How to Build a World-Class Marketing Operations Team in 2023

MERGE serves up key insights on how to construct an unstoppable marketing operations team

BY: Lindsay DiLemmo

PUBLISHED: 4/13/2023

As marketing operations teams continue to grow, it’s more important than ever to ensure your team is scaling effectively.

If you’re planning on growing your marketing operations team, here are some pointers from Kate Harmon, Sr. Director, Consulting Services at MERGE, to ensure you’re adding the right talent to your team, tips on how to retain talent, and how to support your team’s growth.

What to Look for When Hiring Marketing Operations Talent

Before you can think about adding headcount to your marketing operations team, you must define the key roles. At a minimum, marketing operations teams should have these three positions:

- Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) Admin: This person is focused on the infrastructure of the chosen MAP.
- Campaign Operations Manager: This person is focused on campaign operations, including execution and reporting.
- Marketing Operations Manager: This person is responsible for strategy and guiding the team.

From here, define the hard and soft skills required for each of these roles.

When looking for a Marketo admin, hard skills reign supreme. Regardless of your chosen MAP, having an expert in your MAP is crucial in getting the most out of your investment. Look at the certifications each candidate holds – if Marketo is your MAP, then you’d want to look for which certifications they hold (Adobe Certified Professional – Adobe Marketo Engage, Adobe Certified Expert – Adobe Marketo Engage Business Practitioner, and Adobe Marketo Engage Architect) and how many years they’ve been working in the platform.

Communication is important in every role, so remember that while hard skills are essential for a Marketo admin, communication and collaboration skills shouldn’t be overlooked.

When it comes to a campaign operations manager, soft skills will be a big focus. Since this person will be collaborating with departments across the organization, someone who can effectively communicate is key. This position is good for someone who may be early in their career and holds an Adobe Certified Professional – Adobe Marketo Engage certification.

How to Retain Marketing Operations Talent

Retaining marketing operations talent can be challenging – the marketing operations space is competitive and companies are willing to pay top-dollar for talent. This means organizations will need to put more effort into talent retention efforts to ensure employees feel valued, appreciated, and challenged in their roles. Here are four tips on retaining marketing operations talent:

#1 – Check-ins: Weekly check-ins are crucial in ensuring team members are feeling satisfied and properly challenged in their roles.

#2 – Offer a competitive salary: You don’t want to be a stepping stone in someone’s career. Be competitive when it comes to salaries and benefits – otherwise, the candidate might jump ship after a year or two.

#3 – Education stipend: Providing an education stipend sends a clear message that you support and encourage your team’s growth.

#4 – Define job responsibilities: Oftentimes in marketing operations roles, individuals are tasked with work beyond what they were originally hired for. Not only can this lead to feelings of frustration, but also burnout.

Having trouble defining roles and responsibilities? A RACI chart “allows you to specify what the roles of each individual are for each task in a project” (Adobe).

Learn how to build your own RACI chart here!

Employee Burnout: How to Avoid This

With marketing operations teams being small and burdened with requests from various departments, they are especially prone to burnout.

Here are two tips on how to alleviate employee burnout:

- Daily scrums: Is your team’s workload realistic? Scrums will help prioritize tasks and ensure individuals have realistic workloads.
- Encourage PTO: Encourage a healthy culture around PTO so team members aren’t afraid to take time off. Lead by example by taking time off and not working outside regular hours.


Three Ways to Support Your Team’s Growth

Continuous improvement is the name of the game in marketing operations. The marketing technology industry is not only highly technical but also constantly evolving. Staying ahead of the curve and learning the latest trends is crucial for marketing operations professionals to be successful.

Here are some tips on how marketing operations managers can support their team’s growth:

#1 – Foster an environment of curiosity and growth

Is your team aware of the marketing operations communities? Since marketing operations teams are smaller by nature, it can be easy to feel lonely. Encourage your team to join communities such as, Marketo User Groups, and Marketo Nation.

Marketo User Groups are a great opportunity to meet marketing operations professionals in real life and depending on where you live, you could potentially meet Marketo Champions.

Not only this but if you make yourself known in these communities and offer help when peers run into issues, this is a great way to rise up as a leader in the space.

#2 – Make recognition part of your team culture

When employees receive recognition at work, they are 5x as likely to see a path to grow in the organization and 73% less likely to “always” or “very often” feel burned out (Workhuman).

Employees feel more valued when the impact of their work is shown. You may want to ask your team how they prefer to be recognized – some may prefer private, one-on-one communications, while others prefer a more public shoutout on Slack.

#3 – Provide consistent and honest feedback

Does your team know their own strengths and weaknesses? Are they aware of their areas of improvement? Open and honest communication is crucial for your team’s development – this will help them excel in their role and move onto the next level.

Create resources and systems that allow for both failures and learning to take place. Leverage your team’s strengths and past successes to help them best prepare for future successes.