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Everything You Need to Know About Marketing Operations in One Place

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Everything You Need to Know About Marketing Operations in One Place


One of my favorite movies is “School of Rock,” which also happens to be one of 2003’s best films. In the movie, Jack Black poses as a substitute teacher at a private school, and, after noticing the students are musically talented, he turns the 10-year-olds into a fully-fledged rock band.

When assigning roles to the students, he approaches the class president and deems her band manager because she had the organizational skills needed to help the band run smoothly. “Summer,” he says, “You’re in charge of the whole thing.”

When I think about marketing operations, I think of this quote — without a team, businesses that depend on technology would have a less-than-seamless experience carrying out their duties. In this post, you’ll learn more about marketing operations and why these teams are essential to a business.

The people involved in marketing operations build a foundation that reinforces and supports marketing efforts. It makes it easier to achieve goals by implementing systems to ensure marketers are best equipped to succeed at their jobs.

what is marketing operations

Why is marketing operations important?

93% of B2B marketers say the marketing operation’s function is important or critical to delivering digital transformation. After all, without marketing operations, it would be tough for marketing teams to complete essential activities effectively because they enable other marketing departments to bring cohesion to campaigns and processes.

For example, as technology is necessary to carry out most marketing tasks, a team to manage the complexity of that technology and ensure it works as it should is also necessary — which is exactly what MOps is.

Here are some examples of situations that can be rectified by having a marketing operations team:

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Problem MOps Solution
Your investments in marketing technology don’t provide the solutions you thought they would. MOps ensure that teams are enabled by technology solutions and eliminate tech debt.
You want to streamline data reporting and metrics tracking to understand ROI. MOps focus on processes and systems for data reporting to enable teams.
Strategy execution is a timely process, and you want to lower the amount of time it takes from start to finish. MOps helps team improve processes to become more efficient.

At HubSpot, the marketing ops team is responsible for supporting the systems and processes that enable the marketing team to perform optimally in their roles. This includes everything from permissions, conversational marketing, user data, forms, and email operations.

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An essential function of how well a marketing ops team works is proper management.

As a point of reference, marketing operations is the process of strategizing and optimizing, while marketing ops management defines how that strategizing and optimizing will happen.

Since marketing operations management aims to increase efficiency, ops teams often have a hand in content planning and campaign analysis.

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Role of Marketing Operations

Marketing operations is a combination of different processes that contribute to marketing team success. The role of marketing ops encompasses:

  • Project management
  • Strategic planning
  • Organization benchmarking
  • Workflow process development and documentation
  • Customer, market, and competitive intelligence research
  • Performance measurement
  • Campaign analysis and reporting
  • Data management
  • Process development and implementation

Much of the role of marketing operations comes down to strategic decision making for key marketing strategies, and seeing those projects through to completion based on analyzed data.

Marketing Operations Strategy

Marketing ops team members need to have an expansive skillset. Some of the typical activities this department deals with are email operations, systems analysis, customer data and marketing, user operations, and lead rotation.

All of these roles come together to align the process and platforms needed to carry out marketing tasks for the greater marketing team.

When thinking about a marketing ops strategy, consider the problems the marketing ops team needs to solve, taking into account the needs of customers, stakeholders, and the employees of your company.

1. Identify what you want your operations strategy to accomplish for stakeholders.

Firstly, you need to effectively communicate and involve your stakeholder(s) when trying to create your marketing operations strategy. By doing so, you can better align the team and work toward solving high-level needs and priorities that may not be explicitly clear beforehand.

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This is where the importance of internal service level agreements (SLAs) come in. These contracts establish a set of deliverables to another party that sets clear expectations and mitigates issues that may arise.

For instance, key stakeholders might want to make email marketing a more valuable process. The marketing ops team would then be responsible for the processes and systems that support this endeavor, ensuring that:

  • The organization has effective email marketing technology
  • The marketing team is enabled to send emails and create improved content offers
  • The sales team is enabled and empowered to source quality leads
  • All parties have what they need and are communicating effectively during each step of the process

2. Figure out a measurable metric to determine the success of your strategy.

The next step in strategizing is to identify how the team would measure the success of the project. When you figure out a measurable metric, you’ll be able to keep track of the strategy’s success as your team works through the plan. The metric will remind your team of the goal you want to accomplish and what stakeholders want to see as a result of your plan.

In this example, the team might conclude, “Click-through rate and total number of clicks are how we want to measure the value that email marketing brings to the business. We will calculate the click-through rate by dividing the number of clicks in a month by the number of unique email recipient impressions in a month and multiply it by 100 for the percentage.”

3. Define your goal(s) using the SMART format.

With your metrics identified, the next step in defining a marketing ops strategy is outlining significant SMART goals. This format is important because it gives your team a better sense of direction and organization in strategy execution.

An example of an effective SMART goal is, “We will increase total clicks from email by 25% in one year.” because it’s:

  • Specific: It’s not a broad goal; it’s focused on email marketing.
  • Measurable: It can be measured by a concrete metric (total clicks).
  • Attainable: It’s possible to see this level of change in the business.
  • Realistic: The team is capable of working toward 25% of improvement.
  • Time-bound: This goal has a set duration of one year.
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4. If needed, communicate how colleagues can take part in refining your strategy.

With the goal and metrics identified, your next step is to outline what this change would mean for affected colleagues, such as the team members who create and distribute email marketing messages.

The team might conclude that “Marketers can expect an easier email guideline process, a more effective format, and to receive a form to offer input about how to make that happen.”

5. Determine actionable steps in your plan that will help you reach your goals.

Determining actionable steps will help your marketing ops team figure out what needs to be done, identify the resources required to see success, and stay organized as they work through their tasks.

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A marketing ops professional will need to run these steps by the stakeholders who actually influence the plan. For instance, they would be communicating steps to reach the previously stated SMART goal like:

  • Switching to a more efficient email technology provider.
  • Ensuring that the data being used to measure these goals is clean and accurate.
  • Enabling the marketing team to source more quality leads.
  • Enabling the sales team with better templates or sales enablement resources.

With these steps communicated, stakeholders can provide assistance or suggestions where it’s needed, and the marketing ops team can get closer to execution.

6. Assign team members to specific tasks that will contribute to the completion of your goals.

Having that set in place, what’s next for the marketing ops team is to assign team members specific tasks to help them achieve their goals. For instance, one team member might be in charge of redefining email marketing contact lists. Another might be in charge of auditing the current workflows in place for email marketing.

As team members complete these tasks, they would check them off in a centralized space so the entire team can stay updated on the project’s status.

Marketing operations teams are equally effective with their strategies and management capabilities as Summer’s character in “School of Rock.” With her processes, the group was able to obtain their own rehearsal space and offer music classes.

Align and Optimize Your Marketing Operations

Marketing ops can come up with ways to increase customer satisfaction and ease the job of marketers. Their strategies make marketing activities and duties accessible to all, and because of that, are an essential part of a business.

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Using Google Analytics 4 integrations for insights and media activations

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Using Google Analytics 4 integrations for insights and media activations

No matter which stage of Google Analytics 4 implementation you’re currently involved in, the opportunities to integrate with other products shouldn’t be overlooked. The best part is that the basic versions are free for everyone, so there are quick wins to be had if you aren’t using these yet.

Other features and reporting experiences aside, an edge that Google Analytics has over other analytics platforms is that it fits well with the Google Marketing Platform (GMP). If you’re using Google Ads, Search Ads 360, DV360, or other media tools in the suite, GA can be a hub, as well as a source in the media activation process.

GA integrations as a hub

The paid media platforms in GMP have advanced, automated reporting. These platforms are powerful tools to analyze the beginning of the user journey by drawing people to the site and to the end of the experience by converting. 

What about the middle? A solid Google Analytics implementation offers multi-step conversions, custom user behavior data and rich segment data to build and share audiences.

GA integrations as sources for insights

Google Analytics 4 isn’t just about analyzing data, it’s about acting on it. For example, the Audience feature leverages your analytics implementation — you can use the data to segment users and create audiences for remarketing, targeting, A/B testing, and personalization. 

Through settings in GA, you can also link other products and share audience and conversion data.

Below are the integrations currently available for Google Analytics 4 as of June 2022. Notice that it’s already quite a lengthy list.

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  • Google Ads.
  • BigQuery (extra costs are incurred in Google Cloud).
  • Display & Video 360 (DV360).
  • Google Ad Manager  (GAM).
  • Google Merchant Center.
  • Google Optimize. 
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) (this one requires the Salesforce Journey Builder). 
  • Search Console.
  • Play integration.
  • Search Ads 360 (SA360).

The first step to building out your analytics insights is taking inventory of your GMP stack. Which products are you using right now? The products will depend on what type of site or app you have and the products in which you are investing. However, three of those integrations can apply to all properties — BigQuery, Search Console and Optimize. It doesn’t matter if you’re an advertiser, publisher, retail or service site — each of these integrations is a possibility to use today for free in Google Analytics 4. 

Let’s take a closer look at these three fundamental integrations.

BigQuery

What is BigQuery? A Google Cloud data warehouse that’s not exclusively for Google Analytics or GMP.

Who is it for? Teams and leaders that will benefit from this connection are involved in areas like BI, data science, and data administration.

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With BigQuery, you’ll have all of your data exported to a data warehouse that you own and control. Once the data is in Google Cloud, there’s freedom to send to another database, blend with data outside of Google Analytics, and perform advanced reporting in other tools. The GA BigQuery data has other benefits, including integration with CRM data.

How to integrate. The integration is self-serve within the interface, but there needs to be a BigQuery project available to link the Google Analytics tool. If you do not have a project yet, go to the Google APIs Resources page to create a new one. On the page, it looks technical and there’s code references, but that part isn’t necessary and you can skip it. The instructions for doing it through the interface are in modules in the “Console” tab. Below are the simplified steps:

  1. Select the option to create a project on the upper left of the page.
  1. Name your project, select the “Create” button, and there’s now a new project in Google Cloud. 
  2. The last step is turning on a setting to use BigQuery. There are a lot of technical options in the menu, but the only area you need to go to for this is “Library” under “APIs & Services,” where you can search for BigQuery and enable it.

After the project is created, it’s ready to be integrated with Google Analytics 4. Back in the GA interface, the option to link it is under property settings. 

Now your raw GA4 data will start collecting into the project to be available for immediate use. Out of the integrations listed here, this one has the most steps. However, the other products are just a few clicks. (Note: BigQuery comes at an extra cost. However, for most accounts it will not be significant — it is sometimes just a few dollars.) 


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Search Console

What is Search Console? It’s a platform for monitoring in-depth metrics and reports related to organic Google search performance and site speed.

Who is it for? Most teams will benefit in some way from analyzing search data. This includes content creators, SEO teams, and web developers.

How to integrate. A Search Console property must be created, and it must be verified. Sometimes this is as simple as selecting a few buttons in the interface.

Once there is a Search Console property, or once there is access to an existing property, the link is in the same menu as the BigQuery link under Property Settings.

After, organic metrics and reports that are not out-of-the-box will be available in Google Analytics 4. Once the product linking is complete and working, there’s a last step to enable GA users to benefit from the enhanced data. It may be noticeable (and possibly confusing) that the Search Console data isn’t within the default interface navigation. To see the reports, the reporting collections in the menu should be edited.

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To modify the navigation, select “Library” at the bottom of the screen:

Next, begin the process to create a collection, under Collections. The template for Search Console will be located as the bottom right option. The option to start from scratch without a template is also available.

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After saving, go back to the library area and publish your collection. The report should now be accessible from the left navigation:

Optimize

What is Optimize? Optimize is an A/B testing and personalization tool.

Who is it for? It’s for marketers, conversion rate optimization (CRO) teams, content creators, or UX leads.

How to integrate. This one isn’t as apparent as the other links. Right now, the integration option does not show up in the Google Analytics property settings. That doesn’t mean that it’s not available, it means that the linking hasn’t been done yet. 

So, instead of starting in Google Analytics, the process begins in the Optimize interface. Under Settings, navigate to the Measurement section and edit. A dropdown will be available with a list of all the properties that you have access to. Unlike the previous version of Google Analytics, the integration links to a GA data stream instead of the GA property.

Once it’s linked, the icon will show up in Google Analytics:

When the link is active, Google Analytics 4 data can be used for audience targeting, conversion optimization, and objectives.

Note: If you are already linked to a legacy Google Analytics property, check with your team to make sure that it is ok to switch it to the Google Analytics 4 data.

Read next: Is Google Analytics going away? What marketers need to know

With the integration of BigQuery, Search Console, and Optimize, anyone can advance their analytics capabilities for current or future initiatives.

Below are brief explanations of the media platforms that Google Analytics 4 can integrate with. Most of these depend on what products are in use, what vertical an organization falls under, or other specific contexts and devices. 

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Google Ads

What is Google Ads? It’s the most popular and well-known search advertising tool, formerly known as AdWords.

Who is it for? It’s for marketers, advertisers and paid media specialists.

What it does. Google Ads was one of the first products to have GA4 linking capabilities. It’s built to provide value both ways – by getting Ads metrics and reporting from Google Ads to GA and by sending audiences and getting conversions from GA to Google Ads.

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Google Analytics 4 to Google Ads linking information and instructions here.

Display & Video 360

What is DV360? It’s a programmatic advertising platform. Also referred to as a DSP, DV360 is used to bid on display ad placements on publisher/content sites.

Who is it for? It’s for marketers, advertisers and paid media specialists within enterprise organizations.

Google Analytics 4 to DV360 linking information and instructions here.

Search Ads 360

What is SA360? This is like Google Ads, but super-charged. It’s a management and bidding tool to run ads across multiple channels and search engines.

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Who is it for? It’s for marketers, advertisers and paid media specialists within enterprise organizations.

Google Analytics 4 to SA360 linking information and instructions here.

Google Ads Manager 

What is GAM? It’s an enterprise platform for publishers to manage and serve ads on their site or app.

Who is it for? Marketers, advertisers and paid media specialists within enterprise organizations.

Google Analytics 4 to GAM linking information and instructions here.

Google Merchant Center

What is Google Merchant Center? A separate platform from Google Ads to promote products, mainly on Google Shopping.

Who is it for? It’s for marketers and advertisers within an e-commerce organization.

Google Analytics 4 to Google Merchant Center linking information and instructions here.

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Salesforce Marketing Cloud

SFMC is for cross-channel digital marketers. This integration is meant for use in the SFMC Journey Builder and can bring in Google Analytics data.

Google Analytics 4 to SFMC information and instructions here (through Salesforce).

Google Play

Google Play is Google’s app store and it’s for digital marketers who analyze in-app purchases and subscriptions.

Google Analytics 4 to Google Play linking information and instructions here.

If your organization is using any of those media tools, it’s a great time to start the strategy and process of leveraging Google Analytics 4 data to enhance analysis across multiple products and teams. There’s no reason not to start since they are available to all GA4 properties.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


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About The Author

Samantha has been working with web analytics and implementation for over 10 years. She is a data advocate and consultant for companies ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations. As a trainer, she has led courses for over 1000 attendees over the past 6 years across the United States. Whether it’s tag management, analytics strategy, data visualization, or coding, she loves the excitement of developing bespoke solutions across a vast variety of verticals.

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