The What, Why, and How of Marketing Operations (MOPs)
by Sarah O'Neill, on 7 September, 2021
Mops. Such an important instrument for any business. I mean, what happens when Sandra from HR drops an entire mug of toffee-nut latte on the floor? What are we supposed to do, use kitchen roll like animals? Wait, not that type of mop?
Not that long ago, the Marketing Operations role didn't exist. Instead, project managers were subbed in by the marketing department on an ad hoc basis, and to help run extensive campaigns.
Now, 60% of large tech companies have hired staff into a formal Marketing Operations role. So, what is it? Why do you need it? How does it help? All these questions, and more, will be answered in this article.
Well, not more, because that covers "what, why and how", and that's what the title says. Don't be greedy.
What is Marketing Operations?
The job of a marketing ops professional is pretty complex. To the point where no two individuals have the same work and responsibilities. So, it's easier to define the role by different metrics, including typical responsibilities, expertise, and benefits of introducing the role within your company.
Basically, MOPs is all the processes that go on behind the scenes of a marketing team. It encompasses the functions of the marketing organisation to ensure the marketing team is successful. This might mean working with the people, systems and technology, and making sure they operate efficiently, and to scale.
MOPs is the backbone of a marketing team. It can deliver planning, governance, and support, in order to allow your marketing team to focus on their jobs - delivering value.
Why do you need a MOPs team?
A bunch of marketing decisions come down to one simple flaw: not having the right information about your target audience.
When people think of MOPs, they think number crunching, and automated processes. But really, a good marketing ops analyst can interpret a bunch of messy numbers, and fill in any missing gaps. They use their knowledge and insights to help the marketing team improve all things 'customer,' be it experience or engagement.
Marketing ops can also focus on improving processes and collaboration across teams. Through coordinating parts of the marketing organisational structure, and product management roles, MOPs management can connect the dots between strategy and execution. This means campaign messaging is aligned and on the same page, teams are collaborating correctly, and every step is being taken alongside the CMOs vision and business objectives.
A TLDR; MOPs work to combine processes, metrics and tech to support the entire marketing organisation. This is useful.
In small teams, marketing operations can be handled by the marketing manager, but larger teams may have a marketing operations manager.
Marketing operations managers prove marketing value to stakeholders, whilst also:
- Hiring talent
- Having technical oversight of the marketing stack
- Establishing, maintaining and scaling processes for marketing campaigns
- Optimising reports
- Analysing data
- Training employees
- Developing career paths
- Managing workflow
- Maintain and monitor data quality
- Communicating metrics with upper management
- and more!
This all involves a bunch of collaboration with many different individuals, over a number of different processes and roles.
Another role that can be introduced is the Marketing Ops Specialist. These professionals manage the day-to-day details of data or programme management in marketing operations and report to the Marketing Ops Managers.
They may be responsible for executing system and data integrations, managing ad buys and marketing databases, implementing MarTech, and tracking data and reports. This role is very data-heavy, and may be the first step on the ladder for many people getting into MOPs.
But all of this varies depending on a company's approach to marketing operations. The way an organisation chooses to do marketing ops depends on the size, the business model, and industry.
Dan McGaw expands on Dave Rigoti in Bizible’s article titled The 3 Major Job Functions of a Marketing Operations Professional, by adding "process" as a category of necessary skill sets for MOPs.
- Technology. This is the area with the strongest association to marketing ops, says McGaw.
- Data. Expertise in data is pretty essential to succeed in MOPs. It is the way to act on the insights that the tech put in place provides, plus you'll need to be sure that the data is flowing properly within the stack.
- Process. This is essential to moving your marketing forward, says McGaw. It decided how tech and data are applied, and how they're communicated to the team.
- Alignment. "Alignment experience is applied to enable the whole team to use the data and technology," says McGraw. "This can happen in the form of training, decision-making support and leadership, planning, and establishing communication routines."
The bigger the company, however, the more complex the operations. A big company means more tech, more data, and more processes. But, according to PieSync, it still needs to built with a few key thoughts in mind:
- Use reliable apps that gel well with your team
- Use processes that work alongside, and for, your team
- Keep up to date with budget management and tracking
- Keep Data clean and updated
- Maintain a strong alignment with sales processes, data, tech, and people
- Have the right people, in the right roles.
How do MOPs improve your business?
Like we've mentioned above, this completely depends on how big your business is, and a few other characteristics.
In terms of company size: $10M is the threshold for when some companies tend to have roles dedicated to marketing ops, with $50M being the threshold where almost all companies have a dedicated team.
In terms of company type: B2B companies are the most likely to implement a marketing ops team. A B2C company may consider the roles if they are trying to scale their product and/or have a high lead value.
Plus, software or tech companies are likely to hire MOPs roles, as they have a systematic and data-first approach to growth, which works well with a marketing operations team.
IDC recently reported that nearly 60% of large technology firms have hired staff into a formal Marketing Operations role, and Andy Hasselwander suggests that B2B companies in the Fortune 500 may begin to hire staff for defined Marketing Operations departments.
But the behaviours and outputs of a MOPs role can also be utilised by smaller companies, in a less direct way. Marketers at small organisations can utilise the process ability, marketing accountability, and streamlined infrastructure employed by MOPs, despite not having a distinct department.
In this way, the CMO can make every marketer into a marketing operations manager, using vision, specific hiring and training choices, and technological support. Then, the team's ability can be seen through a number of different metrics, including whether campaigns are launched on time, and within budget, whether employee retention is high, whether data is accurate, and whether you have clear reporting workflows in place.
Without marketing operations, either as a distinct team or as a mindset and behavioural switch, it becomes much more difficult to target the right clients. Plus, it adds issues when ensuring your team understands which buyer's stage a prospect is in, and where they fall in your personas.
If you dismiss the need for MOPs, everything becomes much more laborious, time-consuming, and manual, and virtually impossible to scale.