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4 Ways to Build a More Effective Marketing Operations Team

June 28, 2022

5 mins read

Ways to Build a More Effective Marketing Operations Team

4 Ways to Build a More Effective Marketing Operations Team

Over the last several years, marketing operations has transformed from a minor part of the marketing ecosystem to a central priority for any CMO. But with teams up against a talent crisis that’s made finding and keeping great MOPs pros harder than ever, it’s critical that leaders get strategic about building (and maintaining) teams that can meet the moment.

In our recent State of Marketing Operations Talent study with Highway Education, we uncovered a host of challenges currently standing in the way of MOPs success. But we also spoke with experts to figure out what marketing leaders can do to mitigate the impact.

Here are four ways to build a best-in-class marketing operations team:

1. Rethink your hiring requirements

We all want the best people on our side, but in the pursuit of finding the best of the best, hiring managers can fall into the trap of unnecessary job requirements. Lower the bar? Absolutely not. Updating your list of must-haves is all about being thoughtful about what skills are actually necessary to be successful in a marketing operations role.

“When I look at the marketing operations job boards, I see so many listings that require candidates to know HTML and CSS. Why do we still expect people to know these skills in 2022?” asks Pierce Ujjainwalla, the co-founder and CEO of Knak. “We’re not hiring developers, we’re hiring strategic marketing operations people. I’d rather hire a great marketer who knows how to do demand gen, who knows how to test and optimize, and who’s a great writer. Those are the skills that really move the needle.”

If you’re leaning on outdated requirement lists, you risk cutting out a host of well-qualified applicants who may have the types of skills that will make a real difference in your organization. Consider what a marketing operations hire truly needs to be successful at each level, then adjust your next help-wanted ad accordingly.

2. Give your high-level employees the support they need

You hired your strategic thinkers for a reason: to think strategically! Senior-level marketing operations professionals have the potential to make a major impact on your business, but unfortunately, they often don’t get the chance.

The culprit? A lack of junior employees who can execute against plans and keep the MOPs engine humming.

In fact, our survey found that many organizations are woefully misshapen, with more people employed at the higher levels of the organization than represented at the bottom. When that happens, our familiar hierarchy pyramid turns into a blob—and nobody benefits.

“Unfortunately, so many times we see talented people stuck getting campaigns out the door,” says Ujjainwalla. “They’re cleaning up a database; they’re doing low-value tasks.” That’s no good for anyone! With the right support system of lower-level hires in place, you can free up bandwidth and ensure your staff can reach their full potential.

3. Build training into your culture

In order to get the most out of your junior employees—and ultimately grow them within your organization—training is key.

“If you hire someone junior and expect them to know exactly what to do on day one, you’re not going to be set up for success,” says Crissy Saunders, co-founder and CEO of marketing operations consulting agency CS2. “It needs to be part of their role to educate those at the lower levels, because these people are learning on the job. Can you make it part of a manager’s job to train?”

And in an industry like marketing operations, it’s not just the newer practitioners who need to study up. “The speed at which our industry moves is insane,” says Saunders. “We need to stay up-to-date and share best practices across the team.” For her part, Saunders maintains a regular cadence of learning opportunities for employees at every level, ensuring training is always a priority.

4. Build organization-wide respect for marketing operations

Our survey found that nearly 60% of marketing operations pros struggle with burnout, and that more than 70% of them will change jobs within the next three years.

Who’s to blame for these high rates of burnout and turnover? It’s less the fault of resourcing than of people not feeling valued, argues Sara McNamara, an award-winning marketing ops professional. “Yes, people are having to work 60, 80 hrs per week, and that’s a resource problem. But I think you’ll find that teams that are reduced to doing fulfillment tasks–even if they aren’t working a ridiculous amount–burn out, too.”

The fix? “Acknowledgment, appreciation, and feeling like a valued partner go a long way,” says McNamara. “Those are the happiest teams I’ve seen, no matter what. Even if they’re technically under-resourced and working a little more than they’d like, people who feel valued are going to stay.”


Building the best possible marketing operations team isn’t necessarily dependent on the largest budget or the flashiest projects. Instead, leaders should take a thoughtful approach to the needs of their employees and their teams as a whole.

What skills do a new hire really need to have? How can you grow those skills over time? Do your strategic thinkers have the space they need to thrive? Are we treating our teams like the valuable assets they are?

This post is part of the State of MOPs Talent study jointly sponsored by Demandbase and Highway. Demandbase, smarter GTM for B2B brands, helps marketing and sales teams spot the juiciest opportunities earlier and progress them faster. Highway helps MOPs leaders overcome the industry talent crisis by providing job-ready junior MOPs talent for leaders to hire. 

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