While I love sharing what I’ve learned about Marketo with you, a few blog posts aren’t enough to make you an expert, let alone help you build a new implementation. I can show you a path to becoming a marketing operations and Marketo expert. I hope you will join me on this journey. It’s one I made myself over the past 8 years of hard work.
Back in 2008, I moved from Sales to Marketing. From day one I was asked to deliver leads whether that meant inbound trial requests or scraping Fortune 1000 sites manually. (I’ll let you in on a big secret – I hate manual data work).
So guess what? I said there had to be a better way. And I slowly made my way toward it. I developed content-based events and webinars, only to find deduping leads was painful, taking 8 hours after each event (just ask my colleague!). There had to be a better way.
I aligned with Sales to route leads better and rank them…manually. I sent emails out and achieved my registration targets, yet lost valuable emails to unsubscribes and spam. There had to be a better way! Then we moved to a freemium model and 200,000 leads came through, sometimes over 300 to route each day. This situation was not sustainable, so I found Marketo and changed my work-life and my career.
Back then, there wasn’t much in the way of training or tested methods for handling a lead lifecycle or whitepaper collectors. Each of us had to learn on our own until the Marketo Nation came online. Over the next few jobs and my consulting work, I learned more and more efficient methods to designing and building in Marketo to make everyday life faster. And let’s face it – faster deployment in Marketo means faster to market, which means faster to the revenue vision your CMO wants.
What I found along this journey was I had become one of the experts at Marketo. I also found that teaching others and sharing my knowledge so new users could work better and faster was very rewarding. This is what I want for you: for you to become an expert at Marketo. Of course, this won’t happen overnight it requires hard work and a place to start.
Don’t rely on just me and my story. There are many marketing technologists who have taken interesting paths. For example, I am delighted to share my friend Jessica Cross’s marketing tech origin story:
“I was working as a market development rep (think SDR) for PowerReviews. I was bit-by-bit taking on projects from the marketing team to try and wiggle my way out of being in Sales and doing 80 dials a day.
Then one day, the VP of Marketing told the marketing team that he purchased Marketo and needed to get it installed asap. (My reaction was, Marketo? Don’t they only have 20 employees? Ouch!).
As I was the only marketer on the team with SFDC admin access, the VP gave me the gift of integrating Marketo and turning it on for the first time. I think he literally forwarded me a welcome email with a couple links and told me to go at it. I watched a bunch of videos, read over a “getting started” document 17 times and started clicking buttons and installing apps. I was extremely nervous initiating the sync between our Salesforce and Marketo as there are a number of warnings of once you complete this step there is no going back!
And they were right, there was no going back. Since that point I’ve been using Marketo continuously for 6+ years.”
So How Do I Get Into Marketing Operations?
There are many paths to marketing operations. There are a few common threads as well as backgrounds that seem to work well.
- Marketer who loves working with logic and technology. You started working with your CRM team a lot or working with the database to ensure better programs in SEM, SEO, or Email. And then someone asked you to take on marketing automation or setup Marketo. You loved it so much you never went back to shipping boxes to events.
- “Failed” engineers who switched to business or marketing. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but it’s true. I’m a bit of a failed engineer who dabbled in programming, basic coding, building computers, websites, etc…and realized I never loved it or was good enough to make it pay the bills. What I did find is my ability to understand many of the key concepts made it easier to help others with the first level technical issues and work with the engineers to find solutions. Translating between the technical and non-technical is a valuable skill too.
- Salespeople who become Marketers. Yes, I do “work at the intersection of sales, marketing, and technology,” so I am biased. I find that some of the best marketers used to do sales in the past. It may be that the best demand generation marketers worked in Sales, as well as some of the top marketing automation experts. Salespeople do appreciate someone who can speak their language and process, make it better, and deliver.
- Engineers who want to get involved in other parts of the business. Perhaps you were a front end developer, a growth product engineer, or whatever. And you just wanted a change of pace. Building custom journeys and experiences requires a lot of backend work to make it seem like magic to the audience. Being a part of a marketing ops team will expose you to creative area that requires that programming skill you have.
Update: Jun 10, 2018: read Scott Brinker’s article on how to be great at Martech.
What are some of the Roles in Marketing Operations?
Marketing operations has been around under various guises for at least 20 years. You may still come across roles like:
- Database/CRM Marketer (Email marketer or Marketing Automation Manager equivalent)
- Email Database Marketer
In fact, Salary.com still uses these older terms so you will have to make an effort to understand how your role compares to what is out there now. Although I would be wary of any company that still posts for Database Email Marketers; they may not be too forward looking.
These days, you are likely to see a few roles:
- Marketing Automation Manager
- Marketing Operations Manager
- Marketing Automation Campaign Manager (less time administering the system)
- Marketing Technology Manager
- Marketing Systems Manager or Developer
- Demand Generation Manager, etc: in some smaller firms, or firms new to martech, this will be a hybrid role.
With the exception of the more technical Systems/Developer role, the typical Marketing Operations staffer will expect to be responsible for some or all of the following tasks during a given week:
- Marketing Automation platform (if an Admin)
- Data quality, processing, deduping.
- Vendor negotiation and selection.
- Martech add-on tools
- Building campaign workflows or journeys.
- Helping align the systems to the strategy.
- Working with sales and other teams on aligning work.
- Running reports on tactics and often strategic funnel.
- Ensuring the lead funnel is working and reports are correct.
- Email marketing (some companies, more or less)
- Email reputation and deliverability
- Connections between systems (Website, third party tools, lead databases, reporting tools, CRM)
Learning marketing technology is more about the mindset that matters to doing the operational role. You have to know the logical and technical side just as much as how and why you market. We’re responsible for the infrastructure underlying the buyers’ journey. If you aren’t able to understand the overall marketing goals, you will provide poor advice to your peers on making the journey a reality for your audience.
Even as a Director of Marketing Operations, most firms will ask you to be responsible for the above, with a team, or without. Teams with larger martech stacks have opportunities to spend more time on strategy and interesting technical projects. Ultimately, the MOPS team delivers the funnel and buyers’ journey infrastructure.
Key Skills to Consider Building for marketing operations
There are many skills that go into a successful marketing automation leader. There are several core skills that you should expect to have and build over your career in martech. Each role in marketing ops tends to be unique for the company. Some roles are more marketing than automation, while others demand detailed SQL knowledge. Do you need them all? No, but these are the ones I typically look for in some combination.
- Understanding of “technology” – how does a computer work?
- Understanding of how the internet works. Really.
- Basic HTML, CSS, or better.
- Database concepts – you don’t need to be a pro at SQL, but dabbling helps
- Reporting and metrics for marketing
- Project management
- Set logic, Boolean logic, logical steps
- Process flow charts
- System Administrator understanding
- How email works
- How landing pages work
- Inbound vs. Outbound marketing and sales.
- How the sales funnel works
- Content marketing
- URL parameters
- MS Excel
Skills that can make you stand out, or open other roles in the future, include:
- Ability to code emails and landing pages
- People management
- Large scale projects
- Sales operations and CRM administration
- Team facilitation
- MS Excel master (more than just pivots)
More Resources for Learning About Marketing Operations
- Marketing technologists and recruiters.
- Terms and things you should know
- How Marketo Structures MOPS
- MOPS Team Structures
- What MOPS does for you
- The MOPS Team and your CMO
- KPIs you should know
- Technical interview questions (I don’t necessarily agree with these for most roles)
- Overview of marketing skills – supply and demand for 2017
As a reader, I am sure you are involved in marketing technology. What’s your story? Share below.