Last year, Gartner surveyed more than 350 marketing leaders from across the U.S., Canada and the UK to gain a widescope view of marketing organizational structures, from capability needs and operational priorities to the ways marketing leaders were redesigning their organizations for future growth. At the time, marketing leaders worldwide said they wanted to adopt more decentralized structures to meet their digital transformation goals.
In fact, 51% of the marketing leaders reported they were planning on launching decentralization efforts by 2022 to create more nimble work processes. For the marketing leaders wanting better organizational alignment through decentralization, Gartner emphasized the need for teams to prioritize and optimize their workflows.
“How your team works internally and externally is essential to ensure people are working in harmony,” wrote Gartner, “Evaluate instituting a marketing operations team and moving to agile styles of working to meet those requirements.”
While Gartner’s recommendations were meant for the broader marketing organization, establishing a marketing operations team — and adopting agile work styles — is a crucial component to creating seamless email creation processes. By embracing agility, businesses better position themselves to prioritize and optimize team workflows, a process they can lend to their email marketing efforts.
Marketing operations teams are becoming more strategic
Gartner’s survey found that two-thirds of marketing organizations now have discrete marketing operations teams in place. Many of these MOPs teams are taking on strategic elements of the business’ marketing strategy and owning, on average, 4.3 functions while supporting several essential disciplines.
“To keep pace with evolving consumer and business buying behavior, as well as the marketing landscape, the scope of marketing operations is broadening to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing through people, process and technology,” claimed Gartner, “Gone are the days when marketing operations was focused solely on the ‘run’ aspects of the marketing business.”
One of the biggest insights from the survey was not how many functions marketing operations teams owned, but the number of functions that directly impacted a business’ email marketing programs, from campaign and lead management and workflow process development, optimization and documentation to project management, martech management and process governance and compliance.
To improve operational competence and efficiencies within the MOPs team, Gartner says marketing leaders need to focus their attention on, “Discrete operational functions and the workflows that will enhance communications, planning, collaboration, measurement and insights.”
More teams are adopting agile practices, but it’s not a silver bullet
One promising finding from Gartner’s survey: 75% of the marketing leaders polled had adopted agile techniques in some form or another to plan and manage work processes. Even with such high agile adoption rates, marketing leaders were still experiencing challenges when it came to marketing execution.
The most common weakness in terms of marketing execution cited by survey participants was a “Lack of team communication and collaboration,” followed by “Lack of process,” “Inability to quickly/efficiently adopt new martech,” “Lack of team agility and flex,” and “Poor organizational alignment” — again, all issues that affect a business’ email marketing programs.
“The majority of respondents (68%) have not adopted all the tenets of formal agile project management methodology. Rather, they are using aspects of agile versus a formalized agile methodology, with more than a third defining their own agile approach,” wrote Gartner, noting this selective approach has its benefits, but also opens the door to the aforementioned challenges.
The ideal marketing organization model: Bring strategy in-house
To overcome these challenges and build an effective marketing organization, Gartner says marketing leaders need to, “Design for, cultivate and deploy internal marketing services for greater control and reduced third-party dependence on strategic activities.” In other words, marketing teams should reduce their dependence on external resources and dedicate more of their time and efforts to strategy and execution.
Stensul’s own research has found this to be particularly true with the email creation process. Our data shows most marketing operations teams spend 90% of their time on the production process, with 10% or less of their time going toward strategy, testing and activation. In fact, 80% of brands take more than one week to produce a single email — underscoring not only how inefficient most email marketing creation processes are, but the amount of time spent on production versus strategy.
The MOPs teams that have moved up the curve in stensul’s Email Creation Maturity Model, have experienced significant benefits in efficiency, cost and results as they move through each phase of the maturity model. As teams become more collaborative and implement end-to-end marketing technology solutions that can be accessed across multiple business units within an organization, email marketing programs become more efficient and deliver higher engagement rates.
The marketing leaders surveyed by Gartner acknowledged their dependence on external agencies and third-parties, admitting they wanted to give internal teams more ownership over strategic activities while using agencies to fill in the gaps. According to Gartner’s findings, nearly 70% of the survey participants said they relied heavily on agencies to develop strategy and execute marketing programs, even though their “ideal model” was a shift to keep more strategy and execution in-house.
Need for decentralization and agility more urgent than ever
While Gartner’s report was released last year, well before the pandemic turned the economy upside down, it’s findings are arguably more pertinent than ever. Being nimble has become a key survival mechanism for businesses in recent months as marketing operations leaders are being tasked with launching digital transformation initiatives in record time — all with teams now distributed remotely.
Gartner’s recommendation to “prioritize and optimize team workflows” is prescient in a nearly haunting way when considering today’s current work environments. As marketing operations teams have experienced significant increases in the number of requests they are receiving, MOPs team leaders are quickly realizing the benefits of decentralized processes and looking to adopt more agile practices.
This is especially true when it comes to the MOPs teams managing email marketing requests. With send volumes higher than ever, it has never been more crucial for marketing operations leaders to establish an agile work environment and implement marketing technology solutions that streamline the email creation processes and enable collaborative work environments across various teams regardless of their geographic location.