7 key findings from our Marketing Operations Maturity Benchmarking Report

By Chuck Leddy

On Wednesday, August 7, Sojourn Solutions and Econsultancy organized a live webinar entitled, “2019 Benchmark Research: Optimizing the Climb Towards Marketing Operations Maturity,” which shared 7 key findings from our “2019 Marketing Operations Maturity Benchmarking Report.”  

Stefan Tornquist, SVP Research and Content Strategy of Econsultancy, and Rebecca Le Grange, managing partner of Sojourn Solutions, analyzed the study’s key results during the webinar. They also offered their views on how companies can drive Marketing Operations maturity by aligning their plans to corporate strategy, handling talent development, buying and using marketing technology, and making smarter decisions based on data.

7 key findings from the report

Before getting into a discussion of the 7 key findings, Tornquist described a “new normal” of rapid market change. He noted that 65% of the 171 senior B2B leaders surveyed in the report described ongoing changes in their markets as either “significant or profound.” Buyer expectations are in flux, he said, “and rapid changes in the B2C buying experience are definitely impacting B2B buyers today.” Here are the 7 key findings referenced in the report and webinar:

1. MOPs leadership is often insufficient for the role. The survey showed a massive gap between top performing companies and mainstream companies (i.e., the rest) in perceived leadership effectiveness. While less than half of the B2B marketing leaders at top performing companies (48%) described themselves as fully effective in managing change, a woeful 11% of leaders at mainstream companies described themselves as fully effective.

Tornquist and Le Grange noted that MOPs leadership is really hard. “MOPs keeps tabs on all parts of the revenue machine, including alignment, metrics/measurement, systems, people, and more,” said Tornquist. Le Grange described some of the key qualities an effective MOPs leader needs, including “having a holistic view of the business and the courage to ask tough, strategic questions,” as well as “being open to feedback from the team” and “being able to help the team curate best practices.”

2. MOPs teams may lack necessary know-how/skills. Among top performing B2B companies, only 41% of responders fully agree that their MOPs team has the skills and know-how it needs to perform its role. Among mainstream companies, that figure drops to just 17%. As Tornquist noted, “it’s essential to have a mix of internal and external resources and skills available. You might need training for internal people via video, text, or in-person classes. You might also need to bring in outside expertise at times.”

Le Grange explained that team improvement should start with a skills audit of your MOPs team. Once you know what skills you have, you can identify skills gaps and begin closing them. “You must determine what needs to happen to upskill your team, balancing hard and soft skills.” Le Grange agreed that training and development needs to be customized to personal learning styles. She also made a strong case for the importance of soft skills such as collaboration, being curious and willing to try new approaches, not just technology skills.

3. Data management needs to be better. Among top performing B2B companies, only 4 in 10 leaders fully agree that their data management processes are effective, while a mere 15% of mainstream company leaders fully agree that their data management is up to the job. When companies can’t share or even gain visibility into customer data, they simply can’t drive marketing success in today’s data-enabled business landscape.

Le Grange recommended “setting up a data governance group to pull together relevant data no matter where it currently sits within the organization.” Developing the ability to access and leverage data across the business isn’t just a win for better marketing, noted Le Grange, “but also for better reporting and compliance, especially when it comes to GDPR.”

4. Measurement is essential (and insufficient). You can’t impact what you can’t measure, so having and measuring KPIs and relevant performance metrics is necessary for driving ongoing improvement. Yet only 1 in 3 leaders at top performing companies fully agree that they can measure what they need to measure, while just 11% of mainstream company leaders claim this essential capability.

“Having a strong measurement process ultimately feeds a stronger budgeting process,” said Le Grange, “which allows marketers to have more credibility and build a stronger case for higher budgets.” She also noted that MOPs leaders play a consultative role in helping other functional leaders understand what performance indicators are most relevant. Tornquist closed by referencing “a strong correlation between an organization’s ability to spread insights and drive better performance.”

5. Campaign management is clunky. Fewer than 1 in 10 leaders from mainstream companies fully agree that their campaign management processes are effective. Even among top performing companies, that number is just 4 in 10. In contrast to the dream of campaign management being fully automated and self-directing, the actual process is clunky and highly manual, noted Tornquist. “Many marketers complain loudly about spending so much of their time on the mechanics of marketing while having little time left over to be creative.” While automation and AI are rapidly emerging, marketers still struggle with how to integrate and deploy these new technologies for campaign management.

6. Technology management isn’t working effectively. We’re awash in new-fangled technology, which doesn’t mean marketers know what to do with it. Just 1 in 10 mainstream marketing responders fully agree that their technology management process is effective, while less than 4 in 10 leaders at top performing companies feel the same. “One of the key roles MOPs has is in brokering strong relationships with IT to understand what technology is currently available and how best to deploy that tech to align with the company’s strategic needs,” said Le Grange.

MOPs leaders need to ask tough questions around whether a particular technology, no matter how trendy, “actually supports your strategy and your customer,” said Le Grange. The underutilization of technology “is common and expensive,” added Tornquist. “It’s so easy to buy tech, but much harder to integrate it and optimize it for your specific needs.”

7. Market and customer insights are lacking. Having the ability to transform raw data into actionable insights (i.e., analytics) to inform better marketing decision-making is a key success factor. Less than 1 in 5 mainstream companies fully agree that they can track and use customer data to drive insights. Among top performing companies, that number is 1 in 2. As Tornquist explains it, “this type of data-enablement is essential to optimize campaign performance.”

Le Grange agreed, noting that “market and customer insights enable you to gather lessons-learned and apply them to future campaigns and strategies in an iterative process of improvement.” 

The clearest takeaway from the webinar and report is that whatever your company’s level of maturity — whether low, medium, or high — investments in improving your MOPs can take you to the next level. So what should B2B marketers and MOPs professionals do with all these findings? How can you address your performance gaps and drive improvement? Le Grange closed by noting that “what to do next depends on your strategy and your customer. Those are the drivers of figuring out your top priorities.”

To learn about more of our findings, download our benchmarking report. You can also view the on demand version of our webinar. Finally, if you’re a MOPs leader and/or practitioner, then we’d love to hear from you about your views on the maturity within this discipline.

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