Marketing Operations: Make the Transformation
Marketing Operations: Make the Transformation

Marketing Operations: Make the Transformation

Lead Author(s): Joe Barhoum

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This textbook covers how the rise of technology and eCommerce data has allowed marketers to infuse operational processes into their traditional workflows and prove their impact to revenue.

About Marketing Operations

Marketing Operations refers to the organization and mobilization of marketing resources and activities with the goal of demonstrating and fueling the impact marketing departments have on revenue. Marketing Operations is an important function to any sales driven organization. A well-functioning Marketing department leverages Marketing Operations to identify, qualify and convert sales leads into sales opportunities and report that information back to Finance, Sales, and other stakeholder groups. This allows Marketing to scale their department and expand their impact to the company's revenue. It also gives the head of Marketing a seat at the decision-making table alongside the other department leaders from sales, finance, operations, and others. Demonstrating the impact of marketing activities, such as email campaigns, seminars and lectures, will provide the leaders of the marketing department with the opportunity to expand their budget and staff; furthering the impact they can produce. 

Organizations are interested in transforming Marketing into a Marketing Operations department because it creates alignment between every department, such as Finance, Manufacturing, Sales, and more. The Marketing Operations department is responsible for creating and overseeing the workflows that maximize revenue gain. To maximize this effort, Marketing Operations creates an intersection between every department; aligning their best interests with the best interests of defined buyer profiles. Effectively, the Marketing Operations department aligns people, processes, and technology around metrics and goals to drive revenue and customer acquisition. 


The needs of a marketing department, has been to create and manage brands. This requirement still exists today, but very few companies have made the transition to operationalize marketing. Consequently, marketing departments are viewed as cost centers for the creation of various sales collateral that requires creatives and designers; not analytical or even sales-oriented professionals. The scope of services for marketing, in these cases, is limited to branding work such as  logos, sell-sheets, website work, and various other design output. While important, this work is purely cost oriented, leaving the marketing department to be viewed as not clearly impacting the business. The rise of eCommerce has changed everything for marketers as the data that can be pulled from Internet marketing campaigns has given created an opportunity to impact and influence the strategic direction of a company. Consider the following workflow (Figure 1). You'll find that the customer engagement begins after a profile has been created. Profiles are an assumption of the ideal buyer, based on market research. Multiple profiles may exist based on the needs of the seller / company. All of the marketing content in a campaign, as represented in the workflow in Figure 1, is tuned to the profile. 

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Figure 1: Buyer Journey Begins with Marketing - Courtesy of Author

Now, consider how the actions taken by the buyer in the early stages of the marketing campaign can be used to tune future campaigns. For example, if a campaign targets 10,000 buyers and 30% of them act in the first stage, Gain Attention, and then drop off significantly in the Educate phase, Marketing may derive that the campaign is not properly tuned to the profile - or the targeted buyers do not fit the profile. More on this in Chapter 4.

Marketing is not dissimilar from other departments that have operationalize and grown as a result of modern software and services. Particularly, the growth of marketing-based technologies, such as Marketo, Eloqua, and Salesforce have eased the transformation from Marketing to Marketing Operations, because they help to automate processes and reduce the manual labor required to execute the core principals and activities of a Marketing Operations department. This began in the early 2000s and these technologies are further improving their impact to the buying process as more organizations adopt them and form their digital buying processes. The impact of these technologies is mostly aimed at attracting new customers that fit within the profile of buyers for an organization and those customers are also within the early stages of buying and are, thus, influence-able by the marketing and sales teams. Therefore, much of this textbook will include the perspective of a Sales department. It's typically the Sales department that works the closest with customers and has access to them. This is necessary for Marketing to appropriately define profiles and create some of the necessary content for various stages of the buyer journey. For example, in order for a buyer to transition from researching the full scope and definition of their need to researching solutions to fulfill their requirements, content must be written and presented that is more specific to what is being offered by your company. By partnering with Sales, marketing can produce and distribute content that will have a higher rate of success in capturing the buyer's attention.

The overarching purpose of all of these activities is to produce reports and present data in dashboards that clearly draws a line between the budget and activities of Marketing and their revenue impact. This is the crux of Marketing Operations.

 

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  • What a Marketing Operations department does.
  • The three core outputs that result from a Marketing Operations department.
  • The roles and responsibilities needed to operate a Marketing Operations department.
  • What executives within an organization desire from Marketing Operations.


The Goal is Value

The primary objective of marketing campaigns is to provide value to the buyer. Digital marketing is a competitive space, and there is an active bidding war for the time of your buyer. At each step of the buyer's journey, value can be provided in the form of educational content, informative seminars, and an honest and comfortable buying experience with Sales. If your campaigns are not geared towards this goal, if your buyer profiles do not accurately reflect a buyer who would find value in your product or service, if you haven't established a good relationship with Sales, then your data will be flawed and your buyers will go elsewhere. Note: your profiles and campaigns must evolve as market shifts occur often.

Marketing Operations Scope of Work

The scope of Marketing Operations is important to understand for traditional marketers that are seeking to make a greater impact to their business. In this transition, marketing must add Demand Generation and Analytics practices to their existing scope of work, which is creative collateral production and maintenance. Together, these three practices will completely support the buyer journey and enable a vehicle for communication internally of the results of any marketing campaign. The effective result of this expanded scope is all design work is becomes monetized, tracked and reported. It also necessitates a strong professional relationship with other departments in the organization (Finance, Sales, Product Development, etc.).


Collateral Creation & Maintenance

The primary work product here is at least one marketing calendar. The calendar should consider industry trends and selling seasonality. Overlaid atop this information are the customer-facing events the Marketing team have planned. These include webinars, seminars, conferences, customer-appreciate events and more.

  • Strategic Planning (Go to market strategy, KPI development, buyer profiles, etc.)
  • Budget Development and Management 
  • Production Management (schedules, content alignment with buyer profile, etc.)
  • Creation Design (branding, logos, sell, sheets, websites, etc.)

Demand Generation

Beginning with the definition of your ideal buyer, Demand Generation activities are defined to identify and qualify leads. This practice works closely with creatives and data analyzers. They also work with Sales to hand-off qualified leads (conversion) and track their results. A closed deal that results in recognized revenue typically leads to compensation for this team.

  • Data Management (data integrity / accuracy / relevance)
  • Contact Management
  • Campaign Management
  • Lead Management (requirements, hand-off process, tracking)

Performance Measurement

Performance Measurement begins with the definition of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are tracked along the buyer journey. Measuring their engagement results in more, higher quality leads. The outputted reports are meant for use within the Marketing Operations department as well as with key stakeholders in Sales, Finance and elsewhere.

  • Campaign Performance Reporting (frequency, stakeholders, KPIs, etc.)
  • Behavior Reporting (algorithm definition and purpose)
  • Conversion Tracking (for variable compensation and impact recognition)


Typical Roles and Core Output

All of the work behind Collateral Creation & Maintenance, Demand Generation and Analytics exists to support revenue growth. To execute this work, the Marketing Operations department will need to administer the software and technology used to scale their efforts and further their impact to revenue. 


Typical Roles in a Marketing Operations Department

The following roles are examples that represent a Marketing Operations department. These roles are not part of traditional, creative-only marketing teams.

Analyst

Support of the sales team as it relates to the company’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The analyst(s) manage A/B testing and analysis of campaigns as well as massaging any data that feeds into the KPI reports. The Analyst also works with the creative marketing team to create tailored messaging, imagery and infographics for specific campaigns. The creative team, in turn, would work with the Analyst to understand the data from past and current campaigns.

Sr. Analyst

Supports Analysts and the sales team, as well as prepares several reports for strategic planning meetings with decision makers and the creative marketing team. Interpreting the reports / data is critical to this role.

Manager

Responsible for defining and delivering several reports for meetings with decision makers regarding campaign performance and new market opportunities. Reports span campaign performance, broader Marketing Operations KPIs, and sales and marketing training materials. The Manger will also work with Sr. Analysts to corroborate the meaning behind the data. 

Core Output

By completely and effectively producing all aspects of the Marketing Operations Scope of Work, the Marketing Operations department takes a highly strategic leadership position within its organization. There are three core outputs of this Strategic Leadership role: 

  1. Revenue Generation
  2. Marketing and Sales Channel Management
  3. Market Development

These outputs can completely shift the overall strategic direction of any organization. Together, they provide an awareness of buyer needs, the viability of various markets, growth opportunities of the organization, and marketing becomes a revenue generating department. 

Revenue Generation

A core measurement of a Marketing Operations department is it's impact to revenue. This is best demonstrated in reports that show the cost of running a campaign and the pipeline growth that resulted. In some cases, Marketing Operations may close the leads they identify and qualify, in which case the cost of sale is reduced, which reflects more positively on the Marketing Operation department. 

Marketing and Sales Channel Management

A Marketing Operations team can focus on direct sales, wholesaling, digital marketing, print media, out of home advertising, and more. Learning what works for each channel comes from researching, launching and measuring specific channel-related activities as mentioned above. It's not uncommon for sales channels, such as a partner-seller relationship, to be owned by the Marketing Operations department. Marketing Operations could choose for their inside sales team to work with partner-sellers and take credit for the resulting revenue. Marketing Operations would then be a service center to that partner-seller, so there is a cost implication to consider.

Market Development

New markets need to be qualified before money is spent on sales and marketing in support of those markets. It’s up to the Marketing Operations department to analyze and strategically plan and forecast the viability of those new markets. Additionally, the legal and political impact of data privacy can be a show-stopper for any outside organization. For example, Canada does not allow mass-email marketing in business to business sales.

By doing market research and testing market viability, the Marketing Operations department can communicate to senior leadership and executives in Finance, Sales, etc. their findings. 

The successful execution of various marketing and sales campaigns, and the ultimate success of a new market, will have dependency on the potential profitability of the products or services to be marketed and sold. Thus, it’s important for the Marketing Operations department to have a working relationship with Accounting to forecast volume and revenue in all markets. In fact, a Marketing Operations department is often tasked with creating work streams that cross every business unit (think Marketing as a service), making a highly functioning Marketing Operations department an overseer for the alignment of other departments and the people, processes and technologies that impact the revenue generation of the company.

In the upcoming section Understanding the Difference between Sales and Marketing I drill into more of the specific around the roles within a highly-functioning, technologically empowered Marketing department. 

Consider, for example, a typical law firm’s go-to-market situation. Customers want to work with attorneys that have a reputation for getting the job done. The customer may search online for such a law firm, and the law firm may be prepared to capture the lead (Google AdWords, SEO, whitepapers, etc.). More than likely, however, if you ask the attorneys and the customer independently, they’d both admit they’d prefer a referral. While this is true for companies in many industries, without the metrics surrounding well considered KPIs of the Marketing Operations department, the law firm would not know with certainty that digital marketing would have a less than ideal conversion rate and likely lead to prospects that aren’t properly within the profile they’d like. This doesn’t mean digital marketing wouldn’t work for this type of law firm.


Marketing Operations Stakeholders

Outside of the end users of the various technology and workflows utilized by the Marketing Operations team and technical support colleagues, their are stakeholders that lead every functional area of a given company. As you'll learn, Marketing Operations unites every department - it's the intersection of them all. Below is a brief explanation of what corporate leader's would need from a Marketing Operations department.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Primary concerns are revenue growth, public perception and ROI. Marketing Operations can leverage the CEO as a sponsor of work product associated with a highly functioning department. Important to the CEO will be a report that clearly shows the investment and the leads that have been added to the sales pipeline (converted leads) on a per campaign basis, over time.

Chief Information Officer (CIO)

From a technical perspective, the head of IT is concerned with the technology being used by Marketing and how that technology is supported by the IT team. Additionally, security is a major concern of IT. The cost of supporting these technologies and what the technical gap may be, at a user level, must be satisfactory for IT to support the purchase or maintenance of any software. As Marketing Operations allows marketing to draw the line connecting costs and revenue impact, all technology costs also contribute to the cost of sale. This will be the first objection from finance.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

The CFO is interested in top-line growth and increasing margins. Reducing the cost of sale (salaries, technology, time, etc.) is one area of a P&L that finance will dig into for savings. Since a Marketing Operations department generates sales opportunities (pipeline), a CFO should support the growth of the Marketing Operations department.

Head of Marketing / Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

The head of Marketing is concerned with proving the ROI on their costs. The Director of Marketing should have a clean dashboard that shows the cost, current stage and contribution to pipeline for every active campaign. Historical campaign reports with similar data should be in use. After a lead converts and becomes part of the Sales pipeline, the Director of Marketing should receive a report from Sales that shows the progress of those leads. If they close, this will go into a report for the C-suite.

Head of Sales / Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)

The head of Sales is typically interested in reducing the cost of sale and getting the sales team to focus on closing business rather than generating it. If a Marketing Operations department can identify, qualify and convert leads, Sales will be able to focus on closing business and expanding current customer opportunities. This particular stakeholder may be the most important. Theoretically, Sales and Marketing can work together to define buyer profiles and establish a lead conversion checklist. By successfully collaborating, the two can communicate the success to other department heads in an effort to expand the relationship. For example, by demonstrating a marketing campaign led to lead conversion and pipeline growth for Sales - Finance would be more willing to fund future campaigns and increase overall budget for Marketing.


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  • The functions of a Marketing Operations department.
  • The three core outputs that result from a Marketing Operations department.
  • What the roles and responsibilities of a Marketing Operations department are.
  • How key stakeholders within an organization view a Marketing Operations department.


Ch. 1 - Question 1
No correct answers: No correct answer has been set for this question

Summarize the differences, as you understand it, between a Marketing department and a Marketing Operations department.

Ch. 1 - Question 2

As it relates to supporting a Marketing Operations department, which department is concerned with security?

A

Finance

B

IT

C

Sales

D

Research & Development

E

Operations

Ch. 1 - Question 3

As it relates to supporting a Marketing Operations department, which department is concerned with pipeline growth?

A

Finance

B

IT

C

Sales

D

Research & Development

E

Operations

Ch. 1 - Question 4

As it relates to supporting a Marketing Operations department, which department is concerned with cost of sale?

A

Finance

B

IT

C

Sales

D

Research & Development

E

Operations

Ch. 1 - Question 5

As it relates to supporting Marketing Operations, which department is concerned with market needs?

A

Finance

B

IT

C

Sales

D

Research & Development

E

Operations

Ch. 1 - Question 6

What are the 3 core outputs of a Marketing Operations department that assumes a strategic leadership role?

A

Revenue Generation

B

Marketing and Sales Channel Management

C

Marketing Calendars

D

Research & Development

E

Market Development

F

Email Campaigns

G

KPI development


 

Image Citations

Figure 1: courtesy of the author.