Modern Marketing

Marketing Careers Spotlight: So You Want to Be a Marketing Systems Manager


“Look at me, I’m on a boat, now I’m on beach, now I’m on a horse.” This well known Old Spice Commercial may well embody the spirit of modern day B2B marketers: “Look at me, I’m in marketing, now I’m in sales, now I’m in IT, now I’m back in marketing.”

Successful marketing teams are masters of both marketing and technology. With an increasing demand for cross-functional collaboration and personalized experiences, marketers must leverage technology to address the growing number of segments, personalized messages, and communication channels. It’s an exciting time to be a marketer, particularly because the shift towards technology-driven marketing is opening up the door to new personalities and roles within the marketing department.

If you find yourself passionate about sales, marketing, and technology, this blog may help you chart your course, introduce new ideas, and build success for you and your team. In this blog, I’ll describe one of the key roles that is making an impact in today’s marketplace, the Marketing Systems Manager, and how to get your foot in the door:

What is a Marketing Systems Manager?

Sometimes referred to as the Digital Marketing Manager, the Marketing Systems Manager (MSM) is usually a top performer on the marketing or sales team and has a solid understanding of processes and technology. This person builds bridges between marketing and sales, aligning business strategy and delivering on objectives, so it’s important that they exhibit the following traits:

  • Enjoys sales, marketing, and technology
  • Passionate about business strategy
  • Master of pipeline management, funnels, and the customer lifecycle
  • Interested in systems and processes
  • Focused on results and reporting
  • Attentive to the customer experience
  • Leader, influencer, and self-directed learner

What does a Marketing Systems Manager do?

The Marketing Systems Manager is the glue that pulls together different programs, communications, and contributors and stakeholders to create a plan. Then they execute on the plan. Does your marketing team develop messaging? Do you understand your audience and use that knowledge to create buyer personas? Excellent–an MSM brings together this information and configures the systems that ensure that the right audiences receive the right messages and that the best responses to those messages quickly make their way to the sales team to be closed.

Marketing Systems Managers are responsible for working with stakeholders to define the mechanisms needed to deliver revenue-generating results. This includes identifying processes, designing workflows, and configuring settings to help sales, marketing, and other departments cohesively deliver a consistent pipeline. In particular, they are responsible for leveraging marketing automation and CRM systems to its fullest potential, either by designing and implementing settings or coaching others on how to use these platforms to their full potential.

Once up-to-speed, this person will be responsible for coordinating all system-related day-to-day activities that automate your sales and marketing programs. New campaign? They’re the ones that coordinate or build the settings that turn customer responses into leads. New program? They’re the ones defining, coordinating, and configuring all of the settings that ensure that your leads flow into standard CRM steps for generating closed/won opportunities. Reporting? They know the pipeline like the back of their hand.

While your communications experts may agree to configure automation workflows, the success of your programs can be accelerated by focused attention from the MSM. Similarly, because marketing and sales traditionally have different views on how to best drive results, the MSM acts as a bridge to deliver the best of both worlds by advocating on behalf of best practices for delivering the full pipeline vision.

Starting the Journey

Introduction to marketing systems management can come through a variety of experiences. These experiences open up important opportunities for you to deliver value while evaluating your long-term fit for the full-time role, and include:

  • Leading marketing and sales initiatives
  • Defining business processes and strategies
  • Managing records, lists, and reporting, and administrating portions of the marketing automation platform and/or CRM

If a Marketing Systems Manager career path sounds interesting to you, here are three steps to help you get started:

  1. Get more involved in developing programs and objectives for your current team. Identify additional responsibilities you can take on today to learn skills that will prove your ability to guide business decisions tomorrow. For instance, you can start with a strategic project or campaign and design and build out all of the processes and system settings needed to support the internal and external execution. Then, work with system administrators to configure more complex changes while personally handling basic changes. After completing simple campaigns and programs, focus on more lines of customer communication and take on greater levels of responsibility for coordinating customer-facing activities.
  1. Work towards becoming a respected knowledge expert in sales, marketing, and technology. Invest in learning about marketing automation and CRM. Stay up-to-date with the latest innovations and, if possible, have your company sponsor your attendance at an upcoming training event.
  1. Look for opportunities to implement technology within your business to deliver on revenue objectives. Once acclimated to implementing small-scale programs, the next step is to take on greater responsibility for defining improvements that drive larger and larger impacts within the organization. Your objectives in this stage might include defining and implementing process-improving changes to the systems that tie into your business objectives. Help your managers build out their reports and find new insights that drive better decisions, and learn how to report on results and seek out chances to share these reports in front of senior executives.

Where do I go once I am a Marketing Systems Manager?

New career opportunities begin to open up after just a few years of being an MSM, though the ability to go further depends on a commitment to learning the wide-range of skills associated with this career path. The MSM is a fusion between marketing, sales, and IT–as such, your ability to grow depends on your commitment to continuing education. If you started in marketing or sales, you must learn more about technology and vice versa for those starting in a tech role.

This role could be thought of as a gateway position to other responsibilities that direct strategy for greater and greater portions of the business. Some potential career paths include Product Owner, Solutions Consultant, Director of Marketing, and many more. For reference, see the example diagram below:MSM Career Diagram

The Marketing Systems Manager is a key driver of business objectives and an excellent opportunity for career advancement. It’s a role that brings to value to both employers and employees. Teams that have invested in marketing automation and supporting roles, like the MSM, have seen large returns on their investment, greatly accelerating revenue while optimizing their marketing campaigns and processes.

Are you interested in heading down this career path or have you already started? Share your experience in the comments below!