Set Your Advertising and marketing Ops Staff Up for Success in 2022

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PHOTO: Mitya Ivanov

I’ve heard more than one marketing director refer to Marketing Ops (MOPs) as the “backbone of the modern marketing team.” Marketing Ops supports and enables modern marketing workflows with the right technology, generates relevant business data, answers questions about performance causes and effects and gives recommendations based on insights. In addition to marketing technology and data, marketing ops are often tasked with optimizing workflows and processes in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the marketing function. Dr. Debbie Qaqish, who literally wrote the book on Modern Marketing Operations, described it as the pioneer in moving marketing from a cost center to a revenue center.

Marketing Ops is slowly but surely being elevated to a strategic team by an operational backroom task force (project management, performance tracking and supplier evaluation). As such, MOPs have a significant impact on marketing efficiency and ROI, promote responsiveness and agility of marketing, and are the custodians of high quality technology investments. 62 percent of executives in a State of Marketing Ops 2021 survey rated it as a top priority (related to marketing strategy), with 70% saying they have a dedicated Marketing Ops team.

With an ever-expanding marketing technology landscape, new use cases for martech and data, and a skilled labor shortage, CMOs must ask themselves whether they are getting the most out of their marketing ops team. I have partnered with practitioners and experts to identify three key areas to consider in the context of increasing the optimal value of MOPs in 2022.

1. Central, local, WFA: Where should marketing operations be?

The debate about centralizing or localizing operations is not new. However, will the transition to hybrid working models affect this discussion in any way? Amanda De Paul, founder of independent marketing consultant Mythodical, advocates a centralized marketing team, especially when size, consistency and accuracy are important factors.

Qaqish adds a nuance to this approach. “Establish a centralized ‘center of excellence’ for marketing operations and keep the most important and deepest skills in one place to help the entire organization.” She adds that core processes are managing and optimizing Martech Stacks, data governance, performance management and process engineering frameworks, and campaign execution vectors. Appropriate functions at the local level can include analytics, insights, project management, campaign design and delivery.

There’s a growing feeling that digital customer behavior doesn’t differ that much by geography, so localized marketing may not necessarily enable agility or responsiveness. However, the state-of-the-art survey of marketing operations found that 90% of marketing teams are struggling with global campaign coordination, with issues like shifting resources to respond to market changes, lagging localization, and tedious content creation review cycles.

As home work becomes mainstream and teams improve virtual collaboration, especially in digital-first functions like marketing, CMOs can develop an optimal MOPs structure to best meet business needs no matter where talent is located . As Shonal Narayan, VP of Marketing at cloud infrastructure provider The Constant Company, LLC. argues, while the choice between centralized or decentralized comes down to considerations like company size, global presence, budgets, customer needs, and even local regulations, in the end it is important to invest in a team that has clearly defined roles, structure, training, and processes.

Related Article: Will It Ever Be Easy for Marketing Ops?

2. Realignment of the core tasks of Marketing Ops

Do CMOs need to redefine the mandate for marketing operations? To get the best productivity from this increasingly expensive and strategic team, they may need to set some boundaries on what ends up on the MOP’s desk. This means doubling the areas where MOPs can make the most impact, rather than making them a collection team that handles anything automation or data related. For example, in DePaul’s experience, things get complicated when MOPs get involved in sales pitches. “Aspects of the funnel like sales productivity or opportunity management should all be managed from a sales operations perspective,” she warned.

Abhi Yadav, founding CEO of Zylotech (a Terminus company), said Martech’s omnipresence, data maturity, and focus on CX and privacy have made MOPs critical to success, but just as important is the rest of the marketing through training courses that enable self-service for standard use cases and strict documentation. This can help get the most value from MOP investments without slowing down marketing execution.

In 2020, many marketers were leveraging MOP skills across a wider web of areas, including financial planning, content creation and distribution, and brand management, to increase agility in unpredictable times. While some like Yadav question whether areas like content, creative, and campaign planning should be better handled by marketers, the fact is that no marketing area can be without processes, data, and technology. If seamless CX is the goal, the question arises: Should MOPs support all of the processes, data, and technical elements that lead to a seamless CX? Or should they focus on strategic areas that have the greatest impact on sales while leaving regular marketers free to do the rest?

Related article: CMOs: Your Marketing Ops Team is a Secret Weapon

3. Getting the most value out of the Marketing Ops team

Despite its strategic value, marketing ops doesn’t always do justice when it comes to getting involved early and deeply in strategic marketing conversations. “The CMO must build and coach the marketing ops team to make a loud contribution to the overall success of the marketing team,” said Narayan. DePaul repeated this, calling it a mistake for marketers to treat Ops as a version of a help desk. “Ops people are problem solvers at heart, so there is no better place to investigate a problem or find a solution. However, it is important to think about the long-term big picture of a situation rather than using MOPs as a quick fix. Include MOPs in cross-functional planning, create a roadmap and stick to it, ”she added.

Government and execution aside, Narayan underscored the vital bridging role that MOPs often play. “The end-to-end automation and control of various marketing processes (especially the data flow) means that MOPs often act as a link between the GTM team and IT, compliance, governance, analytics and other technical stakeholders.”

Qaqish has the final say. “The most common mistake I see is treating marketers as tactical button pushers with nothing to add to strategic dialogue. Whenever I see a marketing ops group that is in the IT department, I know that it will not be successful. ”