Why Are Marketing Automation Managers So Hard to Find?

Even though some vendors have been around for almost 10 years, Marketing Automation is still relatively new. According to Forrester, only 2-5% of B2B firms have invested in full-featured Marketing Automation. But that percentage is rapidly growing. Increasingly, B2B companies realize that Marketing Automation software requires skilled operators. But – if you decide to hire a Marketing Automation manager – what should you look for, and where do you find them?

Note: if you’re looking for a Marketing Automation job, check out the positions below…

Inspiration: Web Analytics 5 Years Ago

New technology requires people with a new set of skills, nothing new about that. The situation with Marketing Automation reminds me most of Web Analytics. In the early days, Web Analytics was touted as the tool that has all the answers. But as Web Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik described, the 10/90 rule applied: for every dollar you spend on a tool, you need to spend 9 dollars on analysts to get the most out of the tool.

If you believe in the 10/90 perspective, it’s suddenly much more important to hire the right people. Avinash has great advice for that in his Signs You Are a Great Analyst blog post. But that’s for web analysts. Let’s try to get a similar list for Marketing Automation managers.

Marketing Automation Jobs

Marketing Automation is really just starting. There are relatively few specialists today. But I see more an more job descriptions for Marketing Automation Managers appear. These are some recent jobs:

When I talk to the hiring managers, they often tell me it’s hard to find suitable candidates, because very few people have all required skills. So let’s first take a look at which skills are typically required, inspired by the job profiles above.

Marketing Automation Job Requirements

First of all, in most cases the person is responsible for lead generation, lead nurturing and lead scoring. These are common job requirements:

Experience with:

  • Marketing Automation software
  • Sales Force Automation software (primarily Salesforce.com)
  • Database management (segmentation, reporting and maintenance)
  • Email Marketing
  • List acquisition and import
  • Website management and basic HTML
  • Organic and paid search campaigns
  • Data analysis, reporting and business intelligence
  • Optimization & A/B testing, Continuous improvement

Required skills:

  • Analytical and metrics-focused, Excel skills
  • Technically savvy, comfortable with software applications
  • Understanding of business needs (incl. sales & marketing processes)
  • Good communicator, and ability to communicate with a non-technical audience

That sounds pretty challenging to me!

Challenge 1: Analytical Skills Required

Of your high school or college friends, how many were into mathematics and statistics? It my class it was a minority. And that’s just the minority that we need as Marketing Automation managers: people who are good with numbers and heroes with pivot tables. And ideally they’re also good with software applications and can do a little bit of HTML coding.

Challenge 2: Marketing & Sales Skills Required

These analytical skills need to be applied to solve business problems. A thorough understanding of sales & marketing processes is required. This is especially important because sales & marketing collaboration is often a bottleneck when implementing Marketing Automation. The marketing automation manager should just as easily talk to a sales person as to a web developer.

Challenge 3: Experience With 10+ Systems Required

And last but not least: it would be great if the marketing automation manager has experience with the systems that are used in marketing. In addition to a marketing automation systems, these are usually CRM systems, content management systems, pay-per-click systems and reporting applications. And this is not just familiarity with the tools, but also experience with the most common tasks like data acquisition, import, cleanup, testing and reporting.

My Conclusion: Learn From Management Consulting

Today, there are simply not enough people with the right skills and experience. My suggestions is to look at how strategy consultants like McKinsey have solved this problem. Hire associates just out of college, pay them well, coach them, let them work really hard and they grow into experienced Marketing Automation managers within a couple of years. Problem solved?

What is your take? How do we find enough people to support the Marketing Automation revolution?

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49 thoughts on “Why Are Marketing Automation Managers So Hard to Find?

  1. Alexandre Pelletier

    Great Post Jep. I couldn’t agree more. I really start to see a lot of companies that implement marketing automation and think that anyone can take care of it and it will produce great results by itself.

    I’m glad I can now refer your post to them!

  2. Joe Zuccaro

    B-schools are still pumping out undergrads and grads with marketing degrees that focus on a lot of “soft” marketing or the “art” of marketing. Branding, product placement, etc.

    Many leave college getting low level jobs in marketing that focus on the creative side and traditional offline marketing, while focusing on online marketing that includes email blasts (ugh!), websites, and now social media.

    Not enough marketers are really technologists. They should be.

    Not enough marketers are statisticians. They need to be.

    Not enough marketers are linguists (for Search) They have to be.

    The science of marketing requires the ability to gather, store, analyze, share, and act upon data. Until marketers wake up and realize that they are the central nervous system of an organization that needs to be more disciplines, that organization will falter.

  3. Jon Nugent

    The issue that most companies are trying to solve with marketing automation is lead identification, tracking and scoring. You can use a combination of inbound and outbound marketing tactics in combination with the above to develop sales ready leads.

    Marketing people lose focus on the issue at hand, which is to create a hot prospect list for sales. Marketing is all very creative with their heads in the sky or lost in the details of what needs to be done. Sales and business people are reminded every quarter that revenue is the goal.

    In my organizaiton I align marketing and sales with the one goal of creating revenue. Marketing is a vehicle for revenue generatiion and the people who work in marketing are focused on that, whether their creative or technical and no matter what tool or resource they use.

  4. Melissa Paulik

    Marketers also need to be comfortable with being measured. Somehow we’ve developed a base of marketing talent that would prefer to be measured on how many campaigns they run rather than what outcomes they produced.

    A good friend of mine who helps marketing teams automate tells me that he almost never gets called in by anyone from marketing. It’s usually a C-level exec who is paying for marketing and wants to know what they are getting. During the sales process he has to find ways to win over the marketing team and help them see the benefits of automation otherwise they will sabotage the project.


  5. Jep Castelein Post author

    Thanks for your comments! Amazing for a Friday-post :- )

    Alexandre: great point that this is also a justification to hire a consultant. I wrote this post from the perspective of a company that wants to hire a resource internally, but you’re right that it also makes a case for hiring a consultant when you don’t have such a person in-house yet.

    Joe: very good point. That’s why I do not necessarily recommend hiring Marketing grads. Just hire anybody with the right analytical skills (social sciences or electrical engineering, you never know!)

    Jon: totally agree, in my opinion a marketing person is a sales person with budget!

    Melissa: I’ve also seen old-school marketers feeling threatened by better metrics and accountability. Maybe depends more on the person than on the position.

  6. Jep Castelein Post author

    By the way: via email I had a discussion with a Marketing VP about which majors would be best. In my experience the ideal person could have majored in anything, as long as they have a passion for information systems, and at least some business sense. Engineering school are usually great, but sometimes also the softer sciences.

  7. Maria Pergolino

    Hey Jep, I think you can include demand generation jobs in your list. Typically demand generation managers are responsible for driving interest for products at B2B companies (lead gen) and then nurturing these leads until they are accepted by sales. And as such, are typical purchasers and users of marketing automation systems like Marketo.

  8. Jeff Ogden

    I think one of the problems with looking for marketing automation managers is that it mixes skills. One one hand, you want people who can handle the technical details of the platform. On the other hand, marketing automation starves without great content and process. So the creative skills of writing and the expertise of lead generation process are needed. This is very hard to find.

    We help companies implement great content and process along with their marketing automation, so they find and acquire new customers. We also offer the free white paper, How To Find New Customers at http://www.findnewcustomers.net/getcustomers.

  9. Jame Ervin

    Great post Jep! The diversity of skills required to be a successful marketing automation manager is pretty extensive. I think there are a few other critical areas that are missing, that are equally important:
    1. Ability to document processes
    2. Build bridges across diverse teams (sales, executives, marketing, IT, product management/engineering)

    For marketing automation to really work, everyone needs to be in agreement on customer lifecycles, sales processes and business goals. Tricky indeed.

    It would be great to see real, practical training courses in these skills. I think for less analytical marketers, it is hard to see the value in developing these skills. Many people were drawn to marketing because they were looking for a creative outlet, not driving revenue and improving business success.

    And I hope, with more and more marketing automation managers, people will start taking marketing practitioners seriously — and giving us a better chair in the C-suite.

  10. Pingback: Let’s standardize marketing 2.0 terminology | Alex in The cloud

  11. Scott Mersy

    Hey Jep,
    Thanks for the post, and including our available position in your link. In our case, it’s not so much a “Marketing Automation Manager” we need, but rather an expert in the field of … [pick your favorite term: Marketing Automation, Demand Generation, Lead Nurturing, Integrated Digital Marketing, etc] …

    I’ve had a lot of conversations with appropriate candidates, many of whom have the type of hands on experience mentioned in your post.

    To me, however, the domain expertise hasn’t been as hard to find as a person who has that knowledge, but also has insight into how to extend it via Social Media and other engagement channels, thus expanding Demand Generation for their company by this expertise and engagement in the community. You and Maria are both great examples of this.

    I also just read a free chapter from the new Hubspot book (Inbound Marketing) available as an eBook. “Are the Right People on your Marketing Team – Hiring in the DARC Ages.” http://bit.ly/DARCdownloads

    The eBook is a great summary of just the type of people I’m looking to hire.

  12. Jep Castelein Post author

    Maria: demand generation is a great addition

    Jeff: that makes a case for a multidisciplinary team rather than a single person

    Jame: good point, we need to promote our profession better! :- )

    Scott: thanks for clarifying your job requirements, and thanks for the link to the Hubspot book chapter: that’s an interesting read (I think I have to order the full book now ;- )

  13. Ian Anthony

    Great post Jep and some really interesting replies. My view would be that you are making things too hard for yourself by trying to find a single person with all the skills undoubtedly need to gain the full business benefits of Marketing Automation Technology. Why not split the task into more manageable chunks? Split out initial implementation including the definition of processes especially the interface between sales and marketing. Audit your contact data and segment to understand what else is required to support your goals. Devise a balanced lead nurturing strategy that will guide the required number of prospects through the funnel. With all this in place you can focus on running campaigns supported by the tool that are aligned to the business goals. Instead of trying to find one person to do all, this find one to manage it all by locating the appropriate resource either internally or externally to carry out the tasks.

  14. David Satterwhite

    Jep: love this comment “…in my opinion a marketing person is a sales person with budget!” Too often Marketing teams don’t realize that unless all that Marketing ties to Revenue it’s really a waste of money. Scott and I are totally in synch on this at Genius and had a good time doing a webinar with Geoffrey Moore on the subject a month or so back.

  15. Kevin Joyce

    Hi Jep, timely post! As we exit the recession the problem of finding these people is likely to increase. I feel that Marketing Agencies have a huge opportunity to pick up the slack and offer marketing operations services to companies who can’t attract or afford the talent full time. But that appears to be happening only slowly. Are agencies so buried in other opportunities they don’t have the bandwidth?

  16. Jep Castelein Post author

    Ian: good advice to split up the workload

    David: totally agree, see also my post on Marketing Automation ROI

    Jeff: the really smart consultants will show you that that $400 is earned back many times over :- )

    Kevin: love to chat more about this with you. I believe there will be a need for outsource marketing automation services, but haven’t seen a lot of demand yet.

  17. Erik Bower

    A lot of my customers have this issue. They want to find exactly this mix of technical skill and marketing subject matter expertise. Not an easy formula.

    Sometimes those people are very often right in front of their eyes. The company webmaster is a perfect candidate to mentor into this role. They have the seat-of-the-pants get it done experience from working on the website, and probably have been reading all that content so they know the product/service.

    Another good internal candidate might be a road weary sales engineer. One thing about sales people I always say is that they are like comedians. They know which lines make people laugh, in their case, buy. So a sales engineer will know messaging and also have the technical skills.

    So maybe look internally if you are underwhelmed by external candidates. I agree with the other comment about how business school grads are obsessed with branding. They need to go to the school of “where are my leads” for a while before they shake off the whole branding thing. Brand people have their place, just not in marketing ops.

    My two cents.
    Erik Bower

  18. Pingback: LoopFuse Blog » Blog Archive » Job Requirement: Experience with Marketing Automation software ?

  19. Melissa Davies

    As a Marketing Automation Manager my biggest problem is finding management that actually gets it (it being Marketing Automation)and wants to move forward.

    IMHO: This is the biggest issue: “2-5% of B2B firms have invested in full-featured Marketing Automation.” The reason why – this comes from a lack of leadership vs. lack of talent.

  20. Kate Mayfield

    Very interesting post. The skills are definitely in increasing demand and aren’t yet available. I disagree that the graduate trained up approach will work. You need to really know quite a lot about database related technology, marketing and sales to help steer a company through a marketing automation project.

    We know this because we provide consulting services for sales and marketing technology implementations. We use people who have both marketing experience and experience of multiple technology implementations because experience in both is essential. They are very very hard to find… we want lots more. (Contact us if you have such experience!) But in time, it should come.

  21. revenue generation

    Thanks for interesting post Jep and the collection of unique comments to follow. About one year has passed since your original post and I think it’s fair to say that marketing automation is still in its infancy stages. As a result, so is the talent pool.

    From my perspective, there’s one obvious reason why.
    /*Start bold statement*/
    No one cares about marketing automation while everyone cares about revenue generation.
    /*End bold statement*/

    In particular, c-level executives have a maniacal focus on revenue generation, they own budget and support the addition of new resources and solutions like these, especially if it impacts the top line. To attract more interest to the space from management and hiring prospects, we’ve got to start using terminology that people relate to.

    Lead generation, lead nurturing, demand generation, lead scoring and marketing automation are all features of a solution that generate revenue. Why don’t companies refer to the role as a Revenue Generation Manager?

    When hiring a resource, the question at hand is what skill sets are required to support your company’s revenue generation project? Required technical skills can be learned and solution vendors (Marketo, Eloqua, Lead Liaison, Pardot, etc) provide training. Stop limiting opportunity and the candidate pool by mixing technical and business requirements. Broaden job descriptions to look for a Revenue Generation Manager who
    1) has experience working with sales *and* marketing teams
    2) has worked on revenue generating projects

    Additionally, the majority of companies don’t consume all revenue generation (marketing automation) features out of the box. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I suggest companies identify a specific solution, such as lead tracking, that will have the highest and most immediate ROI impact. Then, ensure their candidate can help meet their initial goal. Focusing on too much too fast could be a diminishing return. Your new hire can learn the rest of the features later with training from the vendor.

  22. Chris

    This is exciting, yet equally frustrating!!

    I have always been “torn between two worlds,” business/marketing and technology. I just graduated college with a degree in Consumer Science, which basically combines a marketing degree with a huge emphasis on future business trends, based on socialogical studies.

    (Try and explain that to a prospective employer!).

    I worked for a large restaurant starting out of highschool, and quickly worked my way up to management. I was recruited to open up a brand new restaurant concept as the general manager, when I was still in college (I was 22). I’m also a huge technology advocate, and more than anything i’m a futurist.

    I was labled as a genius, joining Menza, in 2nd grade. Somehow I have the unique ability to connect dots that don’t seem like they should be connected, between sociology, marketing, customer experience, and technology.

    I feel like, with the trends in society, between technilogical advances, social media, and globalization, having this dual set of skills will be a huge asset to any type of industry. Lets face it, the business world is under a state of revolution.

    The people that realize the trends early on, and strive for innovation will be the huge success stories of tomorrow. The problem is, finding companies that recognize this, and embrace it!

    Any suggestions??

  23. Pingback: Anatomy of a Marketing Automation Manager | demandblog

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