We’re constantly on the lookout for new industry influencers and practitioners to interview, and one name that kept popping up among my colleagues was Alexa Bleecker, Trusteer WW Demand Generation and Digital Marketing. Unlike most other Marketing Operations practitioners, Alexa started in an Ops role. She didn’t migrate as it grew into its own discipline (that is to say, she didn’t carry over any bad pre-digital habits like the rest of us). And this gives her a distinct perspective on the role’s evolving challenges and opportunities.
In many ways, however, Alexa’s comments corroborate much of what we’ve learned from previous conversations we’ve had with Marketing Ops experts. For example, she highlights how not only are MarOps practitioners expected to be tech-savvy, but must also possess a desire to test boundaries – or as Alexa puts it: “an innate sense of inquisitiveness.” And she too points out Ops’ growing focus on connecting marketing systems in order to improve customer experiences and automate processes. In all, her responses present a concise yet insightful glimpse at the developing discipline.
Q: In your role at Trusteer, you manage many back-office processes and systems. How did you end up in your position and what would you say are the top three skills needed to do it well?
Alexa: When I first started working at Trusteer, I was hired to help with both sales and marketing operations, so working in the background, learning the systems and understanding how leads are consumed in the sales organization comes along with the territory. For one, I think comfort with new technology is key – like hearing “API” and getting excited instead of getting freaked out.
Secondly, being process-driven. Being process-oriented isn’t enough anymore – Marketing Ops professionals have to be driven by process. I am constantly measuring and analyzing data, so anytime I can find a way to automate, I will. In the long run, it really helps me to think about the end-to-end cycle in order to achieve the end goal of turning raw data into meaningful information for sales and marketing executives.
Lastly, having an innate sense of inquisitiveness is also important. There are always new things to experiment with, whether it’s technology or best practices or learning from A/B testing results, and that natural curiosity is definitely going to provide value in a marketing operations role.
Q: What are a few of the key opportunities/challenges Trusteer is currently facing, and in what ways is your team leveraging new technology and associated processes to drive success?
Alexa: I like how you word that – opportunities/challenges. Providing a consistent customer experience with personalized messaging across channels is becoming increasingly difficult with all the different ways they can interact with us – across mobile, web, social. We want to connect the dots of customer and prospect experiences in ways that are valuable to them. The more that we can integrate our web tools, apps, and other technology, the better we can provide a streamlined online experience for our customers. That’s why we are so happy with Integrate – we can use the demand generation platform to not only manage our publishers, but we can also add on web banners, ads, and new assets at any time to get the right message across to our audience at the right time.
Q: Technology investments can often fail due to issues unrelated to the technology itself. As someone who regularly oversees tech implementations and vendor relationships, what do you see as common pitfalls to new tech implementation and what are a few ways marketers can overcome these issues?
Alexa: It’s easy to not take training of a new technology seriously and maybe even foregoing the training sessions in the initial phases of implementation, but it’s essential to getting the most out of the tool, and frankly, the money that was spent towards the tool. Requiring training for both end-users and power-users best positions the solution for success. I've found that gaining the buy-in and support from other functions is also helpful. It fosters the integration of data across sales, marketing and finance and can ultimately increase user adoption. I would highly recommend establishing KPIs to qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate the technology after a period of time – Is the technology doing what you intended at a rate that you expected? If not, how can you work with the vendor to meet your KPIs?
Q: How do you see the role of Marketing Operations evolving over time? Will it be much different in two years?
Alexa: With the inevitable increase of SaaS and web-based marketing services, the role of Marketing Operations will expand to prove ROI – and improve ROI – for more marketing services, technologies and activities than ever. While I can't predict what it will be like in two years, I do see a trend in companies building out marketing operations teams instead of just assigning one person to manage the campaigns, automation, vendor relationships, budget, reporting and all the other responsibilities that can be deemed "Ops" because Marketing Operations as a function has demonstrated its value by directly impacting the bottom line. Overall, Marketing Operations has become the strategic advisor to the marketing organization and I think that relationship will certainly continue to flourish over the coming years.