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MOps leaders as psychologists: The modern mind-readers

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MOps leaders as psychologists: The modern mind-readers

This four-part series presents a framework that describes the roles and responsibilities of marketing operations leaders. This part discusses MOps leaders as psychologists, in addition to their roles as modernizers (see part 1) and orchestrators (see part 2).

Exposure to marketing during my early educational journey was limited. With a heavy math/science background, I chose the “easy” path and majored in engineering. I struggled in advanced engineering classes but thrived in electives — communications, business, organizational behavior — which was a sign for my future in marketing.

Because of my engineering background, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to join GE Healthcare through its entry-level leadership development program. There I was exposed to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

MRIs had become go-to diagnostic devices and subsequently were used in neuroscience. I was fascinated by their eventual application in fMRI: Functional MRI. These extensions helped us understand the most consequential medical mystery: how (and why) people do what they do.

fMRI uses the same underlying technology as conventional MRI, but the scanner and a medical contrast agent are used to detect increased blood flow in response to a stimulus in what is commonly referenced as “hot spots.”

fMRI reveals which of the brain’s processes “light up” when a person experiences different sensations, e.g., exposure to different images in common studies. As a result, we now know what parts of the brain are involved in making decisions.

Successful marketing ‘lights up’ customers’ brains

Traditional marketing campaigns and measurement left gaps in understanding how and why people choose to buy. We were dependent on aggregated data. 

With digital channels, we gain first-hand insights into an individual’s response to a stimulus, i.e., content. Here’s where the comparison picks up: 

  • We can observe nearly anything and everything that customers or prospects do digitally.
  • Most customers know that we can track (almost) everything that they do.
  • Because of that knowledge, customers expect contextual, value-based content, forcing marketing to provide more value in exchange for the permission to track.

Our goal as marketers is to make our customers and prospects “light up” with pleasure or satisfaction at each interaction. And, we now have the technology to track it. We are effectively reading minds — just as if it were an fMRI scan.

Here’s an overview of three of the primary psychology “tactics” that every marketer should know: 

  • Priming is the attempt to trigger a subconscious reaction to stimuli that influences our conscious decisions. The most common application is in branding and first click-through impressions. If a customer continues their journey, then the use of aspirational product or service images in content are common priming approaches.
  • Social proof is perhaps the most common example, given the impact of word-of-mouth influence. It is commonly seen in product reviews and ratings. Content marketing often relies on case studies and customer testimonials to hear from “people like us.”
  • Anchoring refers to marketing’s role in pricing and discounting. Most decisions people make are relative to the initial set of information they have received.

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MOps leaders manage the mind-reading stack 

MOps leaders are modernizers that now manage the mind-reading martech stack. We then lead the orchestration efforts to analyze the response (the “scan” data) and “prescribe” the next steps of the campaign.

Two catalysts spawned the emergence for martech applications:

  • New channels that delivered stimulus (content) and collected responses: search, social media, retail commerce channels, etc.
  • Tools that organize and manage all of that response data, from foundational CRM platforms to marketing analytics and data enrichment.

These developments led to the new psychological skills that have become essential to the role of MOps leaders. 

Processing and interpreting intent data is an example. ZoomInfo illustrates how B2B marketers are accessing this capability. The company now provides buying signals to marketers based on their customers’ behaviors, in addition to the basic contact information that was the origin of its business. 

Intent data is already in widespread use. Six in 10 companies responding to a recent survey said they had or planned in the next year to implement intent measurement data solutions. 

The top challenges for effective intent data utilization fit squarely in the role/responsibilities of MOps leaders include:

These trends support the conclusion of the first three parts of this series — that MOps leaders should aspire to be: 

  • Psychologists who elicit responses (i.e., “light up” the brains) of customers and prospects and interpret those signals for the business. 
  • Modernizers who adopt the technology that enables the activation of those signals.
  • Orchestrators who are cross-functional project managers and business partners with IT, legal and compliance.

Next time, I’ll complete the framework with a discussion of how the role of MOps leaders includes being a scientist, constantly testing and evaluating marketing efforts with teams of analytics specialists and data scientists. 

Editor’s note: This is the 3rd in a 4-part series. In case you missed them, part 1 (Modernizers) is here and part 2 (Orchestrators) is here.


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


About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.

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MARKETING

MarTech’s email marketing experts to follow

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MarTech's email marketing experts to follow

Email marketing isn’t easy. There are so many moving parts — personalization, permissions, frequency, readability, mail transfer agents, engagement, sender reputation, segmentation and much, much more. A mistake on any one of these and it doesn’t matter how good the rest are. Worse yet, today’s mistake may have been yesterday’s right thing to do. 

To help you, we’ve put together the list of email marketers who always know the best practices and latest developments. This is who you have to follow if you don’t want your email campaigns getting left behind.

In alphabetical order, they are:

Jen Capstraw

With more than 20 years of experience in digital marketing, Jen has done it all. Her understanding of business and email has fueled her desire to help others, most notably as president and co-founder of Women of Email, an association of 8,000+ aimed at promoting leadership and cultivating professional growth among women in the email space. In addition to being founder and fractional evangelist for the Idea Empire consultancy, she is co-host and co-creator of the popular Humans of Email podcast. Catch up with her latest writings, videos, webinars and more here.


Justine Jordan

“In a thousand years, I never thought I’d make a career out of email marketing,” Justine writes on her website, “but I can’t imagine it any other way. Dare I say it’s ‘been a blast’?” Her first email marketing job with ExactTarget (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud) got her hooked on the data-centered rationale behind email design. From there she went on to be CMO at Help Scout, the Email Experience Council’s 2015 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year, VP of Marketing at Litmus and now head of marketing at Wildbit. 


Dan Oshinsky

Dan has gone from innovating the news to innovating newsletters and email. He started out in journalism creating a channel for long form news and the Tools For Reporters newsletter. He went from there to director of newsletters for BuzzFeed and The New Yorker magazine. He runs the email consultancy InBox Collective and publishes the appropriately named NotANewsletter. It’s “a monthly, semi-comprehensive, Google Doc-based guide to sending better emails” with 9,000+ subscribers.


Kath Pay

Hard to say which accomplishment Kath is best known for. It could be because she’s founder and CEO of Holistic Email Marketing? Perhaps. Or because she’s the author of the best-selling “Holistic Email Marketing: A practical philosophy to revolutionize your business and delight your customers.” Very possible. Or because she is a world-renowned speaker and trainer. Or possibly because she was named one of the top 50 email marketers in the world by Vocus. She is certainly well-known for the many popular articles she’s written for MarTech. Read her blog here.


Ryan Phelan

Ryan is truly an old-hand at email marketing. The co-founder of and managing partner RPEOrigin, he has more than two decades of global marketing leadership for high-growth SaaS and Fortune 250 companies. He knows email from the big picture to the latest coding trends. That’s why he is Chairman Emeritus of the Email Experience Council Advisory Board. A popular and frequent MarTech writer, you can also read his personal blog here.


Dela Quist

Dela is internationally renowned for his innovative use of data analysis to challenge myths and preconceptions in email marketing. He is a true pioneer in the field who began using email as a marketing channel back in the 1990s. Today he is founder and CMO of Alchemy Worx, an audience management agency specializing in email marketing, SMS marketing, and paid social. And one other thing, he was the ANA Email Experience Council’s 2022 Email Marketing Thought Leader of the Year.


Elliot Ross

Currently the technology evangelist MessageBird, Elliot loves to help other email marketers. He is managing director/founder Look at Action Rocket, the creative studio for emailers, where he is managing director and founder. He’s also CEO and co-founder of Taxi for Email, an app that helps marketers make better email. He hosts of EmailTalks podcast and is a regular conference speaker on email design. Even with all that he appears to have some spare time, which he spends as member of the Best Practice Hub of the DMA Email Council. 



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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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