A Guide to SaaS Marketing Operations

What is marketing operations? And what are the roles and responsibilities of a marketing ops team in a SaaS company? We explain all in this guide.

What is marketing operations?

Marketing operations, often abbreviated to MOps can cover a range of different activities and processes. Primarily it involves managing the technology, data, processes, and workflows that support marketing campaigns and initiatives.

The goal of marketing operations is to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and the overall alignment between marketing strategies and business objectives. Marketing operations is part of revenue operations (RevOps) which also covers sales operations and customer success operations.

Why is it important?

Marketing operations is an important part of a companies marketing strategy because it enables efficient and effective growth. Marketing operations covers the technology you use, the data you base decisions on and everything imbetween. Without a solid marketing operations setup you are likely wasting time, money and not growing as efficiently as you should be or as well as your competitors.

Automated Execution

In the past the execution of marketing campaigns was fully manual. From ideation through design to buying ad spots and managing targeting this all used to be done manually. Now, as technology as advanced more and more marketing campaign execution is being done automatically using AI, Machine Learning and Big Data.

  • Automated digital advertising: Ad platforms like Google Ads are now very automated and are becoming more and more so every year. The  
  • Nurturing emails: Rather than manually sending marketing emails, marketing teams now configure pre-designed automated worfklows with various branches and decision trees that send the relevant email to individuals based on their interactions.  
  • Ad Creative & Design: Ad platforms like Google Ads are now very automated and are becoming more and more so every year. The  
  • Content Personalisation: As well as the automation of content delivery, the content itself can be automated based on 1st party and/or 3rd party data such as where they work, job title and their interactions with your company.

These are just a few examples of how marketing is becoming more automated, therefore meaning that the time marketing teams spend is now more on process design and overall strategy rather than manual executing campaigns.

MarTech: Selection, Configuring & Maintaining

Marketing Technology or MarTech as it is commonly known is one of the main responsabilities of a marketing operations specialist. They are often tasked with selecting the right software, configuring it when it is implemented and then maintaining it afterwards.

  • Selecting the right software: There are thousands of marketing tools out there and can be very difficult for marketers to ensure they are selecting the right one for their business.
  • Configuring it correctly: One of the most challenging aspects of marketing technology is configuring and setting it up so it is successful.
  • Maintaining tools: Once up and running a marketing system requires a lot of maintenance. This is especially true for content management systems and CRM systems.
  • Integrations & tech stack: Beyond investing in a single piece of software, marketing ops teams are also tasked with ensuring it integrates smoothly with the wider marketing eco-system and tech stack.

Process Design & Automation Management

A major part of marketing operations is the designing of efficient processes. These can be processes for creative design, campaign execution and even more mundane elements such as onboarding and off-boarding.

  • Product Onboarding flow design: With SaaS businesses one of the most important aspects is the onboarding process when someone starts using the software for the first time.
  • Creative briefing: Another important aspect of marketing is the process used to brief creatives, whether that is through AI prompts or to human designers.
  • Email drip campaigns: A popular marketing automation strategy is to use email drip campaigns to nurture leads. The design of that process and automated workflow is something that comes under marketing operatives.

Data Management & Analysis

Data is key to success in anything and especially marketing.  Data is used by modern machines to make decisions. These can be decisions such as which ad to shown and when to show it, when to send an email and which text is more impactful on your website. Managing your 1st party data is key to ensuring accuracy and therefore making correct decisions

  • 1st Party Data: This is the data you have gathered yourself and is typically stored in your CRM systems.
  • Automated Insights: AI tools are now able to review data in realtime and provide automated insights directly into the tools we use.

How to Implement Marketing Operations

It's likely that a lot of what is covered under marketing operations is already being covered by yourself or another member of your team as part of their current role. But how do you implement a successful marketing ops strategy? In this section we will provide you with a marketing operations framework you can use yourself to design and implement a successful marketing ops strategy:

Step 1: Conduct a marketing technology audit

A large part of Marketing operations involves selecting, implementing, and managing various marketing technology (MarTech) platforms and tools, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation software, analytics tools, content management systems, and more. These technologies enable marketers to execute campaigns, track performance, and gather insights.

One of the first things you should do when implementing marketing operations is do an audit of all of the marketing technology tools you are currently using. A big part of marketing ops is to select and evaluate new tools, help implement them, integrate them and then manage them, so knowing what you have already is key.

Sometimes it can also be use to create a marketing technology map using a tool like Figma or Google Slides so you visually see how your tech stack works together. You can produce this alongside the table above.

Step 2: Review and document your analytics configuration

Measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts is crucial. Marketing operations define key performance indicators (KPIs) and set up reporting mechanisms to track and analyze campaign performance, ROI, and other relevant metrics.

After you have documented and audited the technology you are using, the next step is to look into your analytics and performance measurement setup. How do you measure success? Do you have everything setup correctly to be able measure success?

2.1: Check your Google Analytics conversion tracking

Implementing and configuring GA4 correctly is a vital part of monitoring performance and comes under the umbrella of marketing operations. There are key elements that need to be setup correctly in GA4 such as conversion tracking.

google analytics 4 converions and events

What is a conversion in Google Analytics 4?

A conversion in GA4 is an event which has been marked as a conversion event. You can toggle these on and off if you want but it is important to know you can still track things like ebook downloads but not track it as a conversion if you don't want to.

How can I track custom events in Google Analytics 4?

There are some events in GA4 that are tracked by default like page views and clicks. To create a custom event for something like a specific button click, page view or form submission you are best using Google Tag Manager to do this.

An introduction to Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is key to a well managed analytics operation for any company. It works alongside GA4 and enables you to build custom events and install 3rd Party Tracking Scripts like HubSpot's tracking code etc.

The whole premise of a tag management system is to make it easier to manage any scripts and code snippets you want to add to your website. You will often need to do this if you want to track anything or integrate with another tool like HubSpot. Below is a screenshot showing some tags in Google Tag Manager.

Tags in Tag Manager only 'fire' when something happens - these are called 'triggers'. A trigger can be something like a button click or form submission.

To build a custom event in Tag Manager you need to decide what you want to measure and what the trigger will be. Most commonly for a B2B website a conversion will be a form submission. We wrote an article on how setup form conversion tracking using tag manager here for HubSpot forms.

AI & Marketing Operations

Generative AI and other tools are changing the way marketing operations. It is important that every marketing team integrates AI tools into their operations. New roles such as 'prompt engineers' and 'AI marketing producers' are cropping up everywhere. When new tech comes along it often brings along a new economy with it.

What is prompt engineering?

"Prompt engineering" refers to the process of designing and refining prompts or inputs provided to natural language processing (NLP) models like GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer). In the context of NLP, a prompt is a specific instruction or query given to the model to generate a response or perform a task.

How Generative AI can change marketing ops

Generative AI in marketing refers to the application of artificial intelligence techniques, particularly generative models (like ChatGPT), to enhance various aspects of marketing strategies and campaigns. Here are four ways generative AI is being utilized in marketing.

  • Content Generation: Generative AI can automatically create diverse types of content, including product descriptions, blog posts, social media updates, and advertisements. This technology enables marketers to scale content production efficiently while maintaining quality and relevance.
  • Personalized Recommendations: By analyzing customer data and preferences, generative AI algorithms can generate personalized product recommendations and marketing messages tailored to individual users. This level of personalization enhances customer engagement and boosts conversion rates.
  • Creative Design: Generative AI tools can assist marketers in generating visual content such as images, videos, and graphics. These tools can automatically generate designs based on input parameters, enabling marketers to quickly create compelling visual assets for their campaigns.
  • Chatbots and Conversational Marketing: Generative AI powers conversational agents and chatbots that engage with customers in real-time, providing assistance, answering queries, and guiding them through the sales process. These AI-driven interactions enhance customer experience and enable marketers to provide round-the-clock support efficiently.

Marketing Operations for SaaS

SaaS companies have some unique requirements when it comes to marketing operation. This includes implementing efficient onboarding processes and sign-up flows. Along with the implementation of these two elements, SaaS companies also need toensure they have accurate analytics traversing from web to product to show drop-offs and engagement.

This example of a sign-up flow created by Custify shows a basic example of how the marketing website transitions a user to the product. Often these processes are managed purely by SaaS product teams but marketing operations should always be involved in this process to ensure that the process is monitored correctly from an analytics perspective.

Sending Javascript Events to Analytics

Often, when events happen on a web page you may want to do something. JavaScript lets you execute code when events are detected, this can simple things like page load, a button click or a form submission. This is how many companies track conversions and button clicks through Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics.

When it comes to product analytics for SaaS companies there are whole tools built around tracking and monitoring product events such as MixPanel and Pendo.io. These are comprehensive analytical tools that allow teams to track user interactions and product engagement.

Web Analytics vs Product Analytics

Web analytics refer to your marketing website where as product analytics are all about your product. There is sometimes a grey area here in terms of ownership. Web analytics are typically managed by marketing operations and digital marketing teams where as product analytics are managed by product and data science teams.

Bridging the gap between web and product analytics is important to get a full picture of user behaviour in SaaS business. For many SaaS businesses the two are completely disconnected so there are no insights that can be determined between the two.

User onboarding

Great user onboarding is essential for SaaS companies. If you have spent the time and money to get someone to sign-up for your software the last thing you want is a poor onboarding experience. Marketing operations can help here by working in tandem with product teams using tools like Pendo.io and Intercom to build great onboarding processes.

Tools like intercom have workflow builders just like on email nurturing campaigns. The skill of building and managing effective and efficient automated processes and workflows is an important one for any marketing ops team.

In summary

There are many components to marketing operations. With the invention of new technology marketing teams are becoming more and more operational than executional. From engineering AI tools to integrating, managing and maintaining processes marketing operation specialists are going to be in high demand.

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