MOPS and optimizing martech: Developing a martech strategy (post 1 of 4)

December 10, 2021 Chuck Leddy

Marketing operations (MOPS) is an evolving, multidisciplinary, and multifaceted function with a single goal: to improve and prove the value of marketing. MOPS is about blending people, processes, and martech to drive that single goal. In this four-part blog series, called “MOPS and Optimizing Martech,” we’ll explore the role of MOPS in: (1) developing a martech strategy, (2) integrating new martech into an existing stack, (3) driving martech adoption by enabling people/users, and (4) maintaining and adapting a martech stack, with a focus on scaling and future-proofing said stack.

In this post #1, we speak with Kristin Connell, Head of Marketing at Sojourn Solutions, about developing a martech strategy and how that strategy becomes a foundation for effectively selecting, implementing, and integrating all martech.

As our 2021 Marketing Operations Report explains, MOPS maturity is a key to realizing the full value of martech, from strategy to integration to adoption and beyond: “MOPS optimizes the relationship between marketing and technology,” says the Report. “It’s no accident that the stronger a company’s MOPS function, the better they do (1) deciding on the right technology and (2) integrating that tech into their organization, meaning, not just systems integration but also having the right people with the right training so that the technology actually delivers value.”

Martech strategy: A GPS & North Star

Martech optimization is a bit like chasing the sun. You might be able to see the destination, but reaching it is a never-ending journey. No matter how far you’ve come in your MOPS maturity or your martech stack, you can always improve marketing effectiveness (and your martech). Just because the journey is never done doesn’t mean you shouldn’t embark on it. You need to, actually.

As with every worthwhile journey in life, you should begin with the destination in mind (spoiler alert: that destination is a place called “better”). You should also have a well-considered plan, along with a good roadmap for getting to “better.”

Will you need to modify your plan and your roadmap along the way? Yes and yes, but that’s also an inevitable part of the journey. Having all of your marketers running in different directions chasing after the latest martech isn’t a plan or a roadmap: it’s chaos.

Sojourn’s Connell explains that “investing in martech without a martech strategy already in place is like playing a game of ‘pin the tail on the donkey.’ Yes, blindfolded and dizzy marketers might occasionally get lucky and hit the donkey’s tail – even a broken clock is correct twice a day – but more likely than not they’ll miss the target, and those misses will be incredibly costly.”

How to develop your martech strategy

Don’t go out and buy “cool” martech because other marketers are buying it or because a vendor salesperson promises you eternal joy and sunshine. Strategy is important because resources of time, people, and money are limited – you can’t aim at everything and expect to succeed. Developing a martech strategy begins with choices and priorities based first on a clear understanding of your customers, their journey/touchpoints, and how you seek to address their needs with the resources you have. 

“A martech strategy should optimize your customer experience, help empower your employee experience, and positively impact pipeline growth and revenue,” says Connell. “A martech strategy gives you a baseline to determine what’s working, what’s not, and the ability to pivot as necessary to improve your results.” It’s a needed compass and roadmap. 

Good martech strategies are data-driven, with MOPS typically playing a significant role. Developing a good strategy is about asking a series of foundational questions, including: where do our customers spend their time, and if largely online, what channels/sites/communities do they frequent? With what devices? How do they prefer to engage with us? What does that engagement look like across their buying experience? Can we measure buying intent via signals we collect from our customer interactions? 

“You need to drive your martech strategy with relevant data insights about your customers,” says Connell, “and these insights will help guide and inform what type of martech you need, with what functionality, as well as helping you understand what people with what skills/training you need in order to build and maintain a successful martech stack.”

MOPS: Structuring an approach to strategy-building

It’s not enough to ask and answer the basic strategic questions described above. You need a structure and a process in place to drive the ongoing development of martech strategy. Strategy can never be ad hoc or  “set and forget” because (again) you’re chasing the sun, trying to reach “better” every day, every month, every quarter. 

“Depending on the size of your MOPS and marketing organization,” says Connell, "you should have a documented, structured approach that includes cross-functional governance for all martech investments. You should set up a process that allows anyone to submit a request and make a business case for new martech.” 

A cross-functional team (including members from MOPS, IT, and business units) should be defined to review these ongoing martech requests, obviously considering relevant criteria like fit into the customer journey, available resources to implement, use, and manage the requested martech, budget-related considerations, and other business priorities that are part of your martech strategy. If the martech review team approves the request, they can then help determine next steps to work with martech vendors and internal stakeholders to onboard the martech smoothly. 

“As part of any request for new martech,” says Connell, “the primary use cases for the martech should be identified, clearly described, and aligned with your martech strategy and desired business outcomes.

In my experience, the best way to narrow down any martech decision is to identify and explain which martech tool best addresses these use cases. You obviously have to consider costs, support, and other factors, but none of those matter at all if the tool itself doesn’t meet your primary use cases.”

A final word on the role of MOPS

MOPS is simply crucial to developing and carrying out any successful martech strategy, and to enabling martech tools to fully realize their anticipated value. MOPS itself, and MOPS leaders in particular, have acumen and experience looking at the bigger strategic picture when it comes to martech, moving far beyond any individual martech request to guide decision-making that creates an outstanding customer experience and the greatest impact on pipeline and revenue. 

When this strategic focus is lacking, when martech stacks are built in an ad hoc way and bolted on like some Frankenstein monster,  “it leads to wasted resources, unrealized value, and team members becoming frustrated, burned-out, and even leaving a company,” says Connell.

It might seem like the costs of doing this important, upfront strategic work are high, but the costs of NOT doing it are absolutely devastating for any marketing organization. Buying martech without a strategic focus, one typically driven by MOPS, is marketing malpractice at its wasteful worst.

To learn more about how to develop a martech strategy to improve (and prove) your marketing effectiveness, reach out to us here.

Next post in this series: MOPS and optimizing martech: Getting martech integrations right (post 2 of 4)

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