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1. What makes a great marketing operations team? (With Monish Munshi)

Hello and welcome to the first episode of The Factors Podcast! Join us as we discuss the evolution of marketing operations and the constitution of a high-functioning marops team with Monish Munshi — Senior Director of Global Marketing Strategy & Operations at Freshworks.

December 23, 2021


1) How has marketing and marketing operations evolved over the years? 


Until recently, marketing operations had limited scope. These days, however, the focus of marops has expanded across the entire organisation to deliver effective processes and technology. Similarly with Marketing, there was initially a lopsided focus on creatives, copies, promotion etc. Today, the role of a marketer has become far more data-driven, objective, and quantifiable. Of course, the creative aspect of marketing does, and must remain important — but with digital marketing, consistency across channels, and marketing automation becoming increasingly relevant, there is enormous capacity for marketing operations to provide support. Overall, Marketing has transitioned from an extremely laborious process to a tech-intensive function. 


2) Fast forwarding to today, there’s this explosion in demand for marketing operations amongst most — even early-stage — SaaS companies. What is driving this?


One aspect that has rendered ops and analytics important is that marketing has transformed from a cost center to a revenue center that’s responsible for pipeline. Once this accountability is established, it’s important to have a deterministic view of marketing efforts. This is especially the case in the SaaS space, where the effects of digital transformation are felt strongest.


Another aspect that has contributed to this reprioritisation of marops is technology. There are certain fundamental technological requirements — marketing automation platform, CRM, Google ads, etc. This abundance of marketing technology and marketing data enables teams to derive a robust understanding of their performance and influence on the company as a whole. This, in turn, empowers incremental improvements and optimizations down the line.


Now that marketing is accountable for revenue, and a significant chunk of revenue is pushed back into marketing, there is a real desire for teams to qualify their efforts using data and marops.


3) What is your advice for early-stage SaaS startups looking to empower their marketing operations team into a strategic growth lever, rather than simply another tech + automation department?


This may be an idealist perspective but I feel you need a marketer first. Onboarding a highly-specialised marketer operator is great but they’re likely to optimize simply for marketing automation. A marketer who understands marketing as an organization is far more likely to optimize for the entire organization — including pipeline and revenue. So I’d say your first step should be to ensure that your marketing ops team consists of all-round marketers who understand technology, reporting, ABM, product, events, and everything else across the marketing frontier. 


4) Another big trend that’s taking place is a shift towards non-automatable marketing systems like social selling, offline events, etc. In such cases, where would marops utility come in?


It is very clear now that mass marketing no longer works as well as they used to. While there is comfort in the deterministic nature of mass marketing, the truth is that it’s a resource-heavy endeavor. With that said, I would recommend marketing teams to become comfortable with the unknown when it comes to non-automatable marketing efforts. Be okay with the fact that you may not understand the complete influence, or even existence, of certain touch-points and actions. Instead of shunning these offline channels — derive an understanding of how these unknown, offline efforts are driving traffic and pipeline. There will always be things that cannot be measured but that doesn’t mean they have no influence. 


5) Digital transformation and Customer centricity are high-level ideas that are often thrown about. Tactically, how does marking ops affect these notions?


Customer centricity, digital transformation, and revenue accountability are all fundamental to marketing operations. As recently as 2011, IT firms would have armies of marketers working on lead scoring, account matching, etc. All of this, with the advent of digital transformation, has evolved to make a lot of manual efforts (and technologies) obsolete. That being said, teams today must be extremely agile and adaptable to an ever-changing digital and technological environment. In terms of customer centricity, marketing ops is expected to empower end-to-end personalization across a customer’s journey. They should also be responsible for generating a cohesive, consistent marketing language across all the several channels being employed today. 


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