With marketing technology investments ever rising, Marketing Operations as a career is growing. The result? A highly competitive role to hire for with aggressive compensation to follow. But, this role’s relative newness in the marketplace has also left its responsibilities and functions nebulous.
In my most popular article, “5 Interview Questions to Ask Your Next Marketing Automation Hire” I open with a sentiment that most hiring managers for this type of role don’t know what their marketing automation, or marketing ops, person actually did all day. Most people not in this function tend to see it as a black box. This article aims to explain MOPs to leaders, but also to help marketing operations professionals explain what’s important for them to focus on to perform well.
What IS Marketing Operations?
When I sat down to write this, I realized quickly that none of the content would matter unless we first agreed on what marketing operations actually means.
I know what it means to me, LeadMD and our customers, but rarely are marketers on the same page. So, I asked Google what it thinks. According to Monster, Google defines the marketing ops manager as someone who markets products by managing staff, maintaining response operations and maintaining quality ratings.
And I agree. Sort of.
The role of marketing ops really comes down to two things: data and making connections with that data. As my CEO, Justin Gray, puts it, “Marketing Operations is two words for a reason: Marketing = Should you? Operations = Can you?” Executed properly, marketing operations has its hands in the strategy behind the alignment of the people, processes and KPIs of the marketing organization. Success means keeping the structure strong to support the entire department.
Skills of Marketing Operations People
So, what does a typical day look like? That’s almost impossible to define, so I’m going to lay out the unique skill sets that are used almost daily.
1. Daily education around complex matters
Think of marketing ops as the most awesome translator you wish you had on a foreign vacation. You’re staring at a bakery case in Slovakia and the labels on each pastry include letters you recognize, but ultimately mean nothing to you. Have the afore-mentioned translator with you? Suddenly, you know your lemon bars from your coffee cake (as well as which are egg-free, vegan or totally regular).
Marketing ops is this translator, but with data. They provide data transparency, and meaningful reporting that actually lets the rest of the company in on what it all means. They also help the C-suite make important decisions based on this data analysis. Marketing ops bridges the gap between information and action and puts confusion and questions to bed.
2. Creating optimized and repeatable processes
Marketing ops would just be regular ol’ marketing without the “ops.” So, systematization is a crucial part of the role. You might get tired of all their questions, but it’s their way of understanding, not only the ask, but the why behind that ask. This team helps transform asks (from a variety of team members) into actual action that will have scale at the center.
The other side of this coin has to do with planning. Marketing ops functions like the most lovable but highly type-A person you know. They have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening within marketing, and across the organization. So, they can make recommendations about timelines and planning with more insight than perhaps anyone else.
And, again, the marketer in them won’t build simply to do something. Instead, they’ll think about the ask strategically to understand if it’s something that should be done.
3. Change agent
Rounding out a “typical” day in the marketing ops world (if there is such a thing) is the role of change agent. All operations people tend to be at the center of change, due to the deep integrations between various departments impacted by operational projects. With this in mind, the best Marketing Ops people create relationships with people across the organization, from leaders down to feet-on-the-street. With these relationships in their back pocket, they gather requirements, seed excitement for change and help ultimately usher in that change with training, feedback and optimization.
Operations folks are also at the core of change reinforcement, as they’ll report on the success of the change and help ideate improvements to it.
So, what does marketing ops do all day? Turns out, an awful lot. If you have great access to data, strong marketing results and a thriving company - walk over and thank your marketing ops team. Or at least give them a virtual high-five. They deserve it.