*Best Practice for Maximising Marketing Operations
By Jodie Byass
Best Practices for Marketing Operations
Following on from our article “What is Marketing Operations?” - here.
It can be easy to limit marketing to only customer interactions. After all, the marketing department leads communication between the company and its target audience. As necessary as that side of marketing is, it’s powerless without a strong organizational structure and cross-department support; a function that we often look to marketing operations to fulfil.
This has become increasingly important with the rise of digital transformation, and the explosion of Marketing Technology (MarTech) which while positively contributing to growth for many companies, may also lead to increased confusion, bottlenecking or poor execution when managed, used or implemented poorly.
Fortunately, these are all things that marketing best practices should minimize or remove completely. While one strategy alone can’t maximize marketing operations while minimizing potential traps and risks, the below best practices work well as a system, with each one addressing the most common flaws in marketing operations.
So what steps can you implement to optimize your marketing department? Let’s start with the building block of marketing: campaigns.
In marketing terms, campaign management refers to the planning, rollout, tracking, reporting, and analysis of a given campaign. Marketing teams are trained to execute campaigns, but complications arise when managing multiple campaigns or dealing with new technology. Still, there are a few things marketers can do to maximize their campaign operations – both externally (customers) and internally (operations).
1. Create measurable campaigns
A measurable campaign has three qualities:
A quantifiable goal
Key performance indicators
Clearly defined expectations from the stakeholders
These qualities create a system of accountability that ensures that a campaign’s success can be judged effectively. A quantifiable goal helps both marketing and sales teams by creating a material target that can be aimed for. Key performance indicators are metrics that will be tracked throughout the campaign. These metrics will provide insights on operations as they’re performed so campaign leaders can see problems as they arise while tracking progress.
Stakeholder expectations aren’t key to creating a successful campaign, but they’ll be present in any campaign that requires investment. What the marketing team defines as success won’t always be what stakeholders have in mind, so it always helps to get a clear idea of the outcomes they expect.
2. Goal setting with each department in mind
Just like stakeholders, other departments may have a different understanding of the goal to the marketing team. The finance department has a mandate outside of campaign building, as do sales, customer support, and management in all those departments.
Once you create a goal, it helps to review how adjacent departments are meant to work towards it in their own capacity. When briefing, define the goal according to each department’s function, not just marketing’s.
3. Lean on Agile principles
The Agile Manifesto is a set of 12 principles designed to create flexibility within operations. They include creating shorter production cycles (campaign cycles, in this case) so companies can reach the market quickly and consistently. This returns more market data at a faster rate, which is then used to refine the next campaign and the operation behind it.
Many of these best practices could be explained through one of the Agile principles. Rather fittingly, the 12th Agile principle summarises them all pretty well:
“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”
4. Stronger cross-department integration (sales, product, finance, etc)
Just as goals need to be explained within the context of each department, marketing leads should also understand what other departments need from them. A culture of cross-department collaboration is one built on agility, communication, and a collective push towards a common goal.
This will need marketing heads who actively engage with management from sales, finance, customer support, and even the IT department. Leaders here will benefit from understanding how marketing operations impact other departments and vice versa. This is the level of collaboration needed to minimize friction while streamlining cross-department processes.
5. Resource allocation based on support needs
Even within their departments, marketing heads need to be proactive in understanding the needs of their team. Proactivity is the keyword here. Even the most trusted and open team leader won’t get all the information they need by simply waiting on team members to come forward.
There are two reasons behind this. One, most team members are so preoccupied with their tasks that they don’t have the time to come forward with their needs. Two, team members can feel like expressing their needs is a form of complaint or an admission that they’re not good enough. No responsible team leader would come to that conclusion – let alone express it directly – but that doesn’t change the fact that the stress of asking for support is the biggest reason people don’t.
When it comes to resource allocation, marketing heads will need to know which areas in their departments need what. This means setting time aside and creating channels where team members can offer insights and yes, even critiques. Honing in on under-supported areas is a fact-finding mission, not a blame game. When everyone in the department treats it as such, it’s easier to collect insights for resource allocation.
6. Streamlining marketing workflow management
The word “operations” often feels very static, because it usually describes the structure. Workflow, on the other hand, is about the rate at which processes move from initiation to completion. It emphasizes how to get things done correctly and on time. To do this, it helps to understand the factors that disrupt workflow.
More often than not, disruption can be divided into two categories: bottlenecks and active disrupters. Active disruptors tend to be individual actions like replying late to emails or producing poor reports that complicate matters down the line. Bottlenecks imply systemic disruptions (i.e. the setup itself is the problem).
Factors that contribute to bottlenecking include:
Lack of automation in administrative tasks
Poorly constructed communication channels (e.g. too many intermediaries between the marketing team and stakeholders)
Lack of digital transformation (e.g. reliance on physical documents and storage over cloud networks)
A workflow can only be streamlined if all three factors are addressed. This is why it’s important to collaborate with other teams like IT while nurturing proper cross-department communication.
Speaking of digital transformation, data also plays a key role in maximizing marketing operations. When assessing how to optimize data, marketing heads should consider two factors: data hygiene and actionable analytics.
7. Data hygiene
Data hygiene is the process of ensuring the integrity and “cleanliness” of data. This is done by running regular quality checks on existing data sets. Typically, when cleaning data, you want to look out for:
Improperly categorized data
Corrupted or outdated data
Incorrect formatting (this could be as simple as MS Excel automatically changing the date-month arrangement on dates when converting datasets to spreadsheets)
Practicing data hygiene will also help you hone in on certain problems in the data collection process. If a dataset is particularly unhygienic, it always helps to evaluate the processes and people responsible for populating it.
8. Data analysis
A clear, actionable report is the holy grail of marketing operations – at least where operations are concerned. Actionable reports detail problems while also providing enough information to construct solutions. Actionable reporting is about presenting data clearly, while also keeping the report’s audience in mind by offering clear steps on how that data can be used and what the benefits are.
Ultimately, optimized operations should always build towards actionable reports.
Maximizing marketing operations isn’t easy, but it doesn’t need to be complicated either. These steps are to help you find inherent flaws in the system, devise solutions, and future-proof operations. If you can do all that, you’re well on your way to creating an efficient and agile system.