Marketing operations is among the most challenging disciplines in the modern B2B marketing organization. A task list from one of today’s most highly effective marketing ops pros may include process innovation, data management, marketing tech optimization and collaboration with the marketing, sales and customer success teams.
While there's little question that technology is critical to the success of B2B marketing orgs, some of today's top marketing ops specialists focus extensively on process improvements. A small, well-integrated MarTech stack can outperform a larger ecosystem of fragmented pieces. The most effective marketing technology stack is one which effectively and efficiently integrates data, processes and people.
The roles and responsibilities of marketing operations are growing on a quarterly basis. However, the need for leaders with marketing ops skills in continual process improvement is unlikely to disappear in the foreseeable future. While marketing best practices and technology may be evolving rapidly, there’s a need for organizations to increase automation and efficiency in the entire demand marketing process.
6 Inspiring Marketing Ops Innovators
How do some of today’s most effective marketing operations process innovators approach continual improvements? Drawing from 33 Marketing Operations Game Changers, we’ve curated some of the top philosophies, technologies and strategies which inform results at leading B2B organizations. While no two organizations or individuals profiled are the same, common threads emerged around technological agility, scalability and continual performance improvement.
1. Yuko Takagi | Director, Marketing Operations at Elastic
Building a MarTech stack which can accommodate 100% year-over-year (YoY) growth has been an integral part of Yuko’s role at Elastic. She says,
“If you have something that works but it is very manual, then the Marketing Operations machine will break. Before new processes are launched you have to ask yourself – will this work when we have to do double [or] triple the amount?”
To support her organization’s rapid growth at scale, Yuko has adopted Alteryx for agile, predictive analytics. She also relies on Zapier to create data integrations across Elastic’s ecosystem of MarTech.
2. Tim West | Senior Marketing Operations Manager at Box
The phrase "fully optimized" is not a part of Tim's vocabulary, by his admission. Instead, he's a firm believer in continually driving process innovations in response to real-time data and insight. West says,
“The ability to see data in real time and to be relentlessly agile has enabled marketing to generate more opportunities than ever before.”
To solve his organization's critical challenge of creating an agile lead generation process and routing system to achieve monthly and quarterly pipeline goals, Tim uses Tableau to identify business intelligence trends through custom dashboards.
Other tools integral to Tim’s process innovation efforts are Allocadia for marketing performance analysis and Conversica for artificial intelligence-supported sales enablement.
3. Jim D'Arcangelo | High-Growth Marketing Tech Consultant
Jim has spent over a decade in the marketing operations management field and has witnessed a significant evolution in the role, due to both expanding tech systems and internal expectations. Jim says,
“A marketing ops leader needs to be an expert in not only building out people processes and systems, but ready and able to tear down, integrate and build multiple systems; transition and build out teams and related processes; and drive quality lead and lifecycle output fast.”
Drawing from his extensive MarTech background, Jim believes that every B2B marketing organization needs a robust marketing automation platform (MAP) and customer relationship management (CRM) system at the core. He relies on Marketo and Salesforce.
To enhance these essential systems, Jim recommends Radius for lead sourcing, Uberflip for content experience and analytics and Integrate for demand orchestration.
4. Josh Hill | Sr. Director of Lead Lifecycle Management at RingCentral
In John Hill's experience, MarTech is only one piece of the marketing operations challenge. He believes aligning people and process with technology is every bit as critical to the success of his role as a marketing operations process innovator. Josh says,
"If you come to the table ready to do more than manage data and attribution reporting that can be a big win. Less technical marketers want to create customer experiences and look to us to build the underlying infrastructure to support the experience, make it wonderful and help us understand if this experience influenced a decision to buy."
Josh believes organizations should take a technology blueprint approach to MarTech adoption. This approach involves carefully evaluating the pros and cons of point solutions versus platforms and considering tool removal to avoid tech saturation. Josh says,
“Adding tools should scale the organization, not increase the things you need to watch.”
If you've not yet created a visual map of your MarTech systems to illustrate how they work together and identify gaps in your strategy, Integrate has a free resource that can help. The "Marketing Tech Blueprint Workbook" contains all the guidance you need to create your blueprint. You can grab a copy here.
5. Frances McCutchon | Director of Marketing at PFL.com
Frances drives “crisp execution” of goals through a commitment to celebrating her team and a realistic attitude towards marketing technology. In her experience, marketing operations process innovation is a matter of “ongoing strategic shifts.” She says,
"Don't just go for the latest shiny tool. Can you find a way to get multiple uses from one tool? And don’t be shy about changing tools – if you don’t have good adoption or if it’s not easy to use, move on.”
Several technologies which have earned a permanent place in Frances's MarTech stack for content experience at PFL.com include Marketo and Seismic. She also uses Trello as a platform for collaboration and project management.
6. Linda Fitzek | Vice President of Business Operations at Everstring
Linda believes the goal of marketing ops is to “make the marketer look good,” or to establish process improvements which allow seamless execution by the B2B marketing team. In her role at Everstring, Linda has successfully met the challenges of facilitating global collaboration, created an operations playbook and established processes for tracking. Her approach to process improvement is highly collaborative. She says,
“I would recommend taking the time to sit down with your marketing team and discuss the KPIs that are most critical to each of them, decide where these metrics are collected from and document it! The ops pro can then allow autonomy within the team, while maintaining an element of control, critical to the budget and planning process.”
When asked to identify her top three tools for useful marketing operations process innovation, Linda points to EverString for marketing and sales intelligence. She also relies on Engagio for account-based marketing and BrightFunnel for attribution and forecasting.
What Leading Marketing Ops Process Innovators Do Differently
While the six leading professionals profiled here represent very different B2B organizations and goals, there's a common theme which unites their approach to marketing operations process innovation. All six emphasize the importance of orchestration when it comes to creating processes that serve the organization.
While the marketing operations leader is likely to be among the more technically skilled members of the B2B marketing organization, their role also involves creating a MarTech stack and technology-enabled processes which support marketers. Active technology portfolio management is key to optimizing technology investments and technology-supported processes.
To make sense of your marketing technology budget and gain instant access to step-by-step guidance and free worksheets, download The Marketing Tech Blueprint.
Continual Improvements to Marketing Operations Process
When asked about her role in marketing operations management, Yuko Takagi says,
“Challenges aren’t the hard part of the job – it is the job.”
B2B marketing operations management professionals must be prepared to embrace dynamic working conditions and solve new challenges on a daily basis. Inspired by the attitudes and successes of the highly effective marketing operations managers, taking a human-centered approach to driving process improvement and automation can put the organization in a position to scale.
Want to learn more about how game-changing marketing operations managers approach their work? Download the free eBook: Secrets and Strategies of Marketing Ops Game Changers