Learning about, and focusing on, improving marketing operations is becoming more critical for digital marketing teams trying to get ahead. Understanding your customers, implementing customer data properly, and measuring campaign performance are all key steps in building out your marketing ops.

.In addition, marketing ops focuses on (1) managing the technologies that the marketing team purchases, and (2) measuring marketing effectiveness across the board. It’s not just your marketing techniques, but rather, it’s what goes on behind the scenes to make sure your campaigns reach their goals.
No one knows successful marketing operations better than the experienced marketers and business owners of today. Here are their secrets for improving your marketing ops:  

1. Establish a cross-department workflow

“The most important piece of improving your marketing operations is establishing a project workflow between marketing and the rest of the organization. The internal workings of individual teams can be heavily influenced by how other departments request projects and/or expect projects to be done. Once your workflow is established, using a tool to help task assignments, set deadlines, and follow up is critical.”
—Daniel Bliley, Marketing Director, Passport

2. Work with your audience in mind

“One issue with marketing, especially in digital, is the noise. There are so many companies saying the exact same thing, and companies don’t really do the proper research to figure out who they are, what their message is, who needs to hear that message, and how to get that message out.
Start from the top down. Take the time to explore your analytics and the data, interview your customers, pay attention to social media conversations & get involved, then create content that aligns your goals with your audience’s goals, speak to your audience in a unique way, and constantly review & tweak.”
—Patrick Delehanty, Digital Marketing Strategist, Marcel Digital

3. Know your customers

“The vast majority of the time, people make bad marketing decisions because they don’t have the right information about their target audience. To remedy that, I’ve worked hard to tie our CRM to our email marketing to our signups to our web traffic, so when we’re reaching out to someone, we have a complete understanding of them.”
—D. Keith Casey, Jr., Director of Product, Clarify.io

4. Align all consumer insights

"I think in an ideal state there is a dedicated consumer insights team, but a team that doesn’t work in its own little silo. A team that is interactive not only with the marketing team but also the product team, as well as with others who touch the customer technology. They have to understand the full circle of customers’ curiosities so they can put together a real, robust view for those who need it." 
— Patrick Adams, CMO, PayPal

5. Establish your key marketing metrics

“Establish 2 to 4 key metrics that will guide all your marketing efforts. Without establishing these benchmarks, your marketing team won’t have anything to shoot for individually or collectively. Unfortunately, many marketing departments don’t get creative with the metrics that serve as benchmarks for performance; their main metrics usually revolve around leads generated, sales, etc. However, there are usually more telling metrics for measuring your marketing effectiveness. For example, percentage of leads (free trials) vs. unique Website visitors; percentage of leads vs. conversions (paid customers); monthly recurring revenue.”
—Jeff Kear, Owner, Planning Pod

6. Prioritize content development

"We have a dedicated team that’s focused on content strategy and on creating what I call the content supply chain, mapping out where all the sources of content come from. Do we have the content already? How do we create new content? Who creates the content? It may be internal, it may be external. What format does that content take? Then, how do we work with the appropriate teams to get that content in the market? 
— Rishi Dave, CMO, Dun & Bradstreet

7. Stay on brand

"Ultimately [integrated planning] is a function that’s run through the marketing team. We establish the brand voice and try to create and implement consistency across all of our efforts, all of our communications channels, and all of our internal divisions/business units." 
— Evan Greene, CMO, The Recording Academy (The GRAMMYs)

8. Focus on the ROI of your campaigns

“Focus on ROI and user retention. By measuring the return of each campaign, we’re able to identify which ones are actually working and prioritize those. Our ROI has grown from 35% to 200%. Now, we have more money to invest in other projects to continue growing.”
—Gabriel Stürmer, Chief Marketing Officer, Cupcake Sweet Entertainment

9. Implement Lean methodology to discover which campaigns work

“Implement the Lean methodology (build, measure, learn). In essence, during planning sessions, we develop a list of hypotheses & prioritize based on expected impact. We then devise bare-bones methods to test these hypotheses. In this way, we get data-driven feedback quickly, allowing us to invest more heavily in winners and cut losers.”
—Ryan O’Donnell, Director of Marketing, Avalara TrustFile

10. Use a Scrum board to focus weekly priorities

“Enhance your weekly task delegation through the implementation of a Scrum board. Scrum is an Agile framework for handling tasks, originally developed for software development teams to easily delegate tasks. There is nothing worse than being inefficient when it comes to marketing, so a Scrum board helps us develop a weekly plan of attack, and lets everyone know what they should be working on.”
—Jake Lane, Growth Analyst, LawnStarter, Inc.

11. Keep experimenting with new marketing techniques

“Great marketing is about experimentation, testing, and measuring different approaches to find what works best. An issue many marketing departments face is that everyone has their discrete responsibilities, so it’s left to the marketing director or VP to initiate new programs. However, this should be everyone’s responsibility. Your team should meet regularly to brainstorm and come up with one new idea to apply and measure. It can be big or small, as long as you try something new — otherwise, you may never find that one golden opportunity that makes your revenue curve bend upward.”
—Jeff Kear, Owner, Planning Pod

12. Build a long-term marketing plan

“Set in stone a comprehensive 12-month marketing strategy and goals for the next five years. Developing a strategy with clear action items and setting both short-term and long-term goals pushes you to assign team members and actually implement the tasks.”
—Beth Gard, lotus823

13. Hire a strategic analyst

“The first hire in the marketing operations role should be a strategic analyst. This role is focused on developing ROI measurements for marketing. Once the tracking is in place, then everything else within marketing should be aligned.”
—David T. Scott, CMO, Scott on Marketing

14. Continue to manage customer data

"We’re building a centralized marketing profile that is at the customer level and becomes the common definition used by marketing teams across the organization to drive their campaigns. Getting the data house in order, making it real-time, and managing it at the attribute level is what’s important. As is making sure that the experts who are really close to the products have the ability to control what’s most important to them in that profile. This allows us to federate it out and take a much more efficient view across the organization, rather than be a big centralized behemoth that is too slow and ultimately doesn’t work."
— Steve Ireland, SVP/MD, JPMorgan Chase

15. Remain accountable

"In order to be effective, marketers need to have credibility. Because they have to do a lot of leading by influence, they have to do a lot of aligning and engaging and evangelizing, and that only works when people trust you. They only trust you if you deliver the goods and are accountable; you do what you say and you say what you mean.
— Peter Horst, CMO, The Hershey Company

More marketing resources

Marketing operations is a relatively new field, and there’s always more to learn. Here's a list of some of our resources for marketing leaders and teams (including our eBook, The Digital Marketer’s Guide: How To Drive Success at the Tactical Level) to help bring your next campaign to success.