HubSpot and the MO Pros Community recently released a report covering the state of marketing operations professionals, bringing to light some key themes on current pain points and challenges.
Having surveyed 750 marketing ops pros across all levels of experience and from companies of all sizes, HubSpot and MO Pros found—among a multitude of other discoveries—that many marketing ops folks are looking to feel more understood at their organization, not get bogged down with time-consuming tasks, and break down silos that are hindering alignment.
“With constant requests for reports, growing responsibilities and being siloed from other departments,” the report says, “ops professionals don’t have the support and resources they need to scale and empower others with data.”
To start off, the report points to what it calls a “major problem” for marketing ops teams: the lack of a “fundamental, leadership-wide understanding” of their role within the company.
The report states that nearly one-third (32%) of those surveyed do not have a “defined marketing ops team or role” and that a little over two-thirds (71%) of those surveyed do indeed “feel understood” by their company.
Notably, however, at large companies, the percentage is lower: At organizations with at least 10,000 people, not even half of the employees say they feel understood. Similarly, the report notes a similar trend with higher-revenue organizations, suggesting ops might be “getting lost in the shuffle.”
While the concern isn’t as prevalent for marketing ops professionals with more experience, the survey found, it’s more of an issue for those “in the middle of their marketing ops career”: e.g., an ops specialist or manager who may not yet have the confidence to figure out the best way to “prove value and advocate for the alignment they need.”
This can be the result another struggle facing marketing ops professionals: They’re being asked to do too many things at once.
“These may be specialists, managers or directors,” the report explains, “but if they are being pulled in a million different directions, they won’t feel like they are understood by leadership teams for the true function of marketing operations.”
When you clearly define and lay out the goals and responsibilities of marketing ops, you ensure not only marketing ops understands their duties, but also the rest of the organization.
As described by Gartner’s Sally Witzky, here’s what can happen when duties aren’t clearly defined: “When everyone is responsible for marketing ops, no one is truly responsible because they are too busy getting work out the door.”
“With the realization that marketing organizations require more efficient and effective operations,” Witzky writes, “marketing leaders are funding marketing ops to better manage more work and deliver performance goals.”
To enable more efficient marketing operations, the HubSpot and MO Pros report recommends investing in training, as well as providing ample access to new products and marketing technology.
On the martech side in particular, a survey respondent recommended, “Allow your marketing ops people to explore the market—give them time in their day to attend training on different systems and new products."
Here are some common marketing ops goals: cleaning up plans, keeping plans and any third-party systems in sync, measuring ROI and evaluating the effectiveness of specific channels, and improving governance across marketing teams. They're often lacking a simple way to manage performance, systems and processes to effectively and more easily demonstrate marketing's value.
In particular, here’s one item commonly affecting marketing ops’ ability to carry out these tasks: spending too much time cleaning up data across systems, which HubSpot and MO Pros categorize as tech debt: i.e., “reactive busywork related to the tech stack, platforms or software” that’s managed by marketing ops.
From measuring the effectiveness of specific channels to jumping from system to system to manually enter data in multiple locations, these types of tasks can cause marketing ops to feel, as the report puts it, “burned out, under-appreciated, undervalued and frustrated,” which can inevitably affect business performance.
To help marketing ops work better and, frankly, enjoy their work more, it helps to get them away from antiquated processes and—piggybacking off the report’s recommendation to let marketing ops explore the latest in the tech market—into a system that supports (and values) the complexity and nuances of the marketing operations department.
For example, when marketing ops is stuck working in spreadsheets, rather than one collaborative system, they’re often faced with errors that can wreak havoc on their data, they’re not able to implement workflows to delegate work, they don’t have visibility into what’s really happening across marketing at any given moment, and—perhaps the most pressing matter—they’re stuck in their silos.
Breaking down barriers
As such, when everyone is working off of separate records of data, there’s no central source of truth, despite everyone’s best efforts to compile the information across parties via email, chat, SharePoint, PowerPoint and so forth.
However, the spread of advanced technology at marketing leaders’ fingertips is constantly growing and evolving to help enable easier collaboration.
In the HubSpot and MO Pros report, Maggie Butler, Builder Marketing Team Manager at HubSpot, makes a compelling case for tackling the silo problem:
“Create shared, cross-team or cross-department goals for your marketing operations team this year. Doing so will help break down those barriers that ops teams face and motivate each team to collaborate. Breaking down silos is the only way for marketing ops to succeed.”
To add to this, make sure you’re first defining and demonstrating what success even looks like to your organization. Instead of presenting hundreds of pages of organizational goals for your marketing ops team to decipher, make sure those goals are aligned to overall strategy.
It can be difficult for marketing ops to measure performance to begin with, but when it’s not delivered in the context of the marketing goals, plans or overall strategy, its value and impact are greatly reduced.
In terms of cross-department alignment, for sales and marketing ops in particular, when both of their data is gathered in one place, each department can gain more visibility into the organization’s overall plans, budgets, pipeline, performance and goals. On the other hand, when sales and marketing are combining disparate methods of communication, knowledge and insights can become siloed. Eliminate these barriers by bringing your data into a single repository—one place where everyone can get on the same page.
Time to help marketing ops
Whether you’re a marketing ops leader deep in the weeds from these challenges or another member of the marketing org looking to better support your ops colleagues, read the full HubSpot and MO Pros report for more survey results and firsthand recommendations.
When you’re ready to see how technology can help, be sure to check out how Hive9 is helping marketing ops leaders work better.