What is marketing ops?

In Ashley Friedlein's recent 2017 digital trends essay, he identifies marketing transformation as a hot topic.

Ashley says that this could include the (re)integration of digital marketing, the introduction of a CCO (chief customer officer), bringing teams back in house, assessing supplier relationships, zero-based budgeting and marketing ops.

Here's what he has to say about the latter:

The area that I find most interesting is the idea of ‘marketing ops’: the operating system for marketing. This is one effective way of keeping focus but also dealing with complexity and delivering operational efficiency.

Just as (enlightened) IT has ‘dev ops’ it makes absolute sense to me that marketing needs ‘marketing ops’. Marketing is adopting ‘agile’ from the world of tech (incorrectly in many cases, but still…) and could do well to adopt ‘ops’. 

Justin Dunham of Urban Airship gave a talk at the MarTech Europe conference in November and attempted to explain the concept of marketing ops, its principles and how it draws on lessons learned from DevOps.

Here's a very quick digest of some of Dunham’s points, alongside some wider theory.

Marketing ops; a definition

Marketing ops should allow marketing to adapt quickly to changes in the market, in business strategy, and in customer behaviour.

The increasing influence of digital technology in marketing has expanded the scope of marketing ops from project management and governance to areas including: 

  • marketing performance measurement
  • strategic planning guidance and execution
  • resource allocation
  • process development
  • marketing systems and data

Marketing now has tighter relationships with IT, operations and sales, and is considered a driver of efficiency, rather than simply a cost centre, with a concomitant increase in infrastructure, process and reporting.

However, it’s probably easiest to think of marketing ops as planning, process and measurement. Dunham uses the more inspiring word, ‘prioritization, synchronization, execution.’

In layman’s terms: getting stuff done and improving results. Marketing ops does this by managing the more traditional marketing teams that are often aligned with disciplines or with stages of the customer lifecycle.

Dunham sums this up with two example org charts, seen below.

Example one

org structure

Example two

org structure

You may think this long definition of marketing ops is a bit dry. Dunham livens up the outline of marketing ops by providing some generic examples of how it might work, alongside some guiding principles.

Let’s have a look.

Marketing ops; some examples

When it comes to content marketing, Dunham describes the role of marketing ops as tackling questions and tasks such as:

  • What content performs best?
  • Which paid media campaign has been most effective?
  • Make this content available on our site. Deploy this content via email.
  • Can we give the sales team a template to follow up with event attendees?

In product marketing, marketing ops might attempt to answer:

  • Who’s visiting the site?
  • Where are they coming from?
  • What assets are the sales team using?
  • Can we build an ROI calculator?
  • Help us understand who’s in the database.

In Dunham’s third example, he looks at demand generation, where marketing ops may consider:

  • How much revenue does a lead from AdWords generate?
  • What tech can we use on the website to shorten our forms?
  • How can we decrease page load time so we can rank better in Google?
  • Can you suggest some A/B testing ideas to us?

Marketing ops; the principles

Dunham argues that marketing ops relies on collaboration and has four principles. These are: 

  • Accountability through data.
  • Test and learn.
  • Technology as a competitive advantage.
  • Use workflows and process to go quicker.

I’ve seen other definitions of marketing ops which state that ops may manage the so-called ‘six As’. These are:

  • Alignment (marketing with sales and more broadly with the customer and the business)
  • Accountability (metrics, measurement, results)
  • Analytics (including models)
  • Automation (technology infrastructure and training)
  • Alliances (with finance, IT etc.)
  • Assessment (benchmarking and improvement)

Does your organization have a marketing ops function, or is planning to create one? If so, let us know how it is panning out in the comments below.

Ben Davis

Published 20 January, 2017 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

1140 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (0)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.