Marcel Duy, Product Director, Digital Business Planning at IKEA
The marketing operations function should be a key player in helping CMOs make data-driven, strategic marketing decisions. Marketing operations can help CMOs run marketing like a business by using marketing business acceleration to optimize their planning, performance, and productivity.
In our Marketing Business Acceleration Series, forward-thinking marketing professionals share how they’re elevating marketing operations in their organizations and proving business impact.
In this interview, we spoke with Darrell Alfonso, Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations at Indeed—one of the most prominent job-hunting platforms in the U.S.—about his thoughts on strategic marketing operations.
A big priority for us is to shift our perception from a jobs site to a hiring and matching platform. To support that, we needed greater efficiency in our tools, processes, and reporting.
The big theme around these changes is simplification. In the past, many departments and divisions were more autonomous and that allowed for unnecessary complexity. Now we are moving toward collaboration and simplification by reshaping our teams. Coming out of the pandemic, this simplification made sense for eliminating duplicate work and created an easier transition.
One process we’ve changed is our planning. We’re implementing what we call “moments”. Rather than communicate with customers in many disjointed campaigns, we have a few central themes that culminate in large campaign activations or “moments” throughout the year.
Like many companies, we’re focusing on ROI this year. This means figuring out what really works and where we can cut back. For instance, we know that our advertising spend and paid media are driving new and repeat customers. But in terms of investment, it hasn’t increased. We’re just spending more efficiently. Putting a dollar amount on each campaign helps ground us when deciding whether or not the forecasted results are worth it.
There’s also the efficient investment of resources and time, not just money. A lot of time was caught up in the approval process and creative reviews of campaign deployment, which wan’t adding value. By streamlining our branding and legal processes, this shortened campaign timelines.
In a typical marketing organization, you’d use the OKR framework, where all marketing campaigns ladder up to corporate goals. Marketing operations is a little different. It’s not always easy to connect your behind-the-scenes work to high-level corporate goals. To counteract that, we like to focus on how marketing operations can solve three or four of our company’s biggest marketing problems.
Sometimes the team won’t realize there are ways that marketing operations can support their goals and, thereby, corporate goals. By showing them how we were able to move the needle using quantitative data, it helps them understand that marketing operations are problem solvers if you bring us in early. We might not be able to put exact numbers to it, such as “we brought in X number of leads” from this change, but we can say “we sped up our campaign execution processes by X amount of time.”
I prioritize “making the rounds” virtually—meeting with all of the directors across the company and sharing the kinds of big company problems we’re solving in marketing operations. Then, I ask how marketing operations can help them meet their goals.
Many teams build their plans in a silo. They have no idea what’s going on in another part of the company, and they don’t really care. But if you take the time to ask and listen about their key frustration points from an operational standpoint then marketing operations becomes known as a problem solver, a partner to help them reach their departmental goals. The bigger your company, the more time you need to dedicate to connecting with key internal stakeholders. Even though it might sound like busy work, internal alignment and communication is critical for positioning marketing operations in a strategic light.
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