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The Parallels Of MOPs and Football

Daniel Zacks, Senior Manager Marketing Operations at Panorays

Marketing Ops Confessions: Daniel Zacks, Senior Manager Marketing Operations at Panorays


Like the center position in American football, marketing operations is ensuring plays and programs are launched according to plan and analyzing ways to improve. While often underrated or unnoticed, they understand the importance of their work. Daniel Zacks talks about how to enable sales with data from multiple funnels, his preferred method of upselling freemium models, why product usage is the best sign of intent, and the growing MOPs community in Israel. 

Learn more about Daniel and his love for football, specifically the Detroit Lions in this video!

Meet Daniel

Daniel Zacks is the Senior Marketing Operations Manager at Panorays. His background includes digital marketing, demand generation, website building, and marketing operations, with certifications in ABM, Salesforce, SEO, and website building.

Top Takeaways

Underrated Key Player

What sports analogy best suits the role of MOPs?

When I was thinking about how marketing operations fit into the greater marketing and sales teams, it made me think of different positions played in sports. After going through the lineups in hockey, baseball, soccer, and basketball, I ended up on football.

Football has eleven players on each side. You have the quarterback. You have positions used as weapons, whether that's the running backs, the tight ends, or the receivers, but one of the more underrated parts and yet most important, is the offensive line. The offensive line is responsible for protecting the quarterback as well as blocking for the running backs.

Within that offensive line, right in the middle, you have the center.  The center is what kind of reminds me of marketing operations. Before the ball is snapped, the center is holding it. He's the one responsible for launching the ball, just like marketing operations is responsible for launching marketing programs.

After the play, the center gets the ball back and can analyze what went well, what went not so well. One thing that's very known is when you're watching ESPN and seeing highlights of games, you may notice the center, but the receivers and the quarterback are what you're actually looking at. Yet, if you don't have a strong center and a strong line, none of that action can take place.

When you are the center, you understand how important it is internally. Most marketing operations professionals that I know are not looking to be the center of attention. They just want to make sure that everything's going according to plan, that we're analyzing everything that we need to do in order to make the next campaign better. Just like the center in football, right after you snap the ball, you're already blocking for the quarterback. So a center is always looking for the next thing and how to improve.

Better Sales Enablement with Product Usage Data

What system do you use for communicating data from multiple funnels to sales? How do you help sales use your insights to prioritize leads?

The most critical tactic that I would use in order to rank or prioritize different leads is definitely a lead scoring model. You can make it part of your main lead scoring. You can have a separate product-led growth (PLG) score property or field within whatever system you're using. That way you can rank someone depending on the different touch points or activities that they've done within your product. Once it passes a certain threshold, I'm just going to assume that they want to hear from us because they're definitely seeing the value there. That will be one funnel.

The other funnel is where it's the lower score, still early engagement. I'm going to be sending marketing emails automatically. I'm going to have a chatbot for them to reach out, obviously to raise their hand. 

There are definitely tools out there that can connect a person’s activity into a Salesforce field. then the salesperson is able to see exactly what the person did. There are also tools that can actually go in and track exactly what the person is doing with a screen share recording, so you have a very good idea of what they're doing and can just hand that to a salesperson. Before, it used to be telling a customer,  “Oh, hey, I see you read this piece of content. Can I tell you about our product now?” Now the conversation is, “I see that you've seen the value of our product. I see you use it. Would you like to hear more about it?” That’s a much stronger pitch from a stronger place.

Product Usage As Strong Behavioral Intent Indicator

What’s the feedback from sales reps on converting product users versus converting marketing leads? 

Our regular lead scoring is built off of three things. It’s built off of the person's company, the persona itself, and their behavior. That's always trial and error with figuring out what is worth what the scoring model

With PLG, within that intent behavior bucket, saying, “Okay, this person has actually used our product,” is a much stronger intent than anything else that we would be able to give sales. In general sales is pretty happy with the model we have to convert product users.

Upselling Free Products

Are time limits or feature limits a better path for converting to paid users?

I've seen it two ways with PLG where it’s obvious that they want you to upgrade. There's either a features limit or a time limit. In my experience, it's much stronger to give a features limit. A time limit is problematic because if you sign up and then get busy for a week or two, now your free trial is over. Now you can't go and, and continue to trial the product, which was the goal from the beginning.

You have to do it right if you’re going to feature blocking. You have to give enough features to make it worth their while to play with the freemium, but leave out enough that the person wants to upgrade. So I'm a much stronger believer in blocking features than limiting time.

Also the automated marketing emails can be a lot more specific to the features that I know you want, that I'm blocking you from accessing. If you're using a freemium product based on a time frame, you can do what you’re doing now next week. The excitement of what you could do isn’t there.

To the point about being able to offer an extension of the free trial as a way to engage: if I see through my analytics on Salesforce that in three months you haven't touched the product, I might send it to sales for them to say, “Hey, you haven't touched this in three months. Is this something that’s still a priority?” You can still slide sales in that way.

Marketing Operations in Israel

What’s the community like for MOPs in Israel?

Israel is a startup nation. There are new companies  being created left and right. With the global trend of realizing the importance of marketing operations, oftentimes it's pretty early on in building the marketing department where companies bring on a marketing operations team in.

It's really smart to be putting that in early on because all of the data you can collect, and start building the technologies outright. Otherwise you might buy something and then have to have someone else come in and change it. It’s like having a football team without a center.

These companies are searching desperately for marketing operations people because there aren’t that many people that know HubSpot, Salesforce, and the processes of B2B companies. What happens a lot of times is you get your marketing operations person and then you start building out the rest of the team. You have product marketing and you have the content writers and you have demand gen when you start building out those teams. A lot of times, especially here in Israel, is that you have one marketing operations person in the company. Once you have one marketing operations person in the company, besides it being lonely,  that person doesn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of. There are things that you don't even know that you could be doing differently.

As the singular MOPs person, maybe you've set something up and everyone within the company thinks it's great. But had you researched or talked to someone within the industry about your processes, they may have said, “Hey, I just did that same thing with that same tool. Here's how I did it differently.”

Based on this, we created a marketing operations community here in Israel with over a hundred people, all B2B. It’s mostly cyber because of what high tech in Israel is.. The community is active, daily with people sending questions, whether that's platform questions like, “Hey, you know, what's better Hubspot or Marketo,” or, “Hey, here's the workflow that I created. How can I do it better?” or, “Which data enrichment tool have you used?”

It’s a place where finally people can bounce ideas off each other. The support forum is one great aspect of the group, plus it’s a way to network and meet other people. I think it's gonna grow just because positions keep opening up since new companies are being created left and right. But I also think it's important to keep it pretty tight knit as much as possible at that point.

There are plenty of wider marketing communities here, even in Israel. The fact that we're very niche makes it really comfortable to discuss things with different people, although a lot of times you don't wanna get into the weeds because you may be talking to your competitor. Within the group, everyone's very nice and helpful to each other. No, one's gonna give bad advice to throw off a competitor. At the end of the day, we all wear our shirts for our own company. So you don't give away any secrets or anything like that, but you do want your fellow operations people to be successful.