Marketing operations, sometimes called MOps or MarkOps, determine how a business drives marketing processes, management and optimization. Marketing operations are critical because they link market strategy to how an organization creates marketing materials and drives outcomes. Think of it this way: It’s great to have a marketing plan, but without the operations to put it all together, you’ve got an idea, not a campaign.
Marketing operations help teams take advantage of opportunities that become much more complicated as the team scales. Effective marketing ops also help teams develop answers to questions like “How are you going to make the right marketing materials that align with the plan?” or “How do we ensure we’re improving?” — all in service of keeping the team aligned.
Marketing operations are typically the responsibility of the marketing department and usually led by a marketing director or chief marketing officer (CMO), depending on the company’s size.
Types of Marketing Operations
- Data Management
- Campaign Management
- Content Development
- Lead Generation
- Reporting and Analytics
Why Is Marketing Operations Important?
Marketing operations link strategy to action. When a team creates a marketing strategy, there’s often a diagnosis of the product’s challenges, some opportunities on which leadership wants to capitalize and of course long-standing values the marketing organization strives to maintain.
Marketing operations allow the team to manage all of these moving parts. Strong marketing operations allow the team to take the strategy and break it down into the bite-sized actions the team will take in order to ensure they’re still aligned with the strategy. When good marketing operations are in play, the next steps are clear to those working in marketing, no matter what the next steps may be.
For example, let's say there’s a campaign leveraging some of the marketing team’s past work. Usually, we would rely on someone from the past with knowledge of the campaign but institutional knowledge doesn’t scale. More than likely, that person has misplaced assets, forgotten key learnings or even left the company.
That is where marketing ops comes into play as the record holder for the marketing team. Marketing ops makes sure that we catalog our assets and follow a naming standard that helps the team track what assets were used and when. In turn, operationalizing in this way gives the campaign the correct information without wasting time.
Types of Marketing Operations
Where is data held? Like the example above, having naming standards help keep track of the data for many uses, from onboarding new employees to reusing assets to save time. More than that, though, marketing ops professionals need to be able to leverage data analytics, infrastructure and ops best practices in order to support and execute an effective marketing strategy.
How are campaigns driving success? Without someone measuring campaigns’ success and failure, it's difficult to understand how the overall strategy is working (or not).
What is “good” content? How do we ensure our content is on brand? Marketing ops keeps content in line with how the team sees itself. Robust data and marketing analysis in order to understand traffic to that content is also crucially important.
Are the leads we’re generating driving the strategy or are they garbage? Marketing ops keeps an eye on these numbers and makes suggestions on how to improve them.
Reporting and Analytics
How are the marketing analytics connecting to our marketing and business strategies? Marketing operations keeps an eye on this relationship and reports on major changes in the data to help the team understand — and act upon — trends.
How To Develop a Marketing Operations Strategy
To start connecting strategy to tasks, ask yourself these questions:
- What Are Our Marketing Objectives? What are we ultimately trying to achieve? What problem are we trying to solve with this strategy? These questions will drive the strongest objectives that help a team maintain alignment.
- Who Needs to Stay Briefed to Keep Our Objectives Up-to-Date? Communication is an important part of marketing operations. Sometimes, marketers and leaders can find themselves engaged in a campaign and lose themselves in the work. Ops are there to make sure the right people are briefed in the right way at the right time.
- What Are Our Next Steps? Understanding next steps and who needs to be involved helps maintain momentum. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what comes next when you’re head-down but marketing ops help keep the whole team on track.
- How Will We Know We’re Succeeding (or Failing)? Success and failure can look the same sometimes. Someone needs to watch the pot as the water boils. Marketing ops does this by asking questions and focusing on leading indicators to assist objective management.
Some good resources to get you started include:
- Marketing Operations | Marketing Insights | Gartner.com: This group of articles from Gartner are helpful in understanding how to make Marketing Operations better.
- Everything You Need to Know About Marketing Operations in One Place: Hubspot has a fantastic guide for those who are ready to get started.
Marketing Operations Best Practices
Marketing operations focus on making marketing decisions and systems better over time. By developing processes, teams can judge the quality of their decisions against how close the marketing team is to reaching their objectives each month, quarter and year.
If marketing operations aren’t driving these opportunities and improving the processes of teams around them, they are (more than likely) not thinking about iteration. Without iteration and strategy gut checks, you’ll end up with a team that just slows down everyone’s work, thereby turning the operations team into the dreaded meeting people — and you know how much everyone hates meetings.