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 martech, people, and processes 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.
No martech stack is ever “set and forget,” but must instead be continually maintained and updated to keep pace with strategic needs and new possibilities. Your people need to adapt too. How does MOPS help maintain and update a martech stack and the people using that stack?
“It is essential for marketing organizations, led by MOPS, to track and analyze the innovation in technology trends with business goals and the technology roadmap for context and to maintain an ongoing conversation with IT partners about what’s necessary today and what’s emerging for the future.” says Sojourn’s 2021 Marketing Operations Report.
Future-proofing your STACK
1. Put martech governance structures in place. Sojourn’s Head of Marketing Kristin Connell recommends the following steps:
Document all martech, including who purchased it, who owns it, who administers it, who supports it, who uses it, along with vendor contact details (sales, support, customer success). “This documentation can be a spreadsheet that gets updated as martech is added, updated, and eliminated,” says Connell, “in order to prevent having to track all relevant info down when there’s a problem.”
Create an internal tiered support structure. For example: (1) users might escalate to an internal admin, (2) your internal admins might escalate to the martech owner, (3) and the owner manages escalations to the vendor. “This clear support structure provides you with documented feedback loops on any technical issues within your martech ecosystem,” explains Connell.
“Solicit feedback from your teams regarding the martech to ensure it continues to meet their requirements, address any skill development needs, and request input re: new martech that’s come to their attention,” says Connell.
Schedule annual martech reviews for your full stack, “which should include inputs from all relevant stakeholders and include benchmark performance results, new martech recommendations, and validation that your tools align to upcoming strategy and business needs,” says Connell.
If, for example, you have an existing martech tool for a specific use case, but the tool doesn’t share data and integrate well with your other tools, your annual stack review should flag the problem. If a new martech tool becomes available that addresses the same use case equally well/better, and also integrates well with your other tools, you’d likely want to trade out the old tool for the new tool with superior integration capability.
2. Set up a small “center of excellence”/COE team within your martech governance team. There are now over 8000 martech vendors, making it a challenge to keep pace with emerging marketing technologies. You need to be scouting for what tools are emerging, even before you test whether the emerging martech might address your specific needs.
“A mature MOPS and CoE team can provide huge value here in creating a “lab” environment for identifying and testing martech in order to prove/disprove potential value within your martech stack,” says Connell. Obviously, the members of your CoE team should be some of your most tech-savvy, forward-looking, and enthusiastic IT and MOPS professionals. You should also have at least one “strategy-minded” person on the CoE team, because emerging technologies can sometimes open up new strategic opportunities you hadn’t even considered before.
Upskilling your PEOPLE
“Underutilization of technology is often traced to insufficient headcount, inadequate training or poor alignment between marketing and technology teams,” says Sojourn’s 2021 Marketing Operations Report. “Tech is only effective when the people using it have the knowledge, capacity and training to use it. Organizations with a MOPS groups are nearly 2X more likely to strongly agree that “[they] have the right skills in place to execute our growth strategy.”
If your people aren’t ready to adapt to change, even rapid change, your martech stack isn’t ready either. So how can you ensure that your people are as adaptable and future-proof as your technology?
3. Look to hire MOPS and marketing talent who understand the importance of keeping pace with technology. MOPS professionals are so valuable because they look at marketing from a “big picture” perspective that embraces strategy, technology, processes, and the human/creative element. They’re people conversant in many areas of technology, which means they can ask the right questions, do the hard work of researching/learning, and collaborate with subject-matter experts in order to find the right answers. “When you hire,” says Connell, “always look for candidates who display curiosity and an open-mind around technology.”
4. Support your people when adopting new martech. Obviously, this means initial training in the tool but also requires support all along the adoption journey. Tech-savvy early adopters, for example, can be used as coaches for slower adopters. It also helps to have managers check in with users about their adoption efforts and provide a more personalized level of support. Adoption and utilization of martech requires constant communication: what you might consider “too much communication” might be viewed as too little for many users, especially later adopters.
5. Support ongoing professional development. Formalize support for professional development. For instance, have your managers use professional development around technology as a factor in employee evaluations. When employees know something is a focus of their manager, and when it’s tied to salary, bonuses, and promotions, they tend to take it more seriously.
Make a lump sum of money available to each employee, which they can use to upgrade their technological skills – a kind of personal development budget. The company can also set up training programs and incentivize certifications around technology, creating a positive climate for learning and growth. The idea is to set up various incentives and support structures that catalyze a culture of learning within your organization.
“A mature MOPS function helps support the change management that exists in/around martech, and other areas of marketing. The organizations that are best positioned to manage change will have a clear competitive advantage,” says Connell. When you hire and develop curious people who are willing to adapt/change, you also drive the adoption and optimization of your martech stack.
For more information about MOPS and martech, and how you can build your MOPS maturity in order to improve marketing outcomes, reach out to us.