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Marketing Operations (A-Z Guide): What It Is, Key Roles & Pillars Of Success

Mar 10, 2022
Marketing Operations (A-Z Guide): What It Is, Key Roles & Pillars Of Success

A few years back, the Marketing Operations role didn’t exist. Instead, the marketing department drafted in Project Managers to help run and coordinate their more extensive campaigns.

Nowadays, things are a little different:

But Marketing Ops is more than just project management, as you’ll discover in this article.

We’ll take a look at what Marketing Operations is, the essential qualifications required for the role, and the best tools for the job.

What Is Marketing Operations?

Marketing Operations is a relatively new function in the marketing organization that enables the department to operate efficiently and deliver the desired business outcomes through people, processes, technology, and data.

While traditional marketing skills like strategic and creative thinking are still required for marketing ops team members, there’s also a need for more technical and analytical skills in marketing ops to oversee the ever-increasing technology and data that marketing departments manage.

You can think of Marketing Operations as the engine that drives results in marketing organizations.

According to Gartner: “Marketing Operations should serve as a core function for marketing, providing cross-functional coordination, communications, and reporting.”

(Image Source: Gartner 2018)

5 Pillars of Marketing Operations

The Marketing Operations team in any organization should cover the following five tasks:

Marketing Project Planning

Marketing Operations groups rely on project, program, and demand generation managers to develop new marketing strategies and manage complex digital projects to clearly defined success metrics.

Any marketing strategy, campaign planning, cross-tactical execution planning, budget setting, and performance review meetings should include the Marketing Operations team.

Some companies have separate marketing teams for email, search, social media, events, etc., so marketing operations can ensure each silo is working together.

End-to-End Creative Process Management

Marketing Operations is responsible for governing the various marketing processes. It’s one thing coming up with new ideas, but it’s another creating a system for everyone to follow. With the right processes and accountability in place, each marketing team can execute their programs more effectively and efficiently.

Marketing Technology Infrastructure

Marketing Operations is expected to manage the multiple marketing automation platforms, such as the website, eCommerce solution, review and approval software, content management system, plus the integration with related technologies.

They’ll also oversee the technology for AdWords, product analytics, A/B testing, social media, and ABM marketing to ensure alignment across the business.

And then there’s always going to be new marketing technology. The marketing tech landscape has grown from 150 solutions in 2011 to 7040 in 2019:

(Image Source: ChiefMarTec 2019)

So the marketing ops team will always be involved in the evaluation and selection of new software to streamline processes and improve performance across departments.

Marketing Data and Analytics

The Marketing Operations team is responsible for developing the marketing data strategy so that marketing as a whole has the necessary insights to build high-performing campaigns.

A key component of Marketing Operations involves checking the analytics, reporting, and team dashboards to measure the effectiveness of each channel and the overall performance of the marketing program. Depending on the size of the business, it may be their responsibility to action the data or inform other members of the marketing teams.

Brand Compliance and Risk

Last but not least, it’s vital for Marketing Operations to manage the review and approval process of marketing materials to ensure compliance, especially in highly regulated industries like healthcare and financial services.

For instance, Advocate Health Care was fined $5.5m for a violation of HIPAA regulations – all because an employee left of an unencrypted laptop in their unlocked car, exposing the data for over 4 million patients.

Regulatory laws protect consumers from being misled or lied to by businesses. Plus they safeguard consumer privacy rights, monitoring how companies collect, store, and use consumer data. For example, the new EU GDPR had 200,000 cases reported in its first year resulting in fines of €56m, most of which came from French data watchdog CNIL’s €50m fine for Google.

The FCA has strict guidelines regarding financial promotions so that financial services providers stay compliant on social networks and websites.

For example, the risk warning text in this banner ad is non-compliant because it’s too small in comparison to the surrounding promotion text:

(Image Source: FCA.org.uk)

But by using approval workflow software with a step for lawyers to review and comment on the creative content, you can ensure all guidelines are followed and disclaimers added to avoid any litigation risk.

Once a business is tarnished with a bad reputation, it can be hard to recover. Therefore, it’s imperative that companies empower Marketing Operations with the authority and tools to manage risk and compliance, and ensure they adhere to best practices for marketing privacy.

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4 By-Products of Successful Marketing Operations

Team and Project Organization

Marketing Operations is the lynchpin that holds the various marketing teams together. Without them, teams operate in silos, and there is a distinct lack of cohesion to their efforts. But Marketing Operations ensures each marketing program and campaign are executed according to the agreed plans and processes.

Data Transparency

Marketing Operations ensures there is nothing hidden from the business. All stakeholders can make informed decisions based on the data that’s been collected and analyzed by the marketing team.

Process Repeatability

Part of the Marketing Operations remit is to improve processes and programs so that everyone can work more effectively and efficiently. Better still, is that these processes are repeatable, which saves more time and money in the long run.

Workload Scalability

Marketing Operations not only creates repeatable processes and programs but also gives the whole organization a chance to plan for the future. With transparent processes, the best technology, and the right data, they can define strategies and build programs that are scalable and predictable for future growth.

Key Qualifications to Look For in a Marketing Operations Manager

Thinking of hiring a Marketing Operations Manager for your company? Here are some of the crucial skills and qualities to look for:

Personal Skills

The role of Marketing Operations Manager is a technical and analytical position, rather than a creative one. Therefore look for someone with an analytics/systems background rather than traditional marketing skills.

You want someone who is:

Technology Expertise

Managing the technology stack is probably the most important function of Marketing Operations. Managers need to:

Data Optimization and Governance Knowledge

A Marketing Operations Manager needs to interrogate the data, make recommendations, and drive actions:

Analytics and Reporting Experience

The Marketing Operations Manager should be numerate with the ability to produce reports and derive valuable insights and analysis for the business as a whole.

Process Optimization

Optimizing marketing processes is a key skill to enable the business to grow and scale:

Project Management Skills

Your Marketing Operations Manager will be involved in the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of various projects:

Teaching and Supporting Skills Development

It’s vital the marketing department grows, so your Marketing Operations Manager needs to:

As you can see, it’s quite a comprehensive list. But how do these skills get used in the real world?

Marketing Operations Salary

As companies expand their marketing programs and marketing technology investments, marketing operations roles are becoming key hires within marketing and communications teams. Marketing operations salaries are on the rise, especially in geographic hubs for technology, software, biomedical, banking, and advertising industries.

Marketing ops manager

Marketing Ops managers oversee a broad nexus of technology, programs, and data. The average national salary for a Marketing Ops Manager across geographies and industries is around $85,000 with an upper salary range of around $120,000.

Depending on the industries and size of the organization, Marketing Ops roles are often categorized more broadly as Sales & Marketing Ops Managers or Business Operations Managers. Many Marketing Operations managers rise through the ranks as Marketing Managers, Marketing Directors or Marketing Program Managers, eventually taking on a larger role that encompasses both marketing program and data strategy planning.

Marketing ops specialist

Marketing Ops Specialists often manage the day-to-day details of data or program management in marketing operations and report to Marketing Ops Managers. They are often responsible for executing system and marketing data integrations, managing ad buys and marketing databases, implementing new MarTech solutions, and tracking data and program reporting. This is a data-heavy role that is often used as an entry-to-mid level role into Marketing Operations. 

The national average salary for a Marketing Ops specialist is around $61,740, with variations depending on industry and organization size. 

Marketing Operations Toolset

Here are five tools that the Marketing Operations department can use for collaborating, budgeting, processing, reviewing, and reporting

The Marketing Operations team runs multiple projects and programs, so they need collaboration tools that organizes campaigns, tasks, and teams in one location.

Example KPIs/metrics to watch:

Asana is the work management platform teams and marketing ops use to stay focused on the goals, projects, and daily tasks that grow the business.

Here’s how it can help Marketing Operations:

Marketing Operations requires robust software to streamline its budgeting process and increase accuracy.

Example KPIs/metrics to watch:

prophix
Prophix creates accurate budgets in a fraction of the time it would take using spreadsheets alone.

Here’s how it can help Marketing Operations:

Marketing Operations requires repeatable collaboration processes so that everyone can work more effectively and efficiently.

Example KPIs/metrics to watch:

Process Street is a simple, free, and powerful way to manage your team’s recurring checklists and procedures.

Here’s how it can help Marketing Operations:

Review and Compliance

Every piece of content in every marketing campaign or project needs reviewing at least once to comply with brand guidelines or legal and data requirements.

Example KPIs/metrics to watch:

Ziflow is an online proofing tool that helps deliver marketing projects faster by streamlining the review, approval, and collaboration of creative content.

Here’s how it can help Marketing Operations:

Reporting is a primary component of any Marketing Operations system as stakeholders throughout the business need to measure current campaigns and also plan for the future.

Example KPIs/metrics to watch:

Google Data Studio unlocks the power of your data with interactive dashboards and visual reports that inspire smarter business decisions.

Here’s how it can help Marketing Operations:

Marketing operations managers use technical and analytical skills to oversee the process and technology infrastructure that marketing departments use to facilitate their work. Marketing operations managers oversee marketing project and campaign planning, creative production process management, technology infrastructure, data and analytics, and brand compliance. 

Why is marketing operations important?

Marketing operations enables marketing departments to operate efficiently and bring cohesion to marketing campaigns through the right combination of people, processes, technology, and data. Marketing operations managers reduce cost centers within marketing functions and identify and implement ways to complete campaigns faster. 

How to marketing and operations work together?

Marketing operations bring together the many different areas of marketing. Marketing operations managers ensure that each marketing program and campaign, no matter its format, are executed properly and efficiently by implementing repeatable processes and programs for each marketing team to use. 

How does the marketing operations role help agencies?

Marketing operations managers reduce inefficiencies that copywriters, designers, digital marketers, video producers, and other agency creatives encounter in their daily work processes. They help streamline client communications and project delivery, saving time, money, and client satisfaction.

When should a company hire for marketing operations?

Investing in marketing operations depends on the size and scale of your marketing team. Companies typically choose to hire for marketing operations once the amount of technology and collaboration needed to complete marketing campaigns begins to slow down the output of the marketing team. Studies show that 60% of large companies have already hired for a marketing operations manager role. 

Now you have a better understanding of how Marketing Operations improves the processes and systems in their department and provides all-round visibility to other parts of the business.

Get your company in line with marketing operations software from Ziflow.

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Discover the top areas for actionable marketing operations improvements, such as optimizing file conversions, file and folder organization, and production workflow designs.

This content was originally published here.