2015-08-21_15-38-11.jpgLast week I had a planning session with the leaders of the marketing org in charge of marketing automation in a major financial institution and one of the biggest conclusions we reached from that meeting was that they didn’t have the right team in place to support the modern marketing campaigns and programs they needed to execute over the next year. As a result, they asked me for some staffing recommendations for a financial services organization like them.

In case there are other financial services organizations out there that are looking to better understand how they might be staffed, I thought I’d share what I provided for this company. A caveat I’ll mention first is that this doesn't include the leader of this team who is traditionally a director or senior director, in charge of bringing all of these resources to bear in achieving their goals. Also, these recommendations are very specific to the needs of this particular org. This won't fit all marketing automation teams within financial services companies but it should be pretty close to most.


Role: Marketing Manager

Count: 1 or more per LOB

Responsibilities: Campaign Strategy and Execution

Description: These marketers are in charge of working with the LOBs to map out the demand generation strategies and tactics, then execute those strategies and tactics. They aren’t highly technical but they understand modern marketing and can build automated, multi-channel, triggered communication streams with prospects and customers. This person should be well versed in marketing automation and modern marketing strategies and tactics. Successful orgs ensure that there is one of these managers mapped to each major LOB. Where we see orgs struggling is when they try to overload a person in this position with campaign execution from too many LOBs. When this happens, the marketing manager is reduced to a basic execution role, with no time for strategy.  If it’s a particularly large LOB, there is often multiple marketing managers dedicated. A best practice in that instance is to have a senior manager who can do some tactical execution but primarily works with the LOBs on strategy, while a marketing manager under them focuses on the tactical execution. This role may be on one central team (such as a demand center) but more often this role is distributed throughout the marketing organization.


Role: Marketing Technologist

Count: 1 or more

Responsibilities: Technical Resource for Digital Marketing

Description: In most organizations the person in this role was either cannibalized from IT or hired straight into marketing from an IT or development role at another organization. They have a background in coding at least client-side scripting languages such as JavaScript and HTML, if not server-side or compiled/interpreted languages such as C#, JSP or ASP .NET. This technologist can take a marketing automation tool and push the campaigns within it to the next level because they are able to fully exploit digital channels as they are based on web architecture and platforms. This person is a Jill/Jack of all high-tech trades and can help organizations with dynamic emails and landing pages, integrations into 3rd party marketing platforms and analytics. In most orgs, they spend about 40-60% of the time in asset (email, landing pages, microsites, etc.) production and the remainder with integrations and architecture changes and support. They should be ready and able to take full advantage of API integrations in their marketing automation platform.

Many organizations have difficulties in trying to fill this position. Partially because it can be difficult to find someone to fit the bill of the demanding job listings that orgs tend to post and partially because orgs undervalue the position in terms of the compensation they offer. I can’t tell you how many job postings I’ve seen where they want someone with amazing technical skills, who holds certifications for MA platforms but only wants to pay these people $40k per year. It’s laughable. People who do fit the requirements are indeed hard to find but through the right channels, they can indeed be found. Be prepared to offer a strong compensation package - or it might be your competition who scoops them up instead of you.

If you are unable to find someone in a reasonable time-frame, consider hiring (either from within or without) a web developer. Web developers have an intrinsic understanding of not only the web technologies and design principals you’ll need to leverage but they’re used to having to integrate disparate databases and systems to create a great web experience. If you can find a good web developer, you can train them on marketing automation VERY easily. They’ll pick it up twice as fast as your average user.


Role: Marketing Database Manager/Analyst  (sometimes just called Operations Manager)

Count: 1

Responsibilities: Data Governance, Architecture

Description:  If this role sits in IT, they should be completely dedicated to marketing and shouldn’t be pulled off on other, non- marketing related efforts. If it sits in Marketing, they are absolute BFFs with IT. They have a solid understanding of all of the systems that marketing uses and all of the data that flows between them. In many orgs, this person can be perceived as the bad-cop because it’s their responsibility to develop and enforce a data governance policy that is most conducive to allowing marketing to reach its revenue generation goals. This is often a tough job because they have to be the go-between for sales, marketing and IT and occasionally have to step in and stop an executive from one of these teams from heading down a self-destructive path. This person sees all data entry and exit points and understands how marketing automation, CRM and other systems have to be configured. So they often have to educate the siloed orgs in an effort to make them understand that the data decisions they make effect the entire org. This person might not need to have been a DBA in previous lives but often does have that background. They should at least a basic familiarity with relational database structure, design and architecture. They usually can write their own SQL queries although it’s not an absolute requirement of the job.


Role: Reporting Analyst

Count:   .5 to 1

Responsibilities: Report Development, Design and Distribution

Description:  The caveat on this role is that rarely do marketing orgs (at least on the demand gen side) have a full headcount for this position, although it is a best practice to do so. Often, this is a shared resource for the entire marketing (and sometimes other) org and thus ends up doing web analytics in addition to campaign reporting. Ideally, this person should have done some reporting in at least one of the major marketing automation platforms as well as web analytics and consolidated reporting platforms like Tableau. The day-to-day responsibilities of this role usually include executive marketing dashboard report design and distribution, marketing campaign tactical reporting  and web/asset reporting. If this resource is a good one, they’ll do more than just distribute reports. Because they’re neck-deep in reporting all day, every day, they can (and should) start at some point to draw conclusions based on the reporting. They should be able to tell an executive what types of campaigns, channels and assets are performing best, which regions or LOBs are struggling or killing it and be able to make recommendations for course corrections. Unfortunately, very few orgs have made it a priority to create and nurture such roles.


If orgs put this kind of team together, they’ll be in a great position for success. However, I cannot over emphasize the importance of nurturing strong relationships with your business partners in IT and sales operations. You will invariably come across a situation where there is a problem with a data field or process in a system that your team does not control and when that happens, you need strong partners in the organizations that do control those systems to facilitate the necessary changes. I’ve lost count of the stores I’ve heard from fortune 500 companies where they can’t do closed loop reporting or can’t do proper lead distribution because there’s a problem in a CRM or ERP that they cannot correct because they don’t own that system. 

Lastly, in nearly every inspiring modern marketing success story I’ve heard, there was a consultant company helping them (if not outright doing all the work) to achieve their success. Smart organizations will augment their staff with help from expert consultants because there’s a serious multiplier involved in these cases. When it comes to marketing automation, these consultants (at least the best ones) have truly seen it all. It’s pretty much a given that whatever it is that your trying to do, they’ve not only done it but they’ve done it dozens and dozens of times and they can do it more quickly and correctly than your team can. Just as valuable, if there’s something you want to do that they’ve never done, that should be a red flag because you very well may be venturing outside the realm of best practices. A good consultant firm will not just execute what you ask but should challenge you if there’s something you want to do that is detrimental to your overall marketing goals. (this happens ALL the time)

That said, I would never condone relying completely on one of these firms to do everything, indefinitely for a company. Smart organizations will work with these consultants, and while building out their programs, learn from the consultants in an effort to eventually be able to take all (or most) of it over. Additionally, these consultant firms come and go. Sometimes it’s a shift in priorities or a change in staff that causes their level of support to plummet. Alternatively, you may get a new executive in your org who has a relationship with another consultant and you are forced to switch. In either of those cases, you don’t want to be in a situation where the current consultant is the only one who knows how your programs are built executed. 

What do you think? Did I miss the mark or does this staffing model look like what you've seen for marketing automation teams in financial services?