9 Ways Marketing Operations Delivers Greater Marketing ROI

Strategy2Execution Posted September 18, 2016

Harken back to 2014, if you will, when pundits from across the marketing industry were predicting the impending explosion of the Marketing Operations function. Venture Beat called it “a key business function,” while MarketingProfs called it a “must have” for best-in-class organizations looking to optimize their returns on their marketing, technology, and infrastructural investments.

Marketing Operations has come a long way since 2014. You could be forgiven for thinking that Marketing Operations (MO) was just another trend in the long list of “things to watch for” in marketing, along the lines of the introduction of Google Glass that same year. But instead, as the North American marketing sector has undergone profound changes over the last several years—from the consolidation of clients’ and agencies’ businesses, to the introduction and ensuing enforcement of CASL, to the increasing influence of the “empowered consumer” on the ways that brands communicate with their target audiences—the Marketing Operations function has only served to gain traction within organizations large and small. Why? Simply put, Marketing Operations delivers higher returns on brands’ Mar-Comm investments, based on more thoroughly planned, executed and measured marketing initiatives that make best use of organizational resources (including technology, people, and financial investments) to drive greater marketing efficiency and agility.

At Vigorate, Marketing Operations is part of our DNA. Over the years, we’ve recognized the following 9 areas where Marketing Operations adds value and delivers greater ROI for marketing organizations:

1. Performance measurement and reporting: A controversial topic, campaign numbers. Some argue that marketing campaigns driven by straight metrics are a serious oversimplification of the complex conceptualization and resulting human behaviours that marketing is trying to influence. [See this thought-provoking article, for example.]

Until some future technology allows for the immediate assessment of each user’s response to marketing messaging, we’re putting our money behind the next best thing: MO teams who are tasked with developing, executing on, and interpreting cross-functional organizational benchmarking that goes well beyond simple campaign metrics like click-throughs to attribute the marketing organization’s value to the sales organization (e.g., cost per lead calculations).

2. Technology, automation, and pipeline management: With their often wide-ranging backgrounds in fields like IT, Business Development, Project Management, and other areas, MO staff are uniquely positioned to discern the value of the multitude of software or platform solutions that purport to helps marketers reach out to customers, keep track of who said and did what and when, and guide prospects and customers toward the required business objectives, whether that’s purchase or repurchase, expand their share of budget, engage with brands, or all of the above.

3. Data management: As we’ve outlined before, some of the biggest challenges faced by digital marketers today have to do with data management. Marketers collect many terabytes of consumer and user data every day, and yet, without some means of synthesizing those many data points, campaigns will only ever activate against a diluted picture of the target audience.

Enter the MO function—tasked with maintaining all of the various data streams from multiple internal and external sources; streamlining processes to assimilate the data once it’s in marketers’ systems; architecting data and processes to improve the user experience of customers and marketers alike; and, integrating data segmentation and list-building across multiple users, campaigns, and systems, for more effective and agile 1:1 targeting of marketing messaging.

4. Workflow process development and documentation: MO personnel bridge the gaps between the strategic, creative, technology, and operational facets of their business. Thus, they’re able to oscillate between high-level, strategic brand oversight and the nitty-gritty, ‘roll up your sleeves and get ’er done’ mentality that’s often required in the marketing industry. This inherent flexibility means that MO professionals are especially well suited to developing and optimizing processes that allow for smoother roll-out of marketing plans, including budgeting and planning, lead management, and campaign execution using marketing technology (e.g., cloud and automation platforms).

5. Project management: It takes a certain type of skillset to be a good project manager, and because MO professionals often come from this background, it means that organizations who enlist the help of an MO team (whether in-house or outsourced) can focus their attention on areas that present greater strategic opportunity for their brands—like devising lead nurturing programs that will convert suspects into prospects and prospects into loyal customers—and let the MO experts take care of the execution.

6. Strategic planning and execution: The MO function has a vested interest in building alignment between all teams that interact with consumers. Otherwise, the systems they work so hard to develop can break down, and everyone loses—including customers. This is why it’s so important to get MO teams involved in strategic planning, as they’re able to balance short- and long-term strategic thinking, mutual value, and collective interests, and apply them to a whole host of processes that keep the organization moving forward efficiently and effectively—annual operating plans; portfolio development; marketing strategy and planning; alliances, partnerships, and competitive moves; brand messaging and outreach; and engagement, both externally and internally.

7. Analytics and predictive modelling: With their strategic position as conduit between the creative and the operational parts of the marketing organization, MO teams are opportunely situated to build processes and policies that improve line-of-sight across marketing efforts, metrics, systems, and data, which allows for more efficient marketing initiatives that reach business goals more quickly and with less investment of time and resources.

8. Internal intelligence: With hands in many of the moving parts of the marketing organization, MO personnel can minimize duplicated efforts by extending processes that bring awareness throughout the organization and leveraging many of the above-described roles to make precious resources stretch further.

9. Talent and skills development: Though also sometimes a responsibility of in-house MO teams, smart marketing organizations enlist MO professionals to bridge gaps in their skillset, especially when they don’t have the precise expertise or bandwidth, lack the required technological tools or know-how, want to focus on insights rather than operations, or want to upgrade their internal capabilities with input from the pros in these areas.

 In our evolving industry, one consistent thread that binds smart marketing organizations and brings all the pieces of the marketing puzzle together is the MO function.

How does your organization make use of Marketing Operations? Do your MO personnel perform any additional roles that we missed above? Weigh in with your comments or contact us directly to tell us what you think.