How Marketing Operations Affects Marketing Accountability


Describing the role of marketing today is complex.  Just think about it.  What do you call yourself?  What do you call what you do as a profession and I am not talking about your title!  Are you a marketer, a digital marketer, a demand gen marketer, a content marketer, an agile marketer, a marketing technologist, an operations marketer, a modern marketer…..what are you?  This is important because the world of marketing is changing and names have power in terms of your focus, how you are perceived in your company and your career.

Many Names are a Cop Out

All of the names listed above are a cop out.  Marketers love to describe themselves and what they do in terms of the activities they engage in versus the results they drive.  This is the continuous epic fail of the marketing organization.  In today’s world where the customer is in control and marketers are drowning in technology, accountability for financial results is more important than ever.  Does this apply to your marketing organization?

Of course, it does.  Over 80% of CMOs reported feeling intense pressure to show ROI yet less than a third actually do so (The CMO Survey, 2016).  Putting your head in the sand and engaging in uncoordinated marketing activities will not solve this problem.  Pretending that the pressure for financial accountability will go away will not work.  So, what will?

The Rise of The Revenue Marketer

Call yourself what you are accountable for.  Call yourself a Revenue Marketer™.  This is a term I created in 2010 and fully launched in 2011 as part of Marketo’s original Rockstar Roadshow.  When we first used this term in 2010, we would get one of two responses.  Either they would look at us like we had grown a second head or they would say “interesting, tell me more.”  These were the early days of marketing accountability.  Today, the term “Revenue Marketing” is pervasive for those marketers who are bold and confident enough to use it.  But here is what is interesting.  For those marketers who use this term, their company is very clear what they do and the value they bring.  If I find a team using Revenue Marketing, I promise you they are considered part of a larger revenue team and are considered growth drivers in their company.

The Revenue Marketing Journey is Powered by Marketing Operations

To accompany the concept of the Revenue Marketer, I created the Revenue Marketing Journey in 2011.  The model represented a simplistic way to move from being a traditional marketer to a Revenue Marketer.

As we look into 2017 and beyond, this model needs an update.  The role of Marketing Operations (MO) has significantly changed how marketing works and how marketing adopts financial accountability.


The first thing you’ll notice on the new model is that Traditional is gone. In our digital world, it is silly to assume marketing is still only doing traditional marketing.  Another significant difference is taking this journey based on a company-wide customer-centric strategy.  This is a game changer for all of the marketing and for the company.  More about this later.  The Lead Generation stage stays the same.  A company is in the lead generation stage when they are batching and blasting e-mails and passing “leads” over to sales.

Enter….Marketing Operations 

The big difference in how marketers take the Revenue Marketing Journey today has to do with the role of MO.  Let me describe for you the hundreds of marketing departments that I have seen without and with a MO capability.  When marketing begins to try to embrace technology and data to change what they do and the value they bring to the company, I’ve seen many failures because marketing has no structure to support this direction.  The marketing group buys bunches of technology (the average number of systems per company is now over 15) and expects right-brain marketers to optimize integrations, data and reporting.  This did NOT happen.  Quite often marketing winds up “borrowing” data, analytical capabilities and technology from other parts of the organization and ends up with slow and less than optimal performance.  Or, they have one “go-to” analytical person who simply is overwhelmed.

Marketing Operations as the Journey Enabler

It’s only been in the last 24 months that we have seen the rise in the marketing operations function as an intentional capability.  In companies that value and nurture this capability, we see marketing driving credible revenue impact in a smart and efficient way.  The MO department, through technology, data, and analytics, enables marketing to accept and deliver on financial KPIs.  MO optimizes process and technology so that marketing can fulfill the promise of being real Revenue Marketers.

So … What is It that You Do Exactly?

As a leader or a member of the MO team, you are the ultimate enabler of marketing accountability in terms of financial measures.  This includes contribution to pipeline, closed business, improved client acquisition and retention, and top line revenue growth.  Thinking and acting in these terms will focus you on metrics that matter to executives, help you lead marketing in the right direction, improve credibility of the marketing team, and set you up for a great career.  Companies want to hire marketing leaders who make a financial difference. Next time someone says, “So, exactly what is it that you do?”  Proudly respond, “I’m a Revenue Marketer.”

Are you ready to start driving revenue?   Download this white paper on “Rise of Marketing Operations” here.