Industry Experts, Practitioners Sound Off On The Evolution Of B2B Marketing Ops

Published: June 28, 2018

The emergence of marketing operations in B2B began when companies realized that they needed a figurehead to lead the growth of technology stacks and streamlined sales funnels. Now, marketing operations in the B2B industry has evolved into a foundational element of the marketing department to meet and exceed the increasing demands expected of CMOs and their teams.

The focus is now on revenue; marketing operations leaders are tasked with helping visualize and execute plans to meet short- and long-term goals of the entire company — not just the marketing department.

Demand Gen Report reached out to eight leading industry experts, analysts and practitioners to discuss how they have seen the marketing ops role evolve to incorporate other aspects of the business — such as revenue ops — as well as what the connections are between these roles under the marketing ops umbrella.

Jocelyn King, President, MOCCA Marketing Operations Professional Association

1Jocelyn KingIn the 12 years since marketing operations was recognized by IDC as a function and MOCCA was established as the dedicated professional association for marketing operations leaders and practitioners, marketing ops has evolved from exclusively planning marketing technology roadmaps and demand funnels to becoming the CMO’s essential strategic leadership over operational excellence in marketing.  

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Today, marketing ops is continuing to evolve rapidly as it leads the steep change curve that marketing finds itself on. CMOs are under more pressure and scrutiny than ever, and marketing ops’ charter is to ensure that marketing excels and scales. The recent rise of revenue operations is challenging marketing ops leaders to additionally own greater mastery of sales and customers. The focus of revenue operations is ensuring that marketing and sales excel and scale. Marketing ops leaders must step up to meet this greater need. Since sales ops tends to focus on fiscal weeks and quarter-end results, while marketing ops focuses on quarters and long-term strategic plans, marketing ops is uniquely positioned to ensure both effective short-term results and long-term revenue operations scaling and effectiveness. Today’s marketing ops leaders must rally to stay relevant not only to marketing, but also to sales and customer needs to be valued and relevant to company revenue growth. Fortunately, managing continuous change and driving difficult conversations and decisions is in marketing ops’ DNA.

Linlin Li, VP of Marketing Ops & Strategic Projects, Centrify

1Linlin LiMarketing Ops has a unique advantage to lead or evolve into a revenue ops function, whether formally or informally, because at the core of revenue ops is customer journey operations, brand experience and customer insight. The advancement of the martech world and data science practice has enabled marketing ops teams to have a new arena to influence the organization’s top-line growth for scale, efficiency and efficacy of all revenue-driving efforts across marketing, sales, customer success, product, support and services.

At Centrify, I see this manifest in three areas where marketing ops is taking the lead and connecting the dots:

  1. Drive cross-functional efforts to design, execute and report company revenue models;
  2. Focus on a holistic view of the customer journey and end-to-end touchpoints and engagement for both prospective and existing customers; and
  3. Challenge the status quo and innovate via advanced martech and data science to future proof processes and alignment for scale and intelligent growth.

Debbie Qaqish, Principal & Chief Strategy Officer, The Pedowitz Group

1debbie qaqishWe are seeing a rapid expansion in marketing operations’ responsibilities because of the talent and skill they bring and the changing requirements for marketing. I see five stages of marketing operations maturity that reflect the additional responsibilities to the broader business and to revenue operations. 

The first stage is efficient — meaning marketing ops is working to do things as well as they can. This is a reactive state centered on getting and using technology. The second state is effective. In this stage, marketing ops begins to be more proactive and works more with re-engineering processes that then help define technology requirements. This role is still very marketing-centric and includes rich integration with sales to attain revenue goals. 

Marketing’s ops impact on the business really takes off in the customer-centric stage. At this level of maturity, the marketing ops group is key to operationalizing the customer journey for both net-new acquisition and account expansion. At this stage, marketing ops works across functions as a practice. The final stage is next gen. In this stage, we see more changes in organizational structure to support marketing ops’ new responsibilities. We see sales and marketing ops combine and other functions, such as customer success, also join to create one unified function. This new function provides the best opportunity to operationalize the customer journey across every part of the company.

As described above, the marketing ops’ set of responsibilities are rapidly expanding because they serve as enablers of customer-centric strategies. Marketing technologies allow marketing to have a digital relationship with clients at every stage of the journey. This digital relationship produces data and insights that can be shared with all customer-facing functions of the organization. Customer engagement is the new battlefield and the MO function is perfectly positioned to help win the fight.

Jason Keller, Marketing Operations Manager, Logi Analytics

1jason kellerI’ve seen that when marketing ops is involved in the execution, tech implementation and/or automation of a business process, the reporting related to that process tends to get adopted by the marketing ops team as well.

The kinds of projects adopted are usually closely related to the top of the sales funnel (i.e. ABM, martech tools, data services, etc.). Typically, this is a good thing, as it usually ensures that the metrics align with the intended outcomes of these processes (given the person measuring knows how and why the processes were created to begin with).

That said, it also means that every time a marketing ops team attempts to help with a new process or work-stream, the demand out of that team is always getting compounded by the reporting needs that follow the original request for support. This makes it really easy for a marketing ops team to accidentally overextend itself, thinking they can take on the extra bit of work without thinking of the extra bit of reporting that will likely be requested as well.

Jon Russo, CMO & Founder, B2B Fusion

1jon russoMarketing operations is a passion area of mine, as the function represents the heart of reporting on the business impact a marketing organization has. In my 10 years as a CMO and my five years on the board of MOCCA, I’ve seen marketers achieve revenue operation responsibilities in unique situations.

If a company is a growing SaaS organization, it is more likely to find one person in charge of all operations (sales and marketing) from a revenue marketing or revenue operations perspective.

In a highly transactional B2B sale where marketing sourced revenue is greater than 50% of the revenue, we also see marketing operations owning the revenue operations function, regardless of company size.

According to LinkedIn, sales turnover is 13% per year and marketers turnover is 17% per year. So, the third situation we see when revenue operations is under marketing operations’ responsibility is where the revenue ops person leaves the company. The next logical place for an organization to look for talent is internally.

In larger organizations, typically more than 500 global employees, we more universally find two different functions — revenue operations and marketing operations, typically reporting to different entities in the organization.

Paul Green, Director of Marketing Technologies, Extreme Networks

1paul greenI continue to see the marketing operations role grow in prominence throughout many organizations. I believe marketing operations has now become the central layer of glue to true alignment between sales and marketing, in addition to other key stakeholder departments like sales and channel operations, finance and IT. This is so important as marketing operations purview expands from budgeting and planning, and now has a keen focus on the operationalizing and optimization of marketing technologies. These marketing technology investments are becoming key growth strategy enablers and require deeper cross functional team designs to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies centered around long-term growth.

Cristina De Martini, Research Director For Marketing Operations, SiriusDecisions

1Cristina De MartiniMarketing operations is certainly evolving — moving from a tactical project management role that facilitates organizational efficiencies to a more strategic role informing marketing strategy through solid performance measurement and analytics, and aligning that marketing strategy with sales and the go-to-market plan.

Revenue operations is putting an organizational design solution on top of an alignment problem to the age-old question of how to align organizational functions. The true objective is to establish an integrated approach to align marketing, sales, customer success, finance and all direct contributors to an organization’s revenue strategy to enable scalable growth. We don’t always have to have a direct reporting structure to attain the desired alignment. Think of it as a team sport where each player must play their respective position for the team to meet its goal. To gain alignment, strong operations leaders will ensure that:

  1. All parties are involved in planning at the front end and establishing a common set of goals;
  2. Communication is consistent and allows the strategy to drive the processes and technology selection; and
  3. There is interlock around a common measurement framework that provides both description and predictive analysis, technology integration and master data management.

John Hurley, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Radius

1john hurleyThis evolution of ops roles has created a new paradigm — one where ops is a direct contributor to an organization’s top-line and a major stakeholder for an organization’s revenue strategy. What started as a response to address marketing and sales’ technological destiny has quickly spiraled into a massive undertaking that directly feeds into an organization’s revenue engine. 

Think about the following initiatives, all of which are top-of-mind for progressive marketing organizations:

  • Diagnose and fix core data gaps;
  • Develop 360-degree customer profiles;
  • Uncover total addressable markets;
  • Build hyper-targeted campaign audiences;
  • Implement new scoring models; and
  • Orchestrate channel experiences across platforms.

Now ask yourself, could any of these initiatives be successfully executed without core marketing operations people? 

According to the Harvard Business Review, B2B organizations with advanced data strategies are twice as likely to grow revenue by more than 30%. This is why investing in data and intelligence is their number one priority for reaching their goals. It’s clear that companies recognize the opportunity and what they need to do. Business leaders can no longer ignore the importance of having reliable data and a smart data strategy, and they can’t go without a strong marketing ops function.

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