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We own a small parcel of land in the martech universe. If you squint hard enough you can see us -- we’re in the Marketing Operations (MO) galaxy.  

There are incredibly insightful pieces on martech categories such as middle-warebackbone platforms, and the martech universe as a whole.

But there isn’t enough conversation around the marketing operations landscape, the category that allows individual marketers to become unicorn marketers and marketing technologists.

It’s an important category.

Marketing teams can’t get added value from infrastructure level platforms without analytics and management tools that help them optimize for specific industries or target customers.

Here’s a simple example.

Companies using the same CRM or marketing automation platform can’t compete without the right intelligence. Their marketing and IT hires aren’t going to be the organization’s competitive advantage without efficient team and project management tools. And their content, social media, and email marketing isn’t going to work without attribution data from marketing operations, identifying the campaigns that truly resonate. 

What’s Your Marketing Operations Stack?

Marketing technology is expected to be the next big money sector in technology. And MO will enable organizations to justify this spending. 

Marketing technologists use MO tools to make market, customer, and product/service decisions that create value -- this happens on the ground.

Tools wielded by marketers, C-suite support for experimentation, and investment in technology provides the skill and knowledge sets required to move marketing away from its existence as a cost center.

Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integratesums it up well:

In times of disruption, companies require more change management, new thinking and a sense of urgency driven by your customers. Likely, this happens with managers and hands-on pros in the trenches experiencing and observing firsthand what is needed.

They feel the pain. This means creating a culture where Marketing pros work together on identifying and applying technology, using unifying tools like a MarTech blueprint, a MarTech manifesto that creates vision and goals, and a MarTech plan that drives how, when and where to invest in technology.

Whether you’re a SMB or enterprise, the marketing operations technology stack will grow.

Scott Brinker, ion interactive co-founder and CTO, and chair of the Martech Conference, explains the growth forces fueling martech vendors, and MO. 

One growth force is the Expanding Scope of Marketing:

The Expanding Scope of Marketing is the cluster of forces that’s growing the conceptual space of marketing software. Marketing is becoming More Strategic, which creates multiple layers in an organization in which software tools may help. It also generates more interest among — and more funding from — senior executives to use new marketing technologies competitively.

As marketing expands, it also has more Departmental Intersections with finance, sales, legal, customer service, IT, R&D, etc. Each one of those junctions has opportunities for software innovation.

Marketing operations sows together the Departmental Intersections outlined above by Brinker. It brings together different functions, like marketing and IT, to generate revenue and reduce costs.

So How’s It Play Out In The Real World?

Let’s look at some of the segments -- the solar systems -- in the Marketing Operations galaxy. And let’s consider the effects that martech categories have on each other.

These interactive forces are driven by marketers themselves. While customer demands may dictate content, product and service features, MO technology is driven by the wants of marketers themselves.

For example, Heinz Marketing surveyed marketers in the 2015 Marketing Stack Wishlist, hinting at the growth and exit forces at play in the MO category.

Marketing technologists want:

1. Improved and Consolidated Data Analytics – capturing the right data and reporting reliably

2. Consolidated analytics – too many platforms create too many inconsistent snapshots

3. API’s that work – Integrations are critical for a marketing stack to work. Vendors can do better with their API’s

4. Lead Process Management – easier and effective ways to implement a closed-loop lead management process

5. Content Strategy and Execution – marketers want to diversify the content they develop, focused on customers in their buying journey, and managed with an integrated platform

This has implications for growth, stability, and exiting for martech vendors.

For example, demand for consolidated analytics could mean stability for data analytics vendors, while limiting others from entering the market.

Closed loop lead management processes that are easier and more effective may favor the growth of best-in-class vendors.

The desire by marketers for more diverse content could mean a boon for content vendors specializing in mobile marketing, video, webinars, interactive content, and gamification. It also means MO vendors in Performance & Attribution, Audience & Market Data, Channel / Local Marketing will help them fine-tune and identify the correct distribution channels.

The Future Of The Marketing Operations Category

With the system dynamics and growth forces at play in the universe of martech vendors, there are signs that marketing operations will become an even more important category.

Notice how the first two wishlist items in Heinz Marketing’s survey of marketers include “analytics.”

According to John Zilch Jr. Product Manager at NetProspex, analytics is the number one most important marketing need. It allows marketers to truly knowing their customer

Whether it be maintaining data hygiene and enriching data to uncover valuable insights into your lead and contact data, data is the new king. In essence, it’s about knowing your customers and prospects through good data. And what’s more important to a marketer than truly knowing customers?

Analytics is the means to the most important end in marketing: knowing the customer. Like Scott Vaughan said in the previous section, the customer drives this sense of urgency.

How companies decide to do this -- collect the right data, report on it reliably, and get more consistent snapshots -- is a powerful force at play in the marketing operations category.

It’s a force that will allow the MO galaxy to expand, live long and prosper.