Andrew Freeman
Andrew Freeman 7 December 2015

What Is Marketing Operations [And What Does Their Data Strategy Mean for Your Business]?

To ensure your marketing operations strategy is successful you need to align your various business functions to an enterprise wide, long-range, vision of top level strategic goals.

As handshakes and spreadsheets are replaced by data and marketing analytics platforms, new Marketing Operations teams are springing up where IT was once the custodian of all things data.


As reaching out to buyers becomes increasingly data-driven, Marketing and IT are moving ever closer, prompting spreadsheets to be replaced by an array of sophisticated database, planning, advertising, CRM and analysis tools. As these teams come closer together, and the drive to connect with more acute audiences and to improve conversion through personalisation increases, intense marketing data strategies are hot topics.


“Analyst firm, Gartner, predicts that Marketing will be the largest commissioner of IT projects within the average organisation by 2017.”


Little wonder, then, that many businesses are seeing the emergence of the specific data science skills sitting dead-centre within the Marketing Operations team. Team members are bringing non-native marketing expertise to blend with traditional digital marketing and IT-centric skills to facilitate efforts in better understanding of and targeting prospects and clients.


Marketing Operations has a vital role to play in driving engagement, both above and below the line. The marketing data strategies they implement can enable the effective delivery of personalised offers to clients across multiple channels including email, online advertising, search and mobile.


To underline just how important marketing data strategies have become, the Interactive Bureau for Advertising (IAB) has found that nearly half of all digital display adverts are now bought and sold through automated ‘programmatic’ applications, rather than the traditional direct deal between a brand and a publisher’s sales team. The IAB expects 70% - 80% of digital displays to be programmatic by 2018, as companies build sophisticated databases (or data marketing platforms) which allow them to create integrated profiles of customers from multiple data sources, build lookalike models to target a range of similar prospects that have a much higher potential to buy, and to initiate more pin-point advertising campaigns across ad platforms.

Business-wide implications 

The business wide implications of Marketing Operations and their data strategy ultimately mean the development of products and services that prospects and consumers actually want and the ability to effectively communicate the value of those products or services in a highly personalised manner, through a channel best suited to the prospect in question.

89% of business leaders surveyed by Gartner believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition by 2016”


Benefits of data marketing strategies

- Insights into creating products people want 
- Effectively communicate the value of those products 

Big data insights can enable you to accurately target customers with products they want, at a time they want them. An example of this is the WeatherFX division of the Weather Channel, which analysed microclimates for 500,000 locations around the globe. This data was utilised by Pantene in a promotion which targeted customers by zip code. If the weather was humid and hot in any given zip code - the campaign promoted Pantene smooth, if the humidity was low - it promoted Pantene’s volumizer. As a result of this campaign, sales of the advertised products increased by 28%

- Accurate profile of target consumers 
- Optimize your distribution and strategies for consumer delivery  

Big data strategies led by Marketing Operations enable companies to target customers in increasingly personalised marketing and sales strategies. The customer insights gained from big data strategies include, but are not limited to, items such as exercise habits, time spent on various websites, purchasing history and insights on personal preferences gleaned from social media postings. The increased accuracy of consumer profiles enables marketers to increase bottom line savings through delivering the most relevant message to the consumer at the most appropriate time, reducing wasted marketing budget and in turn potentially driving up sales. 

A lack of big data insights leading to inaccuracy surrounding your target consumers can actually be damaging to your brand and any further marketing communications. 94% of consumers who have received mis-targeted marketing emails have taken at least one of the following actions - automatically deleting emails, unsubscribing from emails, categorizing them as ‘junk’ or ’spam’, become less likely to buy products, visits the website  less frequently or never visited the website again. 

“When asked ‘in which of the following areas are big data analytics currently having the largest impact on the way marketing is executed or how decisions are made in your organisation’ 58% of US Marketing Executives surveyed said ‘SEO/SEM/email/SMS marketing’, 49% named ‘customer segmentation’”.

  • Big data and the 4Ps 
    Marketing operates around the principle of the 4 Ps;  promotion, product, place and price, though it is now becoming more common to include a ‘fifth p’ - packaging. Information gleaned from a big data strategy can give marketers actionable insights and leveragable data into each of these marketing cornerstones. 
  • Promotion 
    Marketing Operations can use big data to create a more in-depth profile of their average customer, including their reactions to marketing copy and messaging. Big data can inform the success of headlines, qualifying leads and moving customers successfully along the sales funnel. Marketing Operations will be able to test the success of brand messaging, and adjust it quickly if their audience fails to respond positively to any promotion.
  • Product 
    Big data can be used by Marketing Operations to obtain product insights. They can determine which products they should aim at which audience, and even which product they should bring to market. This information can be obtained from qualitative and quantitative data produced as a result of focus groups, surveys and social media monitoring.
  • Place 
    Using Big data can enable Marketing Operations to place products on the optimal channels for their customers. When the data is used in the right way, the right product will reach customers at the right time, in the right place, improving leads and conversions. A close analysis of data can highlight gaps in the market and variables where customers are not being reached, such as declining email subscriptions and stagnating information sources.
  • Price 
    Marketing Operations that use big data add a lot of financial value to their organisation. Real-time data sets, flexible models and using data from important partners mean that organisations can use dynamic pricing, charging different consumers for different benefits. This pricing can be dependant on the consumer or their characteristics - varying from prices based on marketing and product placements on smartphones, to costs for optimisations across multiple platforms.
  • Packaging 
    Using big data, Marketing Operations can carry out an analysis of their consumer’s preferences to packaging design. This insight can help to attract consumers, preparing the lead to become a sale more quickly. This final ‘p’ should bring in more customers and return on investment for big data strategies.
  • Big data and digital marketing 
    Using big data can improve the insight gained from social media analysis. It also allows all this information to be grouped together, aggregating everything from social media mentions to click through ad rates. Measuring, analysing and interpreting these aspects will mean that Marketing Operations can determine where their consumers are, how to target them appropriately and how to encourage these leads to become sales. The same can also be expected of banner advertising and retargeting advertising.  
  • As big data is used to inform search engine marketing, optimisation is also a byproduct of it. The data gathered can be used in plans to increase brand visibility through digital advertising, search engines, rankings and accessibility online.  Finally, digital marketing offers the opportunity for Marketing Operations to utilise information about their consumers.  They can build a narrative around their consumers’ characteristics, creating a storytelling experience that will convert leads into sales. 
  • ROI and Assessment 
    - Digital marketing has allowed marketers to quantify success or failure of their campaigns. Assessment can be measured along the lines from everything from social media metrics such as ‘likes’, to website visits and sales. Analysis of various campaigns, particularly of their performance on different platforms can help to increase ROI on campaigns. Forbes Insights and Turn found that 30% of marketing executives use analytics to refine their campaigns and 61% of those have experienced an increase in ROI from data driven campaigns. 
  • Building loyalty 
    - Data insights enable marketers to respond to individual customers in a personalised manner. Marketing Operations use data to drive marketing leads to customer loyalty, customer engagement and growth in market. Companies who use data to drive their marketing strategies are more likely to have increased revenues than their counterparts who don’t make use of big data. Leaders in data-driven marketing are six times more likely than laggards to report achieving competitive advantage in increasing profitability. Big data is no longer just a nice to have - it’s a must-have tool for companies who seek to market their products effectively and increase ROI. Marketing Operations are the team who can analyse, interpret and use big data most effectively. 

What does the future hold for data marketing strategies? 

- Big data will get bigger. By 2020 it is predicted that the data we create, and copy, annually will reach 44 zettabytes or 44 trillion gigabytes.  As data grows it will assume an ever more central role in marketing as the marketing machine evolves; 69% of marketing executives expect data driven marketing to increase either ‘significantly’ or ‘somewhat’ over the next three years according a 2015 report by Forbes.  Ensuring that all data is kept in a centralised place and accessible to the Marketing Operations team, ensures that data can be analysed quickly, producing accurate results that drive your marketing campaigns.  Increasingly knowledge that is obtained and actioned on quickly will become a revenue driver as marketing messaging becomes more targeted, pushing leads through the sales funnel with increasing speed. A Marketing Operations team will gather, analyse and interpret your big data, transforming it into deliverable results.

Discover how to design a Marketing Operations strategy that delivers by downloading your free copy of Sales, Marketing and IT: Your cross departmental guide to designing a Marketing Operations strategy.


Original Article


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