to anyone in marketing, who’s aligned with marketing, and the organizational structure around marketing. Especially because members of this team are so hard to hire, part of this conversation might be

  • What skills does your team need – and what needs to be done to get them (through new talent or training existing talent)?
  • For every group that interacts with the customer (at any point!), who’s the stakeholder(s) in each you need to work with to build greater alignment?
  • How can / should marketing lead your focus on customer experience?

Process

This is typically the first area that can be addressed, as marketing has more influence in this area.

  • Are campaigns / programs well-oriented to what you see in the market? To what product managers, etc. see in the market?
  • How confident are you in your data? What about as it flows between systems, such as a marketing automation platform and your CRM? Who controls what data is deemed “best” in your organization … and how does this impact you?
  • Is your lead management process excellent? Or does marketing feel there is significant lead leakage in the pipeline?
  • Who governs processes and enforces agreed-upon standards? (This is very important!)

Technology

If you don’t have the right technology, you cannot fully embrace a true customer-focused approach! In our Revenue Marketing Index, we found 82% of CMOs it’s important to be fluent in understanding tech from a strategic perspective to fully enhance demand generation efforts to better impact revenue.

  • Does your current technology allow you to provide personal, targeted experiences for customers both now and two years from now?
  • What does the marketing team own? This impacts your ability to lead in this area and may tie in with “people” above.
  • Are you fully leveraging what your current tech is capable of? Do you know how to find out?
  • Do you have regular meetings to review your tech stack and ensure it is updated, data is flowing, and processes are being enforced?

Related: Our MarTech consulting services optimize your current stack and save you money

Customer

This really gets to the heart of your customer journey from initial engagement to post-purchase nurturing.

Really, it gets to the core of the sales / marketing relationship and how well each works with the other on the entire customer lifecycle.

Who owns the customer? What about after they become a customer … how to you continue to invest in the relationship? What are their expectations?

For more on this topic, dive into updating your customer journey.

Results

None of your marketing matters with measurable impact – and none of the impact matters unless you can trace it to revenue for the business. Focusing on repeatable, scalable, and predictable processes and outcomes only strengthens this area.

  • What is the one customer metric that equates to financial value?

This allows you to anchor reporting efforts around a central theme that will resonate with key stakeholders (and build more marketing credibility within your organization).

Get Started + Next Steps

Now that yo understand how to realize its full value, it’s time to something about it! Here’s a few next steps:

And you can always look into our marketing operations consulting services!

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