Marketing operations agencies are seeing a renaissance right now—unlike their big advertising brethren which are struggling.
Whereas the big ad agencies charge big fees and leave big unanswered questions about whether they generated a return, their smaller, nimbler marketing operations agency cousins have earned a stellar reputation for doing precisely the opposite. They unlock vast tranches of potential revenue through subtle system rules and attribution dashboards that leave no doubt about their impact.
And anyway, they provide something their customers are increasingly realizing is perhaps the biggest benefit—the ability to observe many clients’ tech stacks, explore corner cases, and implement something correctly on the first try. Whereas internal teams only know their own tech stack, marketing operations consultancies see dozens. They know all the pitfalls and the quickest path to success.
There’s No Excuse for Not Tracking the Full Funnel
From our conversation with Andrea Wildt, Co-Founder, Interimly
When Andrea and her team engage with a new client, they conduct an audit and bring an outside perspective with a bit of a challenger mindset. When you’re internal, it’s easy to apologize for and adapt to your organization’s bugs. It’s only when outsiders start asking questions that you realize fixing those issues could unlock tremendous insight.
“We’re ruthless about asking: Are these programs working?” says Andrea. It is not enough for them to function. They must succeed. “The first step is understanding what goal the program is designed to drive. Then we search for the data to understand whether or not it’s delivering on its goal.”
All too often, that goal itself is not clear. Most companies’ top-of-funnel programs are doing just fine when measured through Google Analytics, but they often don’t correspond with the rest of the funnel. “Conversions on LinkedIn are great, but are they touching pipeline or an actual sale?” asks Andrea. The further down the funnel you go, the more squirrelly the reporting, goals, and alignment tend to be.
With this focus on outcomes, Interimly then updates companies’ reporting infrastructure. “That means using things like Salesforce campaigns, tracking every form submission, making sure that those campaigns are tied to opportunities, et cetera,” says Andrea. “We also build a reporting framework.” And as Andrea shares in her interview, having founded Full Circle Insights has given her a completely different view of what reporting can do.
Trade Your ‘Agility’ for Some Antifragility
From our conversation with Lorena Morales, VP of Marketing at Go Nimbly
When asked what the most impactful book she’s read this year was, Lorena Morales, VP of Marketing at Go Nimbly, responded without skipping a beat: Antifragile by Nassim Taleb.
“Hypergrowth companies in Silicon Valley have been obsessed with the buzzword ‘resilience’ recently,” she explained. “But Taleb’s thinking radically challenges this mindset. He says, ‘Wait a minute, resiliency is not about bouncing back.’ He describes antifragility as a system where the pieces should grow stronger with use and abuse.”
“It really struck me with the entire Covid situation,” Lorena continues. “Things may never be exactly the same again. But rebuilding an exact replica of the past shouldn’t be the goal. We should strive to rebuild things better than they were.”
Lorena believes that this mindset is essential in revenue operations as well, where change is one of the only constants. Data decays every single day. When Salesforce and Marketo suddenly upgrade how they process information, you’re left frantically troubleshooting to prevent hard-earned leads from leaking out of your funnel. And salespeople, in their understandable rush, are like a tornado through the CRM.
One tip? Lorena and her team have implemented a tool that sends a success message to the company slack praising a salesperson whenever they enter a deal correctly. Over time, little changes like that are the difference between an operation that’s agile but hopelessly chaotic and one that’s antifragile and ever-improving.
It’s always the right time to reassess your maturity
From our conversation with Maneeza Aminy, CEO and Founder, Marvel Marketers
So much heartbreak in the marketing operations world comes down to a misapplication of good advice. You do the right thing at the wrong time, or you do the wrong thing at the right time. How do you untangle which is which? It helps to have a partner who’s also helping lots of other companies and can apply insights to help you benchmark yourself.
“I always start with new clients by assessing their baseline to craft a stage-appropriate data strategy,” says Maneeza Aminy. “Companies are in one of three phases—hygiene, governance, and enrichment.”
Here’s how she defines those:
Phase 1: Data hygiene. Discovering bad data and cleaning it up.
Phase 2: Data governance. Implementing rules that keep the data clean.
Phase 3: Data enrichment. Constructing your ideal ecosystem.
Most companies, she finds, get stuck in the data hygiene phase because issues there compound; the more inaccurate the data, the more work it takes just to keep it stable. Whereas if you push through to higher phases, you unlock more and more time to plan, pre-empt, and perfect.
“Back when I worked as a consultant, we created what we called a ‘data washing machine,’ which consisted of setting up three to five campaigns to normalize all lead data that entered a client’s system. Simple things like normalizing location data when a lead would fill out a form—for example, making sure “CA,” “Cali,” and “California” were all recognized as the same state, so marketers could effectively geo-target emails. Another one would be blacklisting competitors so they get removed from your lead lifecycle at the ‘front door’ of your marketing. It may sound basic, but you’d be surprised how often I’ve gotten emails from competitors trying to pitch their services to me because they’re not blocking me as a competitor at the top of the funnel.”
Never Underestimate Internal People Power
From our conversation with Cristina Saunders, Co-Founder of CS2 Marketing
For Cristina, far too few marketing operations teams have a seat at the so-called revenue table, and she’d like to see that change. The biggest thing most marketing operations teams can do? Rid yourself of rote tasks.
“Automate your grunt work as much as you can to free up your time for meatier, more strategic problems,” she says. “A buildup of grunt work usually stems from a lack of control over your systems, which leads to those unforeseen issues popping up every day.” When you take the time to engage your executives in conversations about what they’re trying to achieve and how your team can help, however, you start to unlock resources.
“Advise them on how they can each scale their processes to run more programs or activities that are going to drive pipeline or close deals,” she says. “Every function is strapped for resources. Marketing operations can be the voice that advises the whole business on how to operate more efficiently.”
Over time, she believes this participation can elevate marketing operations teams to the strategic role in which they belong. “The data we provide powers every function of the business,” says Cristina. “Every project we touch has major implications for the bottom line. And working with all functions of the business puts us in a unique position to be experts on all facets of the revenue team.”
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