Marketing operations is a hard job, and the marketing operations attrition rate is high.
Why is this not surprising? Because marketing operations is a new field. And with new roles and new fields, comes skepticism. And with skepticism, comes under-funding and lack of power. And with those, comes high marketing operations attrition rates.
Imagine your boss telling you to move a mountain. Now, imagine trying to move a mountain when your boss tells you to do it on your own, and with just your own body. That’s what it’s like to be underfunded and understaffed.
If you’re reading this because you are having a hard time holding on to marketing operations talent, you’re not alone. I’m writing about this because I know that a lot of organizations struggle with this.
But the answer is not to get frustrated and to make your marketing operations professionals the scapegoats.
There are certainly fakers out there. People who claim to know more than they do, demand high compensation, and then create a mess and leave you to deal with it after less than a year. That is something that happens out there, and I hate it.
But what I witness even more often? These things:
Lack of respect – Because some companies undervalue the effort it takes to run marketing operations properly, or because they have been burned in the past by inexperienced admins, they show a lack of respect to marketing operations folks. This isn’t fair. Marketing operations is key to maximizing marketing spend and reducing costly redundancies that humans are currently doing. If you are disrespectful to your MOPs team, you are not only a distraction — you are a morale lowering force and will drive everyone away.
Lack of power – This one goes hand in hand with lack of respect. Marketing operations professionals are gamechangers. They are usually leading the digital transformation of your business, which means that they not only have to do their direct job, but they also have to convince other department stakeholders to come on board and to contribute to this transformation. If they are ignored and not given the power to influence loud voices that may be incorrect, then they will eventually give up. If you are going to task a professional with ensuring that your business’ marketing efforts are not only successfully launched but accurately reported on, etc, you need to give them the power to be able to do their jobs effectively.
Lack of clarity in job posting – I witness a lot of applicants who make it seem like they have more expertise than they really do, but I see an equal if not larger amount of employers who make their job opening sound much more appealing than the job really is. This is okay when it was an innocent mistake — sometimes, when a technologist is hired and they do an audit, they identify priorities that did not exist in the job description. But when an employer knowingly lies about the task at hand, the working relationship starts on the foundation of a lie. This is toxic for everyone involved, and should be avoided at all costs. If you’re talking to a seasoned professional, they know that you’re most likely interested because you have a mess that needs cleaning up. That’s okay! Just be honest about it, so we can be sure that we are the best fit for your needs and are prepared for the road ahead.
Lack of growth opportunity – Are you checking in with your MOPs professional to find out which areas they want to grow in? Are you handing them projects that will challenge them, or supporting their interest in taking a SQL course or some other education? Make sure you are keeping the spark alive with your technologists. Even if we are dealing with other frustrations, having projects we are excited about can help keep us happy.
Lack of compensation – This is going to be a hot button topic, but PLEASE — do NOT lowball your MOPs talent, and make sure that you give them the appropriate promotions and raises. They may take a lower initial offer due to being new to an area or new to the industry, but they will leave once they start getting messaged by recruiters who are offering them much higher compensation (especially if you are not giving them decent raises). You are better off compensating them fairly now than losing them in a year, over something as silly as a few thousand bucks.
Why should I care?
You should care about attrition in your marketing ops organization because attrition is expensive. Think about the cost of:
- Recruiting new talent (most likely at least 4 weeks, if you are extremely lucky — more like 6 months for many)
- Onboarding new talent
- Around 6-12 months of the new talent learning the intricacies of your systems and processes
- Lower morale for MOPs professionals who stick around
- Lower reputation as a great place for MOPs professionals to work (word gets around! And it’s easy to measure marketing operations attrition through LinkedIn Insights)
- Dropped projects that the MOPs professional was working on
- Loss of time/productivity during all of this educational/recruiting time
It’s in your interest to keep your MOPs people happy. We work hard for you, to make sure you are successful. Make sure you show us the respect, give us the power, and pay us what we deserve. 😄
Sara McNamara is a Senior Marketing Operations Manager and top-tier Salesforce/Pardot senior consultant that has been recognized as a “Top B2B Marketer to Watch” by Salesforce Pardot, a “Unicorn” by Marketo, a “Trailblazer in B2B Marketing” by Salesforce Trailhead, an “Ops Pro Shaping The Future of B2B Marketing” by Drift.com, and a “B2B Marketing Automation All-Star” by ChiefMarketer.com. Sara has a special place in her heart for marketing operations, reality TV, 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.
Sara 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 and featured at Salesforce Tour events around the world. She is also a Marketo Certified Expert and cosigned by Jill Rowley, the greatest sales professional of all time. 🐐 She has a hell of a lot to say and you can catch her thoughts on Twitter at @ifeellikemacmac, on LinkedIn, and at various marketing events in the United States. You can also catch peeks of Sara featured at Salesforce Tour events worldwide. 🌎