How AI can help address the marketing ops talent shortage
Marketing operations is facing a talent crisis. How much can AI technology help without damaging your brand?
You can’t go anywhere these days without encountering a hyped conversation about AI. That’s fitting, given how it is changing the scope of work in many industries. However, as martech evolves, marketing teams scramble to keep pace.
Far too many MOps folks are left feeling exhausted and stretched thin. The marketing operations talent shortage leaves businesses to wrangle the three-pronged problem of hiring, training and retaining skilled professionals.
The situation has put a strain on management resources and forced a lot of seasoned marketers back to completing entry-level tasks, especially in areas like content production — rather than strategic planning or performance optimization.
Burnout and turnover
“Without a source of new talent, MOps teams are becoming top-heavy,” according to Demandbase. “The ideal MOps team is structured like a pyramid. A concentrated number of experienced practitioners focus on strategic initiatives and are supported by more junior team members who are responsible for day-to-day operations and execution. But we found that junior-level employees are outnumbered in the average MOps team, leaving higher-level team members to pick up the slack.”
With such a huge part of the marketing operations role being the tasks and projects inside of the ops function, it’s difficult to find time to get the strategic work done.
As a result, senior and mid-level staff are either bored doing work that’s too easy or trying to balance this work with larger strategic responsibilities. This has led to burnout and high turnover, leaving companies stuck hiring and training replacements instead of driving the company’s marketing vision forward.
MarTech first discussed the shortage in 2022, and the problem hasn’t gone anywhere since then. It may have gotten worse as ops leaders are supposed to continue to do their jobs while also figuring out the role of new tech.
Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence is poised as the shining knight in digital armor, ready to face the talent shortage head-on and help companies overcome these challenges.
But how exactly can AI improve the marketing ops talent problem? And should we entertain that?
Use AI to stay focused on strategy — not busywork
AI technologies like ChatGPT are making significant progress in addressing the MOps talent shortage. By automating repetitive or straightforward tasks, AI can reduce the workload for higher-level marketing operations professionals.
This frees their time and energy to focus on more strategic and higher-level tasks, ultimately leading to a more efficient and effective marketing team.
Jessica, a MOps professional at a large technology company, enjoys finding technology that can help her bring more value to her work and the company.
She mentions she’s been using tools like Rev, a sales development platform, to help find look-a-like target accounts to seed lists.
“It is a great tool to help you really focus and prioritize your CRM data. It continues to monitor your pipeline / funnel and the AI adapts and changes the algorithm as new deals enter and leave the sales cycle. It goes deeper than just firmographic details like industry, company size etc and looks at custom filters that matter to your ICP and not just the general information.”
She also points out tools like Regie.ai with custom personalization in outreach to prospects, helping the productivity of sales reps. It ties in things like hobbies or a prospect’s use case creatively. There are many more to list, but the ability to designate time to find and test the applications is important.
It’s not about being tool-heavy but more about identifying good places to bring AI to level up the strategy and execution of functions inside sales and marketing operations. Companies are seeing the value of an integrated system because it’s easier to define workflows, automate processes and identify bottlenecks with everything connected.
Dig deeper: AI in marketing: 7 areas where it shines and struggles
Where AI can play a key role in marketing operations
With the sheer number of tools on the market, it may be helpful to navigate this wild west landscape more from the perspective of task categories and where we can “delegate work” to an AI team member.
With the right combination of AI tools, you can develop processes that are efficient, organized and scalable. This can start with something as simple as using ChatGPT to turn meeting notes or transcripts into an itemized checklist of tasks.
Ultimately, you should be able to take an inbound request and turn it around in a 24-hour timeline without creating additional work, panic, or rush among your team.
From forecasting and budget allocation to campaign optimization and targeting, AI can increasingly automate the button-pushing associated with these tasks.
Disconnected systems are so 2019. You will fall behind if you’re not automating the data flow through your company.
From CRM, email and social metrics to cleaning and updating customer data along with automating reporting and visualization — nobody should be doing these things manually anymore.
Don’t have a large dev team? Marketing operations professionals with development expertise can use ChatGPT (or tools like GitHub Copilot or Ghostwriter) to quickly write up the initial project code before handing it off to a dev to finish.
Have a bunch of text or a CSV you’d normally want to hand off to someone for simple tasks? Use ChatGPT to pull out names, dates and keywords or to answer questions based on the source text.
Faster content marketing
From social scheduling tools like Hootsuite or HubSpot to writing tools like ChatGPT, AI can reduce a ton of legwork for creating and distributing content.
You shouldn’t have ChatGPT write your whole blog post or landing page, but you can quickly draft the bare bones using your expertise.
Whether it’s customer support or lead generation, using large language models like ChatGPT to build custom chatbots for your business can lighten the load.
These bots have been limited in the past. Still, newer options allow businesses to teach the bot everything from brand guidelines to customer profile data, creating a personal conversation that can get passed off to a team member when needed.
Summarizing research and briefs
While ChatGPT can’t reliably give you factual responses yet, you can paste text from articles, research, or white papers, then have it summarize the findings, implications and potential course of action based on that information.
On top of this list, keep an eye on the latest tools to help provide better resource allocation for marketing managers, stronger predictive modeling for strategists and easier sentiment analysis for marketing analysts.
Dig deeper: 5 AI writing assistants in action
Balancing AI and human expertise
With more AI tech, marketing operations has the opportunity to evolve from simple reporting teams and spreadsheet warriors to full-fledged technology strategists who help shape marketing and sales technology vision in the long term.
But automating away all the “laborer” tasks won’t replace your need for an architect. Execution without strategic design is a great way to build a house that collapses at the first sign of wind.
With everyone else using AI, what sets you apart in this tech race will be your frameworks and processes for using it effectively. Once these standards are established, it becomes easier to communicate to your team when to lean on AI and when you need humans involved.
Meanwhile, if you lean too heavily on AI in the wrong ways, you risk making many costly mistakes that damage customer trust.
To strike a better balance, companies should help their current MOps teams learn to work more effectively with AI in all its forms, so they can harness its potential while maintaining the strategic human judgment that sets great marketing apart.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.