MOps Talent Crisis 5 Ways to Stay Ahead of the Curve

BY: Lindsay DiLemmo

PUBLISHED: 9/22/2021

Marketing operations is booming as a functional role in enterprise and high-growth organizations. With more organizations investing in digital-first strategies and marketing automation, we’ve been faced with the unthinkable: a shortage of marketing operations talent.

Sure, the talent shortage isn’t only related to MOps. According to The State of Online Recruiting 2021 Report, 77 percent of companies anticipate a talent shortage, and out of those 6,370 participating companies, 86.2 percent are actively hiring. Which leads us to our first question…

What is Causing the Marketing Operations Talent Shortage?


Increased Demand: As a result of the pandemic, the need for digital operations has increased by orders of magnitude. For the lagging companies who had yet to transition to digital-first operations, the pandemic acted as a forcing function and created classic supply and demand issues.

The Automation Movement: With new IPaaS platforms like Workato, automation at the enterprise level is the latest trend and yet another reason marketing operations talent is in high demand.

Lack of Formal Training: MOps is a relatively new functional role and the path to building a MOps career isn’t well defined. Just think about it – when was the last time you heard someone studying marketing operations in college? (Although, companies like Highway Education are changing this.)

Competition: Companies are paying top dollar for MOps talent, which tempts marketing operations professionals to change positions to increase earnings. The power is in MOPs hands – they can move jobs whenever they want, which makes retention efforts crucial. Organizations must shift their focus on retaining talent, which we’ll get into a little further down.

Fixed Skill Set: Our team looks for a specific set of soft and hard skills to ensure potential candidates are able to think strategically while also building relationships and rapport with clients. Here are a few skills we require from our Marketo consultants:

Hard Skills:

  • Experience with Marketo, Salesforce, and/or Microsoft Dynamics
  • Marketing automation experience
  • MCE, MCSA, or Marketo Champions


Soft Skills:

  • Lead internal and external discussions
  • Break down complex technical subjects
  • Articulate and able to confidently present to clients


The Path Forward


As the demand for MOps talent continues to grow, organizations may find themselves with a few challenges ahead of them:

  • First, how do we retain our existing talent?
  • And second, how do we recruit new talent?
  • If we can’t find talent, can we find outside help through an independent consultant or agency?


From our experience working on more than 1,500 Marketo projects, we’ve unlocked how organizations can stay ahead of the curve and avoid falling into the pitfalls of the current MOps talent shortage.


1. The Power of Planning


If you plan to add marketing operations talent to your team (whether that’s hiring an agency or adding talent to your in-house team), you’ll have to plan in advance. The demand for marketing operations talent is at an all-time high, and securing talent is hard. Not only is there a shortage of candidates, but you should also expect that reputable marketing operations agencies are booked a couple of weeks (or months) out.

Not only do you need to get into the queue with any agency, but you will have to allow for time for the discovery process. Agencies will want to be sure they understand your needs and have time to accurately scope the project or ongoing support. At MERGE, we consider the discovery and scoping process critical for setting a solid foundation to accelerate work moving forward.


2. Focus on Retention Efforts


So, let’s say you already have a talent acquisition plan, but what about a backup plan? What are you doing to retain talent, and do you have a game plan if you lose talent? While these conversations may not seem as pressing as a talent acquisition plan, it’s crucial to ensure ongoing success for your MOps team.

Once you’ve secured marketing operations professional talent, the ball is in your court to ensure ongoing job satisfaction. One way to lose employees fast is poor company culture. If your employees are overworked, underappreciated, and overwhelmed, it shouldn’t be surprising when they jump ship to another agency that respects their time and efforts. With MOps talent in such high demand, you can’t risk not having a strong company culture and healthy work-life balance.

So, how do you keep your existing MOps team happy? According to Justin Norris, Senior Director of Solutions Architecture, organizations should treat MOps teams like strategic partners. He also explains why some of the friction with MOps teams exists in a recent LinkedIn post:

“Much of this stems from a very poor understanding of what ops teams actually do among business stakeholders, which contributes to the tendency to treat ops like vending machines and order takers and not strategic partners.

I also think there is some shared accountability. Ops leaders can do a better job aligning themselves with the needs of the business and partnering at an earlier stage – to proactively bring solutions and create pipelines to funnel work productively, and not just react to inbound requests.”

Ultimately, the business needs to be realistic about what MOps can and should do. When you look at MOps job descriptions, for example, many “manager” and even “director” level positions show the person is expected to single-handedly run an entire MOps org (for multi-hundred person companies), execute all campaigns, and run paid channels, SEO, the website, revealing a real lack of knowledge about what is achievable.

3. Use Frameworks and Processes to your Advantage


Did you know 86 percent of marketing leaders are not able to fully maximize the impact of their marketing initiatives as well as being efficient at the same time, according to a 2020 Gartner survey? With only 15 percent of organizations achieving impact and efficiency with their marketing efforts, this leads to one question: how can we be more effective with our marketing? We’ve got two words for you: frameworks and processes.

Utilizing frameworks and processes will allow you to do more with less. This way, when you’re faced with a shortage of MOps talent now or in the future, you will have a solid foundation to work from.

Implementing frameworks and processes will provide a strong foundational base to build and grow upon, while saving time and money. It’s one of the best ways to increase efficiency and helps organizations get more out of their MarTech investment. With marketers only utilizing 58 percent of their MarTech stack’s potential, this one is a no-brainer.

At MERGE we’ve developed several frameworks and processes to help marketers operate with efficiency:


4. Leverage Integrations Where Possible


When it comes to the MOps talent shortage, your employee’s time is sacred. As it is, you may be understaffed and workloads are probably reaching an all-time high. This means you’ll need to ensure you’re cutting time where possible, and that your team is working with the utmost efficiency.

Ask yourself this: where are your employees spending the most time? Is it data cleansing, spreadsheets, or moving data from one player to another? As Justin Norris, former Senior Director of Solution Architecture at MERGE, puts it, “Marketers (and especially marketing ops) want to build great things, but they are bogged down with excel sheet imports and cleaning up data.”

So, what gives? How can marketing operations professionals be more efficient with their time, while still working with precision? Get your notepad out, because we have yet another acronym for you. Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) is a new layer placed on top of marketing automation.

We all know that marketing operations professionals should be leveraging integrations where possible, but this new class of integrations allows MOPs to cut down on time so they can focus on larger initiatives and strategic work. We’re talking about workflow automation platforms like Workato, Mulesoft,, and Zapier. And the best part? IPaaS doesn’t just begin and end with marketing operations – it can also benefit HR and recruitment processes.

📖 Want to learn more about the power of IPaaS? Get the full scoop on IPaaS and the power it holds by reading this MarTech article, featuring our very own Justin Norris and Darrell Alfonso, Global Marketing Operations at AWS.


5. Analyze Your Tech Stack


“But that’s the way we’ve always done things, why change?” This way of thinking can be detrimental to your marketing operations strategy, and also set you behind your competitors. Be your own critic – what could you be doing better, do you have any grey areas, and is there better technology you can adapt to? The marketing technology landscape is constantly evolving, and ensuring your tech stack is up to date is crucial for staying ahead of the curve.

It may sound obvious, but technology doesn’t manage itself. The more MarTech, the more people you will need to manage the tech stack. In a MOps talent crisis, there is no better time to ensure you are operating your tech stack as efficiently as possible. And yes, that means cut the fat.

We recommend performing an audit on your current tech stack – have you been happy with the results? Is there a platform that is constantly giving your team issues, or have you found it’s no longer necessary? Scheduling time to analyze your current systems and programs will be essential to running an efficient and productive marketing operations team. Not to mention, MarTech doesn’t come cheap. You could cut costs by factoring out any programs or systems that are no longer needed.

By combining these five principles into your marketing operations strategy, your organization can remain agile and be prepared for whatever comes your way. The most important factor to keep in mind is persistence. If you’re looking to bring MOps talent to your organization, don’t expect results overnight. Plan ahead of time, and be realistic with your goals. Focus on what you can change – like implementing new frameworks and processes, leveraging integrations, and analyzing your current systems.