Should I Take the Marketo Certified Expert Exam?

Hi Jo,

I’m in the early stages of my career in MOPs, and I’m wondering if I should take the Marketo Certified Expert (MCE) exam.

Many people in the industry have this qualification, though I’m not entirely sure what doors it can open.

My current role is mostly about supporting campaigns, but I could see myself heading down a more hands-on path with tech.

Is taking the MCE a smart decision for me? If so, what can I do to make sure I pass the exam?

Excited Ellen.

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Ellen, it’s great that you’re considering how the MCE can support your career.

The MCE is like a badge of honor.

It tells employers, clients, and the MOPs community that you’re someone they can trust when it comes to Marketo.

Obtaining the qualification can be beneficial in various ways, but its relevance ultimately depends on your goals.


Benefits of MCE

Passing the MCE helped me progress from a campaign operations role into Marketo consultancy and negotiate a higher salary.

Do you like the idea of moving towards strategy or systems operations? If you’re interested in designing the sales, data, and reporting processes in Marketo that allow others to run campaigns and get performance insights, the MCE can give you that momentum.


Other options

That said, not taking the MCE isn’t a hard stop for career development. If you become interested in a more generalist marketing role or a discipline that’s less about managing tech, like field marketing, then you’ll use Marketo in a less administrative capacity.

In that case, you might want to look at the Marketo Certified Associate (MCA) qualification, which validates the functions and skills you need for running campaigns.

Taking either the MCE or MCA lets you practice and prove your skills with Marketo.

While you’ll never use all of Marketo’s features, I find getting either certification helps people in various roles to speak the same language about this vast and important piece of tech.


Tips for acing the MCE:

From my experience taking the MCE, here are some tips I can recommend to ace it on the first try:

  • One year’s experience as a system admin is a good estimate for the time it takes to pass the MCE. If you don’t have admin access, practice processes like implementations, migrations, and integrations in a sandbox until you’re confident in your skills.
  • Try out features that you’re less familiar with. You likely have a good grasp of campaigns, so branch out into functions like reporting and databases.
  • When Marketo’s your day job, you’re effectively preparing for the test by going to work. Think about the test-relevant functions you can implement into your day-to-day workflow.
  • Practice exams and sample questions, like these, are close to what you’ll see in the real exam. Do a few of these and you won’t have any major surprises.
  • Marketo product documents are a great resource for checking the finer points of how things work.
  • Marketo user groups and MOPs community channels are also active spaces for support.

Whichever exam you decide to go for, you want to gradually expand your use of Marketo until you’re comfortable with the fundamental skills tested in the MCE or MCA.

Try not to rush or stress through your prep; slow and steady wins the race.

You’ve got this,
Jo Pulse.

When Is It Time For a Career Change in Marketing Operations?

Hi Jo,

Let me begin by saying: I love marketing operations.

I’ve been in the space for years, learned the software, and made my mark at my company. There isn’t much about MOPs I don’t know. The problem is, I’m too comfortable.

I find myself wondering what else might be out there and whether it’s time to make a career change.

How do you know when it’s the right moment to move on? Should I give it another year or venture out into the unknown?


Antsy Anthony

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Hi, Anthony.

Whoo boy, this is no small question!

Career choices are some of the most challenging to make. They impact everything from income to work-life balance. It’s no wonder you’re taking some time to mull this over.


Signs you need a career change

The good news is that no matter what you decide, marketing operations isn’t going anywhere.

Exploring your opportunities outside of MOPs doesn’t negate all your learnings. Many skills you might pick up on the outside can strengthen your marketing acumen. Leaving MOPs doesn’t mean it won’t be there waiting for your return.

But if it’s truly time for you to fly, here are a few of the main signs I look for when assessing whether it might be time for a change.


1. You’re not learning anything new.

Curiosity is a crucial ingredient for effective MOPs professionals. It’s how someone in automation wanders into dashboard development or a designer picks up skills in data and analytics.

But not every company has the bandwidth to support this kind of exploration, and many lack the budget to backfill.

If you find yourself short on inquisitiveness at work—if the fire of your thirst for knowledge is getting doused at the office—it may be time to seek growth elsewhere.


2. You want to start leading a team, but you’ve got no team.

If you’ve been a team of one for a while, it can be hard to know what to do with your managerial aspirations.

Assess your options. For example, leadership roles may be available at your current company, but you’re being told you’re most useful where you are.

Don’t fight a losing battle. If the dream of leadership is niggling in the back of your mind, it may be worth finding a position that will let you spread your wings. Read our post on advancing your career in MOPs for more.


3. You’ve suggested efficiencies but aren’t being heard.

As a marketing ops professional, you see all the small details of your company’s campaigns and initiatives—and that puts you in the perfect position to improve processes.

“We should run our webinars differently” and “Do you think we’ve overlooked this audience?” are valid points. But, depending on the environment, these kinds of brainwaves can get shut down.

If you’ve tried asking questions or providing constructive feedback and been rebuffed, you may want to transition to a department or company that values your input.


4. You’re looking for a coach or mentor.

Nobody grows in a vacuum.

Learning from an accomplished professional or thought leader can fast-track your gains when you’re looking to expand your skills.

That said, it may be that your current company is too slammed to provide much in the way of mentorship. This is an important cue: it’s possible that the guidance you’re hoping to receive is outside your current organization. In the case of missing coaches, don’t be afraid to branch out.


Limitless career potential

However you weigh out your career options, I’m confident your MOPs experience will give you a leg up.

I know people who have gone from MOPs to project management, from MOPs to Python development, and from marketing analyst to sales ops to automation.

The journey may be winding, but rest assured: the world is certainly still your oyster.

And you may find yourself returning to MOPs down the road, re-equipped and reinspired.

All the best,

How to Explain Ideal Customer Profiles to Sales and Marketing

TLDR: Ideal customer profiles (ICPs) characterize the customer groups that best fit your services. ICPs aim to help businesses sign more profitable deals with shorter close times. Sales and marketing create ICPs by analyzing data from past customer engagements and deals, coalescing around a shared set of customer profiles to target. Marketing operations helps sales and marketing evaluate whether the data supports the personas created and guide them to refine the ICPs with each reporting cycle.


What is an ideal customer profile?

Ideal customer profiles (ICPs) are sketches of the buyers who best fit your services.

ICPs are similar to buyer personas, though they tend to characterize groups of customers rather than individual buyers. In theory, these groups are the easiest to close deals from and the most productive for sales and marketing to focus on in their initiatives.

Accurate ICPs help revenue teams do more deals in larger sizes and with shorter times to close.

But when sales and marketing teams create ideal customer profiles in poor alignment with each other, guided by personal biases over data, they risk approaching the wrong prospects with disjointed campaigns and processes that don’t attract business.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn to explain to sales and marketing what it takes to create ICPs that work—a data-driven approach with 100% alignment.


ICP 101

How to get started with ideal customer profiles: Ideal customer profiles begin with data. By analyzing past customer engagements and deals, sales and marketing can identify the most common traits of customers interested in your products and services.

A team will use a variety of behavioral identifiers (e.g., types and topics of content engagement, webinars and events registered) and demographic identifiers (e.g. job title, region, company, industry) to craft ICPs along with sales data.

Sales and marketing use these insights to create personalized content, messaging, and processes to attract increased business from these groups.


The goal of ideal customer profiles:

The goal of ICPs is to help businesses sign as many deals as quickly as possible and as profitable as possible.

Factoring in additional metrics like monthly recurring revenue, time to close, retention rates, and deal size can help sales and marketing succeed by focusing on the prospects most likely to engage positively with the business and return sustainable profits over time.


How to know if your ICPs are right:

There’s no magic recipe for crafting ideal customer profiles, but if sales and marketing are coming up with many disparate profiles, it suggests that your targeting efforts aren’t specific enough.

To get results, both teams should unite around a shared set of ICPs.

Without close alignment, sales and marketing might have completely different ideas about which customer groups to pursue. When marketing’s campaigns and messaging aren’t in sync with sales’ processes and understanding of the buyer journey, it’s unlikely that your efforts will strike a chord with any particular customer profile.

Between your sales reps and marketing colleagues, your revenue team might be a broad tent of past experience and expertise with different industries and customer segments.

Personal experience can lead your team to infer the best customer traits and groups to target, but data is the only reliable basis for your ICPs.

Past success stories and sector-specific knowledge can be helpful starting points for creating ICPs, but sales and marketing need to validate any assumptions by looking at past engagements and deals.


The overall theme with creating ICPs:

More alignment means more success.

Sales and Marketing should use the same bedrock of data to target shared customer groups with campaigns and processes that complement each other.


Continuous success

Ideally, ICPs lead sales and marketing to meet and exceed their targets:

  • Marketing creates campaigns that generate better MQLs.
  • Sales develops these MQLs into higher rates of opportunities, conversions, and accelerated conversations.

To validate that your ICPs are working, encourage your team to think of ICPs as projects of continuous refinement, where each new reporting cycle is an opportunity to reevaluate if the data justifies the personas that Sales and Marketing have created.

MOPs comes to the table as a valuable source of guidance.

By analyzing the composition of your database and where deals come from, MOPs can pinpoint the percentage of leads, opportunities, and closed sales that meet your teams’ profile criteria and advise on the most optimal ways to segment your customer base.

With the latest data, consulting sales and marketing at regular intervals can help answer a range of decisive questions including:

  • How are particular ICPs performing at different sales cycle stages?
  • What profile characteristics can you tweak?
  • How might you account for ICPs in industries (e.g. government, education) that are significant seasonal buyers?
  • Are there any metrics not currently accounted for that are emerging as influential?

Whatever your reporting cadence—weekly, biweekly, monthly—a continuous process of analysis and adaptation is how your ICPs stay relevant.

Sit down with sales and marketing regularly to go through the reports, and you can encourage a well-informed and agile process of decision-making, where teams can pivot fast in response to ICPs that aren’t yielding results.


The takeaway

ICPs are valuable for Sales and Marketing to identify and refine how they target customer segments, but executing them effectively requires 100% alignment between teams and continuous analysis of engagement and deal data.

By working closely with MOPs to arrive at data-driven decisions, Revenue teams can create campaigns and processes that win more lucrative deals with shorter close times.

For any guidance with creating and executing ICPs, Revenue Pulse is here to help.

My Campaign Failed. How Do I Turn This Around?

Hi Joe,

My campaign fell flat, and I’m struggling to figure out why.

We based this email around a great asset: a whitepaper with advice and analysis that seemed valuable to our audience.

Everything went according to plan. Our team was all on the same page about the content, and we sent it out right on schedule. So far, so good.

Our numbers—email opens, CTA clicks, whitepaper downloads—are all roughly on-target, but they haven’t added up to any new leads or conversions.

What am I missing here? How can I understand why this campaign failed? How can I prevent this from happening again?


Disappointed in Dallas.

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Hi, Disappointed, I understand how you feel.

A few months back, we launched a campaign targeting a new market for the first time. Everything seemed to come together—images, content, our offer to the audience—and I really thought we were onto something.

The response? Crickets.

It was a tough pill to swallow, but in every “failure” there’s an opportunity to learn.

We tested, tweaked, and tried again—we figured out what messages struck a chord with our audience, and now we’re making real headway in the market. You can’t undo past missteps, but you can take the lessons forward and do better. So let’s start now.


Which metrics equal success?

First of all, it’s good that you know what metrics equal success for this campaign. Success is relative to your goals, after all.

That said, numbers like clicks and opens don’t tell you much in a silo.

As a starting point: compare your metrics, and your results, to the campaigns you’ve run in the past.

Think about what’s changed between your more successful campaigns and this one.

Your team was all on the same page about content, but was it the right message for the right audience? Did it miss the mark as far as cultural sensitivities go? Was it personalized enough?


Ask the tough questions

There are many potential factors at play here.

  • Sending the email out on schedule is good news for your processes, but did you choose the right time and day of the week?
  • Was email really the most effective channel for the people you wanted to reach?
  • Did any small errors or placeholder names sneak into the final text?

Size up the content and the numbers with past campaigns, which will help you crack the case.

A/B testing

Then, you move from diagnosing problems to making improvements. Every part of your email is fair game for A/B testing, be it the subject line, content, time and date, imagery, or CTA.

Test alternatives constantly, and you’ll build up a strong understanding of what really resonates with your audience.

One of our best-ever campaign responses came from targeting execs with an email right after the Masters Tournament on a Sunday evening.


We had a distinct segment (execs—the kind who’re into golf), we had a good idea of what was on their minds (checking emails before the week ahead), and we caught them at the right time.

You get to know what makes your audience tick from testing campaigns continuously, and that refines your experiments from shots in the dark into calculated risks.


QA testing

The other kind of testing you want to do is QA.

Get an extra pair of eyes or two on every campaign, checking your content for mistakes and cultural issues lost in translation.

Sure, it’s no one’s favorite job, but it’s the backbone of quality.

Any measure that side-steps “Hello [Name]” misfires is one to bring on board.

And even before then, getting feedback on your campaign ideas from around the company can help you gauge whether your approach is sound at the root.


Refine your process

With all the parts involved in getting a campaign off the ground, the process is everything.

Think of the steps you took that worked well in the past, whether sending a certain number of reminders for an event or staggering the timelines for approvals and translations in a particular period.

Use those tried-and-true processes as a foundation for your campaigns, and keep layering on top of new ideas and tweaks from your testing.

You might stumble and get frustrated, but don’t worry — you’ll find out what works along the way.

Just remember: “failure” gives you a chance to do better. If you need any help, contact us

You’ve got this,

The Problem of ‘Invisible Labor’ in Marketing Operations

TLDR: Scope creep and burnout are exceptionally common in MOPs. Explain your role’s real value and demands so you get the credit you deserve.

The boom in marketing technology has seen marketing shift from a heavily creative discipline into a revenue engine. It’s increasingly capable of optimizing commercial performance and depicting high-level organizational impact. Marketing ops has assumed the responsibility to steer the ship, but recognition has yet to match the reality.

Does any of this sound familiar? Scope creep, burnout, loneliness. Then this Tough Talks Make Easy is for you.

We’ll characterize the challenges of working in marketing ops so you can confidently speak to leadership about your role’s demands and the value you bring. Whether you want a new role or a helping hand, rewards or respect, it all starts with this conversation.


The many shades of MOPs

Few functions are as multidisciplinary (or as misunderstood) as Marketing Operations.

  • You’re the custodian of an ever-complex technology infrastructure that must surface clean, accurate data and sync correctly between solutions to support campaigns successfully.
  • You’re the analyst that reports on budgets and maintains the performance of systems and campaigns.
  • You’re the advocate for processes and products that increase revenue, reportability, and productivity.
  • And when things go awry, you’re the engineer that fixes integrations by hand to redeem sunk cost investments.

This list is getting long, and you get the picture. In a nutshell, marketing ops makes marketing work.


The big MOPs misconception

The big misconception is that you do this critical work by pushing buttons on platforms and taking orders.

Marketing operations is a highly strategic role at the crossroads of many different corners of the business. It takes an exceptionally well-rounded skill palette and a lot of effort to perform well in Marketing Operations. This fact goes underappreciated by the many departments with whom you interact.

The point to qualify for leadership: In MOPs, the magnitude of this invisible labor is extraordinarily high.

There is no other function in the business facing the pressure to:

  • resolve the age old question of marketing and sales alignment
  • learn the ins and outs of products and play the role of procurement
  • inherit impact reportage from senior leadership, and
  • build systems and dataflows in step with IT, data science, and legal.


Finding focus

Marketing operations is a constantly evolving space, with thousands of new tools entering the market every year. This growth causes expectations and responsibilities to pile up without a greater appreciation of the value MOPs provides.

You may have spent your first few months owning one particular platform or optimizing unused or ill-fitting tools, creating the impression that executional work is the sum of your job. Friction between sales and marketing might be particularly high in your workplace, where your rationale for qualifying leads and passing them to sales is often disregarded. 

Leadership might note that MOPs isn’t the only function challenged by the complexities of workplace tech (just ask IT). But while IT is typically a broader team with an established status, MOPs is often an island on its own, where a handful or even a single member of staff performs multiple jobs at once.

Your CMO or CFO might ask for numbers, but invisible labor in MOPs is difficult to quantify.


The source of out-of-scope work

Every organization has its unique mix of strengths and stressors. A slick data science operation can coexist with a chaotic procurement department.

Because of this, the main sources of out-of-scope work will differ between organizations. But here’s the common thread: as MOPs interfaces with many departments, they’re vulnerable to misunderstandings and dysfunction from all around the organization, inviting excess demands by design.

This is a consequence of a hiring drive in MOPs that has sought generalists for roles designed to do many different things. That many people in MOPs are spread thin, their skills poorly utilized and understood, confirms that this has been an unviable approach to hiring.


The silver lining

If you relate, there’s a silver lining: Slowly, the industry is catching up.

As MOPs shifts to a more specialist field, where expertise in particular areas like attribution is becoming more prominent, the case for a role with more focused responsibilities has rarely been so convincing.

If leadership wants to take advantage of your skills and retain your loyalty as an employee, it’s time to give your role the focus and recognition it deserves.


Work in progress

Most labor in marketing ops is invisible to others.

  • You build complex campaign infrastructure and surface Marketing’s contribution to revenue.
  • You fix the flaws in your tech stack and cut through the noise of new solutions to find opportunities.
  • You coordinate buy-in between teams for processes with leads, data, and product purchases.

This work takes more time and expertise than outsiders assume. As a result, MOPs are spread thin, applying a mix of skills to fulfill unviable expectations.

Despite the progressive energy of the MOPs space, there’s a poor understanding of what it takes to successfully hire and design these roles.

If you’re struggling with excessive invisible labor, it doesn’t necessarily reflect your professional abilities. This causes frustration for many people in MOPs and a look at the active MOPs communities will show that you’re not alone.

Explaining to leadership the true demands and value of your role is the start of you taking charge of your career direction and gaining visibility and respect around your organization.

For advice with defining your role or managing excess work demands, Revenue Pulse is here to help.

I’m All Alone in Marketing Ops, How Do I Get Help?

Hi Joe,

I work in a growing startup, and my role has evolved to become about Marketing Operations.

The problem is I’m the only MOPs person in the company.

As a one-person team, I’m overflowing with deadlines and requests to get campaigns moving.

There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to execute more ambitious projects.

There’s simply more work to do in MOPs than I can handle alone. How can I get help? Where do I even start to manage everything?

All Alone Alvin.

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Alvin, I empathize with your situation.

Even in more mature companies that consciously try to add a marketing ops role, it’s tough to handle an incredibly busy function alone.

I’ve certainly felt the strain of being the lone MOPs person in my company.

Work can become a frustrating and isolating experience without the support of a team or the resources to do your job effectively.

On top of that, your organization may lack an understanding of your role and the challenges you face.

You might feel lost and overwhelmed, but there’s hope. Having grown my one-person MOPs function into an actual team of people, I can say that it’s definitely achievable to no longer be alone.


1. Find your community

Patience is definitely a virtue here. It’s going to take some time to build up the department and get the help that you need.

Even before you reach that point, there are ways to find a sense of community where you can go for help and guidance, including:


2. Build your case for growth

Longer term, you’ll want to focus on building a compelling case to grow MOPs in your business.

For your boss (and their boss) to get on board, your argument needs to have sound financial logic. If hiring someone or working with an agency helps you do more profitable, productive work, then the dollar investment makes sense.

To that end, marketing operations contributes more to growth as your business nurtures it.

Investing in brain power and technical expertise is the only way to move from executional campaign work to advanced projects that drive productivity and revenue like:


3. Collect data

Of the many tools in your stack, you’re likely using just a handful to run campaigns — and that’s time-consuming enough as it is.

The smartest way to use your time is to investigate your stack’s different functionalities. Find out where your data points come from.

Investigating the functionality of your tech stack helps you do two things:

1. Surface good data about how your campaigns generate leads and revenue.
2. Identify areas of opportunity for a new hire or agency to take on particular responsibilities that can fuel the growth of your business.

For your boss, the conflict is between what MOPs can achieve with technical maturity and the limited hours in the day you have to get there.

You’re at a bottleneck right now regarding what you can do. You can advance your case for help by focusing on analytics and reporting.


Key takeaways

Being the only marketing operations person in a growing startup can be overwhelming.

However, by building a sense of community, making a compelling case for growth, and collecting data, you can move from being a one-person MOPs team to a fully functional department.

It takes time and effort, but with patience and determination, it’s definitely achievable.

By investing in technical expertise, moving from executional work to advanced projects, and leveraging the data points from your tech stack, you can fuel the growth of your business and get the help you need.

You’ve got this,
Joe Pulse

How to Align Sales and Marketing

TLDR: Aligning sales and marketing teams is critical to achieving a better balance of lead quality and quantity. By fostering collaboration, creating shared definitions and workflows, and analyzing first-party data, sales and marketing can work together towards common goals and make data-driven decisions. By taking these steps, organizations can improve collaboration, work with a clearer sense of purpose, and ultimately win and keep more business.

Sales and marketing want the same thing: Great leads that quickly turn into revenue.

Achieving the right balance of quality and quantity is a continual challenge. Even with a perfect ICP and stellar demand funnel, prospects ditch demos, opportunities fail to close, and customers churn.

What often happens when KPIs are missed? We typically see finger-pointing, defensive postures, blame games, knee-jerk reactions, and other behaviors that simply don’t benefit the organization.

Instead of declaring your teammate is underperforming, look at the data and the levers available to pull. Conjecture is not a reliable strategy for creating revenue. Double down on data and alignment to avoid the perils of blame and divisiveness.

If friction and missed KPIs are common in your company, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. You’ll learn how to get your demand gen back on track by fostering better sales and marketing alignment and implementing a strategy driven by meaningful data analysis.


Coming together

When sales and marketing work in siloes, internal dysfunction creates disjointed customer experiences. Sales can’t close the most suitable business for the company if marketing’s campaigns don’t resonate with the needs of these audiences. Likewise, marketing’s efforts to attract the best leads won’t fuel growth if sales’ outreach lacks personalization.

The North Stars of value and revenue should bring sales and marketing together to collaborate on strategy and goals.

Create shared definitions and workflows

First, both teams need shared definitions of common terms. For instance: what specifically qualifies a lead as an MQL, SAL, or SQL? Sales and marketing should also create an agreed-upon methodology for lead scoring, which involves investigating a few data points.

Based on the kinds of customers you successfully do business with, what budget, authority, and demographic traits suggest that a prospect is highly matched to your company? From past closed business, what behaviors at different stages in the buying cycle suggest they’re ready for sales to pursue?

Both sales and marketing have valuable perspectives and reports to share with each other. Sales, for example, can tell marketing more about why opportunities have been won or lost, what prospects have felt or wanted, and why past MQLs haven’t matched their needs. And marketing can advise sales on the content types that are likely to appeal to the priority leads they’re targeting.

Share workflows and communication structures

Sales and marketing leaders can incentivize a cultural shift towards alignment by creating shared workflows and communication structures. Establishing SLAs together, for instance, makes sure that both teams understand each others’ accountabilities and the exact work that makes a lead progress through the revenue cycle. Leaders of both teams should create shared KPIs and encourage a clear understanding of how sales and marketing’s individual KPIs contribute towards achieving overarching goals.

Taking these steps contributes to a higher quality of collaboration and understanding between sales and marketing. At the heart of every good strategy, however, is knowledge of why your campaigns or outreach efforts are valuable to the people you’re targeting—because if that value is limited or unclear, the people you’re targeting may not match well with your business, and are unlikely to be sources of revenue.

To help with this, sales and marketing leaders must lead the way with better data-driven decision-making.


Finding trend lines

When sales and marketing leaders meet quarterly, they often bring data points to the table like:

  • business closed in the quarter
  • pipeline for the months ahead, and
  • lead volume.

Dig into first-party data

Less frequently do they dig into their first-party data from a forensic perspective, allowing anecdotal observations about customer trends to guide strategy. This is a significant reason why lead-gen efforts fall flat.

To determine who your ideal customers are, leadership should instead look at the data on your total addressable market for months and years past. Are prospects of particular company sizes, verticals, regions, or job titles more prone to churn or dropping off the funnel than others? Where in the funnel do they go?

From this analysis, you can gauge if your lead qualification criteria are sufficient, if your target customer types and markets are optimal for your business goals, or if your sales and marketing teams need more training to reach higher-value customers.

Identify demographic and firmographic trends

Identify the demographic and firmographic trends within metrics like closed/lost rates, closed/won, open opportunities, and sales-accepted leads. By doing so, you can make a confident hypothesis about the customer types that are most valuable, sustainable, and receptive to your business.

This outcome justifies contracting the support of a data scientist to parse through your systems and establish the trend lines, but if your budget’s tight, marketing can lead the way. Even just pulling closed/won rates from your CRM, you can begin to steer decision-making away from hunches and towards clear evidence.

Once you’ve identified the prospect types to pursue as priorities, both sales and marketing should research and share insights on these prospects. What are the emerging and relevant trends in their industries? What concerns are likely to motivate them at their level of seniority, region, or company? From this, you’ll get a greater sense of how to approach your target audience and what you can offer that truly speaks to their needs. This understanding should steer the direction of both marketing’s campaigns and sales’ outreach.


The result

When sales and marketing leaders invest in aligning their teams, everyone wins.

Creating communication structures for sales and marketing to share goals, set strategies, and refine approaches together based on first-party data analysis substantially improves how you work.

It leads people to work with a clearer sense of purpose, more effective collaboration, and more confident decision-making—all of which are conducive to winning and keeping business.

Do you need help to better align sales and marketing? Get in touch today!


How Do I Avoid Burnout in Marketing Operations?

Hey Jo,

For the past month, I’ve been working late almost every night.

I’m stretched thin across all the reporting and maintenance I have to do in a given day, and when I’m not on the clock, I’m still thinking about work!

It seems like there’s always more on my plate. More processes to improve, more leads to bring in, and more requests to handle.

The MOPs world seems to reward this level of activity, but I need to take it down a notch.

What can I do to stop burning out? How can I get time back for myself?


Always On Alex.

Alex, you did the right thing reaching out.

In the past, I’d fallen hard for this mentality of “MOPs never stops.” I thought “no” wasn’t an option, so I said “yes” to everything.

Soon, I was skipping lunches to catch up with reports. All of my reading outside of work was about Marketo. I’m pretty sure I was even dreaming about lead lifecycles.

Sales needs more opportunities, there’s never too much revenue for the business, and every other MOPs influencer has a blog and a podcast.

With that much energy around me, I felt I needed to spend every spare hour catching up, being “productive,” and doing more.

I really didn’t. Neither do you.

Here’s how you take back control of your time:


Structure your goals

There is always something you can improve on in martech, and it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew.

Got a big project on your hands? Break it down into small, achievable goals.

Come up with a plan and agree with your boss on what you’ll deliver and when.

For day-to-day tasks, reach out to your regular stakeholders and figure out workflows that mutually fit. Ordering your tasks based on urgency and time demands helps too—just factor in some meeting-free slots for yourself to really focus.


Ask for help

It’s impossible to know everything there is about a tool or have the time to do it all.

Speak with your manager about the budget for extra headcount or an agency to spread out the work.

Agencies are more likely to be within your reach, so it’s worth talking to other departments about their agency needs; you could score a better deal by approaching one with multiple streams of work.


Say “no” and “yes, but…”

Be tangible about how much time a task takes, the knock-on effect of taking on new responsibilities, and the resources and sign-off you’ll need to do something well.

If a request brings something you don’t have the time or expertise to handle, “no” creates a boundary that helps everyone.

You get to focus on your main priorities, and that task goes to someone more suitable. Voicing the output consequences behind each responsibility sets clear, accurate expectations.


Give yourself space

Near the end of the day ask yourself ‘what am I really excited to do tonight?’

Put the laptop away when you’re back from the office; get up and move around if you’re working from home. What are you watching, reading, or listening to that you can’t do at work?

Whatever your hobbies, do them not because they’re “useful.” Do them because you want to.

Remember: eat right, sleep well, and look after yourself. There’s more to life than the grind.


You’ve got this, (and if you need any help, let us know).


Marketing Operations: In-House, Agency or Hybrid?

TLDR: Is leadership considering a new structure for your marketing operations team? Learn about the suitability of in-house, agency, and hybrid marketing ops models.

You have three models to consider when structuring a marketing operations (MOPs) function:

  • building a fully in-house team
  • outsourcing MOPs entirely to an agency, or
  • a combination of the two.

Each approach can suit the ambitions and needs of your business. The best fit depends on the resources at your disposal and the scale of your MOPs maturity.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn how each operational model can suit your business.

If your organization’s responding to changes in budgets and personnel, or your marketing leaders are redefining what they want MOPs to accomplish, now’s a great time to discuss the strategic aims that each model supports and the circumstances in which they can work.


Why change business models?

There are several scenarios where exploring different ways of structuring a MOPs function makes sense.

For example, let’s say:

  • Your current setup isn’t yielding the results your CMO wants to achieve. But, your competitor – who uses another operational model – is solving relevant problems and gaining the benefits you desire.
  • Your MOPs team might perform well, but tighter budgets, staff changes, or new growth prospects make it favorable to shift business models.
  • MOPs is an emerging area for your business, without much being established. You’ve completed some projects and have a few pieces of marketing technology. Your marketing leadership see potential to further develop your capabilities.

A structural shift can help to accomplish your goals if leadership wants to troubleshoot performance issues, adapt to financial and operational circumstances, or increase the caliber of your MOPs function and its contributions to growth.


The three MOPs models

The in-house marketing operations model

Structuring MOPs solely as an in-house operation will likely need the most substantial support from your organization. This includes cultural recognition and financial backing.

Internal MOPs teams thrive in environments that perceive and respect marketing operations for its inherent value.

In other words: Your organization doesn’t undermine the marketing ops team with the continual expectation to prove the ROI of its existence.

Otherwise, the team needs a proven leader within the company and industry who can effectively establish the value of MOPs. This internal recognition is critical as it means healthy budgets for investment in digital maturity and growing the team’s headcount and skillset.

Key benefit: Greater access to key stakeholders within the organization which can influence the direction of a campaign or streamline communication.


The full-agency marketing operations model

Changing the status quo early in your MOPs maturity is a tall order.

Marketing operations concerns the analysis of marketing behaviors and their impact on revenue. It’s a distinct extension of Marketing that overlaps with Revenue, Operations, and IT.

As a result, many organizations are uncertain where MOPs should sit internally, and in some cases, they’re playing catch-up with the value that MOPs provides.

Sounds familiar? Consider a full-agency model to reach your full your MOPs function potential.

Businesses often have larger budgets for agency assistance than for building internal teams. While leadership may recognize the need to develop your marketing ops capabilities, outsourcing the function is likely an easier sell financially.

Key benefit: Using an agency partner to get projects off the ground provides evidence of the true value MOPs can bring. You can use this evidence to justify the headcount budget to build a team in-house.

Going the agency route also makes sense if your company has struggled to fill open, in-house MOPs positions.

In a job market where the demand for MOPs professionals outstrips the supply, in-house teams are often stretched thin across a breadth of strategic and tactical responsibilities.


The hybrid marketing operations model

Hybrid models can benefit small teams short on bandwidth and facing skill gaps. Partnering with an agency means accelerating your work and extending your reach to more ambitious projects. You can drive growth and develop the sophistication of your MOPs function.

Another choice to consider is between centralized and decentralized structures.

In a centralized function, one team manages the entirety of your company’s MOPs, whether that takes place in-house or at an agency.

Decentralized structures see multiple business units or departments use marketing technology to execute on their particular MOPs needs. Marketers around the business may use software like Knak to build their own emails, or have access to a marketing automation platform to build or even deploy their own programs.

Key benefit: In this scenario, an agency can provide additional lift for the single person or lean team running point on a department’s projects. Agencies can also help to create stronger connections and alignment between MOPs and an organization’s general Marketing team or support the work that marketing end users do in a platform.


Assessing the fit

Many organizations see their MOPs maturity begin with either a sole in-house or full-external model.

Based on past experience, your marketing leadership might be strongly for or against using an agency. The most viable path depends on the resources and hours you have available.

Factor in your budgets for hiring and agency support, the expertise of your in-house team, and the available time your team can use to branch out into new MOPs initiatives and capabilities.

From there, businesses typically blend in-house and agency marketing operations, then fluctuate between a hybrid model and a sole in-house team.

You’ll experience a natural ebb and flow of agency needs as your MOPs maturity develops. After you’ve established MOPs to a point where you can bring someone in-house or grow your team, a marketing ops agency can still support you when your team ramps up enough to again need extra help.

At any given time, the ‘best’ model of structuring Marketing Operations is the one you deem most likely to achieve your growth ambitions within your financial situation. And this will shift over time.

Wherever you are on your MOPs journey, agencies can support your business at scale, within the budget and headcount on your side.

Need some help? Get in touch

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How Can I Figure Out the Martech World?

Hi Joe,

I want to understand more about marketing technology, but I don’t know where to start.

The tools we use at my company, like Salesforce and Marketo, have so many functionalities and data that I feel like I might break something if I start playing around.

The martech space moves fast and it’s hard to get a handle on where the industry is going.

I’d feel more confident in my job if I knew how to get the best out of the tools we use, and understood the outlook of martech as a whole.

How can I start to build that knowledge? Where do I find the time?


Martech Mark.

pink separator line

That drive you have to learn is a great thing, Martech Mark.

When I first started using Marketo, I wanted to be productive from day one. At first, I thought that meant sticking just to what we knew at our company. Like you, I thought experimenting would lead to “breaking” things beyond repair.

I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case.


Understanding martech

Tools like Marketo don’t have the easiest learning curve, so you might not get it right away. That’s not the end of the world.

Take a few hours each week to read up, play around with tools, post in communities, or whatever grabs your interest. Here are some places to start:


Free trials and versions

Many tools out there have free versions (e.g. Hubspot, Salesforce Lightning Platform) or at least free trials (e.g. SAP Marketing Cloud) to experiment with.

So if you’ve got a certain piece of tech in mind, check out what build you can get on the house.


Online courses

LinkedIn, edX, Coursera, and other learning platforms have a mix of free and paid courses to try out, covering a breadth of technologies.


Product spaces

Official company spaces provide a range of free resources, from the videos and courses on Marketo University to the forums in Salesforce’s Trailblazer Community.


Online communities

Chances are, the tool you’re learning has active communities on Github or Reddit—and dedicated MOPs communities can help you steer your course.


News and blogs

Sources like MarketingTech and ChiefMartec publish news and analysis of the latest movements in the martech world.


Use resources as sandboxes

You’ve got free reign to mess around. It’s all about trial and error.

Once you get going, document all the things you do and hear that are useful to your learning including:

  • your observations
  • how a tool benefits your work (does it make a process faster? Improve analysis?)
  • where a tool falls short of helping you meet certain goals.

These notes are lessons that can help the whole team learn.

As you say, the martech space moves quickly. Trends rise and level out, upstart tools get acquired, and if you’re exploring a new capability area, there’s no guarantee the tool you learn will be one the industry settles on.

For that reason, don’t stress about where the market’s heading. Focus on the tech that interests you and helps you achieve your goals.

You’ll pick up transferable skills that apply across technologies. Like learning a language, it gets easier after the first one. Just keep going.

You’ve got this — if you need any help, drop us a line.