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Critical Checklist: 8 Must-Haves When Hiring a Marketing Operations Agency


In today’s economic landscape, folks are finding themselves facing the dual challenge of both optimizing their marketing operations all the while working within tighter budgets and leaner teams. As someone who has been in marketing operations through the boom times, the pandemic, and now in the current environment of higher interest rates and even higher inflation, I’ve noticed a couple trends in the market.

  • Marketing ops teams facing resource reduction (layoffs, budget cuts, both)
    Organizations are bringing on marketing ops agencies because they had to downsize their team, but they still have to stretch the resources they have to meet the same goals as before.
  • Teams with stable goals but tight budgets
    There are also organizations who have significant projects to complete for or with their marketing teams, but they aren’t getting additional budget for headcount to help complete those projects.
  • Teams with stable resources but lofty (or VERY lofty) goals
    There are also organizations who didn’t have their budgets cut, but are tasked with such lofty goals, they are concerned about stretching their team’s capacity or knowledge too thinly. Enter: an agency to offer support.

What do you do if you’ve found yourself in any of these situations? Hopefully, you aren’t panicking when you learn that you are expected to get all your massive projects completed (ahead of schedule, of course), hit the same KPIs and meet or exceed those same standards as you were before all those layoffs hit your team. Marketing teams, maybe even yours, are finding themselves needing to supplement, sometimes outright replace, their marketing operations function, all through the 3rd party expertise of a marketing operations agency. This can be a strategic move towards achieving efficiency and effectiveness in your marketing endeavors, if done well. However, making the right choice requires careful consideration of various factors, and you want to avoid wasting time and money by working with a team who isn’t the right fit.

In this guide, we’ll explore what you should consider when hiring a marketing operations agency.

What does it mean to bring on a marketing operations agency?

A marketing operations agency is a specialized firm that offers services aimed at optimizing and managing the various processes and technologies within a company’s marketing department. These agencies often provide expertise in the four pillars of marketing operations, areas such as platform operations, campaign operations, marketing intelligence, or marketing-related development. In practical terms, this might mean they are experts on marketing automation, data analytics, campaign management, and technology integration. They may have a specialized focus on a designated marketing automation platform, such as Hubspot, Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, Marketo, or Eloqua. This focus or breadth of an agency’s skill set and experience is going to be one of the key factors in determining which agency is the right fit for you and your team.

Why Should Companies Consider Hiring a Marketing Operations Agency?

Businesses should consider hiring a marketing operations agency for several reasons. Firstly, these agencies bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the table. Some agencies boast 100+ cumulative years of experience through the experiences of their highly skilled consultants. Other key benefits include:

  • Strategic guidance: A marketing operations agency can provide strategic guidance on how to best leverage your technology features and capabilities to align with the company’s overall marketing objectives. They can help identify opportunities for automation, segmentation, and personalized messaging to optimize campaign performance.
  • Implementation and integration: Agencies experienced with marketing automation platforms (MAPs) and marketing technology in general can assist with your initial setup and configuration, ensuring seamless integration across your infrastructure. This includes synchronizing data or fixing problems between the MAPs and CRMs, website or BI analytics tools, and other relevant applications.
  • Advanced training and support: Marketing operations agencies often offer advanced training and coaching tailored to marketing technology users, empowering marketing teams to fully utilize the platform’s functionalities. They can provide ongoing support and troubleshooting assistance to address any challenges or questions that arise during execution.
  • Customization and optimization: Agencies can customize out of the box workflows, email templates, and reporting dashboards to suit the specific needs and preferences of the marketing team. This level of customization ensures that all marketing platforms align perfectly with the company’s branding, messaging, and performance tracking requirements.
  • Campaign execution and management: Leveraging an agency’s expertise, marketing teams can offload certain campaign execution tasks to streamline operations and improve efficiency. Agencies can handle activities such as email deployment, lead nurturing, A/B testing, and performance monitoring, allowing internal teams to focus on higher-level strategic initiatives.
  • Data analysis: Some marketing operations agencies excel in data analysis and interpretation, helping marketing teams derive actionable insights from any metrics and reports pulled from their marketing systems. By analyzing campaign performance, audience engagement, and conversion metrics, agencies can identify trends, opportunities, and areas for optimization.
  • Continuous improvement: Through ongoing collaboration and feedback loops, agencies can continuously refine and optimize Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) campaigns to drive better results over time. They can implement iterative improvements based on performance data, industry best practices, and emerging trends to ensure maximum ROI from the platform.

Overall, by partnering with a marketing operations agency, you can unlock the full potential of their technology and people resources, enabling them to still meet their lofty goals all while saving money and time.

When Should a Company Consider Hiring a Marketing Operations Agency?

A company should consider hiring a marketing operations agency when it faces challenges in managing its marketing processes effectively, perhaps due to staffing or budget changes. It can also be advantageous to bring on an agency when you have specific goals and need help achieving those goals – whether through supplementing your team capacity or expertise.

As mentioned earlier in this article, there are 3 clear trends that we are seeing in the market. First, layoffs. Second, status quo headcount, but need to supplement for capacity. Third, ambitious operational goals requiring additional – and quick, scalable – expertise. These are all great reasons to bring on an agency partner. Let’s dive into each one a little more.

  1. First, let’s say you’ve been forced to reduce the size of your team. My condolences; this is a truly unenviable position, and I hope you never need to go through this again. When internal marketing operations teams are laid off, companies lose valuable expertise and institutional knowledge. By hiring a marketing operations agency, businesses can quickly regain access to a team of experienced professionals who can provide strategic guidance and tactical execution without the need for extensive hiring and onboarding processes.
  2. Secondly, you haven’t been required to reduce the size of your team – phew. But you also aren’t getting any funds to bring on anyone new. And the goals are holding steady, and they are difficult to meet as it is. Marketing operations agencies offer scalability and flexibility to accommodate fluctuating workload demands. Whether a company needs support for a specific project or ongoing assistance, agencies can quickly scale their resources up or down to meet changing requirements without the burden of hiring or downsizing internal staff. In addition, by outsourcing marketing operations to an agency, companies can mitigate the risk associated with staffing fluctuations, skill gaps, and turnover. Agencies assume responsibility for project delivery and performance, allowing businesses to focus on core competencies and strategic priorities.
  3. Third – and unquestionably the most fortunate, but still stressful, position. Very ambitious goals for you and your team, and even if maybe you are even given additional headcount, they are so lofty, you can’t even fathom how you and your team will get it all done. Marketing operations agencies are well-versed in streamlining processes and optimizing workflows to maximize efficiency and speed. For those with ambitious timelines and aggressive targets, partnering with an agency can help expedite project delivery and achieve results more quickly than relying solely on internal resources. Partnering with a marketing operations agency allows you to focus on their core competencies while outsourcing specialized tasks to the agency. This enables internal teams to concentrate on strategic initiatives and high-level decision-making, while the agency handles the day-to-day execution of marketing operations activities.

Whether you are facing layoffs or just status quo, or you’re undergoing major marketing initiatives, such as launching new products or entering new markets, can benefit from the support of a specialized marketing operations agency.

How Should a Company Go About Hiring a Marketing Operations Agency?

When hiring a marketing operations agency, companies should follow a structured approach. This includes conducting thorough research to identify potential agencies, evaluating their expertise and track record, and clearly defining their own objectives and requirements. It’s also crucial to establish open communication and a collaborative relationship with the chosen agency to ensure alignment and success.

It’s also important to understand what your goals are and what you are specifically trying to achieve. It’s going to be a hard time for everyone if you select an agency known for its Eloqua implementations when you really need an agency who can execute campaign operations from Hubspot. Or if you select an agency specializing in graphic design who has someone on their staff who used Pardot once, but you really need full platform operations support to revitalize your Marketo instance while campaigns operations folks get your webinars and emails out the door. Or you really need some straightforward lifecycle reports but you partner with an agency who specializes in… well, you get the point!

And now, the checklist. Compile your potential agency picks, then compare them to this list to see how they stack up.

  • Expertise and experience: Assess the agency’s expertise in marketing operations, including their experience with relevant technologies, tools, and methodologies. Look for case studies or client testimonials that demonstrate their track record of success. Do they focus on Hubspot? Marketo? Salesforce? Or, are they more generalists who can give a base level of knowledge across multiple platforms?
  • Services offered: Evaluate the range of services offered by the agency and determine whether they align with your specific needs. This could include areas such as marketing automation, data analytics, campaign management, and technology integration.
  • Industry knowledge: Consider the agency’s understanding of your industry and target audience. A deep knowledge of your market can enhance the effectiveness of their strategies and campaigns.
  • Scalability and flexibility: Assess the agency’s ability to scale their services to meet your evolving needs. Determine whether they have the resources and capabilities to support your business as it grows and adapts to changing market conditions.
  • Communication and collaboration: Evaluate the agency’s communication style and approach to collaboration. Look for agencies that prioritize transparency, responsiveness, and proactive engagement to ensure a smooth working relationship.
  • Technology and tools: Examine the technology stack and tools used by the agency to support their operations. Ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest innovations and can effectively leverage technology to drive results.
  • Performance metrics and reporting: Inquire about the agency’s approach to tracking performance metrics and providing reports. Look for agencies that offer transparent and insightful reporting, allowing you to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and make data-driven decisions.
  • Cultural fit: Consider the agency’s values, culture, and working style to assess compatibility with your own organization. A strong cultural fit can facilitate collaboration and alignment, leading to more successful outcomes.

Who Should Be Involved in Hiring a Marketing Operations Agency at the Company?

The process of hiring a marketing operations agency should involve key stakeholders within the company, including members of the marketing team, senior management, and IT professionals if necessary (such as if IT owns Salesforce or any other marketing technology). Collaborating across departments ensures that the chosen agency aligns with the company’s overall goals and can seamlessly integrate with existing systems and processes. Additionally, identifying decision makers to select an agency partner will likely stem from agreeing on your goals and objectives in working with a marketing ops agency .


Hiring a marketing operations agency can be a strategic move for companies looking to enhance their marketing capabilities and drive business growth. By carefully considering factors such as expertise, experience, and compatibility, businesses can find the right agency to partner with and achieve their marketing objectives effectively. With the right agency by their side, companies can navigate the complexities of modern marketing with confidence and success.

Note: This post is part of a series covering how you can do more with less as a marketing operations function. Check out the other articles including:

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