The New Four Pillars of Marketing Operations

New Four Pillars of Marketing Operations 2

Created with the assistance of DALL·E

Introduction and Background

In 2018, Edward Unthank introduced the four pillars of marketing operations, setting the stage for the management of effective marketing technology (Martech) functions. These pillars have since been the bedrock for many successful careers in marketing operations.

My journey to redefine these pillars began in late 2021. Despite successfully implementing them, I was perplexed at the limited impact our work had on the business. I was also frustrated with my career progression – it seemed that technical aptitude was not translating to leadership and career potential.

A shift in my career path in 2022, to a more senior role in marketing operations, was the catalyst for change. I decided to try new strategies and ways of thinking and was pleasantly surprised by the positive outcomes. Integrating these new approaches with the original four pillars significantly enhanced our team’s performance and my contributions to the business.

Collaborating with the team at and other thought leaders, we discovered our experiences and successes were not isolated. This collective insight led to the development of an updated framework, the new four pillars of marketing operations. Our aim was not to replace the original thought leadership but to expand upon it. We believe our enhancements honor the original pillars’ brilliance while propelling the marketing operations field forward.

The Original Four Pillars of Marketing Operations

Here, we’ll outline the original four pillars of marketing operations to set the stage for the new and to articulate how these pillars are still represented in the new framework. The original four pillars are platform operations, campaign operations, marketing intelligence, and marketing engineering.

1 – Platform Operations: Platform operations ensure the effective management and administration of marketing technology. At many companies, this includes the marketing automation system admins.

Key projects include:

  • Implementations: Setting up new systems or platforms.
  • Migrations: Moving data and processes from one system to another.
  • System Administration: Regular maintenance and updates of marketing systems.
  • Data Management: Organizing and maintaining data within systems.
  • User Management: Managing access and roles for system users.
  • Data Hygiene: Keeping data clean and usable.
  • System Configuration: Customizing settings to meet specific marketing needs.

2 – Campaign Operations: The campaign operations team builds and executes campaigns for marketers. Much of the core responsibilities include creating emails, landing pages, and other assets that drive customer engagement.

Key projects include:

  • Email Marketing: Customer segmentation and promotion of products and services via email.
  • Building Webinars: Creating and managing online webinar events.
  • Designing Nurtures: Developing automated marketing sequences.
  • Creating Landing Page and Form Experiences: Designing interactive and engaging web pages and forms for campaigns.

3 – Marketing Intelligence: The marketing intelligence team manages the reporting and analysis of customer data and campaign data to drive better decision-making.

Key projects include:

  • Marketing Reporting: Compiling and presenting marketing data.
  • Funnel Reporting: Analyzing the marketing funnel stages.
  • Campaign Analysis: Assessing the effectiveness of specific campaigns.
  • Multi-Touch Attribution: Determining the impact of various marketing touchpoints on customer behavior.

4 – Marketing Development/Engineering: The marketing development team builds and maintains custom tools and solutions for the marketing team, such as front-end or back-end development. It’s a more specialized area that deals with the more complex technical aspects of marketing.

Key projects include: 

  • Building Custom Tools: Creating specialized tools for marketing needs.
  • Front-End Web Development: Developing the client side of websites.
  • Building Custom Integrations: Integrating different systems and tools for streamlined operations.

Why the Need for Change?

Although these original pillars have been fundamental, the field of marketing operations is always evolving. We realized that focusing only on technology was limiting in terms of business impact and career potential. Marketing operations need to connect more closely with the overall business strategy, involving strategy, product, customer experience, and process design. 

The New Four Pillars: Expanding Our Scope

The new four pillars of marketing operations are: (1) Technology and Data Management, (2) Strategy Operations, (3) Enablement and PMO, and (4) Marketing Business Intelligence and Insights. The new model includes the original four pillars – platform operations and marketing development are included under the Technology and Data Management pillar, campaign operations is under Enablement and PMO, and Marketing Intelligence has been changed to Marketing Business Intelligence and Insights. 

Breaking down each pillar

data management

1 – Technology and Data Management: The new Technology and Data Management pillar aims to help marketers achieve their objectives using technology and data. It encompasses platform operations and marketing development/engineering. This team (or teams) will include software engineers, data engineers, product managers, system administrators, and analysts and will likely run as a product/tech team. 

Key projects/initiatives include:

  • Building Custom Tools and Front-End Web Development: As in marketing development/engineering.
  • Martech Implementations and Migrations: Setting up and architecting the Martech stack.
  • System Administration: User management, marketing automation admin.  
  • Data Management: This includes data foundations such as maintaining a data warehouse, CDP, and reporting pipelines. 
  • Data Hygiene: Data standardization, normalization, completeness, and accuracy. 

2 – Strategy Operations: The “StratOps”  function is a new addition to the four pillars but an established core part of the marketing team. Historically, the term marketing operations referred to planning and budgeting and was often managed by the chief of staff to the CMO. The inclusion of stratops into the modern marketing ops charter will help MOPs professionals influence the overarching strategy of the marketing team, and not just the technology portion. 

Key projects/initiatives include: 

  • Marketing Planning: Helping marketing leadership set revenue goals and/or OKRs, and develop comprehensive campaigns and programs to reach those objectives. 
  • Marketing Finance: Develop and manage a marketing budgeting strategy that supports marketing work and produces ROI. 
  • Organizational Design: Structuring the marketing team for optimal efficiency.
  • Special Projects: Handling unique, high-impact projects, including strategic asks from leadership and internal consulting. 

3 – Enablement and PMO: This pillar is about supporting marketers in their work. It involves ensuring that marketing processes and projects are running smoothly and effectively. It is highly recommended that this new function contain campaign operations from the original four pillars.

Key projects/initiatives include:

  • Process Design and Tool Adoption: Creating and implementing new processes.
  • Building Campaigns and Managing Agencies: Overseeing campaign development and external partnerships.
  • Globalization: Adapting campaigns for international markets.
  • Large Cross-Functional Projects: Managing projects that involve multiple departments.

4 – Marketing, Business Intelligence, and Insights: This evolved pillar includes analytics with an added focus on making recommendations based on data findings and analysis. This team strives to understand market trends and customer behavior to make better marketing decisions. 

Key projects/initiatives:

  • Marketing and Funnel Reporting, Campaign Analysis, and Multi-Touch Attribution: Similar to marketing intelligence.
  • ROI Analysis and Recommendations: Assessing return on investment and suggesting improvements.
  • Customer Experience Analysis and Recommendations: Evaluating customer interactions and proposing enhancements.

The Role of the Marketing Operations Leader

Role of the Marketing Operations Leader

After completing the new four pillars of marketing operations, we discovered a vital component was missing. While each pillar represented an essential support area for marketing, working in isolation would lead to shortcomings and ultimately unrealized potential. Moreover, these foundations must adapt to the ever-changing business and marketing environment, responding to new challenges and needs.

This is where the marketing operations leader steps in. Their role is to:

  • Transform the marketing organization to drive operational excellence 
  • Be a digital visionary – championing the experience for both customers and marketers 
  • Create synergy between the four pillars of marketing operations to create a result greater than the sum of its parts


This evolution in the marketing operations framework reflects the dynamic nature of our field. By adopting this more comprehensive approach, we’re not just adapting to changes; we’re actively shaping how marketing operations is perceived. This journey is about stepping into a future where marketing operations play a central role in driving business success. Let’s move forward together, shaping the future of the marketing operations profession.

Watch Darrell’s deep dive into “The 4 Pillars of Marketing Ops” from the Mopza ’23 conference! Login or grab a pass.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand why the existing pillars of marketing ops are no longer enough.
  • Learn the new framework for marketing ops success.
  • Take away the keys to measure your team according to the new pillars.
Unveiling the New Pillars of Marketing Ops Success


About The Author — Darrell Alfonso
Darrell Alfonso

Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations at Indeed & Author of “The Martech Handbook”

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