Three marketing ops trends to watch

Frans Riemersma
November 21, 2022

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 ops is here to stay.

Already 49% of marketers surveyed have a marketing operations leader on at least one team. MarketingOps now entered the top 3 of CMOs priorities, based on a survey that Gartner conducts every year.

Marketing ops has come a long way, and we believe that the marketing ops role will expand even further into today’s organisations. Therefore, as a marketing ops manager, here are the three main trends you should keep a close eye on in the near future.

  1. Rise of marketing ops
  2. Better Integration of marketing
  3. Continuous automation

1.   Rise of marketing ops

The evolution of Marketing ops over the past several years has been remarkable. Marketing ops has grown from a support desk into a strategic function.

Just recently, marketing operations was something like an adjacent function, working ‘on the side’ on streamlining processes separated from the main business (critical) processes. It was tasked with crafting (ad hoc) reporting, data hygiene, some admin configuration of tools, and granting access rights to team members.

Today, with its process engineering, planning and digital capabilities marketing ops has evolved into a foundational role for marketing. It has become the ‘Operating Engine’, the underlying platform, where everything gets build upon.

How did this happen?

Digital transformation the rise of marketing ops and will continue to do so. To become truly digital in marketing, you cannot do it ‘on the side’. The organization has to answer fundamental organizational questions, like ‘How do we work?’, ‘How do we get things done?’ Having an answer to ‘How do we operate?’ is today a strategic question!

Marketing ops is exceptionally well equipped to address this question. Over the years marketing ops has learned how to digitalize the marketing jobs to be done. That capability is now extremely necessary to take marketing to the next level. With all its process engineering and digital capabilities, it is a operational nirvana.

2.   Integration of marketing

Integration of marketing is not limited to software integrations. It is also the alignment of marketing with the rest of the organization. Marketing ops ensures better integration of the marketing function with applications like sales ops, customer success ops and rev ops.

The alignment-conversation is one that marketing and marketing ops should lead together inside the organization. Alignment is not something new. It has always been important.

But what changed?

How fast companies move and how quickly expectations of customers change has accelerated over the last several years. Previously, organizations could get away with gaps in departmental alignment. It was not a barrier to progress. The pain was not really felt.

Fast forward to today. Companies are moving at an incredible pace. Combine that with the continuity of customer experiences more frequently touching multiple departments and alignment has become strategic. Misalignment is simply hampering progress. Seamless alignment is a competitive advantage.

Especially Marketing ops is critical to keeping marketing aligned on customer experience and strategy. Marketing ops managers are key players since they operate as the interface between marketing, sales, customer success, and (digital) product management. Does this mean marketing ops managers have to be diplomats? Should marketing ops be experts in change management?

The simple answer is ‘yes’. All business functions will agree that they are more successful together. But alignment cannot be imposed top-down.

Nor can it be scheduled on a certain date and time to be implemented. It is ongoing. It needs continuous attention.

So, while respecting each other’s expertise, marketing ops has to manage expectations while protecting the interests of marketing. marketing ops has to master the ability to blend expertise’s, and for that you have to master diplomacy.

3.   Continuous Automation

The hyper acceleration and sophistication of automating marketing activities in the last year is just staggering. Automation has empowered MarketingOps tremendously, and will continue to do so.

But there is also a word of caution. The possibilities and opportunities are endless. There is a clear and present danger of getting lost in requirement translations and over-engineering solutions. This applies to both off-the-shelf tools, as well as to no-code tools.

It is marketing ops’s role to bridge the gap between marketing and IT. In that role marketing ops should be able to define: ‘What should a marketing ops solution do for us?’.

For that, marketing ops should keep a library of business critical use cases. Use cases are a wonderful thing! However, automating without understanding the core use cases can be very dangerous. Marketing ops should be able to distinguish between new and proven (business critical) use cases for the company. When evaluating new solutions, vendors should demo their software with a strong emphasis on company relevant use cases.

Once a solution has been selected, it requires two things for marketing ops to be successful.

  1. Truly enable the users: do not just provide a tool, also enable, train and support the user community on how to use the solution.
  2. Put governance in place: provide the guardrail mechanisms to use the tools properly. What is the intended use and what not? Do we elaborate on our use case, or do we implement entirely new ones?

Finally, when rolling out new processes, solutions and integrations, it is important for marketing ops to define success and ensure success is visible in the organization.

  • At all costs you want to prevent pizza moments. Pizza is what you order when the team missed a deadline and needs to do extra hours to fix it.
  • Instead go for the champagne moments. Define what success looks like so you can pop champagne bottles for a team celebration.

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.

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