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Employees in marketing operations roles can have a variety of titles, including marketing operations specialists, marketing operations analysts, and marketing operations strategists. Though, no matter their title, they have a very important role within your organization.
What is Marketing Operations?
Marketing operations is everything that happens in your marketing automation and CRM platforms to enable the delivery of the right message at the right time to people who are interested in your products and services.
Marketing operations live behind the scenes:
- While marketing operations specialists aren’t sending the email, they’re making sure it’s sent to the right person.
- While they’re not guiding someone through the sales funnel themselves, they’re ensuring that that process happens as smoothly as possible.
- While they aren’t customer-facing, marketing operations specialists are ensuring that the members of the marketing team who are interacting with prospects are poised for success.
Without marketing operations, it becomes much more difficult to target the right clients, ensure your team understands which buyer’s stage a prospect is in, and group prospects into different personas. If you don’t have marketing operations happening, marketing becomes a very manual process, and it’s almost impossible to scale.
Why are Marketing Operations Important?
Marketing operations are crucial to success because they provide the organization and structure that marketing needs. Marketing operations ensure everyone on the team knows their role, what needs to be done, and when it should be completed. They also give visibility into the whole process so you can tell what's effective and find areas for improvement.
Marketing operations specialists play a vital role in any company's marketing team by maintaining organization and order. By setting deadlines and providing instructions, these individuals help keep the entire operation running smoothly while improving results with their keen understanding of the process.
Marketing operations specialists keep everything running efficiently behind the scenes so your marketing team can focus on achieving their goals. These professionals are crucial for any successful marketing team.
Marketing Operations Roles and Responsibilities
Marketing operations specialists have a variety of roles and responsibilities, depending on the size of their company and the needs of their marketing team. Marketing operations specialists manage and execute campaigns, analyze data, develop processes, create reports, and more. The roles for this specialty can have a variety of titles, including specialists, analysts, and strategists.
In general, marketing operations roles and responsibilities can be divided into main categories:
Marketing operations specialists often manage and execute marketing campaigns. This includes developing timelines, assigning tasks to team members, ensuring deadlines are met, and reporting on results.
Marketing operations specialists play a key role in data management, which is essential for effective marketing. Marketing operations analysts may be responsible for analyzing data to identify trends and recommend strategies to improve results. They may also be responsible for developing processes and tools to collect and track data more effectively across all functions.
Marketing operations strategists are responsible for developing long-term plans for the marketing team. This includes setting goals, planning budgets, and researching new opportunities. Marketing operations strategists work closely with the marketing team to ensure that all activities align with the company's overall strategy.
Marketing operations specialists are often responsible for developing and improving marketing processes. This includes identifying inefficiencies, developing new workflows, and creating documentation. Marketing operations specialists may also be responsible for implementing new strategies and tools, such as marketing automation platforms.
Marketing operations specialists may be responsible for conducting market research to identify new opportunities and understand target audiences' needs. This research helps Marketing teams decide on strategies, campaigns, and products.
Analysis and Reporting
Marketing operations specialists use data to understand how campaigns are performing and make recommendations for improvement. They may also be responsible for developing marketing dashboards and reports. Marketing operations specialists may also be responsible for generating reports. This may include creating weekly or monthly reports, presenting results to the marketing team, and providing insights to help improve future performance.
How to Create a Marketing Operations Strategy
If you're looking to create or improve your marketing operations, there are five essential steps you need to follow:
- Identify marketing operations goals with stakeholders: Marketing operations goals should align with the company's overall business goals. Operations strategists work with stakeholders to identify these goals.
- Determine how you will measure the success of your strategy: Operations specialists use data to track the success of marketing campaigns and initiatives. Marketing operations strategists work with stakeholders to determine which metrics will be used to measure success.
- Define SMART Goals: Marketing operations strategists use the SMART goal-setting framework to define objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound and align other teams around those goals.
- Build a roadmap of actionable steps needed to hit your goals: Marketing operations specialists develop plans and processes to achieve marketing goals. Marketing operations strategists work with company stakeholders to create a roadmap of actionable steps.
- Assign tasks across your roadmap to relevant team members and track progress: Marketing operations specialists assign tasks to team members and track progress using project management tools. Marketing operations strategists work with stakeholders to ensure that tasks are appropriately allocated, and that progress is tracked.
5 Aspects of a Successful Marketing Operations Program
Key elements of a successful marketing operations program include System Creation, Quality Assurance (QA), and Optimization. Here's a more detailed look at each:
1. System Creation
One of the main responsibilities of marketing operations is qualifying leads so your marketing team can effectively hand them off to sales, specifically the sales operations team. This is accomplished through lead building and management, which is the primary purpose of system creation.
Once a prospect enters your business, you want them nurtured and routed properly to ease each transition in the sales process. For marketing operations specialists, this means first segmenting contacts into similar sets of individuals that care about the same things. Then, they group them into personas and determine which stage of the customer lifecycle prospects are in.
To determine which stage contacts should be classified as marketing operations, specialists need to know the desired outcomes of their team. They should meet with key stakeholders to determine what a lifecycle designation means for everyone involved and what information will be necessary for team members to do their jobs.
For instance, a marketing operations specialist would want to meet with members of the sales team to discuss what constitutes a sales qualified lead (SQL) and what information sales will need to progress SQLs through the sales process.
2. Data Management
Information gathered from key stakeholders, though, is unlikely to present clearly defined metrics that will help place prospects. Marketing operations must break down this high-level information into usable data that can define the necessary properties of a lifecycle stage.
Basically, coordinating executives’ desires with raw, accessible information, marketing operations specialists should add substance to otherwise vague data, making it usable for front-end team members. For instance, if an executive says they want to work with “large corporations,” marketing operations need to further define this by determining what exact employee threshold “large” designates.
Once the system is built, marketing operations check its output. Is the system accomplishing what it was designed to? Are there areas that need improvement? In working through these steps, marketing operations continue to optimize their processes, making everything more efficient and resulting in data integrity.
3. Quality Assurance (QA)
One way to ensure efficiency is through Quality Assurance (QA). Marketing operations specialists receive feedback from their team members about what is and isn’t working, and they proceed to fix the system based on the feedback.
For instance, a marketer on the team might realize they sent an email to an improper contact because the contact was mischaracterized in the system. It is the marketing operation’s job to troubleshoot, determining if the contact was included based on a one-off scenario or a deeper issue that needs resolution across the board. From there, they should proceed to correct the problem.
A marketing operations specialist should always be aware of how the system is working. They should optimize constantly, asking how they can make things flow better the next time the system is used.
A core aspect of optimization is setting up feedback loops. Of course, as they are refining the system, marketing operations specialists should be cognizant of any issues that may arise in terms of QA. A good way to stay on top of these issues is with a ticket system where users can fill out a “ticket” with feedback about a problem they noticed.
Sometimes, the issues are not related to the functionality of the system but are a result of how marketers are using the system. So, to properly optimize, marketing operations specialists need to educate marketers on how to use different software.
Reporting is another feedback loop. It allows marketing operations specialists to dig into what happened over past periods that could inform the future functionality of the system. Specialists can better prepare for the future by seeing and diagnosing issues from the past.
Marketing operations specialists diagnose issues, but they are not always responsible for fixing them. For instance, when analyzing the sales funnel, marketing operations might realize the MQL-to-SQL conversion rate is lower than it was previously. In troubleshooting the issue, they could notice a number of things that are positively or negatively affecting the conversion rate.
If your team was successfully using content at a specific stage in the funnel to drive conversions, but has since stopped, it's up to marketing operations to step in and suggest reviving the content or creating more effective content for that stage.
By doing so, marketing operations can generate action items for the rest of the team, increasing overall adaptability, scalability, timeliness, transparency, and accountability.
Marketing operations involve gathering information from key stakeholders, simplifying that information into usable chunks, creating systems, and once those systems are in place, doing ongoing QA and optimization to ensure everything is performing as it is designed.
Most marketing operations systems are built to qualify contacts so they can be handed off to the sales team. Here at New Breed, we heavily invest in this marketing-to-sales handoff. The more unified marketing and sales are in your business, the smoother the transition of contacts down the sales funnel will be. For a better-optimized business, marketing and sales should be connected. Marketing operations bridge that gap.
Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.