2021 was the breakout year for marketing operations. The marketing function that was once behind the scenes is now stepping onto center stage, largely driven by the need to manage digital and data, not to mention the heavy migration to a remote-first work environment. Companies were forced to make hard pivots in their marketing strategy, and they needed strong marketing operations muscle to do it. It was an absolute pleasure to see marketing operations come out of the woodwork, and I don’t see any signs of its emergence slowing down.
What will next year, 2022 bring for marketing operations?
Here are my key predictions.
1. A rise in VP and director-level marketing ops roles
How many VP of marketing ops do you know? Marketing operations leadership roles tend to be in tech startups and firms in the marketing tech industry. But as the perception of marketing ops changes, larger, more established companies will bring on (or promote from within) marketing ops leaders to oversee this vital function.
A 2021 survey by BrandMaker showed that a top priority for CMOs is better tech stack integration, a key responsibility of the marketing ops function. As the need for marketing tech management skyrockets, 2022 will be the year more companies bring on marketing ops leadership.
2. Formalized training for marketing ops
Companies are struggling to fill their high-paying marketing ops positions. Why? The demand for technically savvy marketers far outweighs the supply. There are two reasons for this: First, marketing ops has historically been considered “back-office work”, a perception that is rapidly changing. Second, there has been a large chasm of missing formal education and training when it comes to learning the core skills of marketing ops.
Digital marketing has only been recently added to college curricula around the world, and you would be hard-pressed to find any class that covers marketing operations. A quick Google search for “marketing operations training” offers few results, none of which are part of an accredited business degree program. While there have been many paid training options for specific marketing platforms such as marketing automation, there has been a dismal lack of education around marketing operations as an overall function. This is an area that’s ripe for disruption and will soon change in 2022.
3. Marketing ops will overtake advertising ops
What’s the latest with advertising operations? While advertising has always taken the largest portion of the marketing budget, the function itself has not been trendy as of late. Today’s hype in B2B focuses on topics like ABM, community-building, and product-led growth. While advertising will continue to be one of the most effective ways to get in front of an audience quickly, it needs to be strategically aligned with other parts of the marketing mix to drive true impact.
According to Statisa, global digital advertising spend will rise to $645.8 billion in 2025. As more advertising ops professionals begin pushing to exert more influence on the business and more marketers start seeing how ad ops fits into the overall marketing organization, a solid place of this function seems to be merged with marketing operations.
4. Account-based marketing will be owned by marketing ops
For many organizations, account-based marketing has seen a steep rise and a sudden plateau. According to Google Trends, search volume for ABM peaked in August 2021 and almost halved in volume by November 2021. Marketers are quickly realizing that many of the principles behind ABM, such as alignment, targeting, and hyper-personalization, are really just good marketing best practices.
Rather than hire ABM leaders, marketing teams will soon see that marketing operations can smartly fit ABM as one of the many strategies that marketing employs throughout the year. In addition, marketing ops has the data and Martech ownership that can really bring ABM to life.
5. Marketing ops will become the first or second marketing hire
When have organizations historically brought on a marketing ops hire? It’s typically been an afterthought – a reactive last-ditch effort to try to fix chaotic data and processes. But more marketing leaders are starting to see that facilitating tech and data is the key to scaling and optimizing marketing. Even Dave Gerhardt, former Chief Brand Officer at Drift, commented that were he to start over, his first or second marketing hire would be an operations professional.
The marketing teams that have brought in MOPs early are the ones winning today. They are reaping the benefits of the prior investment in tech and data, and are now seeing marketing work in a strategic, orchestrated way.
6. Data privacy will become a marketing ops core competency
While already a top priority for enterprise organizations, data privacy will take a front seat in 2022. According to Capgemini, 48% of CMOs state that better compliance with regulations is a top business priority. Many marketers are struggling to understand how to make their campaigns operationally compliant in a way that protects customer data, and ensures their marketing adheres to customer consent.
Marketing ops professionals with this knowledge will be sought after, and data privacy will become a core competency for ops teams across the globe.
The common thread
The common thread behind all the predictions? It’s that marketing operations will continue to grow in size, scope, and importance as long as the need for marketing data and technology grows. The companies and individuals that invest in developing that marketing ops muscle will see big dividends in 2022 and beyond.
Which of the 2022 predictions do you think will come true?