Growing a team of marketing automation specialists who can run an efficient marketing automation platform is no easy task, and the pool of available talent is always thin. The skills needed to be a marketing automation superstar – someone who can hang with the technical folks but also speak marketer “creative” language – is uncommon, particularly among professionals with a more traditional marketing manager background. 

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On top of that, the marketing operations team (or “mops” as we call them, our crew of automation gurus and specialists) is usually tasked with analysis of all the data being generated by the marketing automation platform, so having someone with ninja spreadsheet skills in both data manipulation and management is also handy. This is why salaries for marketing operations professionals with an automation background are going up; those skills are very hard to find in a single person.

So what’s a hiring manager to do? You can start by posting a well-written job description, point candidates to your awesome benefits and a great salary range, but sometimes, you just won’t get any bites. Start by looking internally for candidates, with these tips in mind:

  1. Look outside the marketing world. Lots of newly minted marketing automation experts are pulled from web development teams or even from the IT department. Why? Web developers understand the mechanics of emails, website code and landing pages and IT professionals usually have a strong background in relational databases. And guess what? A marketing automation platform is a relational database where you can create landing pages and e-mails and track onsite behavior using website code! The bonus to having someone with IT skills on your marketing automation team is that when you run into more complicated integrations (and you will encounter them), this person will know exactly what to do and who to talk to in order to get the changes made.
  2. Build the skill you need. Look around at your marketing managers. Who on the team displays an affinity for data, is an A-player and loves logic puzzles? That’s your marketing automation manager, even if they don’t yet have any experience yet with a marketing automation platform.

But if you can’t pull your internal team of pre-qualified rockstars away from the stage just yet and your only option is to find someone new, it’s still important to look for certain signals when you and your HR department read those resumes:

  1. Again, think of building rather than buying skills. Be open to junior marketers that display a curiosity and can pick up technical skills quickly. That candidate who has never even heard of Eloqua but taught themselves CSS in a weekend so they could help on a special project at work? Hire that one instead of the junior marketing manager who has used Eloqua but only for batch-and-blast.
  2. Listen for key phrases during an interview. When you ask a candidate what they love the most about the work they do, you want them to say something like “I love to learn; that’s what drives me” no matter what kind of work they are currently doing. Working in a marketing automation platform requires experience with constantly putting together puzzles and learning new things; the right kind of person will thrive on this, no matter their background. Another key phrase is “I like getting stuff done.” There is strategy associated with marketing technology, of course, but the role is often highly tactical. Hire someone who loves checking off to-do lists.
  3. Find someone who has worked on a data-driven team.  Most marketing teams already use data to drive decision-making, and you might have a marketing manager candidate who looks great on paper, but if they’re puzzled when you ask them to list the KPIs they measure in their current or previous roles, you probably want to move on to someone else. Marketing automation implementation and maintenance is all about structuring mechanics to produce big picture data that’s both visual and actionable, and a candidate who understands the relationship between process efficiency and data clarity is going to be a fantastic addition to your data-driven team.

As the market for marketing automation specialists with previous experience becomes tighter, hiring managers should look outside of traditional candidates to build their marketing automation rockstar teams.

Need rockstars? We can help! Or if you’re already a rockstar and need more help with marketing automation, check out the Marketing Owners Manual.