Back in 2015, reported that 91% of marketers felt they didn’t have a complete or fully utilized tech stack. 91%! A year later, that number dropped to 68%, a solid improvement over the previous year but still not a strong vote of confidence in martech adoption and utilization (data for 2017 is not available).

What’s getting in the way?

I have a strong hunch that it’s not simply the proliferation of technologies, it’s more about our own discipline. Maybe we lack a structured approach to deciding what’s really needed. Yes, it’s noisy out there, but we’re a smart bunch — we just need some ground rules.

If you’re on or leading the marketing operations team at your company, it’s critical that you start with the tech that has the biggest impact on your role. That way you’re properly motivated to actually use what you have. Given your role, you should focus on the #RunMarketing side of the shop over the Do Marketing side.

5 cornerstone pieces of a sound MOps tech stack:

1. Planning and Budgeting – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail

It might be tempting to think that good marketing starts with the question “what creative new campaign can we run this year?”, but we all know this puts the cart before the horse. Everything begins with a clear and transparent view of corporate and marketing objectives, the most prominent one being how much pipeline you’re responsible for. You set clear top-down goals and targets, then you build coherent bottom-up plans that align with objectives and conform to spend parameters. Then you can talk about that creative new campaign.

2. Work Management – organize the people and the assets that drive your programs

With targets and budgets set and campaigns identified, next comes the task of building the assets that will power the campaigns. Most modern companies use a project-oriented approach regardless of whether they do the work in-house or through an agency. A work management system is critical for managing your human and digital resources efficiently.

3. Marketing Automation – execute effectively

Although likely not the only channel you’ll be using for campaign execution, email and digital marketing will play a big part. If you want to save time and effort and keep close tabs on what’s going on, you’ll need an automated system for managing and executing these channels. There are a range of solutions available, depending on the size of your database and the complexity of your campaigns.

4. CRM – Campaign performance and sales cycle management (among other things)

From top-of-funnel marketing efforts to late-stage sales cycle management, you need a CRM system to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. At risk of oversimplifying, you can’t possibly gain the visibility you need into the customer journey from a spreadsheet. Not to mention the fact that no serious sales team can run efficiently without one.

5. Measurement & Analytics – figure out what’s working and what’s not, and where to focus future efforts

With all the other building blocks in place, the final task is to connect the dots between objectives, actions, and results. You’ll need a system that helps you track and measure in real time along the way, not just end of quarter. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate the impact of every dollar spent, revealing which campaigns and activities are working and which ones aren’t. And you’ll need to be able to demonstrate to the CMO and the rest of the C suite how well you executed against plan, stuck to your budget, and drove the pipeline and revenue that you were accountable for, if not more.

These essentials give you everything you need to set your goals and targets, manage your money, people, and assets, do digital marketing, and measure impact and results. If you start here, you’ll serve the CMO office well, establishing the right processes and data points to track the business of marketing. From there, your other technology choices will fill in identified gaps or opportunities, and you’ll be assured of having the fundamentals well covered.

Before you do marketing, you have to run marketing. And after all, that’s your marketing operations mandate.

My company recently teamed up with the folks at Workfront to help you get there. Check out the white paper: Marketing Operations Tech Stack Essentials – Five Growth Agents for Better Marketing Performance and Productivity.