4 marketing ops challenges: Marketing Tech Monitor 2021

Frans Riemersma
June 22, 2021

This blog was adapted from BrandMaker’s: “MarketingOps Now” podcast. Each installment discusses valuable ideas for both management and marketing executives. You can listen to this 20-minute podcast here.

Marketing Tech Monitor is an annual benchmark study of marketing technology and strategy in European companies. This year over 1000 CMOs participated, almost double last year, and shared their issues and concerns regarding organization, alignment, data, skills, barriers, best practises, optimizations, etc.

The 2021 has just been published. Here, courtesy of Ralf Strauss, Managing Partner of MarketingTechLab GmbH, the organization conducting the research, are early insights. Per Ralf, 4 critical challenges emerge. How marketing ops addresses these challenges will make a great deal of difference in efficiency and effectiveness.

The 4 challenges are:

  1. Aggregation of customer data
  2. Return of CRM
  3. Monitoring of marketing performance
  4. Reinvention of the marketing organization

1. Aggregation of customer data

An underwhelming 20-25% of the participating CMOs have consolidated and actionable marketing data in place. After 20 years of rapidly increasing marketing data and adoption of disparate point solutions, many have all but given up on ever achieving reliable, integrated data on a single platform.

Plus, there are two new complications. The first is gathering and processing data from emerging touch points, e.g., the ever-expanding omni channel data points, incorporating (scraped) market and competitor data, injecting end-consumer data collected with new D2C channels, etc.

The second is the need for comprehensive, real-time reporting. Most reporting is still done in a rudimentary fashion. Many marketing departments haven’t even touched predictive analysis. Mostly, basic dashboarding provides a limited set of information and insight.

So why are European marketers slow with collecting and processing customer data? One of the main reasons is the relative low maturity of marketing ops.

In the US, 100% of the CMOs have a marketing operations function. 70% have a dedicated marketing ops team. 49% of marketers surveyed have a marketing operations leader in at least one team. (BrandMaker Pulse)

In Europe, the function that most resembles the role of marketing ops is called Marketing Planning & Steering. Many marketing departments have determined that they need to create a marketing ops function to help them meet the needs of a rapidly changing marketplace.

2. CRM is back

Quite unexpectedly, CRM is back. The driver is marketing’s need for first-party, customer data across all touch points to help them to create truly excellent and differentiating customer experiences.

Sales, up to this point, has played the key role in gathering this data. Now marketing, saddled with a huge technology backlog, is working hard to catch up. Perhaps the CMOs in Central Europe can learn something from their more advanced colleagues in the Baltic states, Ralf suggests.

3. Monitoring of marketing performance

Once data aggregation is achieved, the next stop is to activate that data and optimize marketing performance. Most marketing departments have started working on marketing and media mix modelling, combining both on- and off-line data.

As a logical result, many marketing departments realize their KPI framework needs an update. What CMOs are looking for is a framework that cascades KPIs from strategic to operational level, a kind of steering wheel for the marketing of the future.

Their main question is: ‘Does our KPI framework still explain how well sales and marketing do in executing the company strategy?’.

4. Reinvention of the marketing organization

Many of the surveyed marketing departments are siloed: online marketing; brand management; MarCom; etc. CMOs recognize that this model is outdated and that the traditional marketing organization doesn’t work anymore. They are pursuing answers to questions such as: How should the marketing department be structured? What is a successful ops model? What tools will be needed to support essential marketing processes?

Many CMOs are looking for a marketing ops leader – a kind of conductor for the marketing ops orchestra. Someone who can lay the groundwork for the marketing department of the future: a data-driven marketing engine.

Three signs you need a marketing ops role

The Marketing Tech Monitor 2021 revealed some old habits that need to change. These are the signs you need to build a mature marketing ops function as fast as possible.

  1. ‘Buy software first, think later’
    This is still a common practise among marketers in Europe. Before even having the requirements in place, companies buy software and hope a miracle happens.
  2. ‘Build the org chart first, build processes later’.
    Few CMOs realize that when proven processes are established first, the organizational chart emerges almost by itself.
  3. ‘Change management is a priority, but who cares?’.
    Change Management is almost universally recognised as crucial for building the marketing of the future. But those are just words. Many departments haven’t embraced systematic change. In fact, most teams just announce the changes and handout the manuals.

Please join us

BrandMaker’s “MarketingOps Now” podcast series has officially started. In each podcast industry luminaries and deep thinkers share valuable marketing ops ideas for both management and marketing executives (some worth stealing).

For every podcast in the series we’ll do a blog post to share the highlights with you. You can listen to this 20-minute. podcast here.

This blog was adapted from BrandMaker’s: “MarketingOps Now” podcast. Each installment discusses valuable ideas for both management and marketing executives. You can listen to this 20-minute podcast here.

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