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Want a better balance between effectiveness and efficiency? Hire a MOPs leader (Gartner)

Less than half (49%) of the enterprise organizations surveyed by Gartner have a dedicated marketing operations leader in place.

Marketers are struggling to balance the effectiveness of their programs with efficient processes. According to Gartner’s 2020 Marketing Operations Survey, 76% of marketers — most from organizations with $1 billion or more in annual revenue — said they could not fully maximize the impact of initiatives when also striving for efficiency. At the same time, only 49% of the marketers reported having a marketing operations leader on their team. Subsequently, Gartner found that the marketing organizations focused on effectiveness were more likely to have a marketing operations leader compared to the organizations focused on efficiency.

“Our research reveals that a marketing operations leader can alleviate trade-offs between efficiency and effectiveness, especially in more mature (self-assessed) marketing organizations,” writes Gartner.

Based on Gartner’s data, a MOPs leader enables an organization to be both effective and efficient — a valuable combination when it comes to campaign and lead management, both functions commonly owned by the marketing operations team. For enterprise organizations that rely heavily on their email marketing programs to drive revenue and growth, having a marketing operations leader in place is a major step in the right direction. 

The Marketing Operations Leader Role

A marketing operations — or MOPs — leader often has a wide array of responsibilities. Gartner reports, depending on the organization’s needs, the position could potentially be responsible for everything from financial planning, intelligence research and collaboration to campaign performance and technology management.

“It appears that the role is created in increasingly complex marketing organizations to increase strategic alignment and effectiveness of the most-pressing operational issues du jour,” writes Gartner, “In this way, the role resembles that of a chief of staff in that it is a service role to the CMO or chief marketing executive and the entire marketing organization.”

On average, the marketers surveyed by Gartner reported their marketing operations team was responsible for four to five functions, with the most common responsibilities being financials, research, team collaboration and campaign and lead management. Other functions included:

  • Performance measurement, benchmarking and analytics
  • Marketing technology management
  • Strategic planning, alignment and execution oversight
  • Workflow process governance and optimization

It’s worth noting that each of these functions, in addition to campaign and lead management, are critical components of a marketing organization’s email strategy. This comes as no surprise to stensul’s client services group — as an agile email creation platform for enterprise organizations, we most often partner with our clients’ marketing operations team during the onboarding process and throughout the client relationship to support implementation and training efforts.

Marketing’s biggest challenge offers opportunities for agile MOPs leaders

When asked about their top challenge, 40% of the marketers surveyed by Gartner said connecting marketing strategy and objectives to operational improvements. Meanwhile, when asked about the top marketing operations challenges, marketers listed lack of team communication and collaboration, inability to use martech, execution not linked to strategy, and poorly designed processes.

These two survey questions point to a prime opportunity for a MOPs leader capable of establishing an agile mindset. Agile leaders are more likely to build collaborative work environments and realize the importance of linking execution to strategy. Also, strong MOPs leaders understand the marketing technology landscape — how to evaluate martech, implement it, train on it and manage it. Most importantly, agile leaders are focused on creating agile processes.

According to Gartner’s research, a key ingredient to success for any MOPs leader includes resolving fundamental issues that keep the marketing organization from achieving their goals. “No matter the role’s duties, marketing operations leaders must focus on fixing the marketing organization’s biggest weaknesses,” writes Gartner.

The research organization emphasizes that, to truly be successful, marketing operations leaders must center their work on improving the marketing organization’s overall impact on the business. By establishing an agile environment, MOPs leaders not only are better equipped to overcome the biggest challenge of connecting marketing strategy and objectives to operational improvements — they excel at it. 

Martech: The missing link

One of the most surprising finds from Gartner’s survey was the lack of martech adoption to manage marketing efforts. Again, less than half (43%) of the marketers surveyed said they still use spreadsheets to manage key activities.

“They’ve checked all the other boxes but forgot the operational martech to help their teams — often hundreds of people spread across the world and now working remotely — get work done,” writes Gartner.

When it comes to campaign planning and execution and content marketing, only 34% of the marketers surveyed were using marketing work management (MWM) platforms. (Gartner defines an MWM as, “tools and technologies to support the ideation, creation, production and management of marketing materials and related projects.)

This means nearly two-thirds of enterprise marketers are underinvesting in the very technology that would allow them to overcome their biggest challenges. Stensul has seen this over and over again with enterprise organizations: Our data shows 80% of major brands are relying on outdated email marketing tools and processes that fail to offer agile email creation methods. Without proper agile email creation platforms in place, marketing operations teams are spending a majority of time on execution instead of strategy — the very thing marketers claim is their primary challenge.

Gartner’s recommendation? “To fulfill many of the current and potentially increasing marketing operations responsibilities, you must invest in and adequately utilize a marketing work management platform.”

Stensul understands the challenges marketing organizations and their marketing ops teams are up against. We designed our email creation platform to enable an agile work environment so that marketing operations teams could build emails efficiently while maintaining high performance rates. Our solution was designed to dramatically reduce email production times without having to add additional staff and resources.

We built our technology so that marketers would not have to choose between efficiency or effectiveness. By doing so, we’ve provided a platform that meets one of Gartner’s primary recommendations to marketers: “Fit marketing work management and operational martech to your organization’s needs, replacing outdated and manual processes with integrated and automated systems and platforms.”

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