How Strategic Changes Impact Tech: What Your CEO Should Know

TLDR: Whether leadership is looking to grow or expand into new service areas, new goals can change which tools are relevant to your business. Speak with your marketing ops team to understand if the proposal requires more time or budget. Before making the shift, visualize how each piece of your tech stack fits together to gauge any impacts. If a new tool is needed, allow for overlapping contracts, time to map out new processes and train people on a new system while they’re still using the current one.

 

Strategy and technology

The link between strategy and technology is essential for any leader to understand:

  • Your strategy sets the direction for the business and shapes your goals.
  • Your tech stack is the means by which you achieve them.

It’s easy to get attached to particular tools, but strategic intent gives purpose to each piece of tech.

Your stack is fluid. It evolves to solve problems and provide capabilities as your business needs change—a quality that’s especially clear when strategic change is on the way.

Whether leadership is looking to grow or expand into new service areas, the establishment of new goals can potentially change the tools that are relevant to your business.

If martech leadership is working on or has recently announced a new strategy, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. You’ll learn how to discuss the impact that strategic changes have on technology, so you can invest the time and budget you need to get your team and stack in shape.

 

Fitting the pieces together

First, your boss should consult with people around the business to better understand the impact of a proposed change. This ranges from director-level and management to the people in MOPs handling tools on a regular basis. Having these conversations early into the planning phase can reveal if a proposal demands more time or budget than first anticipated, along with any additional hires or new pieces of tech.

While putting together a plan, leadership needs to know exactly how your tech stack works across the whole organization. Changes to technology can reverberate across the ecosystem and cause unexpected trouble.

If your new strategy involves using a different marketing automation platform, for example, you then have the task of replacing a platform with lots of data tied into it and integrations with many other tools. Certain tools you’re using might not integrate smoothly (or at all) with the new platform—and that means new problems.

The message to impart here is to hit pause on a big shift until you’ve mapped out the tech stack across your business.

  • visualize how each piece fits together to establish the tools you have
  • understand why teams use the tools they do, and
  • verify how each tool integrates.

By doing so, you’ll better gauge the impact of a strategic change on technology. As an added bonus, you can spot opportunities to consolidate tools with overlapping use cases and save on budget.

Before surveying the market for new tools, ask your leadership to lay out their specific needs.

  • Is there a particular problem you’re looking to solve?
  • New capabilities to add?
  • Integrations that a new tool should have?

This promotes intentional, goal-driven tool adoption.

Sometimes, the trial period for a new tool isn’t enough to accurately determine the fit for your business. Limitations can become apparent after the demo and trial are complete. The clearer they are at establishing the necessary components of a new tool, the better equipped you are to find a tool that’s fit for the strategy.

We wrote an article about explaining your tech stack overhaul to your boss that may also be helpful.

 

Include a human touch

For the time and effort it takes to craft a strategy, punctuate it with clear goals, and make the appropriate changes in technology, the plan risks coming off the rails without a human touch.

You need people with the right skills and time allotted to make sense of any new tools and use them constructively.

When scoping out new technologies for the business, you’ll find that salespeople often understate the difficulty of learning a new tool and the time required to see real results.

The learning curve for the likes of a CRM, CMS, or MAP is steep. Realistically, it’s a job for multiple people. Adding a complex, foundational system onto the plate of a two-person MOPs team, in addition to their current responsibilities, is a recipe for burnout.

If your boss’ new strategy requires significant extra work or a new set of skills, the most sensible step they can take is to budget for new hires or an agency’s help — learn how we can help.

Likewise, leadership wants to achieve a particular result as fast and cost-efficient as possible.

Throughout a tool’s implementation period, allow for:

  • overlapping contracts
  • time to map out new processes and changes to data architecture, and
  • training people on a new system while they’re still using the current one.

 

Optimize your budget

If you can only budget several hours a week for your MOPs team to learn a new system, the timeline to understand how a new tool works and integrate it into the team’s day-to-day workload will naturally take several months.

This learning curve is something to consider when setting strategic targets.

And while your boss sets the strategy, the tactics are best left to the MOPs team.

The learning process is all about trial and error. Experimenting and finding out the best ways to use a tool to do the things you need.

The people using the tool will eventually understand better than anyone which methods work and what results are realistic. Leadership should trust them to decide how to execute daily and encourage their feedback to shape performance goals.

 

The takeaway

While strategy is your guiding star, the capabilities of your tools and the people in your MOPs team are what make achieving goals possible.

Plan for changes in technology and human resourcing as early as possible when developing a new strategy, and leadership can expect success.

Need some support? Drop us a line, we’re here to help!

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How Do I Enhance Security in MOps?

Hi Joe,

I’m worried that we’re not doing enough when it comes to security in MOPs. There are some pretty big gaps and I’m not quite sure what to do about it. How do I go about asking for help? Should I create a plan beforehand? How transparent should I be with leadership?

Thank you,
Concerned Casey

Casey, I can’t thank you enough for that question. I don’t think we talk about security enough in MOPs—but we should. Our marketing automation software holds a ton of sensitive information, whether it’s user account details or some level of personal identifiable information (PII), and our customers trust us to keep it safe. Particularly now, where marketing relies so much on personalization and connecting the dots between what our business offers and our customers’ needs. 

The risks of mismanaging this data are huge. For one, if a hacker or bad actor gets access to a pool of customer information, you better believe they’ll use it for nefarious purposes. Whether it’s selling that information to other cyber criminals or your competitors, using it to access your customers’ accounts on other high-value platforms, or blackmailing your company; there’s no shortage of ways your data can be used.

Beyond compromising your customers, a data breach is also bad for business. After they’ve been compromised, companies can spend millions of dollars addressing their security vulnerabilities and the loss of reputation that comes with a cyber attack.

The MOPs teams and businesses that are doing security right are focusing on the following areas: 

  • Data integrity: What data you collect, how you collect it, where you store it, and how you maintain it can all influence how secure that information is. For instance, there’s no need for you to have your customers’ social security numbers—so don’t ask for them. And if you do have passwords or PII on your marketing systems, you should look into encrypting or hashing them so that if a hacker gets their hands on them, they can’t read anything. You can also evaluate whether there’s even a business need for this sensitive information on your marketing system.
  • Controlled access to your systems: Security savvy teams ensure that only the right people have access to the right data—at the right time. It can be dangerous to have too many user accounts with permissions to access and manipulate the information on your systems. Instead, you should take a look at all your roles and permissions, and limit access to the people who need the data on a daily basis. Not everyone should be an admin. In addition, conducting regular scrubs on your systems to remove any old user accounts will also ensure you’re not at risk of a disgruntled employee compromising your data or your systems. 
  • Robust security policies: Good security should mean that you don’t have to think about security. With solid policies in place that let the right people in and keep the bad actors out, you and your team can focus on what you do best: marketing ops. 

If you’re seeing gaps in any of these areas, you should absolutely have a conversation with your security team (if you have one) and your executives. Be fully transparent about what you think is lacking, what the impact of those gaps are, and what the business should be doing instead. If they ask you whether this is an immediate need, the answer is yes. At the end of the day, securing your data is all about being proactive. You need to stay one step ahead of the bad guys—and avoid being the next big data breach in the news. 

 

You’ve got this, 

Joe Pulse

MOPs and Data Science: How to Get the Green Light on Collaboration

TLDR: The need for MOPs to surface dollar values, improve processes, and validate ideas makes Data Science a natural ally. When MOPs and Data Science work together, revenue and lead generation become easier to predict, benchmark, and grow. But Data Scientists work their magic using emergent technologies that are expensive to deploy, and your CFO will only approve the budget for projects where the ROI makes sense. In any project proposal, focus on how the results can benefit the business and help Marketing boost ROI, and you’re likely to get the green light.

 

Marketing is now a data-driven discipline, where a top priority is to understand what generates revenue and drives growth. Data literacy is crucial for MOPs to handle data, structure their systems, and answer decisive business questions. Unfortunately, teams often lack the skills and resources to manipulate and turn data into an asset that generates value. Data Scientists are the ideal collaborators for MOPs to validate ideas and improve processes, but they’re hot commodities in every workplace.

When budgets are tight, it’s easy for C-Suite to overlook Marketing when approving spending for Data Science projects. So if you want the green light on a collaborative project with Data Science, show your CFO and CIO that the ROI makes sense.

We’ll guide you through that conversation in this Tough Talks Made Easy, with some help from Rachik Laouar. As the Head of Data Science at the Adecco Group, Rachik spent the last three years building a full-stack data team and making the business a predictable machine. Rachik contributes his personal views to this piece and does not represent the Adecco Group.

 

How Data Science enriches Marketing

One of the most persistent challenges Marketing teams face is proving their success. If you’re in a low-margin business in particular or otherwise facing cost strains, there’s extra pressure from your CFO to show your contributions to the bottom line.

Marketing as a space also has many “common sense” generalizations of best practice floating around, but the likes of “Never send an email on a Friday” don’t hold water for your business without evidence. Without the data or the know-how to interpret it correctly, your team is validating decisions and measuring success in the dark.

The need for MOPs to surface dollar values and make good judgement calls makes Data Science a natural ally. MOPs collects lots of data from campaigns, which Data Science can turn into detailed customer profiles and identify purchasing behaviours. Data professionals connect and map the entirety of your business’ data to spot patterns and understand how to optimise processes. Where Marketing generates leads, Data Scientists automate changes to the lead journey to trigger positive engagement behaviours. When MOPs and Data Science work together, revenue and lead generation become easier to predict, benchmark, and grow.

 

Collaborating with purpose

Data Science teams work their magic using emergent technologies, like machine learning and AI, which are expensive for companies to deploy. Collaborative time with Data Science and new tools, therefore, require a budget for development, which involves your CFO and CIO. Considering the costs, C-Suite’s looking to allocate Data Science resources only to teams that can justify the investment with impactful results. 

There are a few points you can make to leadership in response. By modelling the business end to end, Data Science can see what brings in the most revenue, and as one of the most commercially-minded teams, Marketing should be at the top of the list. The more you invest in making campaigns compelling in response to audience data, the more likely the business will win deals. In other words: investing in Marketing boosts the whole organisation.

You might want to work with Data Science to better a product’s audience and attract more customer segments to it. Alternatively, you might want to streamline operations through automation and cut processes to achieve better outcomes. Whatever your proposal, frame it to C-Suite with intended results and impact in mind. 

After all, you’re not running experiments for their own sake—you’re working with Data Science to help Marketing make or save more money than you spend, investing less per lead generated than you bring in. That’s the language your CFO and CIO speak. 

Leadership can be adverse to risk or expect quick results, which means your CFO or CIO might be hesitant to play the long game. A dose of reality: if you’re trying something new, you need time to ride it out, make sense of findings, and realise the benefits. Suggest running campaign experiments with small subsets of your audience first, as a proof of concept, to make the idea more palatable to a hesitant CFO. 

On the whole, explain the analysis and modelling you want to do, limitations included, and what you’re trying to achieve with revenue when testing certain actions. Focus on how the results can benefit the business, and if you can estimate the ROI at roughly 1.5-2x what you spend, you’re likely to move the dial in your favour.

 

Investing in success

MOPs and Data Science together can be a force of nature, making the wealth of data that Marketing collects actionable and steering better strategic decisions. Come to any conversation with leadership with a clear plan of action and a confident sense of how collaboration with Data Science can boost the bottom line, and you stand a good chance of getting the green light.

Need some help with data? Drop us a line to chat.

 

How Do I Help My Parents Understand What I Do for a Living?

Hi Joe,

I’m not sure if this happens to you, but every time I try to talk to my parents about what it is I do in marketing ops, I get nowhere. Regardless of how I describe it to them, they always seem to walk away from the conversation with more questions than they started with. Do you have any suggestions for how to make it easier to understand?

Thanks,
Tired Tim


Tim, don’t worry, we’ve all been there. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a conversation with a friend or family member where I start telling them about my job while secretly wishing that they’ll say something like “Oh, marketing operations! Yeah, I’ve heard about that.” It just doesn’t happen. Instead, I either get to watch their eyes glaze over as I dive into why marketing ops isn’t the same as marketing, or spend way too much time answering questions until they finally have a sense of what it is I do. Neither is particularly fun. 

With many of these conversations under my belt, I’ve managed to come up with a handful of strategies that seem to do the trick. Try them out and let me know how they work out for you.

 

  1. Keep it simple

Marketing operations is inherently a hard thing to describe—particularly to people who don’t have much exposure to this space. The fact that it’s a relatively new function, that it’s embedded in technology, and that it has so many moving parts makes it pretty hard to grasp at a surface level. That’s why I suggest keeping your descriptions as simple as possible. 

  • Avoid using jargon that might raise more questions. Remember, marketing ops is practically a different language, so you’ll need to use words that make sense to the person you’re talking to.
  • Try not to get too deep in the weeds. The more detailed you get, the more things you’re going to have to explain. 
  • Connect the dots between what you do and other business functions. If you tell people that you organize information, do the work to understand customers, and manage things on the back-end, they’ll be able to paint a clearer picture for themselves. 

With this in mind, I tend to say something like “I manage the software that allows companies to run their marketing” or “I help businesses understand how their investments in marketing convert to sales.” Simple, yet comprehensive. 

 

  1. Use a metaphor

Another thing you can do is use a metaphor that makes marketing operations more relatable to what they know. Here’s one that’s worked quite well for me. 

Marketing operations professionals are like the mechanics of the marketing world. Think about a factory line, for instance. The line is producing the different marketing materials (e.g. content and design) and there are machines (i.e. marketing automation software) that support that production. Those machines then need mechanics that set them up and fix them when they’re not operating properly. That’s what I do. 

 

  1. If all else fails, stop trying

It’s always great if you can talk about your job with your friends and family, but at the end of the day, it’s OK if they don’t fully get it. The only thing that’s truly important is that you know what your job is and that you love doing it. As long as you can showcase that, your loved ones will just be happy that you’re happy—and there’s not much better than that.

 

You’ve got this,
Joe Pulse

How to Talk With Your Boss About Learning Martech

Martech moves fast. As more and more tools enter the space every year, it’s increasingly a priority and a challenge to spot the best ones to adopt. Access is another barrier to navigate; many tools are too expensive for individual learners to experiment with, and when businesses have limited licenses to distribute, your ability to learn a new tool comes down to resourcing. Even when you’ve settled on a new piece of tech to learn, it can be tricky to structure your learning into realistic, achievable goals, with many features to explore, high expectations from management, and competing projects to juggle. 

MOPs people have a hunger for knowledge and a keen understanding of martech, but the above factors often complicate the learning journey. If you’re having trouble with learning tools purposefully, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. We’ll help you sit down with your boss and come up with a development plan for learning; one that focuses on the right tools to make an impact, with intentional and realistic goals to work towards.

Choosing tools

The martech boom has given businesses new and evolving options to solve problems and create efficiencies. Your boss or team might be excited by particular pieces of tech taking the industry by storm, but the best tools to learn are always the ones that address your business goals. Therefore, you’re looking to answer two questions: What does the business need, and what is the most effective tool to meet those needs?

First, chat with your CMO, CRO, or direct manager about goals. What does the business want to achieve with Marketing Operations? What problems or opportunities exist with the MOPs team? What functions can you perform in your role to contribute to big-picture performance outcomes, like increased revenue, productivity, efficiency, or lower costs?

Once you understand the intended outcomes of adopting a new tool, suggest surveying your company’s tech stack first—it’ll save time and money to adopt a piece of tech your company already uses over onboarding a new tool, even if it means purchasing an additional license. If you find a tool internally that could fit the bill, chat with your colleagues who use it. Does it perform the particular function or get the results your team needs? Does it have the potential to do so?  

If you’re unsure, vet this tool against other solutions on the market. Get a sense of pricing, reviews, demand and discussion in MOPs spaces (forums, channels, job postings). Once you’ve narrowed down 3-4 top contenders, suggest trialling each of them and measuring the results to investigate how each tool impacts performance. Present the relevant data to leadership, whether it’s ROI or productivity gains, and you’ll have made a strong case for your tool of choice.

Setting learning goals

Now you’ve got the right tool for the job, how should you learn it? Your boss has likely given you specific KPIs to meet; contributions to revenue or efficiency you’ll make from performing certain functions. Perhaps leadership wants you to generate a certain number of MQLs from the campaigns you build, or increase conversion rates by using a data enrichment tool to deepen your lead scoring.

Leadership may want fast results, but rushing through your learning to meet these goals quickly is an easy way for things to break, particularly if a tool has particularly complex features to master. Realistically, it’ll take months to learn the capabilities you need, gather performance data, and illustrate the business impact of your activities with the tool. A point your CMO and CRO would agree with: if it’s a choice between doing things fast and doing them correctly, choose the latter every time.

Here’s a game plan that works: break down any big-picture achievements and complex projects into attainable, gradually paced milestones. Many commonplace tools and platforms have different certification levels to obtain. Even if you’re not taking a certification exam, the curriculum provides a framework for learning a tool, from foundational to advanced levels. There’s a logical progression to this structure that will help you identify specific features to learn and understand how long it’ll take to learn them.

Exam curricula and other official learning resources are endorsed by the tool creators themselves, so they’re compelling pieces of evidence to back up your learning goals. Here’s how you articulate this to leadership: “Based on the official resources, I’ll be able to do X in three months; let’s set Y as a goal for six months’ time. When I’ve sufficiently learned these functions and allowed several months for reporting, I’ll show you how my work has contributed to Z outcome. From there, we can see what ongoing goals make sense.”

Purpose makes an impact

Learning is continuous in an evolving space like MOPs, and martech in particular demands a constant finger on the pulse. Measure and share the impact of your learnings with leadership as they progress, listen to emerging issues in the team, and keep an eye on developments in the martech space. Doing this will help you set fresh and relevant goals to pursue by using tech impactfully—because when it comes to getting results, purpose wins over speed.

Need a hand with martech? Get in touch for a chat.