10 min read

Opsy Guide to Marketing Operations

Teams of all sizes have started to realize the benefits of having an operations pro of their very own. Nowhere is this more evident than with marketing.
Opsy Guide to Marketing Operations

Teams of all sizes have started to realize the benefits of having an operations pro of their very own. Nowhere is this more evident than with marketing.

Marketing operations (or marketing ops, as it’s commonly called) has exploded!

But what is marketing operations? What do marketing ops people do? And how would you go about breaking into the field?

We dug into some of these questions in the third episode of the Opsy podcast. And, when we asked marketing ops consultant Brian Swanick if he’d describe himself as a marketing ops guy, he said what you may have felt before when you thought about marketing ops…

”If I were to say, ‘Hey, I'm Brian. I'm a marketing consultant,’ you can just see [people’s reactions]. They turn into a zombie. They're just like, ‘Oh, my god, I'm tired all of the sudden. I need to lie down.’”

But don’t worry! We’re here to save you from feeling like the living dead. 🧟

Why We Made This

We know that marketing operations (like a lot of operational functions) has a lot going on, but that it’s also super important and super interesting. That’s why we went straight to the experts!

We interviewed marketing ops specialists from the Opsy community to put together this guide that will answer all of your questions.

What You’ll Get Here

First, you’ll find some fast facts about the field so you understand the basics. And then you’ll hear what it’s like to work in marketing ops from some Opsy folks who’ve been there themselves.

So, whether you’re considering a career in marketing ops, curious about what your marketing ops friends are up to, or just need some info on marketing ops to do your own job better, we’ve got you covered. 💜

If you haven’t listened to the marketing ops episode of the Opsy podcast, don’t miss out! Brian shares why he only strives for 7 out of 10 each day, what the social trend is that’d make him retire, and how he leveled up in marketing ops by being “the no guy.”

The Opsy Guide to Marketing Ops

What is marketing ops?

DEFINITION: the processes, tech, data, and people that help promote products or services


DEFINITION: the work supporting each step of marketing

Marketing starts with letting people know about products/services, goes on to get them interested in buying, and continues with keeping them buying.

Marketing ops folks create and optimize processes for each of these steps so that they are as effective and efficient as possible.

Some marketing ops processes commonly include:

  • creating, deploying, and managing assets and content
  • evaluating marketing risk and ensuring compliance
  • automating and optimizing communications
  • planning and executing campaigns
  • collecting, managing, analyzing, and reporting data


DEFINITION: the systems and tools used in marketing operations

Nowadays, most marketing ops processes involve some type of tech. If not a lot of tech!

Some types of tech used by marketing ops professionals are:

  • digital asset management like Adobe Experience Manager or Canto
  • content management like WordPress or Joomla
  • customer relationship management like Salesforce or Pipedrive
  • marketing automation like HubSpot or Mailchimp
  • social media management like Buffer or Hootsuite
  • analytics tools like Google Analytics or SEMRush

Marketing ops pros are usually responsible for not only choosing and deploying these tools, but also managing them and optimizing their usage too.


DEFINITION: the information that is gathered or discovered from the processes and tech

Some areas and uses of marketing ops data are:

  • traffic and engagement
  • lead levels and quality
  • conversion rates
  • customer value
  • revenue
  • costs
  • return on investment

Marketers use this data to make all kinds of decisions, including where to focus their efforts and how to tailor it for a specific audience.

Marketing ops pros make sure they’re getting the best data possible, that it’s accessible to the team, and shared in a way that’s easy to understand and draw conclusions from.


DEFINITION: the individuals and teams working in marketing ops

Marketing ops levels, roles, and starting salary ranges can be:

  • Early-career
    Marketing Operations Assistant or Marketing Operations Coordinator
  • Mid-career
    Marketing Operations Specialist or Marketing Operations Manager
  • Senior-level
    Marketing Operations Director or Head of Marketing Operations
  • Executive-level
    Chief Marketing Technologist or Chief Marketing Hfficer

    Salary range averages based on Indeed, Payscale, and our own Opsy Compensation Survey!

Marketing ops is a new specialty in name, but marketers have been doing marketing ops work for years! It’s just been recently that we’ve started to put the name on it and hire for these positions, specifically.

All of this to say, you’re likely to also see marketing operations jobs that don’t have ‘marketing operations’ in the title, in addition to the roles listed above.

Within that, marketing ops specializations can be in:

  • content
  • social media
  • SEO
  • email marketing
  • compliance
  • automation
  • analytics
  • planning
  • budgeting

Marketing ops employers can be:

  • entrepreneurs
  • start-ups
  • agencies
  • consultancies
  • small businesses
  • mid- to large-sized companies
  • national, multinational, and global corporations

Marketing ops teams can be:

  • one-person
  • multi-person
  • departments
  • divisions
  • integrated across teams, departments, and/or divisions

As you can see, marketing ops teams can take on just about any configuration!

Once a marketing team reaches a certain level of sophistication, the need for marketing ops knowledge (in a dedicated role or as part of someone else’s role) is inevitable.

Your Marketing Ops Q&A

Your Questions

Why is marketing ops important?

What is there to like about marketing ops?

How do you get into marketing ops?

What advice is there if you’re thinking about getting into marketing ops?

Answered By

Why is marketing ops important?

Imogen Lees: “[Marketing ops is] the engine that's moving in the background to grow the business”.

“When you’ve got the data, when you’ve got campaigns running, when you can see that leads are coming in and the whole funnel, then it's easier to tell the story of progress and where you're moving as a business. You’ve got the data to know that it's not all going to fall apart.

The more automation and the more processes that are put in place, the more that I as a marketer have space to go away and be creative and come up with ideas and problem solve because I can see what's not working and where the gaps are and then come up with ideas, which is the fun bit really.”

Shanice Stewart-Jones: “With the ease and ever-growing availability of tools and software at a marketer's disposal, I think it's really important for someone/a team of people to have a handle on everything that the marketing team is using — and crucially how they're using it — to ensure the company is operating as well as it can be from a marketing perspective.”

“I'm often working out/on the systems we need in place for our marketing to work optimally, and then continuously optimizing those systems.”

Eva Schafroth: “Marketing ops becomes more and more important as a business scales and grows. There comes a point where a single person can't handle everything that's going on anymore. That's when you have to hire more people and work more cross-functionally. If you don't establish processes and automate where possible, inefficiencies can start to add up, and when that happens it actually costs the business money not to have a strong ops foundation."

Brian Swanick: “There's pressure from clients that say, ‘Hey, we're only reaching 2% of people with every post. We need to make these work more for our budget.’ You can't pay somebody $50 an hour if 100 people see their posts. So you have to do things more efficiently. You have these really robust, complicated workflows and you need those to work perfectly because if you're selling million dollar contracts, you can't afford to just have somebody back there just like winging it and hoping.”

Jess Segraves: “It’s simple – scale. Marketing ops and ops of all kinds helps people execute faster on lower-level busywork and put that energy towards cognitively involved work that makes a business take off. Marketing ops can also help teams that might not be ready to expand headcount but need to find ways to get more done.”

“Marketing ops accelerates work that a team is already doing and frees up time for people to level up. Plus, it’s fun. Creating solutions that scale feels meaningful, not mundane.

What is there to like about marketing ops?

Brian Swanick: “I just like working with good people that have hard problems. And good people, building good companies, it's kind of like... you found something that you're interested and engaged in.”

Shanice Stewart-Jones: “I think as a natural opsy person, I'm always looking for the gaps that need fixing or the processes that can be improved, in all the work I do. And I've worked in marketing for a long time. So marketing ops is like a perfect mix of my skills and experience.”

Imogen Lees: “The fact that you get to see the whole picture and that you get to be close to the business decisions as well. I've always worked at businesses that really see the value of marketing, and I've not struggled to prove the case of it. Being able to see how the whole business is run, and then recognizing how marketing is part of all of those decisions and the whole process is really interesting to me.”

How do you get into marketing ops?

Eva Schafroth: “I've been specializing in SEO for the past 12 years, and my role has become more and more opsy the longer I've worked in tech, so it kind of happened by accident.”

Jess Segraves: “Accidentally 😅 Like most things, if you have an inclination for something, it’ll often crop up again and again. I’ve always been interested in solving problems and developing sustainable solutions.”

“My recent marketing ops experience has been largely cross-functional, and by that I mean helping to define the strategy and architecture for operationalizing marketing, and then communicating its value and tying it back to KPIs around revenue and profit.” “Also I’ve been in several hybrid roles where I sit among more than one department, so creating efficiencies and systems where possible has helped me focus on work that requires more direct engagement.”

Brian Swanick: “With operations, you're like, "how can I reverse engineer the process as I think it should work? And then what's that first step?" And that's it. I was like, how do I get a job being a marketing coordinator at a digital marketing company? Okay, well, what if I had experience in email and then Google Ads? That makes sense. [And] that's actually why my [first marketing] boss hired me. He told me, four to six months later, that it showed some initiative. “You knew the terms, you had studied and passed the Google Ads exam. And so, yeah, that's why I hired you.”

Mae Livingston: “I was looking for a different type of role that would pair my existing experience [as a financial analyst] with an opportunity to gain wider team and business exposure. I ended up spotting a Marketing Operations opportunity and went for it!”

“I often served as a marketing contributor and representative for cross-functional projects and worked with all levels of the organization.”

Shanice Stewart-Jones: “I realized there was noone handling marketing, I kind of naturally started taking on that role to fill the gap. [My role] morphed into a blend of both marketing and internal operations. So my new title became 'Head of Marketing & Ops' and that's been my role to date!”

What advice is there if you’re thinking about getting into marketing ops?

Eva Schafroth: “You need to be a problem solver who can take initiative. If a process or workflow seems overly complicated or simply annoys you, there's your chance to solve that problem, come up with a better solution and build a case to break into ops!"

Imogen Lees: “Start with something that you know, and then zoom out and think about all the things that need to be in place for that one thing to happen. Just keep being curious and that's when you start to get into the ops side of it because you’re figuring out what the process is behind it and the decisions that go into it.”

“I'm a classic marketer, who's come at it from that quite creative standpoint, and the numbers scare me a little bit. But you learn them when you need to, and you use them when you need to, and then it just becomes part of your role.”

Jess Segraves: “Develop a proof of concept. Marketing ops and marketing automation can sound like an expensive or time-consuming endeavor to stakeholders. If you’re interested in marketing ops, start small and do an MVP to show to stakeholders. Estimate a quantifiable impact, and get buy-in to do more ops work. If you’re replacing part of your current workload and you haven’t been strapped for time, explain how this will help you go deeper into the more critical work you have on your plate, or how it’ll enable you to take on a new and important area of responsibility. Also, if you can translate your ops experiment to other departments or teams (and garner their interest), you’ll be able to make even greater impact.

Play around with no-code. I know, it’s buzzy. But no-code can be that connective tissue for digital marketers. For example, you can take a dataset and turn it into a website in an hour instead of, say, doing a custom build taking weeks or even months. And as a bonus, it’ll help you level up in your work and industry knowledge while also solving problems.

Brian Swanick:  “Become known for being somebody who works on hard projects, and somebody who finishes things and delivers things on time. So, you're reliable and trustworthy, and you're a good teammate, and you're versatile... If you want to be a consultant, you need to be able to adapt to different teams and personalities. Consulting is a great way to do that. And I think just take on hard projects, wherever you are.”

Shanice Stewart-Jones: “Since marketing ops is still a relatively new thing, most companies probably don't even know they need marketing ops when internally the need for it might be glaringly obvious. So if you can't find your perfect marketing ops role on job boards, try looking for marketing or ops roles at your favorite companies (I'd recommend startups since there's usually more room for 'making the job your own') and see if you can fill the gaps the company might have, and move more organically into the role, just like I did.”

Mae Livingston: “Go for it! Marketing Operations team members come from many different employment backgrounds and experiences – just take a look around LinkedIn to see for yourself.”

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