Marketing operations are a pain nobody speaks about

by Mar 27, 2022

Size doesn’t matter

Marketing operations is a big term that contains all people, processes and tech active within the marketing team. 

And even as some (usually bigger companies) are already building their marketing operations teams, it still isn’t a topic in the majority of marketing teams even though it should be.

Even smaller companies need to speak about marketing operations

Especially companies focused on high growth tend to push on without having time to check on their processes and setup and of course, small and medium businesses tend to think that some challenges are limiting only to bigger companies. 

In the end, it can be that not budgets, but increasing friction is keeping your marketing efforts back.

It’s not just about bigger budgets

Most of the marketing teams are fighting for a bigger budget for the next campaign, quarter or year. Or at least (in the last two years) fighting against cuts to what they already received. 

But there’s another resource that is limiting what they can achieve – it’s time. 

Constant optimization, A/B testing, trying out a new channel or that interesting new strategy. Anything that can help you in long term takes time, which is usually limited.

A resource that is many times leaking unnoticed due to the fact, that it’s leaking by small amounts during the whole day, most of the tasks and for each member of the marketing separately. 

Every task is slowed down without focusing on improving marketing operations, which usually can be done even without having a dedicated person for that

Solving (or decreasing) this marketing operations challenge for the whole marketing team can mean that you will get the potential of one or two people back in a combined way.

This friction is getting bigger every year. Bigger doesn’t mean louder as it seems based on the visibility of the topic across blogs, tweets, videos or just general discussion between marketers and CMOs.

Where are we getting this friction? And why is that?

Babel Tower of marketing

With marketing scope growing larger with digital marketing, and new channels there’s a big push for higher specialization within marketing teams to leverage the full potential of all opportunities. 

This leads to the crucial problem of “confusion of tongues” and higher complexity of interactions, which can easily impact the whole marketing team effectivity. 

The growing amount of channels and specializations is pushing teams to the limit

Different members of the marketing team are much more disconnected, they tend to focus on different goals and metrics. They use different tools. They are so occupied with their specialization that they don’t have time to understand the macro view of a brand and its marketing. Or at the very least a lot is lost or missed in chat.

Every campaign and every channel adds to the amount of “switches” between different things. The same goes for every product or client that the marketer is trying to handle. Or every colleague they need to cooperate with.

This adds friction. This friction usually takes different forms, among others:

  • frequent reporting of status, data or insights nobody else is able to get themselves
  • searching across messages, e-mails and notes for crucial information or context
  • missed structural rules making the data or test “unreadable”

Most approaches to solve this tend to collapse under their own weight. That usually means:

  •  an ever-growing pile of files and sheets on Google Drive, that nobody is able to navigate through anymore. 
  •  bending some SaaS solutions intended for a different purpose or team within the company

Natural instincts of marketers to better organize themselves are either stopped by not having enough time to do so in high pace environment or will fall back to their nearly original state.

Does it mean it’s a pain only for companies with big teams or a wide variety of channels?

Question of critical mass

It’s a matter of both and neither. Even for freelancers, this can be an issue as a growing number of clients or projects basically substitutes the issue of bigger marketing teams and more specializations. 

There’s not really a minimum number of channels or marketers in the team for marketing operations

Every campaign and every channel adds to the amount of “switches” between different things. The same goes for every product or client that the marketer is trying to handle. Or every colleague they need to cooperate with.

Within smaller marketing teams one person is handling a lot of specializations at the same time.

Therefore we can argue, that it’s not about if this challenge is starting at some point, but when you get from losing minutes to hours per each week and each member of the marketing team. 

Not even accounting for silo breaking activities, when you are trying to keep on the same page with other departments. And there is still an impact of post-covid trends like remote work.

Marketing operations – should you care?

With more than three marketing channels, marketing team members or products (clients) this is definitely a topic that will start to impact you too disregarding the size of the budget or company.

Later you will start to care about marketing operations and processes, harder it will be for you to onboard any solution as your will be handling not just current needs, but also history and higher complexity of information.

There’s a variety of small steps you can take:

  • think about any way how to break silos even within the marketing team
  • make sure to present strategies and interpret analysis or test results across the team
  • automate dashboards for example with Google Data Studio
  • don’t hesitate to improve the tech stack for your team

But the long-term solution will be always to provide a “single source of truth” and diminish repetitive work that doesn’t need to consume the time and energy of passionate professionals you spent so much energy hiring.

And don’t worry, we can see that most of the companies are still wrapping their heads around this topic.

If you should remember anything, it’s this:

Resource that is limiting what your marketing teams can achieve – it’s time And it’s leaking with every task and action. 

Tomáš Javůrek

Tomáš Javůrek


A passionate marketer from 2009. Co-founder of Storymkrs.

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