Is Marketing Operations the Right Career for You?

Marketing Operations is the cornerstone of an organization’s marketing team, assisting with every area of traditional marketing to increase its value. From initial planning to final analysis, Marketing Operations professionals strive to optimize each part of the process, boosting efficiency and creating a solid foundation for the team to scale while maintaining consistent quality. One of their central goals is to manage a marketing tech stack to keep everything running smoothly and help their organization confirm that campaign operations are working as expected.

IDC reported in 2021 that 60% of large companies have employees in a designated Marketing Operations role, while by the end of last year, over 250,000 U.S. employees mentioned Marketing Operations on their profiles. 94% of CMOs who participated in BrandMaker’s 2021 survey on the state of Marketing Operations felt that inefficient Marketing Operations and workflows were obstacles to a fast response to changing market environments. 62% of CMOs said they would like to focus more time on Marketing Operations, putting it in the first spot alongside Marketing Strategy. 

Image Source: BrandMaker

The influx of marketing technologies has only deepened the need for dedicated Marketing Operations professionals, with small and medium companies having an average of 25 to 50 tools in their tech stack, while enterprises can have over 250. 

As the field becomes a staple for companies in all brackets, the market has never been better for aspiring professionals to land their first role. The job requires a range of hard and soft skills that allow a healthy combination of creativity and analytical skills to help achieve revenue goals and take ownership over technical success. 

What does a Marketing Operations professional do?

Even within the “Marketing Operations” title, there are a number of different areas that an individual can focus on under that umbrella. According to a 2020 MarTech survey, the majority of Marketing Operations professionals reported the following tasks as making up over 70% of their workload:

  • Leading the use of marketing software and helping train and support marketing team members with its utilization
  • Acting as the administrator of marketing technologies
  • Analyzing organizational needs to recommend marketing tools that can assist efforts
  • Architecting and overseeing workflows
  • Designing and implementing marketing campaigns

The exact responsibilities of an individual can vary based on the type of Marketing Operations person they are. Scott Brinker created four archetypes for marketing technologists, each with their own roles in the Marketing Operations field.

Image Source: Scott Brinker

Lining up these archetypes with the responsibilities from MarTech’s survey, Marketing Operations professionals can decide which aspects of the process they most want to focus on. From more technically-concerned duties to ones that help establish the brand externally, a range of skills are needed to bring the full benefits of Marketing Operations to an organization. 

Image Source: MarTech Today

Skills to be successful in Marketing Operations

Analytics and logic

Marketing Operations professionals help the marketing team confirm that their efforts are effective. Analytics help guide an organization’s activities and validate that certain goals are being reached through campaigns and marketing strategies. Successful marketing operations personnel understand how to put metrics behind their goals, and can sort through large amounts of data to figure out which numbers are most important in determining whether a certain strategy is working or not. 

Detail-oriented and meticulous

Since so much of Marketing Operations is helping the broader marketing team optimize their processes, attention to detail is an important skill to have as you evaluate current efforts. Noticing inefficiencies and coming up with solutions is a key part of bringing value to your organization, so striving for improvement is always part of the job description. If you manage a marketing tech stack, it’s also important to have an eye for the more nuanced features of each of the tools your team uses. Ensuring that they’re working as expected and recognizing when there’s a gap in your current stack requires a detail-oriented approach to accomplish.

Communication, collaboration, and consensus

In many ways, Marketing Operations acts as a support for other teams as they strive to reach revenue goals and hit target KPIs. To work effectively, clear and open communication are necessary to keep stakeholders aligned on what actions are being taken to achieve a certain objective. The ability to work with sales, marketing, and revenue personnel is a crucial part of day-to-day life as a Marketing Operations professional, and when faced with a problem, discussion and group decision making become your greatest asset. 

Risk-taking and adventurous 

Although the field is rapidly growing, Marketing Operations individuals will frequently find themselves in uncharted waters at any organization, since much of the role deals with identifying and solving previously-unrecognized problems. Getting creative and being unafraid to try something new is a skill all professionals in this area are comfortable with, and you should be prepared to take on the challenge of mapping out new ways to do things. Especially as you manage a marketing tech stack, you’ll find that calculated risks are sometimes the most effective means of implementing change and optimizing your marketing efforts.

Go-getter and assertive

Even with the increasing appreciation for the benefits a Marketing Operations team provides, organizations can be slow to process exactly how they need to change to move with an ever-evolving marketing landscape. As an operations leader, part of your job is to help leadership understand what improvements need to be made, and how they’ll help reach revenue targets. Especially for professionals in organizations that don’t have bigger Marketing Operations teams, assertiveness will assist you in pushing through changes, be they modifications to set processes or the adoption of a new marketing technology, that will have a larger impact on goals down the road.

Customer-centricity

To make any improvements, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of what your user is looking for, what their pain points are, and which parts of your organization’s current process are failing to prioritize the customer. A strong grasp on who your users are and why they’re visiting your organization’s website will help you better visualize how to plan and implement campaigns that resonate with them. Marketing operations people often work closely with sales and other revenue teams to get an accurate picture of who they’re targeting and how they can tailor their efforts more closely to what their ICP is looking for. 

Organized and efficient

Compared to other types of marketers, Marketing Operations professionals are dedicated to making processes more efficient and clear. When it comes to managing a marketing tech stack, it’s important to be organized and keep track of how each tool is performing, which can help you identify potential shortcomings and improvements to be made. Organization is also helpful when it comes to tracking analytics and creating a story for leadership about how certain strategies are performing—from start to finish, keeping a clear record of how campaigns are running is key to aligning your enter company on marketing’s goals.

Debugging

Perhaps one of the more technical aspects of the role, working with marketing platforms also means dealing with whatever issues may arise when something breaks or an outage occurs. It falls on Marketing Operations to manage a marketing tech stack and troubleshoot issues quickly in order to get the system back online and functioning as expected. Depending on how often breakages occur, technical skills are also required to make an informed evaluation of whether every technology is bringing value to the organization, or causing more trouble that it’s worth. During an outage, being able to debug your technologies is critical to minimize impact on revenue or lost leads.

Managing a budget

As the decision-makers of the marketing team, Marketing Operations is normally given a budget to use to help optimize processes and ensure the team is performing at a high quality. The Marketing Operations team works closely with the broader marketing team as well as other revenue teams to allocate spend to areas that will have the most impact on performance. Be it a new technology, a certain campaign strategy, or even a new team member to help increase capacity, it’s important to be able effectively manage a budget and evaluate where it would bring the most value.

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