The definitive guide to marketing operations (MOps)

Marketing operations professionals

If you’ve heard the term “marketing operations,” or “MOps,” but don’t know what it means, you could be missing a key component of efficient business processes. If you’ve noticed that your marketing team seems to struggle with staying organized or hitting goals, MOps can provide a framework for consistent workflows and clear communication.

To get you started, this post will cover:

What is marketing operations?

Marketing operations (MOps) is any collection of processes and procedures that streamlines and optimizes the work of your marketing team. Marketing operations combines technology, data, and people to direct and simplify the creation of marketing strategies — creating more efficient and consistent outcomes. This guidance could include setting milestones and goals for success, overseeing digital platforms and software, and many more responsibilities.

Marketing operations (MOps) diagram

Scope — what MOps actually does

Marketing operations can cover a multitude of functions depending on your company’s needs and strengths. Implementing MOps will look different for each company, but MOps is ultimately responsible for maintaining the functions of the marketing department.

Every MOps department will look different, but the basic functions are the same.

  1. Strategic planning. The marketing ops team is responsible for the marketing departments overall strategy and individual campaign strategies — from themes, to channels, budget, schedules and more.
  2. Performance analysis and reporting. MOps will either establish or oversee the marketing team’s selection of KPIs as well as regular reporting against those metrics.
  3. Marketing data management. Marketing operations is ultimately responsible for customer data used by the marketing team, making sure it’s complete and unified for the team to use.
  4. Competitive intelligence research. The MOps manager will usually implement and oversee research on competitors’ marketing strategies and tactics.
  5. Creative process management. Marketers are creative and creatives aren’t known for their focus and efficiency. MOps helps provide space for the marketing team while also keeping them on track.
  6. Process development, implementation, and documentation. Marketing teams need to be agile and forward-thinking. Marketing ops helps plan, execute, and then report on new marketing processes so the department never gets stagnant.
  7. Project and campaign management. In addition to establishing and overseeing the big picture, MOps manages daily creative processes as well, to make sure the whole team is on schedule.
  8. Benchmarking. Marketing operations helps evaluate the company’s marketing strategies and efforts by keeping benchmarks up to date.
  9. Marketing technology management. MarTech stacks are always growing and MOps is responsible for keeping it focused, integrated, and secure.
  10. Compliance management. Marketing teams collect a lot of user data and marketing operations helps keep it secure and compliant.

Four benefits of marketing operations

Organizing and establishing a new internal team can be a project, but it’s worth the investment — as many business leaders know. A Demandbase report found that use of marketing ops software has grown 228% in the past 10 years and the number of MOps professionals has increased by 66%.

Marketing operations offers many benefits to any organization. Here are a few of the biggest reasons for this rapid growth.

Enable digital transformation

A B2B Marketing survey revealed that 93% of industry professionals said marketing operations is crucial to delivering digital transformation. That’s because the ever-expanding list of tools and technologies that marketers use requires some wrangling to function seamlessly.

93% of professionals said marketing operations is crucial to digital transformation

Improve monitoring and reporting

Marketing operations ensures guidelines are being met by tracking and documenting tasks, campaign progress, and results. This oversight and organization creates more efficient processes, which is especially important for compliance monitoring and reporting.

Organize assets and collateral

Part of a marketing operations strategy is asset management. Keeping marketing materials organized lets them be readily available and easy to find so the marketing team stays on task, meets deadlines, and improves efficiencies.

Define roles

With a marketing operations plan, the responsibilities on the team are divided and assigned so there is no duplicated effort and no tasks neglected or unfinished. Assigning tasks means a more streamlined project from start to finish — with less potential for disorder and project delays.

The marketing operations manager

The marketing operations manager is the person who oversees productivity and processes of the team. A MOps manager administers the digital workspace, outlines success metrics, and advances new marketing tactics. This role is not part of the creative team but is responsible for the execution of marketing strategy as well as the technology and analytics involved in planning and reporting.

One of the MOps manager’s top priorities is maintaining the technology necessary to organize and operate the marketing team. That includes staying current with new developments and optimizing existing systems. The MOps manager is also responsible for gauging the effectiveness of the company’s marketing efforts and garnering insights for continuous planning and improvement.

To be effective, the marketing operations manager needs a specific skill set. The person in this role must be able to manage multiple projects, interact with stakeholders and leaders, and work well with team members. The marketing operations manager must also be a well developed leader who is able to work with individuals and the marketing team as a whole to set and achieve goals.

How to get started with a marketing operations strategy

Every marketing operations strategy is different, but there are some fundamentals that you should include in your plans.

1. Establish goals and KPIs

The first step is to decide what you want to accomplish and how you will measure progress and success. Be sure you’re setting SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. You also want to clarify the metrics you’ll use to measure your success. This ensures that everyone with a hand in the project understands the process, when you’re making progress toward your goal, and when you’ve reached it.

For example, if a company has a goal of improving email lead gen by 40% year-over-year, you’ll need to ensure this is an achievable goal using the resources you have. You also need a deadline for meeting that goal.

2. Map a strategy toward your goals

Clarifying the steps to achieve a goal is the only way to ensure you’ll get there. Every step of the strategy — from your current status to the ultimate goal — should also be a smaller SMART goal. Each one should be measurable, include a due date or timeline, and be assigned to a specific team member.

In our example, the MOps manager needs to first understand how effective email currently is for lead generation. They can break the 40% goal into 10% quarterly growth goals, and lay out a plan based on which email marketing strategies are currently working best for lead gen.

A marketing operations professional mapping strategy

3. Share the plan internally

How you share your marketing operations plan will differ based on factors like the technology used and your team’s structure. Some ways to share could be digitally, hard copy, or even posted on an office wall or whiteboard.

Share the plan with anyone who will be involved in marketing operations or affected it. You want the buy-in of every relevant person, so the entire team moves in unison toward the goal. You also want to make sure the team’s expectations are reasonable.

Thinking back to our example, if the marketing ops team that’s trying to improve email lead gen is remote or hybrid, a digital plan will serve everyone best. They might use a digital Kanban board or Waterfall project plan that every team member can access from their distributed desks.

4. Execute the plan

When your plan is set and your team is prepped, it’s time to gather the necessary resources to begin work. You’ve assigned tasks so team members know what they need to do, how much time they have, and to whom they should report.

This is where communication becomes even more important. As work continues, you’ll need to be sure team members know the status of the project and you’ll need to keep stakeholders updated, as well. The goal is to manage and communicate the work’s progress through completion.

The MOps manger in our example may help their marketing team work through the plan with daily stand-ups and robust project management software.

5. Review and report

You decided how you would measure success early in the process so hold that metric front and center as steps to the plan are completed. Review progress and report against the expectations and goals that you set, then demonstrate how the marketing team’s success contributes to the goals of other stakeholders and executives.

Checking in on our example one more time, the marketing operations team will review lead generation numbers every month to make sure they’re on track for quarterly and the ultimate YoY goal. When their efforts are successful, the MOps manager will detail for the C-suite how that goal supports the company’s larger goal of increasing revenue.

Marketing operations best practices

Your marketing operations implementation will look different from every other company’s strategy and the steps you take to success will be uniquely yours. But there are some proven best practices that will help you build a successful marketing ops strategy.

Streamline your marketing operations today

The purpose of marketing operations is to optimize the technology and processes the marketing team needs to function. It enables you to manage the increasingly complex tech stack so you can set SMART goals, achieve measurable successes, and optimize the workflow and productivity of the team.

When you’re ready to get started, be sure to clarify the roles and responsibilities that marketing operations will cover so you know exactly what your analytics solution needs to provide for you.

Adobe Marketo Engage can help by putting a complete digital tool kit to work for you. Watch the Marketo Measure video for a more in-depth view and then request a customized Marketo Engage demo.