Marketing automation is still a somewhat new industry — after all, many of the leading providers in the space were only founded in 2006. What started as a small and somewhat foreign movement is now expected to be worth $7.63 Billion By 2025.
What this means is that the need for marketing automation/operations professionals is growing rapidly. What this also means is that companies are researching how to best staff these new needs! So, where should you start? Even this Marketo article flounders a bit on the blurry lines between Marketing Automation Managers (MAMs), Marketing Operations Managers (MOMs), and Email Marketing Managers, and how to best staff a marketing automation team.
So, what *are* MOMs and MAMs, and what are they worth to their companies? According to the aforementioned Marketo article, here is a definition:
“A marketing automation manager is an evangelist for your adopted platform. He or she will develop best practices and training, and work side by side with your marketing managers to achieve 100% adoption, and ensure that everyone is using marketing automation to its full potential. Marketing automation admins must have a deep knowledge of marketing automation, working to both improve and demonstrate marketing’s contribution to pipeline and revenue. A strong background in lead generation programs, email marketing best practices, and inbound marketing is crucial, along with experience improving marketing and sales alignment through continuous business process improvement.”
However, I’ve found that MAM and MOM roles tend to reach much further than that description. Many of us help develop email marketing strategy (and sometimes implement campaigns ourselves), overall demand generation marketing strategy, and even work as diplomats between sales and marketing regarding data collection, standardization, and marketing/sales process development. We also often help with adoption of other marketing technologies that supplement the features that our marketing automation platforms provide. Sometimes, we even assist in website optimization, SEO, and ad buying. Depending on the size and needs of our companies, we pitch in wherever there is a need and wear many hats — and, in my experience, there aren’t a whole lot of differences between MAMs and MOMs.
For the purpose of ease of reading, let’s stick to referring to this position as MOM for the rest of this article.
As someone who has spent years consulting with SMB to enterprise-sized companies regarding marketing operations, I can say this confidently…you are better off hiring a MOM sooner than later, even if your marketing efforts are very successful. Why?
Two words: technical debt.
A lot of marketing folks put a lot of hard work into learning marketing automation platforms quickly, but it’s hard to create a solid foundation in software that you don’t have a decent amount of experience in. Many end up creating a pretty-looking front-end in terms of email design and sometimes even automation, blissfully unaware that countless workarounds and shortcuts are going to cost them tens of thousands of dollars in data clean-up cost. In the world of martech, much of the time the major keys are knowing the different quirks of each technology and where to look for trouble brewing; these can save you a lot of time and money.
If you want more specific examples, DM me for some truly cringe-worthy stories, like a company once asking if I could migrate their HubSpot blogs so they could switch to Pardot…only to find out that it would cost them around $20,000 in consulting hours to do so. 😬 I bet they wish they’d had someone on staff to forewarn them before hosting years of blog posts on that platform (by the way, this was a few years ago…not sure if HS blog migration is still inflexible)!
There are other significant benefits to investing in a MOM:
- The best of us are hungry to learn our martech stacks through and through, becoming SMEs; and let me tell you, asking a team member a question about your martech stack is much easier than waiting on external support.
- A great MOM will host internal conversations surrounding what kind of data the business is looking to collect, how to best extract that data, and how to best model it for the most accurate measurements of marketing ROI.
- A fantastic MOM will lead the conversation surrounding data standardization between systems, overall data hygiene best practices, and do our best to avoid racking up that costly, aforementioned technical debt.
- In fact, an excellent MOM will keep an open conversation going with sales to determine the best way to make crucial data required without hampering their sales process to the point of inefficiency.
However, there are some things that MOMs need to be able to accomplish these tasks (by the way, Andrea Tarrell did a great job explaining MOM burnout in her The Spot for Pardot article):
- We need your trust. Many of us are change-makers across an organization; we are tasked with evangelizing shifts in strategy and tools to meet the ever-evolving nature of digital marketing, and we need your help in educating those who are unsure of these new ideas. When we make a suggestion, we need you to be open and to ask questions to gain a confident understanding. If you are someone who needs to see data to believe something, we understand completely! Just ask us for it and we will provide data to support our suggestions.
- We need your understanding. SaaS platforms are constantly being updated and (if we’re honest) frequently displaying bugs; if something breaks, it most likely isn’t our fault! We can’t control the updates that the SaaS providers push, but we do work to minimize the damage and communicate with SaaS providers to help resolve the bugs as they reveal themselves.
- We need your patience. A great MOM will not rush to create a workaround for a problem (or, at least, we will resist as best we can). We do this because we know that workaround upon workaround hurts the company in the long-run and are prime causes of technical debt and the inflexibility of changing processes moving forward. We need you to talk through the purpose of the request and the expected outcome, so we can go back to our desks and map out different solutions, ultimately choosing the best long-term solution for the company and presenting it to the team.
Practicing these will help you recruit and retain the best MOM talent, and it will help us give you the greatest ROI and scalability for your martech investments. If we are interviewing or have officially come on board, we likely already enjoy and care about you, the team, and the company; all that’s left is enabling us to bring your martech stack to the next level!
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Sara McNamara is a Marketing Operations Manager and former top-tier Salesforce Pardot Partner senior consultant. She has a special place in her heart for marketing operations, Kanye West, huskies, and people who don’t call her about something that could have been a text/don’t request a meeting about something that could have been an email. She is honored to be the very first B2B marketing Trailblazer to be recognized and featured by Salesforce Trailhead, as well as featured in the first Trailblazers in B2B Marketing | Powered by Pardot magazine. She is also a Marketo Certified Expert and cosigned by Jill Rowley, the greatest sales professional of all time.