During the 2016 Marketo Summit, I had a couple of interesting conversations with my colleagues and with consultants regarding a potentially new discipline of “marketing devops” or “marketing integrations.”
My colleagues are a part of the integrations and developer side of martech where they are struggling to find people with the intersection of skills in Marketing, Databases, and APIs. This role could be called a Marketing Developer or Marketing Tech Integrator.
Much like SaaS companies’ DevOps teams that product uptime and deployment, Marketing DevOps works to ensure the martech stack is operational, delivering the correct data, and delivering leads.
The idea of a technical integrator within Marketing is an important insight because more and more firms have larger, customized martech stacks. Seth Ulinski, Senior Analyst at TBR, wrote about “dark martech” recently. The survey he interpreted showed about 50-60% of respondents across marketing functions saying they had “internally managed” solutions. Ulinksi interprets this to mean that large portions of the martech stack use homegrown integrations or tools on a daily basis. Who is creating these tools and managing the dark martech stack?
What is a Marketing Technology Integrator/Systems Manager/DevOps?
I can tell you what it is not. It’s not me. A lot of marketers who entered Marketing Operations in the past 5-10 years were people like me, with a background in technology, sales, and marketing. Few were well versed in programming languages or web developers in a prior life.
A few marketing operations professionals did enter the field from engineering or from web development. Essentially, anyone who had a good grasp of the use of computers, the internet, and was a good marketer, could become a great marketing ops manager.
Yet, without a developer background, there is a limit to what a marketing operations person can do on her own. There is a point where a marketing operations pro knows they need a developer. While I can translate requirements across Sales-Marketing-Technology, I still need a developer to help me fill in the customer experience gaps like:
- Complex workflow or decisions on Page or in CRM.
- Faster processing.
- Integrations that are not native or non-standard, such as a data warehouse or production database integration.
At this point, I may find someone internally, but often I look for a martech agency with developers. A few of you may be familiar with Sanford Whiteman on the Marketo Community. That’s the kind of expert many want to work with.
Sanford, however, is a real developer. He can build from scratch many of the small pieces that tie your customer experience and martech together. But how much of a “coder” do you need and what are the ideal intersections of skills that make up a “marketing systems” person?
Some of you may be wondering if such people and roles exist already. From my search of LinkedIn (below) and Google, it seems some terms are around. “Marketing Devops” certainly is not and returned few results. Surprisingly, the latest hot term, “marketing technologist” ranks very low.
What is the skillset of a successful Marketing DevOps person or team?
Do you need a full blown, potentially expensive developer for every situation? Do you need someone with a CS degree?
Maybe, maybe not.
Since this is still an emerging discipline, these skills and tools encompass a range of possibilities.
Tools and Skills
The effective marketing devops manager understands the following kinds of tools and can develop business specific workflows. Skills related to data and customer experiences include:
- Apex Code in SFDC
- API coding and uses
There are more “systems integration” functions that could include tools like
- ETL jobs
- Boomi and Talend
- Excel advanced functions
- Database administration
What are the daily tasks of a marketing devops manager?
The full time marketing devops person will typically handle a range of these tasks:
- Grill potential vendors on API, security, and instructions for integrations.
- Test different integrations.
- Troubleshoot bad imports or workflow errors.
- Create and monitor data pulls and inserts between systems.
- Manage system load and find ways to do data transforms faster without impacting lead flow.
- Design and build data flows between systems.
- Interface with Product, Sales Operations, Business Operations, and Finance to help Marketing, Sales, and Marketing Ops automate customer facing processes.
- Vet that the integration uses the correct fields and APIs.
- Customizing workflows or data transforms to meet internal security, data security, and custom requests.
- Build customized experiences on customer facing email or websites.
How Should You Leverage Marketing DevOps?
In my experience, there are two critical areas where this new role helps firms create the desired customer experience the most:
Integrating and Automating Data Between Departments.
Marketing automation isn’t just about nurturing leads and data appending, it’s about automating and controlling Customer Onboarding, Invoicing, Renewals, and helping Sales. The more you can un-silo data for use in messaging, the more possibilities you have to connect with customers properly and not just as a faceless corporation.
Thus, the need to manage those integrations increases as a company grows. Each new integration requires proper handling. I know of firms that boast of having 20 or 40 vendors in their martech stack. That sort of boast requires marketing devops and systems integrators to work effectively. I would always ask a developer to help with key integration points.
Enhancing the Customer Experience.
While this enhancement can mean many things, I usually start with ensuring the on page experience and data collection is human friendly. That might mean creating special forms to pull/push data. It might mean a custom partner lead collector. This enhancement could also mean creating a multi-step form process tied to the product. The possibilities are endless.
Do You Need Marketing DevOps?
There isn’t a lack of tools or technology, there is often a lack of skills or understanding to building a martech stack for your business. Scott Brinker pointed out that a recent Wrike study probably undercounts the total tools in martech stacks. Why? Because there are many tiny tools and patches across systems, free or paid, that make up a stack. Yet, most marketers only recall the top 5 or 10 paid systems they know of. You might even consider your syndicated content vendor integrations as part of the stack too.
Wrike recently published How Marketers Get Things Done: The State of Agile Marketing in 2016. This survey is revealing the new requirement of integration and integration management, a perfect intersection for marketing devops. A few data points illustrate there is an emerging need for integration specialists. For example, 22.4% of respondents said their biggest challenges were “finding, learning, and integrating new marketing technologies” and 19.1% said “continuing to effectively scale.” Wrike said the responses were greater when just looking at respondents from Marketing Ops. Wrike went further and said New Marketing Technologies create
“pressure on marketers and marketing operations teams to assess tools for value, test them, present an internal business case, get them integrated into their stack…”
And 18.8% of marketers said Accounting and Finance were the most difficult to collaborate with. How could effective integrations help you here? How could it help Finance? While the survey indicated collaboration tools are partially to blame, I believe this is more about department priorities, security of data, and legal requirements than actual discussions.
Scott Brinker analyzed this report too and brought up integrations and the size of martech stacks. The survey showed 89.6% of respondents believed their tools were very to somewhat integrated. Wrike found that “40% of large teams say their tools are very integrated, while only 23% of small teams” thought so. Larger teams, at larger firms, are more likely to have large stacks that require tight integration from the front end to the back end. That sort of integration depends on more technical staff.
To answer the question of “Do you need marketing devops?” let’s look at the next question Wrike posed: “How satisfied are you with the level of integration of your key tools?” 77% said they were at least “satisfied” and larger teams are more satisfied. I bet those teams have someone who would be classified as “marketing devops.” Those less satisfied are likely relying on less technical staff to manage their stack.
What makes a great marketing developer?
To some degree, the ideal person depends on your firm and ability to find and pay a consultant, freelancer, or hire FTE. In my experience, the following set of skills are typical of the successful candidate:
- Familiar with API programming enough to troubleshoot or build.
- Familiar with SQL, ETL, Boomi, and similar tools.
- Someone who has a history of building product to front-end connections.
- Someone who can manage the larger components, understand the business reasons for them, and also knows the lower level pieces that make connections work.
Which firms need marketing devops?
Again, this will depend a bit on how much you need to bend tools to your needs. Wrike’s survey supported the notion that larger firms, with larger martech stacks need this kind of person.
Firms with large stacks. (20+ tools). This is supported by Wrike’s survey.
- Firms who need product-stack integrations.
- Marketing Ops Agencies to support customers.
In an upcoming post from Sanford Whiteman, we talk about having such an agency or developer freelancer available and on-call. Small to medium sized firms won’t usually have enough work for a full time marketing developer. But there’s always a code tweak or customer experience that just cannot be done in the existing vendor boxes.
Where can you find Marketing Developers?
Not every company needs a full time marketing devops person. Larger teams with larger martech stacks certainly do.
- Web developers.
- Product integration developers.
- Consultancies or marketing automation agencies.
- Answering developer questions on forums like SFDC and Marketo Nation.
It is also interesting to note some of the terms used in LinkedIn. Very few people are describing themselves as “marketing devops” but there are more results for “marketing developer.” This data isn’t totally focused on People.
|Linked In – exact – somewhere in the profile or job||16-Jul|
|marketing dev ops||67|
What is your experience with martech stack integrations and front-end customer experience customization? Do you have a “marketing devops” specialist on call or on your team?