Marketing operations describes the function of overseeing an organization's marketing program, planning, and strategic activities. By bringing team members with unique skill sets together, you can build a strategy that meets your most important goals. Learn four steps to create an effective marketing operations strategy, plus why it matters.
Operations management is a crucial part of any organization because it keeps everyday processes running smoothly. Without the operations manager as the engineer of the ship, others would have trouble orchestrating the show above deck.
Like other operations teams, marketing operations is responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly within the marketing organization. In addition to this, they take an active support and advisory role in many marketing functions to ensure that the tactics implemented are possible with the marketing infrastructure. Below, we discuss the basics of marketing operations, some common roles you may see on this team, and how marketing operations affect an organization as a whole.
Marketing operations describes the people, processes, and technology that turn marketing strategy into actions. Ultimately, marketing operations enables marketing teams to operate efficiently and expand as their business grows. It helps your team organize marketing initiatives, planning, and strategic activities.
While soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and work ethic are important, team members in marketing operations roles won’t provide meaningful value to company marketing efforts without the following hard skills:
Technical skills: Marketing ops team members must be technically literate. Your team should have general marketing technical skills like SEO knowledge, spreadsheet creation and optimization, and website analysis depending on the role. It’s also important that your marketing operations team understands any marketing software that your team uses at a technical level.
Strategy skills: MOPs teams have to be strategic about how to create the infrastructure for the entire marketing team. They have to think about all of the teams they support, and how to build a marketing infrastructure that supports other teams’ goals.
Data management: Data management is a skill that involves both gathering marketing data and managing it within a dashboard or tool to share with the rest of the company. A marketing operations team will help connect the data sources to data visualization platforms so teams can better analyze performance.
Marketing automation: Larger teams often utilize marketing automation software to help streamline marketing processes. A good marketing operations specialist should know how the marketing automation software works and how to get the information teams want flowing in the right direction.
Customer relationship management: Customer relationship management is an extremely important function for both a marketing and sales team. Marketing operations works together with the sales team to ensure that both marketing and sales have the right information they need from prospects to implement the right strategy to turn them into customers.
It may sound daunting, but the marketing operations team is responsible for the entire infrastructure of your team’s marketing organization. The exact composition of your marketing operations team will depend on your company size, marketing department structure, and industry. Take a look below at common roles and responsibilities that live under the marketing operations umbrella.
Marketing analytics: The marketing operations team is responsible for the tracking and reporting of data and analytics. Other teams consult the MOPS team so they can connect data sources to dashboards, and depending on your team, analyze the data to help develop strategy.
Compliance and risk: If you work in an industry where risk and compliance are common considerations, the marketing operations team needs to be aware of how to create marketing infrastructure that minimizes risks and falls into compliance with regulations.
Asset management: This responsibility can be held by your marketing operations team, but it all depends on how your current marketing team is organized. Asset management is the organization of digital assets, such as photos, video, or other types of media. The marketing operations team decides how to offer this information to the rest of the marketing organization.
On smaller teams, marketing operations can be run by one person. But as teams scale and grow, the marketing operations team should grow proportionately with the rest of your marketing organization. Here are some common roles you might see on a marketing operations team.
Marketing operations manager or lead: This is the person responsible for managing a team of marketing operations specialists. MOPs leads work collaboratively with other teams and upper management to decide what is the best marketing infrastructure to build. They help scale a marketing organization while also managing their own team and understanding the day-to-day operations of the work that’s happening.
Marketing operations specialists: The individual team members who work with other marketing team members to ensure that all marketing functions are working. On larger teams, this individual may be assigned specific teams to work for. For example, there may be a dedicated marketing specialist responsible for working with the web development team to ensure that any marketing software is correctly connected to your team’s website.
Marketing operations analyst: These individual(s) are responsible for monitoring, collecting, and analyzing data to help inform future marketing strategies. The information collected by MOPs analysts is used to help establish or create new marketing strategies.
Your marketing operations team is responsible for managing and supporting the processes and systems that enable the rest of the entire marketing team to do their work effectively. This means that MOPs frequently collaborates with other teams, such as e-mail marketing, procurement, growth marketing, web development, and pretty much any other marketing team you can think of.
Here are a few examples of how you may say marketing operations teams working with others:
Marketing operations would work with a lifecycle marketing team by ensuring their email marketing software connects correctly with your internal CRM software.
Marketing operations could work with a content marketing team by helping them connect lead generation forms into blog modules.
Marketing operations could work with the data and analytics team to ensure all data sources are pulling the right information that other marketing teams need to track.
Creating a marketing operations strategy requires collaboration, knowledge of your current marketing organization, and your team’s marketing technological tools (sometimes called your “tech stack”). Keeping all of this information in mind can be challenging, but here are four simple steps you can take to implement a marketing operations strategy easily.
Marketing operations primarily functions as a support role for the entire marketing organization. When establishing a strategy for your marketing operations team, it’s important to understand the objectives and goals of key stakeholders.
For example, imagine you work at an e-commerce company. The growth marketing team wants to start attributing some of their sales to social media advertisements. To do so, they meet with your marketing operations team to establish how to achieve these goals with the marketing tools that you currently have available.
The marketing operations team will then work with the stakeholders to craft a plan of action. It’s not uncommon for a stakeholder to request something that your current marketing infrastructure can’t handle. It’s up to the marketing operations team to understand the abilities and limitations of the marketing technology available, and to work with stakeholders to craft the best course of action.
One common way to ensure stakeholders get what they need while still allowing the marketing operations team to keep availability in mind is to start by having stakeholders create user stories. Commonly used in Agile methodologies, a user story is a brief explanation of how the end user should expect a process to go. A user story is typically told in one sentence, following the format: “As a [persona], I want to [software goal], so that [result].”
Using the growth marketing team previously as an example, the growth marketing team may create the following user story:
As a growth marketer, I want a dashboard that actively tracks how much money is generated from sales so that I can correctly attribute sales to our social media advertisements
This quick sentence is enough of a story to help your marketing operations team understand what it is the growth marketing team is asking for, and how to create it. Your team now knows that your will need to:
Figure out a way to attribute sales from paid social advertisements
Continuously track the data of sales from paid social advertisements
Connect the data source of the paid social advertisements to a dashboard of some sort that the growth marketing team can access
Once you solidify the end goal with your stakeholders, the next step is to implement your plan. All marketing organizations are different, and depending on the technology you use or how your team is organized, this implementation stage will differ from project to project.
When implementing the strategy, it’s important to keep stakeholders in the loop of how the process is going. It’s important to create a communication plan so that stakeholders know where to communicate important information. Key project factors like a project timeline can be communicated through a work management tool so that all stakeholders can check on a project status asynchronously.
Marketing operations supports many other marketing teams. This can be challenging for the MOPS to measure their own individual metrics. An easy way to combat this is by establishing metrics that connect to the goals of your stakeholders.
Another way to establish metrics for a MOPs team is to analyze how prospective customers interact with the brand at different stages of the marketing funnel. Marketing operations helps other teams identify any bottlenecks in the marketing funnel and assist with developing strategy moving forward.
A marketing team is a large machine with many different working gears and cogs, and it’s important that there’s a team dedicated to ensuring that machine works properly. Create clarity on your marketing team by establishing one central source of truth.
A work management tool like Asana can help keep marketing teams organized and help push strategic initiatives forward in a clear concise way. Learn more about how Asana can help your marketing team accomplish their goals.Try Asana for marketing teams