• WTF Is Marketing Operations?

    WTF Is Marketing Operations?

    Why Nobody Fully Understands Your Job (and Neither Do You)

    Every time someone asks me what I do, I silently groan. How do you explain marketing operations? I even have a hard time succinctly explaining my role to people in my own company, let alone friends and family who don’t work in tech. The truth is, it’s really hard to define marketing operations. Not only is it a relatively new function with basically no formal training available, it can be so many different things. If you look at 10 different job postings for “Marketing Operations Manager” you’ll see 10 very different jobs. 

    This lack of clarity around the definition of marketing ops doesn’t just make for awkward cocktail party introductions. It’s actually detrimental to marketing ops professionals and the organizations that they support. If you don’t have a clear job description and your team doesn’t have a clear charter, how do you know what your priorities are? How can leaders build their teams if they don’t know what functions they need to support? How can candidates decipher job descriptions and ask the right questions in interviews? 

  • Listen to My Ops Cast Episode: WTF is Marketing Operations?

    Listen to My Ops Cast Episode: WTF is Marketing Operations?

    It probably comes as no surprise that I love talking about the Four Pillars of Marketing Operations. So you can imagine that I was thrilled when Ops Cast by the MO Pros asked me to come on the show to discuss it! I had a great time chatting with Michael Hartmann, Mike Rizzo, and Naomi Liu about how you can use the Four Pillars framework to grow your career. We also chatted about how to use agency resources to add capacity to your team.

    You can listen here, or search for “Ops Cast” in your favorite podcast player. Let me know what you think!

  • How to Find a Great Marketing Operations Agency

    How to Find a Great Marketing Operations Agency

    The demand for marketing operations professionals continues to grow. But that doesn’t always mean hiring full-time, in-house team members. Bringing in outside help is a great way to add capacity to your team, tackle complex projects, and get access to experts. And in this competitive job market, when there are more open roles than people to fill them, adding an agency to your team is an excellent way to add bandwidth and support your organization’s growth.

    However, hiring consultants is no different than hiring employees. You need to find a marketing operations agency that fits your team’s needs. And just like managing employees takes time, managing consultants also takes time. Here are my top 10 tips for finding a marketing operations consultancy.

    1. How long has the company been working in your marketing automation platform?

    You want to hire a team with extensive experience in your tech stack. If they’ve only recently expanded into supporting your marketing automation platform, proceed with caution. They’re likely not going to have the internal resources to support you on complex projects or tricky issues.

    2. Who will be assigned to your account?

    Some agencies support you in a team model. It usually includes a project manager, a strategist, and multiple technical experts. Other agencies will assign a main consultant who handles the main technical work, strategy, and project management. Then they pull in other subject matter experts as needed.

    Don’t be shy about asking your account rep who will be supporting you and how experienced they are. At a minimum, your assigned technical consultants should be certified in your marketing automation platform and any other key tools.

    3. What does the rest of the team look like?

    One of the biggest advantages of having an agency partner is that you have access to not just your assigned consultant but also their colleagues. Your consultant has an internal team of experts to turn to for advice and best practices. Even better, they likely have other resources you can use, such as developers, campaign ops specialists, and email marketers. For example, developers can build custom web solutions, help with webhooks, code email templates and landing pages, and more. You can also outsource campaign and email execution to an agency to free up your team’s time.

    4. What best practices do they bring to to the table?

    An experienced consultancy brings their own structure, best practices, and templates. For example, in a Marketo Engage implementation, they should have a standard process for guiding your team through key operational decisions. They can also import road-tested Program Templates and common operational Programs. This saves you a ton of time and reduces errors.

    5. How do they structure the SOW, and do you understand it?

    The Statement of Work (SOW) is the foundation of the partnership. So make sure it works for your company’s needs—and that it contains the information that your Finance team needs to approve it. You must understand exactly what’s included in the project so there are no surprises down the road.

    I’ve seen several different types of SOWs:

    • Project-based: This is a flat fee for each defined project. Make sure that it includes detailed deliverables and timelines. They may also include a number of “flex” hours that can be used to expand scope or work on other deliverables.
    • Retainer-based: You have a set number of hours per week/month. The work can be project-based or ad-hoc.
    • Time and materials: You purchase a bucket of hours, either for ongoing services or for a specific project, and they bill you as the hours are used. If you are required to use all the hours scoped, make sure you can use leftover hours on other tasks if necessary. In other cases, the SOW may allow you to only pay for the hours you need, even if it’s fewer than originally scoped.

    Regardless of your SOW structure, the agency should also be sending you regular updates on how you’re progressing through projects and billable hours.

    6. Can they pivot when needs change?

    Even the most well-structured SOWs will fall by the wayside when your company’s needs shift. You want to work on projects that are going to move the needle. Ask about their flexibility to shift priorities as business needs change. 

    7. How do they communicate and how responsive are they?

    You need to make sure that their communication style works for you. Find out how easy it is for them to schedule meetings. If you have to wait several days to get on their calendar for an urgent issue, your progress will be slowed. Bonus points if they use Calendly or another self-service scheduling app, which reduces the dreaded email chain.

    If your company relies heavily on Slack, I love to use Slack Connect and shared channels so you can have real-time chats instead of long email threads.

    8. Can they meet your security and legal requirements?

    The last thing you want is to go through the vetting process and pick a great partner only to get roadblocked by your own internal team. Work with your Information Security and Legal teams to find out what their requirements and processes are for vetting agencies. Make sure ahead of time that your partner can meet those requirements.

    9. Do they have references for clients that are similar to your team?

    Ask to talk to happy clients—and here’s the key—whose organizations are similar to yours. If they’re much larger or smaller or have different needs, you may not get a good feel for how the consultancy will work for your organization.

    10. What is the escalation policy and out clause?

    Hopefully, if you follow steps 1-9, you’ll pick a partner that’s a great fit for your business. But you should always prepare for the worst so that you can right the ship if things go astray. What’s their internal policy for escalating issues? And will they put an out clause in the contract in case you decide that they’re not a good fit for your organization?

    Whether you’re looking for a team to handle a marketing automation platform implementation, need help on specific projects, or just need some extra highly-skilled hands, hopefully these tips will give you a framework for finding a great partner for your team.

    Do you have plans to add consultants to your team? Any tips or pitfalls you want to share? Comment below!

    P.S. Want to hear me chat about the Four Pillars and scaling your marketing ops team? Listen to my Ops Cast episode!

    A version of this article originally appears on Marketing Nation

  • Resources for Learning Marketo

    Resources for Learning Marketo

    Whether you’re new to marketing ops, switching marketing automation platforms, or want to deepen your technical skills, there are a ton of resources to teach you how to learn Marketo Engage. From guided trainings to YouTube to blogs to Slack, there are lots of ways to learn how to use Marketo Engage. If you think I missed a resource, let me know in the comments!

    Marketo University Online

    I love Marketo University Online, and I have all my new users go through it before we do any 1:1 training. It’s a completely free, self-guided tour of Marketo Engage and gives you a broad overview of the platform. They even have an interactive interface that simulates the platform so you can practice the skills you’re learning.

    Adobe Digital Learning Services

    Adobe also offers live, instructor-led training in several areas of Marketo Engage. If you and your company are completely new to Marketo Engage, it might be worth the cost to make sure that you are set up for success. (I took a version of Core Concepts when I first started using Marketo Engage). I’d recommend Core Concepts I, Core Concepts II, and Creating Event & Webinar Programs. If you’re an Admin, Configuring & Managing Marketo would also be a good training.

    Marketo Product Docs

    Whether you are studying for a certification exam, want to get up to speed on some basic features, or have a question about a specific feature, the Marketo Product Docs on Adobe Experience League are the source of truth for everything Marketo Engage. This is also where you’ll find release notes.

    Marketo User Groups

    MUGs are an engaging way to learn about Marketo Engage and meet other users. (Full disclosure: I am definitely biased, because I co-lead the SFMUG.)  Most MUGs are still virtual, so you can attend your local chapter’s meetings or join anywhere in the world! Most virtual (and some in-person) MUGs are recorded, so you can watch the recordings on the MUG portal or on the YouTube channel.

    Marketing Nation Community

    Marketo’s online Community is a great place to ask questions, search for previously-answered questions, and learn from other users. There’s a discussion board for Q&A, a section all about the new UI, and blogs written by Marketo Engage Champions (including, ahem, yours truly).


    There are several YouTube channels devoted to Marketo Engage tips and tricks. The ever-charming Kiwis Grace Brebner and Josh Pickles host The Automation Geeks. Another favorite is Joe Reitz—check out his “Marketo-Fu” videos. I learned so much from him when I was starting out! 

    Marketing Ops Communities

    With the explosion of Slack over the past decade, several marketing ops Slacks have become virtual water coolers for marketing ops professionals. They’re a great place to ask questions and have discussions in real-time, learn from experts, and build community. My favorites are MOPsPros, The MO Pros, and Email Geeks.

    Consultancy Blogs and Resource Centers

    There are a number of marketing operations consultancies that employ super smart Marketo Engage experts, and their blogs are chock full of helpful content. 

    Other Blogs

    Josh Hill’s Marketing Rockstar Guides are the OG unofficial Marketo Engage user manuals (they’re now part of Etumos). Check out his articles on building a center of excellence and program templates.

    Sanford Whiteman is hands-down one of the most technical Marketo Engage users out there. He regularly answers questions on Marketing Nation and MOPsPros. He blogs at Teknkl, an in-depth resource for advanced use cases such as Velocity scripting, JavaScript, and more.

  • MarTech Health Check: Marketo Morning Routine

    MarTech Health Check: Marketo Morning Routine

    As a marketing operations professional, a key part of your job is administering your team’s martech platforms. You need to make sure your tools are running in tip-top shape, and it’s important to establish routines to keep your instance healthy. This post is the first in a series covering martech “health checks”: simple ways to check the pulse of your systems to proactively identify and address any issues.

    Your Marketing Automation Platform is the heart of your martech stack, so you need to make sure that everything is running smoothly. If you’re a Marketo Engage Admin, you can do this routine before you’ve drained your coffee cup. You’ll start your day with a quick temperature check and be able to identify any issues before they get out of control. Here’s my Marketo Morning Routine:

    1. Notifications

    You can find notifications on the right side of the top nav—look for the little bell icon. This is the place you’ll most frequently find issues. Notification types include CRM sync failures, API errors, quarterly idle trigger cleanups, and ad platform sync failures. 

    Srcreenshot of the top of the Marketo Engage platform, with a red box around the "bell" icon on the top right navigation, indicating the location of the "notifications"

    You’ll want to click into any person records that had CRM sync failures. Look at the “Activity Log” and see if there was a successful “Sync Person Update” action. If not, correct any field validation errors, and re-sync the records with a “Sync to CRM” action. If a large number of Person records all had the same error, select all and sync all of them. Make sure to click on the “View Results” link to confirm that they all synced successfully.

    Web services errors happen occasionally, and usually resolve themselves. But if you start seeing a pattern of the same errors in high numbers, you can contact Marketo Support and they will tell you which sync user is causing the error. 

    Screenshot from Marketo Engage notifications, showing a web services error

    Pro Tip: I keep a log of all notifications in a spreadsheet, and when I see a pattern of sync issues, I work with my CRM admin to research and fix the root of the issues.

    2. Campaign Queue

    The campaign queue is a bit hidden, but it’s a great way to check on the health of your instance. It gives you a quick snapshot of how the plumbing is running in your instance. To find it, click at the top of your Marketing Activities navigation bar. (If you have multiple Workspaces, there is a separate queue for each.)

    Screenshot of Marketo Engage Marketing Activities. The very top level of the left nav is selected, and in the middle of the page the "Campaign Queue" tab is highlighted.

    Having a full queue is not necessarily a bad thing. If you have just sent out a big email blast, or there is a lot of activity on your website, there will naturally be a lot of activity in Marketo Engage. However, it’s a good idea to scrutinize the active campaigns. See if any one campaign is processing a high volume of person records and preventing other smart campaigns from running. 

    Marketing Rockstar Guides has a great detailed explainer on load balancing your campaign queue.

    Pro Tip: If your campaign queue looks full, take a screenshot. Then check it an hour later and compare.

    3. Marketo/Salesforce Sync

    Next, I head over to the Admin section to do a quick check of three key areas.

    First, I check on the Salesforce sync. In the “Integrations” section of Admin, click on the icon for Salesforce. On the top right, you’ll see a datetime stamp of when Marketo last synced with Salesforce. As a reminder, each Salesforce sync will update any records that have changed in either platform. The next sync will start 5 minutes after the last one has completed. If you have a lot of records updating in one platform or the other, your sync may take longer than usual. Spot checking this once a day will help identify any issues.

    The Sync Status Dashboard will show you the most recent sync jobs and whether they were successful or not.

    Salesforce sync errors are detailed in the Sync Errors Tab. Review and troubleshoot any sync errors from here. If you double-click on an item in the error log, it will pull up a detail view that includes the SFDC ID and the Marketo ID. You can click the Marketo ID to open the person record.

    4. Launchpoint

    Launchpoint is the home for all your non-CRM integrations, whether they’re native Marketo Engage integrations or custom API connections. Give this a quick once-over. Are there any disconnected services that are showing errors? Or is one of your services set to expire and needs to be re-authenticated?

    5. Web Services

    Finally, click into Web Services. Here you can see how many API calls are being made between Marketo Engage and all those API connections you reviewed in step 4. You want to ensure that you’re staying well below your daily limit. If you hit your limit, Marketo Engage won’t be able to communicate with any other systems for the rest of the day! (Note that this will not show CRM sync API calls – those count against your CRM’s limits, not Marketo Engage.)

    First, you’ll see API call information. Requests in the last 7 days is a nice quick snapshot of a rolling 7 day period.

    Screenshot from Marketo Engage. Admin section, Web Services. Shows API Call Information: enforced daily request limit, purchased daily request limit, requests in the last 7 days

    If you click into that number of requests, you’ll see a table of the number of calls made by each service over the past week. If anything looks higher or lower than expected, you know where to investigate further.

    Screenshot from Marketo Engage Admin: API Requests Made in the Last 7 days. Shows all the API users (blurred) and how many requests made each day over the past 7 days.

    And that’s my Marketo Morning Routine! What do you to check the health of your Marketo Engage instance? Let us know in the comments!

    A version of this article originally appeared on Marketo’s Marketing Nation Champion Blog.

  • Let’s Talk About Teams, Turnover, and Trends

    Let’s Talk About Teams, Turnover, and Trends

    With 42% of marketing automation professionals leaving their companies last year, organizations are feeling the expertise pinch. The demand for expertise in marketing (and Marketo Engage specifically) is at an all-time high. When marketing operations turnover means you’re down a team member, or two or three, how do you meet deadlines and minimize disruption?

    I discussed all of this and more on a recent webinar with Ari Milstein and Jeff Coveney of Digital Pi, which you can now catch on demand.

  • Take Ableist Language Out of Your Job Descriptions

    Take Ableist Language Out of Your Job Descriptions

    A friend recently told me about a marketing operations job posting that included the following: 

    • The ability to lift objects over 30 pounds
    • The ability to sit or stand for long periods of time 
    • Manual dexterity and ability to bend, reach, stoop

    I honestly can’t imagine any scenario where a marketing ops professional would need to do anything physical like this. And guess what—these requirements exclude a huge portion of the candidate pool! 1 in 4 adults in the US has some type of disability. 1 in 7 adults in the US has a mobility disability. (Hot tip: plenty of those disabilities are “invisible,” so don’t assume you know who is disabled and who isn’t.)

    It’s hard enough to find qualified marketing operations candidates. Don’t exclude people just because your HR department puts outdated, ableist language in your job description. And if you’re going to include it, you need a very compelling reason that’s spelled out in the post.

    And while you’re at it, look for other ways that you can make your job descriptions more inclusive. For example, ditch requirements like college degrees. Consider swapping out “years of experience” for actual experience you need the candidate to have. Don’t use gender-coded words like “ninja” or “rockstar.” (Also, 2013 is calling and it would like its slang back). 

    You can attract even more candidate with language that encourages people to apply even if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements. (Spoiler alert: very few candidates actually hit every single bullet point.) Try something like “Acme Co. is a company where everyone can grow. If this is a role that excites you, please apply. We value applicants for the skills they bring beyond a job description.”

    Appealing to a more diverse candidate pool with inclusive job descriptions isn’t just the right thing to do. It means you’ll attract more qualified applicants and have a better chance of finding the perfect marketing operations professional for your team. I’d say that’s a win-win.

  • Tips for Taking Your Marketo Engage Certification Exam

    Tips for Taking Your Marketo Engage Certification Exam

    Becoming officially Marketo Engage Certified is a great way to showcase your expertise in the platform. If you’re preparing to get certified, you may be wondering what it’s like to take it remotely from your own home. I’ve compiled Marketo Certification tips that I’ve gotten from other Marketo Engage Champions as well as my own experience. I hope this helps set you up for success in your journey becoming Marketo Certified!

  • My Favorite Adobe Summit 2022 Sessions

    My Favorite Adobe Summit 2022 Sessions

    Adobe Summit is one of my favorite marketing operations conferences. It’s a great chance to hear from Marketo Engage power users, learn about the latest innovations, and get a sneak peek into the Marketo Engage roadmap. Although I dearly miss catching up with everyone in Vegas, Adobe’s done a great job turning Summit into a virtual experience. If you didn’t have a chance to catch any of the Adobe Summit 2022 sessions live, they’re available on demand. Here are some of my favorites:

  • What I Learned from Accidentally Spamming Our Customers

    What I Learned from Accidentally Spamming Our Customers

    I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jessica Meyers on The MO Pros “MOOPs TV.” I shared one of my biggest marketing mistakes: the time I created an infinite loop in Marketo Engage and accidentally spammed 100 of our customers. Serious oops! It was a big learning experience for me and my team, and I think we were actually stronger afterwards.

    To cringe along with all the gory details, and hear how I learned from my marketing operations “oops,” check out the episode. You can watch the video or read the transcript on the show page, listen to the audio in Apple Podcasts, or find OpsCast in your favorite podcast player.