Over the last decade, the growth of B2B marketing teams that have adopted marketing automation platforms (MAPs) as a fundamental tool in their marketing stack has given rise to the marketing automation specialist. While they’re not the ones writing the lead nurturing sequences or designing landing pages and lead forms, they’re the behind-the-scenes operators who have mastered the setup, organization, and flow around marketing lead data.
But today, marketers are being tasked with and being held accountable to more than just attracting visitors and nurturing leads. According to a study by B2B Marketing and Marketo, nearly 70% of senior marketers say they feel pressure to demonstrate marketing’s contribution to the bottom line. And that revenue responsibility flows down to the entire marketing team.
This evolution has created the rise of the marketing operations professional.
Furthermore, the marketing operations role has an opportunity to grow marketing’s stake in the organization. Marketing operations professionals strive to provide the information that improves decision making, implement the best technologies, and govern the analytics process. In order to succeed, you need a clear framework for leading organizations from the marketing operations discipline. That’s why we created this series.
Marketing operations is more than campaign management. It’s knowledge management and change management.
With this series you’ll develop the core competencies to succeed as a marketing operations leader: This includes building the technical knowledge for implementing and managing complex marketing technology stacks, and managing teams by defining the process of learning from data.
It all culminates in developing the information and knowledge to:
Communicate effectively with a heavy focus on results
Be the champion of change and the customer
Build strong relationships with leadership team through the delivery of metrics and governance of analytic processes
In this four-part educational series, we will walk you through the four competencies that marketing automation specialists must develop in order to become the marketing operations leader.
First, we will cover how to build the marketing and sales technology core — the fundamental technologies that all B2B organizations require.
From there, you must become the marketing technology expert, and consult on technology and data gaps. You must be able to evaluate additional technologies to determine whether they will add value. We will use a martech evaluation framework to explain this key process.
Next, using a scientific method framework, we will explain how marketing operations can help the marketing team use the tech stack to answer questions with data. Executing like a scientist is essential in today’s knowledge driven workplace.
And finally, the last competency area is enabling the entire organization to make better decisions.
By the end of the series, you will be equipped with the frameworks and knowledge you need to become the transformational lynchpin that your marketing organization needs to succeed in the future.
Part I: Setting Up The Marketing & Sales Technology Core
If you are a marketing automation specialists, you are an expert when it comes to, you guessed it, the marketing automation platform. To become the architect — the go-to person — for marketing operations, however, a wider scope of expertise is needed. Marketing is tasked with taking on more data and more of the customer journey, and the marketing operations architect needs to be properly equipped to take it on.
First, this means that you must have a strong understanding of the entire marketing and sales technology core. The core includes marketing channels (and accompanying analytics), your website (and accompanying web analytics), lead nurturing/automation, attribution, and the CRM.
With that in mind, here is a framework to help you understand the marketing and sales technology core:
These are the fundamental technologies that every B2B marketing organization requires at the most basic level. It’s the foundational system that takes buyers down the funnel, from first-time visitor to customer, and the captures the data from the customer journey to ensure that the system is running smoothly.
Now we’re not saying that these are the only technologies that an organization needs — far from that — this is just the base which enables the marketing operations team to effectively evaluate additional technologies and build out the rest of the martech stack (which we’ll cover next week in Part II).
Marketing Channels / Channel Analytics
Marketing channels are how companies generate awareness and attract people to their website. These include social channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter; search channels (paid and organic) like Google and Bing; email; PPC/display networks like the Google Display Network; influencers; and more.
However, this entire marketing and sales technology core is not a one-way street. Marketers must use data from each of the technologies to make the others better. One example, as shown in the framework above is that data from web analytics can be used to improve marketing channel efficiency. This can happen a couple of ways: 1) by dropping a tracking cookie on website visitors and using that data to build retargeting lists for retargeting ad networks (e.g. AdRoll), and 2) using website visitor data to target your marketing channels by persona.
Many of these channels include proprietary data tracking and analytics for their respective channels. Generally, they track things like impressions, clicks, and if you choose to implement their conversion pixel on your website, they can track conversions (a specific user behavior on your website, typically a form fill).
Marketing channels will also, with a few exceptions, pass referral data to your website and ensuing analytics. Referral data includes what website the user was on before they came to your website, which allows marketers to know which channels are sending them web traffic and how much.
Key Question To Answer:
Are your marketing channels effectively pushing the right people to your website?
Website / Web Analytics
This part of the data core is pretty self-explanatory. It comprises your website, including all the content on your blog, landing pages, and downloads (e.g. ebooks and whitepapers). The information included in your website should be the draw, the offer, that you use in your marketing channels.
Websites are typically built in a content management system (CMS). This could be something like WordPress or built into a multi-solution system like Hubspot.
Web analytics tracks user behavior on your website. Starting with referral data, as mentioned previously, web analytics tracks where your visitors came from, what pages they interacted with, and for how long. Using this data, particularly the website conversion data, website marketers can see which pages and what offers are efficiently engaging and converting visitors and which aren’t.
Key Question To Answer:
Is your website effectively engaging visitors?
Lead Nurturing / Automation
You’re already the expert here. But to quickly summarize, this is the stage in the foundation where visitors become leads through filling out a form on a content offer or requesting a demo. It’s the first time contact information is recorded and it is the stage in the process where email becomes increasingly powerful.
From a data perspective, marketing automation technologies are seen as a key marketing data warehouse because it is the first time specific lead data (name, email, company, etc.) is recorded. Combined with website data, marketers can put leads into the proper lead nurturing email sequence.
Key Questions To Answer:
Is your website effectively converting visitors into leads? Then, are your emails being opened, clicked on, and are the recipients re-engaging and moving further down the funnel?
Attribution is the ultimate measurer and connector of the marketing and sales technology core. The primary function of attribution is to connect all marketing efforts to their downstream impact on revenue.
More than just connecting data, though, through attribution modeling, an attribution solution will determine each marketing channel’s impact on revenue. And because the attribution is done through a centralized system, there’s no double-counting of revenue credit. This allows marketers to calculate true ROI for every marketing effort at any level of granularity, from channel to campaign to keyword.
Through API integration and/or UTM parameters, the attribution solution connects all marketing data to sales data in the CRM, effectively turning sales data into marketing data.
Key Question To Answer:
Are each of your marketing efforts — marketing channels, website, and lead nurturing — resulting in new customers and revenue? How much revenue is each effort contributing to?
Customer Relationship Management
The last piece of the marketing and sales technology core is the customer relationship management (CRM) solution. This is the primary data warehouse for the sales team and sales data. It’s the go-to place for customer information, and helps the sales team understand opportunity and customer data.
Traditionally, the CRM was for the sales team only, but as more marketers are being held responsible for revenue, the CRM is increasingly becoming part of the marketing domain. This is possible through attribution.
While some information, like data in form submissions, is pushed to the CRM through platform integrations, much of the CRM data is inputted by the sales team. This includes account information, notes about particular accounts, potential revenue, and more.
Key Question To Answer:
Are your opportunities being converted into customers? Are customers churning or upgrading?
Part I Action Item:
Does your organization have each piece of the marketing and sales data core?
Next week, we will publish Part II: Becoming The Marketing Technology Consultant. Or, if you’d like to read the entire series right now, download the ebook and register for the accompanying webinar below: