What You're Missing without Marketing Operations Integration

If you’re a marketing operations professional, you’ve probably been asked “what do you do exactly?” more times than you care to remember.

The one-sentence explanation usually runs something like this: “marketing operations makes sure the processes, including people and tech, behind marketing run as effectively as possible.” It’s an unsung hero in many marketing functions, tackling the process problems that can so easily prevent marketers from reaching their full potential. 

And yet, getting people to understand and appreciate the importance of marketing operations can still feel like an impossible task.

But while explaining that to everyone else in an organization takes time, one of the best ways to really make the value marketing ops brings clear is to deliver that value better. An effective way to do just that is through marketing operations integrations.

The Importance of Marketing Operations

Understanding just how integrations can help begins with understanding why marketing ops is so important in the first place. 

In short, the value they provide is two-fold. First, there’s the process improvements. This revolves around figuring out where there’s waste, inefficiencies, and other issues in marketing processes.

The Importance of Marketing Operations

For example, marketing operations might see that a particular external contributor is repeatedly causing delays because they don’t contribute work quickly. In response, operations might write up a Service Level Agreement to get everyone on the same page about when and how work should be done. Or, they might restructure the team to be fully cross-functional so there isn’t a need to work with someone external in the first place. 

The second major element, though it’s obviously deeply connected to the first, is managing technology. Because software and related tech make up most of the tools modern marketers use to do their work, they fall under marketing operations.

But there’s one more important thing to mention: in its focus on processes and technology, marketing operations functions as a link between leaders and individual marketers. Instead of always remaining focused on solving on-the-ground operational challenges, it’s important to also find ways to help those marketers best achieve the goals and vision for the organization as a whole.

This helps ensure operations can focus its attention on something more concrete than “making marketing run more effectively.” 

How Software Can Help Automate Marketing Ops

Solving nearly any marketing problem requires some consideration of technology.

That’s why it’s worth talking in greater detail about how marketing operations should be thinking about software, beginning with metrics. 

Tracking the right marketing metrics is foundational for effective marketing. Choose the wrong metrics to focus on, fail to track them at all, or rely on incomplete data and your marketing efforts can end up doomed from the start because you lose the ability to make effective data-driven decisions, turning experiences into real learnings.

While marketers themselves usually make decisions about metrics, operations can offer outside perspectives, helping marketers consider the bigger picture. For example, a marketer might only consider the most convenient way to track a particular metric without thinking about how they can make that data accessible to their colleagues as well.

If the software you use to manage your marketing can track various Agile metrics, marketing ops can identify where processes need to be improved without needing marketers to bring up specific issues. This data can also make it easier to run experiments and determine whether changes are actually moving the needle.

Outside of data, software can make it easier for marketers to flag and track operational issues. This makes it far simpler for operations and marketers to communicate and collaborate. The common thread here is that marketing operations should be using software to more effectively share information.

How to Begin Using Marketing Operations Integration

All of this brings us to marketing operations integrations. An integration is simply a tool that enables two different pieces of software to work together and share data. In practice that means saving a lot of time having to move data over manually or, in cases where that wasn’t even possible, unlocking entirely new capabilities.

In other words, integrations help marketing operations achieve nearly every one of their core goals. They save time by automating tasks and make marketers more effective by giving them greater access to higher-quality data. The result is fewer data silos, better decision-making, and even marketers that feel more empowered.

Start by Understanding Where You Are

Implementing marketing operations integrations first requires understanding what options are available based on the software you’re already using. You can begin by compiling a list of all the pieces of software you’re using and what each one is used for.

It could be that you’re already using two different tools for the same function, or that there’s another way you can simplify your tech stack before you invest in building integrations. If there’s an obvious way to improve what software you’re using or how you’re using it, now’s a great time to do so. Otherwise, you might end up investing in integrations for software that’s only going to get switched out next month.

Consider Your CRM

As you consider what software to use, bear in mind that using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool as the “heart” of your marketing is a useful best practice. If you’re already using one, try considering what other software you can use based in part on how well it integrates with that CRM.

Ask Yourself About Data Quality

As a part of this process, also look at the quality of the data you’re collecting. Sharing shoddy data isn’t going to help anyone, so this step is also crucial to ensure the integrations you build actually help everyone. Consider whether you’re collecting duplicate data, unnecessary data, or otherwise low-quality data that’s likely to do more harm than good if someone makes a decision based on it.

Don’t Forget Alignment

An under-appreciated role for marketing software, especially for operations professionals, is creating alignment. As you’re integrating various pieces of software, consider how those integrations can make it easier or more difficult to align functions like marketing and sales. 

For example, if data is being shared this can help sales understand why marketing is making decisions. Likewise, if marketers have easy access to sales data, they can consider it when crafting their own strategies.

Be Proactive

Frame the general shift you want to make as being one from a reactive marketing ops professional to a proactive one. If you rely on marketers on your team to come to you when there’s a process issue that they need your help with, you’re not going to be as effective (considering they aren’t often very aware of your role in the first place).

Then, be sure you’re joining in on regular meetings like standups, sprint planning, and retrospectives. Besides gathering raw data, this is where you can spot challenges your colleagues are facing and ensure you’re helping address them.

What to Do After Setting Up Marketing Operations Integrations

Once you’ve handled all the steps outlined above and then set up your integrations, you’re not done! Even the best processes, integrations, and tools eventually fail because the world of marketing never stops changing. That’s why you always need to measure performance and iterate to ensure your processes and tools evolve along with your needs.

Of course, it can be difficult to remember to do this. That’s one (of many) reasons why holding regular marketing retrospectives is so important. By setting a consistent time where you take a step back and evaluate your processes, it becomes far easier to stay on top of your marketing operations integrations and ensure they’re working at their best.

Before proceeding to see several examples of marketing operations integrations, why don't you take a second to see if bad processes are eating up your marketing budget?

Examples of Marketing Operations Integrations

A classic example of a simple but effective marketing operations integration is connecting your website analytics to your sales management software. This means that, for example, when someone downloads one of your resources, their information automatically gets sent over to sales as an MQL.

In other cases, you might connect your website analytics, marketing management tool, sales management software, etc. to something like Google Data Studio to create a report that automatically gets populated with data. This eliminates the need to go into each platform and extract that data separately.

Next Steps to Improve Your Effectiveness

Whether you’re just starting to consider how to create effective marketing operations integrations or thinking about how to ensure they stay that way, you can never become complacent.

Competitors, customer expectations, technology, it’s all changing faster than ever before. As a result, marketing operations needs to work hard and keep up. A big part of that is building and honing the right skill set. Fortunately, we’ve built a series of short, effective, user-friendly courses designed to do just that.

We call them Carabiners because they’re designed to help you develop the skills you need to ascend to greater heights of marketing operations, marketing leadership, and more. 

Best of all, you can try them for free. 

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