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 John Lewellan, VP of Marketing Operations at Apptio—a cloud-based finance and operational insights platform for IT departments—about his thoughts on how to make marketing operations more strategic.
Our biggest priority has been what we call “no lead left behind.” It’s essentially making sure that the money we’re spending to acquire leads isn’t wasted, and they don’t drop out unnecessarily on their way to conversion. We’re also looking for ways to make our processes more efficient and optimized.
Then there are related projects like our pipeline acceleration efforts. We’ve started looking for opportunities around digital ads, and how we can blend that part of the funnel with branding and awareness. It’s a more data-driven approach around getting the right stakeholders involved, and if we can build awareness and trust with decision markets earlier in the process. At the core, it’s just listening to the data and trying to optimize as much as possible.
Coming out of the pandemic, we saw a big shift because suddenly we could do in-person events again. We decided to do every live event we could in order to reach new leads. We’d spent so much time emailing the same people for the last two years that we jumped on the opportunity to open ourselves up to a different pond of fish.
Since we invested a lot of money into these in-person events, it was important to take the time to analyze which events delivered results, and which did not. In 2022, we really threw everything at the wall to see what would stick. In 2023, we’re scaling back to hit only the big industry events and the smaller regional events that really work for us. We’re also getting better at optimizing our account based marketing program, which was also a priority this year.
We have a pretty rigorous system that starts with overall corporate priorities. We’ve kept it simple by limiting our priorities to five things we want to do and build those into our annual plan. Each department has metrics that ladder up to those priorities, and every marketer has individual performance plans. Everybody carries the pipeline goal and is responsible for a part of the pipeline. When it comes to quarterly business reviews, we’re able to see how we’re meeting those goals to date and what we can do before the next review to meet or stay on target.
One of the key ways we’ve made marketing operations more strategic this year is to break down the silos that separate marketing and marketing operations from the rest of the organization. We have a bi-weekly chiefs of staff meeting for all ops and heads of staff to keep us aligned on key priorities. Then that trickles down into other layers of cross-functional collaboration.
We created an enterprise data analytics team that work as a centralized group responsible for all of the sales and marketing metrics across the organization. They work closely with each department to ensure everyone aligns with, and meets, all corporate goals.
From a strategic standpoint, this helps me get more involved in sales ops, which I typically wouldn’t have touched. It’s easier for me to ask specific questions and see how it relates to the metrics and goals.
There’s someone like me in every functional area of the business, which is a tremendous advantage. Being able to get together to talk and see how everything ladders up to our overall goals has made it significantly easier to make more strategic decisions.
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