Learning about and focusing on improving marketing operations is becoming more critical for digital marketing teams trying to get ahead. Understanding your customers, implementing customer data properly, and measuring campaign performance are all key steps in building out your marketing ops.
In addition, marketing ops focuses on managing the technologies that the marketing team purchases and measuring marketing effectiveness across the board. It's not just your marketing techniques, but rather, it's what goes on behind the scenes to make sure your campaigns reach their goals.
No one knows successful marketing operations better than the experienced marketers and business owners of today. We'll cover the guidelines for improving your marketing operations and how to come up with a marketing operations strategy for your business.
Components of a marketing operations strategy
If you're wondering how to improve marketing strategy of a company, it all starts with the marketing operations. Learning these elements allows you to evaluate the different areas of your marketing strategy. The Marketing Operations team in any organization should cover the following five tasks:
Marketing Project Planning
Marketing Operations groups rely on project, program, and demand generation managers to develop new marketing strategies and manage complex digital projects to clearly defined success metrics.
Any marketing strategy, campaign planning, cross-tactical execution planning, budget setting, and performance review meetings should include the Marketing Operations team.
Some companies have separate marketing teams for email, search, social media, events, etc., so marketing operations can ensure each silo is working together.
End-to-End Creative Process Management
Marketing Operations is responsible for governing the various marketing processes. It's one thing to come up with new marketing improvement ideas, but it's another to create a system for everyone to follow. With the right processes and accountability in place, each marketing team can execute its programs more effectively and efficiently.
Marketing Technology Infrastructure
Marketing Operations is expected to manage the multiple marketing automation platforms, such as the website, eCommerce solution, review and approval software, marketing operations management, plus integration with related technologies.
They'll also oversee the technology for AdWords, product analytics, A/B testing, social media, and ABM marketing to ensure alignment across the business.
And then there's always going to be new marketing technology.
So the marketing ops team will always be involved in the evaluation and selection of new software to streamline processes and improve performance across departments.
Marketing Data and Analytics
The Marketing Operations team is responsible for developing the marketing data strategy so that marketing as a whole has the necessary insights to build high-performing campaigns.
A key component of Marketing Operations involves checking the analytics, reporting, and team dashboards to measure the effectiveness of each channel and the overall performance of the marketing program. Depending on the size of the business, it may be their responsibility to action the data or inform other members of the marketing teams.
Brand Compliance and Risk
Last but not least, it's vital for Marketing Operations to manage the review and approval process of marketing materials to ensure compliance, especially in highly regulated industries like healthcare and financial services. For instance, Advocate Health Care was fined $5.5m for a violation of HIPAA regulations – all because an employee left an unencrypted laptop in their unlocked car, exposing the data of over 4 million patients.
Regulatory laws protect consumers from being misled or lied to by businesses. Plus, they safeguard consumer privacy rights, monitoring how companies collect, store, and use consumer data. For example, the new EU GDPR had 200,000 cases reported in its first year resulting in fines of €56m, most of which came from French data watchdog CNIL's €50m fine for Google.
The FCA has strict guidelines regarding financial promotions so that financial services providers stay compliant on social networks and websites.
For example, the risk warning text in this banner ad is non-compliant because it's too small in comparison to the surrounding promotion text:
But by using approval workflow software with a step for lawyers to review and comment on the creative content, you can ensure all guidelines are followed and disclaimers added to avoid any litigation risk.
Once a business is tarnished with a bad reputation, it can be hard to recover. Therefore, it's imperative that companies empower Marketing Operations with the authority and tools to manage risk and compliance and ensure they adhere to best practices for marketing privacy.
The marketing operations process
Marketing ops team members need to have an expansive skillset. Some of the typical activities this department deals with are email operations, systems analysis, customer data and marketing, user operations, and lead rotation.
All of these roles come together to align the process and platforms needed to carry out marketing tasks for the greater marketing team. When thinking about a marketing ops strategy, consider the problems the marketing ops team needs to solve, taking into account the needs of customers, stakeholders, and the employees of your company. Here is an overview of the marketing operations process:
Identify what you want your operations strategy to accomplish for stakeholders.
Firstly, you need to effectively communicate and involve your stakeholder(s) when trying to create your marketing operations strategy. By doing so, you can better align the team and work toward solving high-level needs and priorities that may not be explicitly clear beforehand.
This is where the importance of internal service level agreements (SLAs) comes in. These contracts establish a set of deliverables to another party that sets clear expectations and mitigates issues that may arise.
For instance, key stakeholders might want to make email marketing a more valuable process. The marketing ops team would then be responsible for the processes and systems that support this endeavor, ensuring that:
- The organization has effective email marketing technology
- The marketing team is enabled to send emails and create improved content offers
- The sales team is enabled and empowered to source quality leads
- All parties have what they need and are communicating effectively during each step of the process
Figure out a measurable metric to determine the success of your strategy.
The next step in strategizing is to identify how the team would measure the success of the project. When you figure out a measurable metric, you'll be able to keep track of the strategy's success as your team works through the marketing improvement plan. The metric will remind your team of the goal you want to accomplish and what stakeholders want to see as a result of your plan.
In this example, the team might conclude, "Click-through rate and the total number of clicks are how we want to measure the value that email marketing brings to the business. We will calculate the click-through rate by dividing the number of clicks in a month by the number of unique email recipient impressions in a month and multiply it by 100 for the percentage."
Communicate how colleagues can take part in refining your strategy.
With the goal and metrics identified, your next step is to outline what this change would mean for affected colleagues, such as the team members who create and distribute email marketing messages.
The team might conclude that "Marketers can expect an easier email guideline process, a more effective format, and to receive a form to offer input about how to make that happen."
Determine actionable steps in your plan that will help you reach your goals.
Determining actionable steps will help your marketing ops team figure out what needs to be done, identify the resources required to see success, and stay organized as they work through their tasks.
A marketing ops professional will need to run these steps by the stakeholders who actually influence the plan. For instance, they would be communicating steps to reach the previously stated SMART goal like:
- Switching to a more efficient email technology provider.
- Ensuring that the data being used to measure these goals is clean and accurate.
- Enabling the marketing team to source more quality leads.
- Enabling the sales team with better templates or sales enablement resources.
With these steps communicated, stakeholders can provide assistance or suggestions where it's needed, and the marketing ops team can get closer to execution.
Assign team members to specific tasks that will contribute to the completion of your goals.
Having that set in place, what's next for the marketing ops team is to assign team members specific tasks to help them achieve their goals. For instance, one team member might be in charge of redefining email marketing contact lists. Another might be in charge of auditing the current workflows in place for email marketing.
As team members complete these tasks, they would check them off in a centralized space so the entire team can stay updated on the project's status.
Marketing operations teams are equally effective with their strategies and management capabilities as Summer's character in "School of Rock." With her processes, the group was able to obtain their own rehearsal space and offer music classes.
Review process maps
Process maps visually illustrate the flow of work. They show the relationship between the steps and inputs. Marketing, like any function, runs on processes. Processes are at the heart of operational excellence. They fall within the domain of the Marketing Ops function.
If you haven't mapped your processes, make this one of your priorities. In the meantime, if you don't do anything else this year to improve the operational aspect of your Marketing, at least do these five things:
Use SMART: Work from specific, realistic, measurable objectives that are written down.
Target: Precisely identify your highest potential market segments. Establish key opportunity and accessibility criteria so you can compare market segments on an apples-to-apples basis.
Customer-Centric: Map your potential customers buying and journey process. You should be able to identify the sequence of decisions a typical prospect goes through to decide whether to buy your product or service. This process should be based on observable behaviors and serve as the basis for your marketing and sales activities. This step requires strong data and analytical muscle and being able to translate data into actionable customer insights.
Focus on Value: Best-in-Class marketers are value creators. Move away from being a service provider and momentum for serving as a value creator. Track and report on how long it takes and how much it costs to create a customer.
Manage Performance: Develop an actionable dashboard of marketing measures that are tied to management's expectations about marketing. Ensure marketing is aligned with the company's business outcomes and strategies.
The process is the foundation for alignment—and one of the critical complaints with marketing is that it lacks alignment with sales, finance, R&D, and the business. Your marketing ops serve as the depot for defining and establishing processes that facilitate alignment.
A marketing operations function should ensure that the right processes are in place to support performance management and measurement.
The role of marketing operations in terms of process, systems, and tools is to develop and manage an integrated process that includes setting performance goals, modeling, planning, and reporting. Your marketing operations function is the engine for enabling Marketing to be more transparent, efficient, and accountable.
Leadership Strategies to Improve Marketing Operations
Improvement starts with the leadership at the top. Leaders must instill and make changes that have a lasting impact. Here are a few marketing leadership strategies:
Establish a cross-department workflow
The most important piece of improving your marketing operations is establishing a project workflow between marketing and the rest of the organization. The internal workings of individual teams can be heavily influenced by how other departments request projects and/or expect projects to be done. Once your workflow is established, using a tool to help task assignments, set deadlines, and follow up is critical.
Work with your audience in mind
One issue with marketing, especially digital, is the noise. There are so many companies saying the exact same thing, and companies don't really do the proper research to figure out who they are, what their message is, who needs to hear that message, and how to get that message out.
Take the time to explore your analytics and the data, interview your customers, pay attention to social media conversations & get involved, then create content that aligns your goals with your audience's goals, speak to your audience in a unique way, and constantly review & tweak.
Know your customers
Remove barriers, find clarity, and exceed goals. Anything is possible with the most powerful work management software at your fingertips. The vast majority of the time, people make bad marketing decisions because they don't have the right information about their target audience.
Strategic marketing operations strategy planning
Understanding the nature and nuances of marketing operations is central to ensuring a smooth flow of projects, processes, and technology. Still, you can take a wide range of steps to create and perfect your operations strategy, starting with the right software to minimize complications and optimize functionality.
At its best, marketing ops prevent silos both around and within larger marketing departments. Without it, even routine tasks become difficult to accomplish, and new marketing initiatives become almost impossible to scale.
It's about simplifying complexity. That includes workflow management but also a wide range of other processes, ultimately helping to improve the entire endeavor. Successful marketing operations teams:
- Create and manage a comprehensive tech stack to ensure that all marketing technology brings the team forward and simplifies daily tasks along with larger strategies
- Streamline data analytics, transparency, and reporting processes, building dashboards to understand better the success of marketing initiatives and their progress toward the goal
- Review and manage tech-related processes like data segmentation, software permissions, email marketing setups, and more
- Create and manage standard marketing operating procedures to ensure the repeatability of all tasks and create efficiencies that become independent from the people involved
- Ensure the scalability of the entire marketing effort, thanks to a combined focus on workload, technology, and processes
Most of these processes exist in some form at almost any organization. It's about formalizing them to optimize efficiencies and bring the entire department forward.
Universal Creative Solutions offers marketing operations consulting and strategy consulting to help your business succeed. We will analyze your leadership positions and the process of your marketing strategies and see the gaps that need to be filled. Perhaps, you need a more efficient process to increase productivity, or maybe you need a better tech stack to analyze data accordingly. Schedule a consultation with our experts, and we'll help identify any underlying causes in your business.