A 3-Step Marketing Operations Implementation Framework
More marketers would implement Marketing Operations if they understood the benefits and knew how to deploy these specialist groups. Our prior article shared the marketing operations benefits. This post will share how to implement a marketing operations organization.
A Marketing Operations 3-Step Implementation Framework
Start with Staffing
Staffing is the first critical success factor.
The number and type of staff will be based on your company size, performance objectives and scope of services.
What's different here is that Marketing Ops staff are not your classical marketers.
They are deep with process, analytical and technical skills.
They bring left-brain thinking into what is typically a right-brained operation. They shift analysis and decision making – for offers, campaigns, promotions or any other customer engagement – from vanity or activity metrics to key performance indicators that directly correlate with business outcomes.
They construct data to bring visibility to complex interactions, such as measuring marketing attribution or engagement across campaign flights, channels and devices. Measurements that cannot be done without simplifying complex data. They use this data to figure out how to get more customers.
They apply industry benchmarks and best practices so that performance improvements have a defined finish line.
These new skills also bring new capabilities. Things like quantitative planning, essential metrics, rigorous measurement and procedures for continuous process improvements that directly impact the most important financial outcomes. These staff can show marketing's contribution to company revenue and business growth.
For most companies, a mix of staff and as-needed consultants will make the most financial sense. Leveraging consultants for highly technical skills where the company does not require full-time effort, or where the company may need to scale staffing up or down will offer more access to talent and more flexibility.
Optimize Business Processes
The first order of business is process optimization and governance. The goal is to make the most essential marketing processes effective, repeatable, predictable and scalable.
The most common mistake made by new Marketing Ops teams is optimizing processes for efficiency and not effectiveness. The order here is important.
Marketing processes should first focus on doing the right things and then doing those things right.
Doing the right things drives effectiveness. Doing them right creates efficiency. Being efficient without being effective is a losing proposition. Or as better said by the legendary Peter Drucker, "Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right."
Campaigns, promotions, new product launches and other marketing processes have a lot of steps and participants. Additional processes such as content production, lead management, conversion optimization, funnel management, brand development and service level agreements have a way of sprawling over time.
All of these processes are data rich, and if harvested that data can be used to measure, define, redefine or innovate marketing processes.
There are several good business process design methods. However, our experience is that Agile Value Stream Mapping is often the most effective in achieving the most significant improvements.
This business process design method is effective because it doesn't just improve your existing processes, it measures the value of what you do with an aim to eliminate non-valued added steps and activities and redefine processes to be directly mapped to revenue contribution or other business outcomes.
It's also helpful in creating process diagrams that can be used for new-hire on-boarding, training, knowledge management, staffing decisions and even budgeting.
Fully Leverage MarTech
Once you have connected the dots between strategy and outcomes, removed the dots that don't matter and defined streamlined business processes, you can move to process automation.
There's a tendency to jump to defining the right MarTech stack. While that is important it is not the starting point. A better approach is to start by defining your most important information reporting. Then identify the data needed to calculate the metrics on those reports and find the MarTech staff to automate it all.
Metrics and Performance Reporting
Information reporting is a three-step process. Start by defining the metrics that most matter. Then identify how to harvest that data and finally how to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.
There's no shortage of marketing metrics. And while some are more important than others, many are needed.
The approach we take is to prioritize metrics into three categories of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary.
Primary metrics directly correlate to business outcomes such as revenue contribution. These are the measures your CEO and CMO most care about. They include things like the percentage of marketing-sourced revenues and Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).
In fact, two primary metrics we implement with every client are ROMI and ROI for the Marketing Ops program. Marketing organizations are under increased pressure to quantifiably show their revenue impact to the company. And if Marketing Ops cannot show itself to be profitable it won't be around long.
Secondary metrics display program performance measures. They show things like the success of your campaigns, the speed of converting leads to SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) and the accomplishment of shared objectives defined in the sales and marketing Service Level Agreement. Or maybe better said, they show when these programs are not working so quick intervention can change the course.
Tertiary metrics are mostly activity-based measures. They may include things like web analytics or A/B testing results. Sometimes they are helpful while other times they simply cloud more important measures.
When used to spot problems such as lead leakage or inaccurate campaign attribution they are invaluable. However, when they are little more than vanity metrics they distract from where marketers should be spending their limited time. These measures need to be scrutinized to validate their worth.
Once the needed metrics are identified, you are likely to discover that the data needed to calculate these key performance indicators resides in multiple places.
That means you will then need to define a data transformation process. This can be illustrated with a data transformation pipeline diagram such as the one below.
There are many types of information reporting tools. However, marketing dashboards are the most effective to get real-time information to the right people.
The MarTech Stack
Advanced technologies and technology savvy marketers are needed to engage customers with personalized messages over multiple channels and throughout the customer journey.
The Marketing Ops team will assemble roles such as system admins, architects and project managers to take charge of a number of technology related tasks, such as:
- Designing a technology strategy that drives the top priorities
- Creating a technology roadmap for software acquisition, implementation and optimization
- Collaborating with system integrators, change management staff or other resources
- Collaborating with agency partners when data sharing is needed
- End user support, including application provisioning, on-boarding and training
- Technology vendor management, including contracts, billing, renewals and upgrades
Marketing Ops is responsible for selecting the right combination of technologies to make marketers more productive and achieve more significant business outcomes.
Marketing budgets are limited so prioritization is needed to acquire the most effective technologies. That's a challenge. But there are sources to help.
As an example, a marketing technology research report scored the most effective marketing technologies as measured for the Best-in-Class marketers (i.e., the top 15 percent) and displayed them in the red box in the below quadrant.
The reason this group is separate from IT is that the technology is managed almost entirely within the marketing operational context. That means the Marketing Ops team needs continuous interaction with leadership, managers, agencies and staff.
Also, when marketing owns its technology with dedicated resources that tech achieves much higher utilization and ROI.
The most common MarTech mistake is adopting technology based on reactive needs and without a long-term roadmap that considers how all the software components fit together, deliver operational synergies and can be efficiently managed.
The MarTech stack often starts with the Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) or Email Service Provider (ESP). From there it will either grow by design and pursuant to a technology strategy or by short-term problem reaction which results in an uncontrolled patchwork of disparate apps and data siloes.
Optimized processes with technology automation create a synergistic combination that drives improved performance for every part of the marketing organization.
But sequence matters when achieving strategic benefits.
Start with the right staffing. Team members with strong left-brain skills will create a powerful collaboration with the traditionally right brained marketers.
Process optimization will increase staff productivity, decrease cycle times and reduce errors. Processes will become streamlined, repeatable and predictable.
And technology will automate and accelerate those processes.
But technology is complex, so a technology strategy with a roadmap is needed to define value, simplify planning and schedule expenditures. Without a roadmap, technology operation and procurement are haphazard and aimless. Random software procurements may solve immediate difficulties but have a way of creating downstream problems.
It's also important that the technology roadmap follow marketing process optimization. Otherwise, business processes must work within the constraints of technology that did not consider their importance. That means those business processes may have to be compromised to accommodate the technology or the technology will have to be customized. Neither scenario is a good one.
When done correctly, marketing ops leverages specialists to achieve existing goals more effectively. It then sets more ambitious targets to increase marketing's contribution to the company.