Key Insights From the Gartner Marketing Operations Survey

September 14, 2020
Contributor: Kelly Blum

CMOs often have to choose between effectiveness and efficiency. This year’s survey shows that having a marketing operations leader in place can help achieve both.

Marketing leaders have long been chasing the promise of fulfilling operational efficiency and effectiveness at the same time. This goal becomes even more elusive as the complexity of marketing increases and budgets tighten. Appointing a leader to head up marketing operations may be the solution.

The Gartner Marketing Operations Survey 2020 reveals that organizations with a dedicated marketing operations leader are more effective and better utilize their investments — including marketing technology (martech) — than those without. However, only 49% of organizations say they have a dedicated marketing operations leader.

“The presence of a marketing operations leader is a game-changer for many organizations.” 

“The presence of a marketing operations leader is a game-changer for many organizations,” says Sally Witzky, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “The role helps lead to less dichotomy and fewer trade-offs between efficiency and effectiveness. Organizations with a marketing operations leader can strive for both effectiveness and efficiency without the overt sacrifice of one for the other.”

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Better utilization of marketing technologies

According to Gartner research, 81% of organizations without a marketing operations leader believe they can’t fully maximize the impact of their initiatives when also striving for efficiency. Organizations with a marketing operations leader are more likely to disagree with that statement, at a rate that is 7 percentage points higher.

Gartner survey finds the percentage of respondents who agree with statement, "Our marketing organization cannot fully maximize the impact of our initiatives while being efficient."

“In a world where martech investments make up 26% of marketing budgets, but marketers utilize only 58% of their martech stack’s potential, the role of the marketing operations leader becomes ever more pressing,” says Witzky. “Without this function, marketing organizations will continue to struggle to maximize the impact of their initiatives while also trying to be efficient.”  

Organizations with a marketing operations leader enjoy other advantages as well. They are able to prioritize better operational management of activities that enable effectiveness and efficiency, such as martech management; customer, market and competitive intelligence research and insights; and vendor, agency and supplier management.

Four steps to improve marketing operations

Gartner recommends that marketing leaders focus on these four steps to establish or strengthen marketing operations:

  1. Frame marketing operations around the marketing organization’s priority weighting of efficiency and effectiveness. 

  2. Focus on a well-defined primary operations mandate of specific functions to protect against operations becoming a haphazard accumulation of responsibilities.

  3. Fix the biggest operational weaknesses — such as lack of communication and collaboration that pervade and plague the marketing organization — and measure impact, output and alignment with goals and strategies.

  4. Fit marketing work management and operational martech to the organization’s needs, replacing outdated and manual processes with integrated and automated systems and platforms.

Even as the pandemic and economic strains continue to pressure organizations, marketers show great resilience as they fight to succeed in a new normal. A marketing operations leader can alleviate trade-offs between efficiency and effectiveness, enabling the organization to maximize the impact of marketing initiatives. 

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