The New 4 P's of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation has only been around for a few years, but I've already heard plenty of horror stories. Most of them concern organisations that have gone too far, too fast and found themselves saddled with a bunch of expensive licences, some of which they may never need.

Frankly, we were close to going the same way. We certainly made mistakes when we started on the journey with marketing automation. But we found effective workarounds and now we've got a marketing automation deployment that is delivering real value.

I can summarise the key lessons we learned under the title of the new 4 Ps of marketing automation. Yes there’s still Product-Place-Price-Promotion, but the Ps that matter in an automated marketing world are People, Process, Platforms and Performance.


We recognised that the structure of the department would have to change. We had good people, but they didn't necessarily have all the skills they would need, and they were not always in the right roles. We invested in training and put the right people where we needed them

Our marketing team is now divided into two clear functions: content and execution. We have a dedicated data specialist who works closely with our marketing agency to feed Eloqua with clean, current data. The content team works closely with the product and sales teams to align our propositions with our strongest opportunities to develop business. And the execution team creates and operates the campaigns that run on Eloqua.

The first key lesson: Get the right people, with the right skills, in the right positions – your success will depend on it.


Marketing automation takes no prisoners. If there are any weaknesses in your process it will magnify them to the point of embarrassment.

For us, rolling out marketing automation was a great opportunity to review things from end to end and tighten up our planning, process and campaign delivery. We looked at the entire marketing workflow:

  • Who initiates a project? Who briefs who? Who needs to be part of the approval process? Who is maintaining brand and legal compliance? Who defines the timescales and SLAs? How is success measured?

The last point, of course, is one of the key benefits of a marketing automation deployment – you see very quickly what's working and where improvements can be made.

So the second key lesson is: Make and take the time to think through in detail how your department will function – there’s no avoiding it.


With your People and Process in place, it's time to lift the lid. I mentioned that we appointed a data specialist and she lost no time in digging down into what, for too many marketers, is a nemesis: the silos of data that we needed to bring together and feed into the marketing automation engine.

It's a never-ending commitment – a virtuous cycle of cleaning and segmentation that makes every campaign better targeted than the last. But it works because we have clear ownership and properly defined responsibilities.

The other key consideration under this P is the marketing automation platform itself. We use Salesforce for our data management, pipeline reporting and sales opportunity handover and management.

We then selected the Eloqua platform and used this for building marketing emails and landing pages, deploying campaigns, generating management reports and measuring ROI.

The third key lesson: It all starts with a clear data strategy, then careful consideration of the marketing automation platform. It's a decision that might live with you for a very long time.


Finally, there's the great benefit of marketing automation: the fact that you can measure performance in so many ways and on so many levels. It means you can test at every stage, allowing your deployment to scale as you get more confident with it and can see where it will deliver value.

You can start with a phased launch approach, perhaps trialling it around a particular event or campaign – something marketing automation is ideally suited for. As you scale up, always focus on the end-to-end functionality, from planning and content creation through to campaign deployment and reporting.

The final lesson: This is a marathon, not a sprint. A phased launch approach allows you to review, adapt and enhance with each new process you automate.


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