Marketing ops is still figuring itself out, and its role can vary from company to company. To learn more, we reached out to Nick Bhutani, the Senior Director of Marketing Operations at Trustpilot, an online community that helps people review and discover reputable companies.
We caught up with him to discuss his team’s work, how he sees the role evolving, and what you may be surprised to hear falls under his responsibilities.
Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
For people unfamiliar with marketing operations, what exactly are your team’s primary responsibilities and challenges?
There’s a great article about it here. It outlines how the three main tenets of marketing operations break out into technology, data, and alignment. In keeping with that, for me, marketing operations does fall into a few core responsibilities.
First, our role is critical for process and collaboration. Marketing has several different pillars, such as demand gen, design and development, and content marketing. They all work together for the success and scalability of our marketing initiatives, so having a person or team focused on efficiency is crucial.
I also need to be very familiar with all the technology the entire team uses. Each sub-team also has its own requirements for what it needs to do its job, such as email marketing tools for outbound email campaigns, webinar platforms for nurturing prospects, and aligning all that data together in a report or set of reports. We have 10+ tools that all need to either talk to each other, or at least coexist without disruption.
Finally, there’s reporting and data. We run different kinds of marketing campaigns, so we’re getting multiple datasets from multiple sources. A source could be an email or paid media platform. Pulling this data together, then analyzing and providing insights to stakeholders, is the lifeline of marketing’s impact on the sales pipeline.
At the end of the day, the job is about alignment. We need to keep the marketing team focused on its function and understand how tech and data impacts them. It can also be as simple as creating best practices for organizing Google Docs and naming conventions for projects.
Would you say your goals are well understood by the company?
Yes, many large initiatives in marketing and sales involve marketing ops first, then expand into other teams such as demand gen.
What does your team structure look like? What about KPIs?
We’re still building the team, but are scoping to have 1-2 team members, a data analyst and a manager of select technologies. We may hire a marketing automation or Salesforce expert.
Our KPIs are project-based—for example, launching a new technology or implementing a new process for marketing or sales.
How much of your job focuses on email?
At Trustpilot, the demand gen team manages email campaigns. Marketing ops usually handles the setup of the email client or marketing automation platform, plus the reporting framework.
What’s the hardest part of the job?
Usually finding the tech or process that best fits the organization, since it’s never a perfect fit.
We own the creation of customization and new processes, along with training and support. And when it revolves around integration into other systems, there’s always the risk of corrupting another system or overriding historical data.
But the job is extremely rewarding. Working smarter and following the right process prevents those ad hoc tasks and really streamlines everyone’s work.
What would people be surprised to learn about the job?
Operations is about the big picture. You have to think beyond the scope of just marketing. We work with sales ops, tech developers, and legal teams to make sure our technologies, data handling, and processes are compliant with the company’s guidelines.
How do you feel about the future of marketing operations, and how do you see the role evolving?
As we continue to incorporate technology more and more into marketing, this role will become more technical in nature. You’ll need to understand the complexities behind how a technology is built, and it’ll probably require more experience with coding and development.
If you could change one thing about marketing ops, what would it be?
We wear multiple hats, from managing marketing budgets to coming up with the proper campaign attribution setup. This provides a great look into how the department as a whole is performing, but if something doesn’t fit into another specialized marketing function, it’s often on us to sort out.
Hopefully in the future, we’ll have a more specialized reputation and won’t be a catch-all for marketing problems.