Marketing operations leaders may not be the ones tasked with executing digital marketing initiatives, but nonetheless, they’ll have an essential role to play in helping organisations migrate to the new digital normal.

The flight to digital was already well underway pre-COVID. Recent developments have simply hastened the shift. Consumers and B2B buyers alike are migrating to digital channels, and brands are striving to meet them there. And these behavioural shifts will stick around post-crisis, too: the majority of marketers surveyed in Gartner’s CMO Peer Cohort meetings believe customers will continue to use digital channels and digital commerce beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

The clients I’ve spoken to say the digital marketing demands placed on them have put their function into overdrive. Marketing organisations are being forced to rapidly shift to digital content, to deploy it on channels that they may never have used to reach customers before, and to take a hard look at websites that in many cases, were never really designed to support independent research. This is particularly prevalent in B2B organisations, where brands are used to having sellers meet with clients and guide them through the funnel by sharing information directly with buying groups, but B2C brands that haven’t made the switch to support digital commerce are struggling too.

And marketing operations leaders can play a crucial role in supporting organisations in this migration from physical to digital channels. Marketing ops may not be the ones building the website, or designing the social media campaigns – but they’ll be essential in helping the marketing function scale up digital execution capabilities. When I work with marketing operations leaders whose organisations are tackling these issues, we focus on three ways marketing operations can support:

  • Helping marketing prioritise high-value customer segments, and identify emerging segments to target on digital channels
  • Giving marketing the frameworks and tools for understanding changes to customer behaviours and needs (e.g. journey maps or personas)
  • Refining marketing’s digital operations plan to prioritise the creation of needed new digital content aligned to customer needs

Gartner has a toolbox for each of these (How Marketing Operations Leaders Can Help Organisations Pivot to Digital Execution – subscription may be required to access), as well as a set of ignition guides for marketing operations looking to optimise budgets and free up resources to power a shift to digital execution.

Make no mistake, though: as we move through the crisis phase and into renewal, customers will continue moving to digital channels – and staying there. The marketing organisations best able to respond to the customer behaviour changes resulting from COVID-19 will be the ones that have the digital dexterity to scale up new digital initiatives aligned to those behaviour changes. And good marketing operations leaders will be central in not only freeing up resources and capabilities to make that shift, but arming the marketing function with the tools and frameworks that let them do that work efficiently and successfully.

*This article is reprinted from the Gartner Blog Network with permission. 
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