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Ep: 1 - Why Marketing Ops Needs a Seat at the Strategy Table

- Hosted by Glenn Bottomly

Kaitlyn Foley, Marketing Operations Manager at Twilio joins Glenn Bottomly to discuss why marketing ops needs a seat at the strategy table.

If you’re planning your strategy for 2022 and Marketing Ops doesn’t have a seat at the table…

Then you don’t have a strategy.

That simple truth is why we’re so excited to welcome Kaitlyn Foley, Marketing Operations Manager at Twilio, as our first guest. Not only have we rarely heard it phrased so effectively and succinctly, but we can think of no one better than Kaitlyn at educating on the why — and, perhaps most importantly, the how — behind it.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why Marketing Ops needs to have a seat at the table
  • Positioning yourself within a Marketing Ops career
  • The future of Marketing Ops

Why Marketing Ops needs to have a seat at the table

To understand why Marketing Ops deserves a seat at the table, we first need to have a clear definition to work from. For Kaitlyn, Marketing Ops is the orchestration of your entire marketing tech stack — taking all the incoming data and figuring out where it goes, how it’s treated, and then funneling it to the next step:

“Whether that's a follow up from sales, or whether it's a nurture stream through one of our systems, I think all of the orchestrations, all the nuts and bolts in the plugging in. That is marketing operations.” Kaitlyn Foley

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How Marketing Ops has changed

Much of the worth of Marketing Ops is due to how the role has changed over the years. Kaitlyn walks us through how it has changed since she began seven years ago:

  • Early days: It was all about volume — getting campaigns out the door whether or not they were being smart about it. Thoughts about the customer experience were still relatively new. 
  • 2021 view: Everything is centered around the question — what’s the right next step for our customers? This extends from the moment you first make a relationship with the customer and continues years down the road. 

“It's no longer ‘Get it all out the door, I don't care. Break a law, if you have to. It's now: ‘Let's follow all the rules and be very succinct,” Kaitlyn explains.


Why it's worthy

Marketing Ops’ biggest benefit: data. 

What do most organizations currently underutilize? Data. 

When you have a department that knows the data, knows what’s available, knows what the organization is currently set up to do, and how to be successful in the future — that department is invaluable. 

Positioning yourself within a Marketing Ops career

Unfortunately, not all businesses are pulling up a chair for Marketing Ops. Despite its importance, it can require some coercing. So if you’re put in this situation, it’s important to know how to position yourself. 

The best way: Start saying no. For a lot of Marketing Ops teams, there’s a precedent set that they’re the doers of the organization — whenever something is asked of them, they say yes to please internal stakeholders. 

However, if you want your company’s ears to perk up, say no and present your evidence with the data. The business may not be happy that you’re saying no, but they will likely start to listen. 

You can't always be the expert

Most Marketing Ops team members love to be experts of tech and systems. However, if the goal is to hold a seat, the team needs to remember how to ask questions. 

"A lot of the time the value you bring into a meeting is a question you might not understand perfectly.” — Kaitlyn Foley

You shouldn’t expect yourself to know every answer to every question before you ask them. Present your concerns and collaborate with the team to find the best solution. 


The future of Marketing Ops

Marketing Ops teams are still pretty scrappy in 2021. With an average of 5 to 10 people at a large company, Kaitlyn believes this number will triple and begin to splinter into the following departments:

  • Data Engineering: Finding data to plug into systems that marketing and sales use.
  • Marketing Ops: Focusing on the tech stacks — keeping them healthy and functioning. 
  • Campaign Ops: Working and enabling markets to ensure all the digital campaigns make it out the door.  

“You're going to see a very big split between very big growing departments. I think it's going to boom, I really do.” — Kaitlyn Foley

A key takeaway

Marketing Ops has had its fair share of changes in recent history and will continue to transition as organizations begin to see the true value that it can bring to the table. When you plan your strategy for 2022/2023, make sure that Marketing Ops is present for the discussion.

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