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Article by Chris Horton, Digital Marketing Offering Lead, Avanade
There are a lot of demands placed on marketers today. You’re asked to be jack of all trades, master of all trades.
You need the impeccable taste of a great artist. The rigorous methodology of a highly trained scientist. You also need to be a tech whiz with a grasp of the latest social platforms. And a master of branding, advertising, strategy and media. Even an accounting wizard too.
So, not much to ask, really…
But there’s one capability that’s often forgotten, tucked away out of sight in the corner of the marketing department. Digital marketing operations.
With technology and strategy (the other key components of a successful approach to digital marketing) often stealing the show, it’s all too easy to overlook the importance of operations. So, why do brands struggle with digital marketing operations in particular?
What is digital marketing operations?
First, we need to clarify what we mean by digital marketing operations. The traditional operational, day-to-day side of running a marketing department is only part of the equation. A Marketing Operations Manager must also oversee the convergence of people, process and technology to ensure all three constituent parts work together effectively.
First touted in the early 2000s, marketing operations is now an established field. It goes hand-in-hand with digital transformation efforts across the rest of the business. Marketing operations is – in essence – the marketing team’s digital transformation flag bearer.
And digital marketing operations can generate big results. McKinsey claims that effective marketing operations can improve marketing outcomes by 15–25%.
How can I enhance my digital marketing operations?
Well, there are four areas you can focus on:
1 – Insight and reporting
We live in a world flooded with data. But how much of it are you really using to make data-driven decisions? How much of this data is truly useful? Good marketing operations should always use that data to better understand the customer – what they want, what they like, and what they’re doing.
What you can do: Don’t be distracted by every single dataset – not everything is worth analyzing. Be targeted and focus on data that adds value or provides actionable insights.
2 – Customer experience
Marketing defines your organization’s entire customer experience. Once upon a time it was only specific touchpoints that fell within marketing’s jurisdiction. But today, not only have those touchpoints increased in number and complexity, in-store and online experiences have been subsumed into marketing too.
Marketing operations is tasked with measuring and improving the experience as a whole. Achieving that requires marketing professionals to work with sales, IT, and other lines of business teams to help make the CX smooth, seamless and most of all, effective.
What you can do: Map every customer journey, both online and physical – especially where the two channels converge. No touchpoint should be left unturned, no link should be left broken, no call-to-action should be missed. That way you can build powerful and commercially effective customer experiences.
3 – Managing technology platforms
Programmatic media, content management, A/B testing, live chat, analytics, personalization and automation, and many more. There are a huge number of technology processes and platforms available that make it easier for brands to engage with customers.
But if different marketing teams are using different systems for the same function, that’s bad news. Marketing ops is there to synchronize and streamline your tech platforms while keeping tight control of costs and processes.
What you can do: Strive to become (and hire) marketing and IT hybrids. This special group of people speak the language of both digital and marketing, finding ways to harness technology to make campaigns more effective and reach your audiences.
4 – Process, governance and team structure
For some, this might be one of the dryer elements of marketing operations. But it’s the area where the potential gains are greatest.
Because this is the phase where you can address questions such as: have you standardized your briefing process? Is your business managing its agencies and contractors as well as it could? Or is work being duplicated, at great cost?
The management of how your organization uses its technology platforms is vital to marketing success. As is the governance process for approvals and stakeholder input, alongside a balanced and complementary team structure – with the right blend of capabilities (and personalities).
What you can do: How you manage your processes and structures will impact every part of your marketing function – and beyond. For example, a poorly governed marketing department could cause problems for your organization’s legal team if it asks for unrealistic turnaround times on approvals. Put rules in place and enforce them.
What you need to do next
To make the most of you marketing efforts and successfully execute a digital transformation, it’s vital to master the operational demands. To get started on your journey, make sure you have a suitable strategy in place, the correct team structure, and the right partner – one with a sufficient depth and breadth of capabilities.