What a difference a few months and a major world event make. We started 2020 with a talent gap transitioning to hiring freezes. We’ve morphed from an ever-increasing flow of campaign requests to campaign adjustments, accelerated timelines, and execution urgency. Strategic work has been sidelined as marketing operations struggles to keep pace with the incoming requests and fewer resources. 2020 was indeed the perfect storm.

According to the 2020 Global Marketing Report by Workfront, 1 in 4 marketers are frustrated over inadequate resources to handle growing workloads. Yet, according to the 2020 CMO Spend Survey Report by Gartner, almost half of CMOs have cut their budgets by 5-15%, 37% have reduced headcount, and 65% have imposed hiring freezes in preparation for future budget pressures. The focus has shifted to saving money, improving marketing efficiency, reducing risk, and protecting profitability— trends not uncommon during economic uncertainty.

Marketing operations has, to some extent, always felt the pressures of marketing and the ebb and flow of business. So what’s different this time?

2021: The Fork in the Marketing Road

While the opinions differ on when economic recovery will happen, it’s likely we won’t see marketing return to “normal” in 2021. Rather, expect another year of adaptation.

With live events not an option for the immediate future, budgets will focus on digital marketing, with an emphasis on better segmentation, personalization, and targeting. Additionally, data analysis, reporting, and attribution will be crucial to understanding subtle buyer indicators and trends.

Here’s where we find ourselves at a marketing operations decision point. Already buried in campaign execution work, there’s little time for marketing operations to spend on the more strategic initiatives that really drive an organization forward. Thus, the predicament will force marketing operations into new levels of marketing efficiency.

Solving Efficiency Challenges

When faced with work challenges, I always find it helpful to look at how other industries have solved similar dilemmas. If you recall, prior to the pandemic, the home building industry was in a very similar situation: a shortage of talent, the pressure to reduce build times/accelerate speed to market, and a need to improve efficiency throughout the building process. How they solved their predicament is rather ingenious: they shifted to system-built methodologies for larger projects. And now, it’s one of the hottest trends in the industry.

As an example, these condominiums in Vail, Colorado, designed by well-respected architects, were actually built off-site, then shipped to the property.

Image credit: 359 Design

You’d never know this condominium complex was built in modules. Once onsite, the units were installed, customized for their unique environment, and then final finishing touches were added. From start to finish, all 32 units were built in less than a year— a significant reduction vs. building from scratch, not to mention achieving new cost efficiencies.

Image credit: 359 Design

The Takeaway for Marketing Operations

The system-built methodology is a brilliant shift in thinking. What was previously a process locked into a long-standing assumption that construction had to occur onsite, has transformed into a new time, resource, and cost savings. What can marketing operations learn from this?

Build with a modular mindset.

It’s not uncommon to inherit a legacy Marketo instance built by many marketers over the years. Documentation may be inconsistent, if it exists at all. Instance design may be fragile, causing programs to break, or creating inefficiencies in how your team works. Or, maybe some programs were never built at all.

In response to the feedback we get from the marketing operations community, our Perkuto Solutions Architects built our SCORE Architecture. This prescriptive solution enables marketing operations to build in stages, design for needs of the future, work efficiently, modify programs easily, keep everything systematically organized, and ensure all parts work together as a whole.

To use my earlier illustration, building a solid Marketo infrastructure is much like building a house:

Your foundation is your data & systems, starting with a Marketo folder structure that’s organized and designed for efficiency— users know where things are and how to work within your instance.

Your Marketo foundation also includes the integration between Marketo and your CRM, including global control of lead flow for optimal performance, and creating a data dictionary of field mappings for future personalization and segmentation. And let’s not overlook data quality and normalizing data values, to accurately target your database plus monitor the health of your database.

Next, you start building your Marketo house— the demand generation piece: email and landing page templates, email blast programs, integrating your webinar event partner, and of course, lead nurturing. Best practice architecture here includes fully tokenized programs for easy updates, and smart campaigns to send emails and track the status of each.

Once the leads start coming in, your focus shifts to a different “room” in your Marketo architecture, lead management and ensuring a successful handoff to sales. At this stage, you’ll especially appreciate the work you did on your “foundation,” particularly when mapping your prospect’s lifecycle and developing scoring values, then syncing to your CRM. With a comprehensive logic, changes are easily handled, such as adjusting MQL criteria or scoring behaviors.

Lastly, when your house framework is nearly complete, it’s time for the “roof” or Marketo reporting and analytics. The pinnacle piece— getting lead source tracking and multi-touch attribution in place, to connect lead acquisition efforts to bottom-line results, and demonstrate the value of your marketing efforts.

Now with a reliable Marketo framework in place, your instance is designed for the needs of the future, not just today.

Take advantage of framework efficiencies.

Especially when you’re tight on resources and trying to maximize time and effort, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Again, not to keep plugging our SCORE Architecture, but when we’re talking about gaining marketing efficiency, being able to tap into a knowledge base derived from experience in over 1,500 Marketo instances is invaluable— programs proven to work, built from best practices, and thoroughly tested. Why spend limited MOPS time building your own programs from scratch, then QA’ing and testing them, when ready-to-use modules already exist? Using a pre-tested framework saves time, accelerates your return on value, and allows you to shift your focus to high-value work.

Plan for changing conditions.

If 2020 taught us nothing else, we’re all experts in pivoting. We’ve experienced changing conditions, product shifts, and program adjustments. Agility will again be essential in 2021, and marketing operations needs to respond swiftly, without excessive complexity or spending hours making adjustments. 2020 highlighted the need for marketing efficiency; in 2021, it will be table stakes.

Improve Your Marketo Efficiency and ROI

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To learn more about Perkuto’s SCORE Architecture, we encourage you to talk to us about your specific needs and how our SCORE Architecture can save you time, money, and give you confidence in your programs.