3 Marketing Operations Musts as Marketing Shifts to Digital

BY: Jason Raisleger

PUBLISHED: 5/21/2020

For some, shifting budget dollars to digital activities has been part of your strategic plan all along, while for others, our current world situation has accelerated your efforts. Between increasing customer communications to the regrouping from canceled events to improving digital personalization, everyone wants more (and better!) digital marketing— and now.

As a result, marketing operations teams are undoubtedly feeling the squeeze. And, workloads aren’t likely to ease up either. So, what can you do to help your team align with your organization’s digital goals without drowning? These items are our absolute “musts” for anyone in marketing operations to successfully navigate the shift to digital.

Set and Communicate SLAs…and Stick to Them 

Service-level agreements. Many of these start with the best of intentions but inevitably become pushed aside when projects become rushed, and exceptions are made for extraordinary circumstances. However, when all requests for the marketing operations team become “ASAP,” SLAs become more difficult. Do you comply with the request or enforce the SLA?

Our advice: don’t let your SLAs completely crumble. With a stronger shift to digital, the requests will continue to pour in – and having SLAs in place can act as an appropriate line of defense to keep your team from being completely inundated. These agreements are also integral to helping your team schedule and budget time appropriately. And, when upheld and communicated within your organization, they also help others anticipate when requests need to be made, instead of making everything a rush order. Of course, this isn’t to say you should never be flexible as true emergencies will arise, but having a standard in place will help qualify what’s truly urgent and what’s just poor planning. 

SLAs will obviously look different between organizations and teams, but in general, establish an agreed-upon timeline and expected turnaround for any given request. As an example, for an email campaign, you should set deadlines for key steps of the process.

It’s also important to note that in the absence of or a rushed SLA, mistakes are more prone to happen. Though people who aren’t in marketing operations may perceive the process to be all about the build stage, we all know there’s so much more to it. The QA and review steps of an appropriate build are when seemingly small errors are caught…and they are also the steps that usually get cut when the MOPS team is in a hurry. Beware of shortcuts or bypassing the process to meet a deadline!

Be Consistent with UTMs

As your marketing team continues to put in more time and effort transitioning to digital initiatives, make sure that your efforts are being tracked and accounted for. This means getting your UTMs in order.

It’s up to you to define the structure of how your team creates and tracks UTMs, and it should go without saying that consistency is imperative. After all, how will you be able to draw meaningful conclusions from inconsistent data?

In reality, without an appropriate taxonomy in place, it can be too easy for the creation (and resulting tracking) of UTMs to get muddled. It’s also worth mentioning that if you don’t have a strong taxonomy in place and you have more than one marketing operations person creating UTMs, different conventions between people can quickly become an issue in tracking. Obviously, if people aren’t filling out UTMs properly or with the same conventions, your reporting won’t carry the weight that it should and the validity of your reports will be questioned.

To help your team establish structure in your own UTM creation and tracking, we recommend downloading our Example Channel and Offer Tracking guide. Additionally, you may want to consider a tool to further automate the process, such as Terminus. Terminus is a UTM building and organization tool that allows you to create multiple UTMs with different sources, mediums, and other parameters for the same URL, rather than doing one at a time in a spreadsheet by copy-pasting. In short: it can save your team a lot of time and headaches.

Create multiple URLs with different tags

Whatever direction is best for your team, by creating and enforcing a consistent taxonomy, you can be confident in the data you’re providing when asked for the metrics of how each campaign performed. The bottomline: consistency is king.

Educate Others About Marketing Operations

Marketing operations staff often miss out on strategic discussions within their organizations…and it’s a big missed opportunity. From daily, hands-on work with valuable customer data, you have keen insights, observations, a wealth of analytical knowledge, not to mention an eye for spotting pivotal moments within marketing opportunities— so share what you know!

“Until MOPS can influence strategic decisions, all of us will be in a vicious cycle of squandering marketing efforts,” commented Helen Abramova, Marketing Technology Lead, and 3X Marketo Champion. “In the digital era, there is no strategy without execution. There is no big vision without a deep understanding of how things are done. Start listening to your marketing operations personnel— we have a lot to share. Especially today.”

Helen hit the nail on the head. Marketing operations teams have much more to bring to the table than just building and executing campaigns – but it’s unfortunately rare for MOPS to be included in bigger picture conversations. The reason for this gap is usually a simple one: a lack of education on the role that marketing operations plays within an organization at large.

As companies shift to digital, right now is the ideal time to educate others within your organization, particularly upper management, on the deep abilities of the marketing operations team. As an example, the marketing operations team of a luxury appliance manufacturer was able to draw strategic data insights to guide the organization through the pandemic by identifying the top activities influencing a purchase, adjusting lead scoring for engagement with those activities, and then increasing the frequency of reporting to stakeholders.

“It’s extremely important, especially now, to be connected at an executive level in order to have that support for what we want to do,” said Justin Norris, Director of Solutions Architecture. “Use the opportunity to try to get a standing meeting on the calendar with your CMO or VP of Marketing to have that discussion and get alignment on your roadmap.”

A larger shift to digital will bring attention to marketing operations— and yes, more work. Do your best to prepare your team for what’s to come— and shameless plug, if you need immediate help with expanding your capacity, talk to us. In the meantime, take this opportunity to directly communicate service-level agreements, tighten up your tracking efforts, and forge deeper relationships within your organization to better position your team moving forward.