Pipeline Marketing Blog

4 Skills Every Marketing Operations Leader Should Master

By Andrew Nguyen
Jun 30, 2016
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Marketing operations is the heart of any marketing team. Therefore it must be a strong foundation that enables teams to learn and become more effective.

Through reporting, budgeting and campaign implementation, there are significant opportunities to transfer knowledge, improve execution and learn about the customer. But what are the skills needed to accomplish all this?

In this article we’ll explain four important skills that can benefit marketing operations leaders.

Organizational Skills For Marketing Operations

Prioritizing our work is essential to success in marketing operations. There are many stakeholders and many deliverables for the team or individual at the center of marketing technology, data and people.

One way to prioritize is based on launch deadlines for things like email campaigns. While another way to prioritize based on seniority of stakeholder. An email blast from the CEO is definitely an urgent project.

And yet, another way is to investigate the impact of your projects on the customer or the bottom line. You may observe that a certain campaign is driving huge engagement and sales opportunities, and you may want to notify your team that there should be more hands on deck to improve and manage this successful campaign.

The impact can be sized up by the audience reach, by the stakeholder(s) involved, and by the impact on business value.

Thinking about the nature and scale of this impact is a great way for marketing operations leaders to prioritize their projects.

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Master Reporting Set Up

Teams In automotive and motorcycle racing are given several days prior to a big race to test their cars around the track. They will race around the track, time their laps, make adjustments, and repeat the process all over again. They do this to get the vehicle set up perfectly in order to complete a lap in as minimal time as possible.

But how do they “make adjustments”? It all rests on tracking car data, from suspension movement to tire temperatures and then adjusting details in car setup to maximize grip and balance downforce and drag. Engineers would not have the right resources to maximize performance within the allotted test time prior to the big race without current technology used to track car data.

Just like in marketing, wasting too much time and money testing campaigns can be a nightmare. Tracking campaign performance with great detail and accuracy is essential for hitting a goal on time and within budget.

As marketing operations leaders, it’s our job to ensure that tracking is set up correctly and that we are using technology that provides actionable information to stakeholders. Great engineers not only record performance with accuracy, they have problem solving capabilities to help reach the next goal.

Follow these best practices to master reporting set up:

  • Decide on a data warehouse to create a single source of truth (we’re a little biased and believe it should be the CRM over a MAP)

  • Become the expert in the nuances of different technologies. There are different naming conventions and tracking capabilities (and limitations) for different MAP’s and CRM’s. You’ll want to understand what each platform can do and how they do it.

  • Ask key stakeholders what their immediate performance goals are so you know what to track. This is really important because it allows stakeholders to set measurable goals.

  • Adopt a clear naming convention for UTM parameters. Make sure there is clear alignment across the team on how campaigns and channels are defined and tracked. We’ve written about UTM parameter best practices in a previous article.

  • Set up tracking as far down the funnel as possible in order to provide insights on marketing’s contribution to revenue and how to optimize for revenue.

Marketing operations and race car engineering teams are both pretty close on the coolness scale. But they are both equally important in supporting key stakeholders in achieving performance goals.

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Teaching And Supporting Skills Development

Marketing operations leaders should develop skills in communicating complex topics in an easy to grasp manner. This is important for two reasons, 1) Helping team members develop skills and expertise, and 2) managing expectations because your marketing team relies on you for budgeting, sales forecasting and campaign planning. Let’s start with the first one.

As the expert at your organization, part of your role is the people operations, ensuring that team members have the technology and capabilities to execute. 

We can take the role of the teacher to educate our team members. So how do you do that?

  • Start with the end goal in mind. What do you want team members to be able to do or understand?

  • Create a lesson plan. If you have a dense topic, it’s important to break it up into chunks. We can only learn so much at a time and creating a lesson plan will help you organize the transfer of information. You should organize your lesson plan around sequential steps if it’s a reporting how-to. Organize the lesson plan by thematic elements if your topic focuses on complex issues like marketing strategy.

  • Make it fun and memorable. When we look back at the things we remember from school, it’s usually those memories where positive emotions were associated with it. We tend to remember things better when there is a strong emotion attached to it. So always consider the most effective way to make an idea stick.

  • Just like how a writer always asks if there is a better way to phrase it, describe it, and frame it, a good teacher always asks if there is a better way to explain something complex. You can use visuals and analogies to communicate your point in a memorable way. Remember Schoolhouse Rock? Remember how catchy the show's songs were? This helped to explain grade school material in a way that was engaging and memorable for viewers.

Leaders are great teachers. With these steps in mind, you make sure that knowledge transfers across your organization.

Project Management Skills For Marketing Operations

Project management follows these broad steps:

  • Initiation

  • Planning

  • Production or execution

  • Monitoring and controlling

  • Closing

But marketing campaigns are becoming increasingly complex. There are online and offline touchpoints to report on. There are different stakeholders, from marketers who manage channels to those who manage product lines. And they all need your help in making their marketing campaign a reality.

The more partners, internal stakeholders, and channels involved in a campaign the more likely things don’t go exactly as planned. But that’s the nature of project management.

It should be called “managing change.”

When deadlines are missed, new information surfaces that adds more complexity. Perhaps there are cost overruns or deadlines that can’t be reached. In these cases, it’s important to communicate with stakeholders and revise the plan.

In some instances, marketing operations must decide whether to adjust the plan, or the goal itself. This is an important area of focus during execution and monitoring.

There is much more to cover for project management in marketing operations. We’ll be sure to come back to this topic, so stay tuned!

Conclusion

Let’s recap the important skills that every marketing operations leader should master. They are:

  • Organizational Skills

  • Reporting Set Up

  • Teaching and Supporting Skills Development

  • Project Management Skills

When marketing operations can improve these skillsets, they become more effective in supporting the mission of improving marketing’s contribution to revenue.

You can learn more important skills for marketing operations excellence in the ebook below.

Core Competencies of the Marketing Operations Leader  The frameworks every marketing operations leader needs  Download Now

Topics: marketing operations

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