Marketing Automation vs Marketing Operations

Marketing Automation or  Operations?

These terms are very often confused and misleading if you do not really know what they refer to, especially with the proliferation of so called Marketing Automation tools, which in fact focus on leads generation and sales communication. They are in fact sales automation platforms.

Marketing Automation – definition

The common definition of >>Marketing automation<< refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing and sales organizations to more effectively communicate with clients on multiple channels (such as email, social media, websites, etc.). Initially marketing automation  focused on email marketing automation. Today, it more often refers to a wider variety of lead generation and analytical tools. Marketing automation focuses on sieving leads from the top of the marketing funnel through to becoming sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Prospects are scored, based on their activities, and receive targeted content and messaging, thus nurturing them from first point of contact through to sales.

Marketing Operations – definition

The Wiki definition of the marketing operations (MO) is: „it’s a function that stems from the need for a more transparent, efficient, and accountable view of marketing”. Its growth was initially driven by increased pressure from the CEO/CFO to prove the value of marketing and contribute to the revenue. The purpose of marketing operations is to increase marketing efficiency and organizational agility.

The Marketing Operations & management platforms enable the marketing organizations to shift from being viewed as a cost center to operating more like a business, with formalized best practices, processes, infrastructure, and reporting.

Marketing Operations – results

With a marketing operations & management platform you can ensure 4 things:

  • cut the production time (boosting quality of creations at the same time);
  • cut time-to-market by ensuring creation approval process is streamlined and automated;
  • save money by the re-use of marketing assets you have in your repository;
  • achieve higher reach, CTR and other metrics by following the AI embedded in the system, which will prompt you which attributes of creation to use to beat campaign benchmarks (or your competition ones).


Marketing Operations – budgetary savings

Another distinctive feature of a marketing operations & management system is that it is an open end platform. This means that you will give access to it to all your media vendors and creative agencies – which will double your savings. As they will automate their end of your process and use your platform to deliver your campaigns you will scoop end-to-end process efficiencies translated into $$$.

It’s like applying Lean Six Sigma to your marketing process.

This is something you can’t get from a Marketing Automation system – as you do not create anything but the inbound or outbound sales funnel and your savings come only from automating the repetitive manual tasks.

With the marketing operations & management systems you can cut your fixed costs!  The main goal for MOM platforms it to streamline and automate marketing processes (from content creation through approvals to consistency management of communication). 

These three elements  let you save 25% – 40% on a campaign production costs and media spendings (wider reach and higher CTR come as a bonus). You can now spend that money on more marketing comms (campaigns, creations, events, etc) with zero increase in your personel costs. Additionally, productivity of your team will go up and fixed costs will stay flat or drop down. This is due, certainly, to process automation. Good MOM platforms , through precisely mapped and automated processes, save about 50% of the time spent on pure waste (activities adding no client value, like e-mail management , content approval, internal communication, reporting and administration). If you eliminate pure waste, you will do more with less resources. As you hire creative minds NOT to do manual processes! If you free up their creativity, you will benefit twice – primarily on the job satisfaction chart. And this will push down your attrition rate, which is crucial on the employee job market.

The money you save can be spent on enhancement of your marketing communication with Clients, that will boost your sales. Larger, more effective campaigns at the same budget mean additional revenues for the business  – which is the ultimate goal for marketing.

What does it look like with a marketing (sales) automation system? The more you want to do the more operators you have to hire or pay higher fees for larger database in scope. Either way – your cost go up.

Marketing Operations – performance management

While it is the responsibility of every marketing professional to engage in performance management, Marketing Operations platforms bring all of the components together to systematically optimize performance – regardless of the campaign,  communication channel and selected media.

MOM platforms enable seamless analysis and clear reporting of  carried activities. Data is sourced automatically from digital channels or through APIs from external data marts or uploaded by agencies into the system. Some platforms, like Effiana, can automatically control data accuracy, completeness  and adhere to deadlines.

Data integration helps draw insightful conclusions, make sound decisions, and mana campaigns effectively. However, the magic trigger that helps achieve full efficiency of your marketing budget is the automated control of adherence of your communication with your strategy, already at the level of a single message created by your agency. Only the best and most sophisticated apps do have such a module – Effiana is among them.

Marketo, in its 2018 marketing predictions say this year will give rise to a powerful CMO-CFO alliance that becomes the most important relationship in successful C-suites. CMOs will adopt „finance-first” mindset as a catalyst for driving new multi-dimensional growth. It is impossible without investing in operational efficiency driving tools. Further down, Marketo predicts CMOs will flatten their teams  to drive efficiency and invest in data, content and marketing operations. Not sales (marketing) automation.


Zbigniew Bakota

EMEA Client Director