Capabilities for effective Marketing Automation: It’s not just about the technology

Marketing automation isn’t just about the technology.   For sure, technology is important, but it’s only a small part of the holistic challenge.  I’ve successfully used a 5-point scale for evaluating existing capabilities and defining key enhancement activities:

  1. Contact strategy, journeys, campaigns
  • How well defined and embedded are the contact strategy, the journeys, the control mechanisms?
  • How strong are the planning, planning processes and campaign programmes?
  • Are these programmes & campaigns repeatable & recurring, or one-off & ad-hoc?
  1. Data
  • Are well structured, high quality, relevant and up-to-date data available? Does the latency of the data cause any limitations?
  • To what extent is there a ‘single customer view’ available? Which data sources are covered?
  1. Reporting & analytics
  • Are core reports in place and used to monitor campaign performance?
  • Are good test & learn controls in place already?
  • How are predictive insight & analytics being used to drive identification, definition, design & enhancement of journeys?
  1. Technology & channel integration
  • What tools and capabilities are available to determine the right message, manage customer conversations across all channels, and record the outcomes
  • Which channels do these tools service? Do they span outbound (batch & triggered) and also inbound (assisted and self-serve) channels?
  • Are there other tools for authoring direct messaging to the base? Are these aligned with the overall contact strategy, or are they independent?
  1. Culture, people & skills
  • Is the organisation aligned cross-functionally to the customer contact strategy? Are frontline teams appropriately incentivised and trained to convert enquiries into sales?
  • Does the organisation have adequate skillsets to support marketing automation strategy, analytics & operations?

Assessing an organisations’ capabilities against these axes and mapping them to an adequate level of accuracy typically isn’t complex.  I tend to use a 1-5 ranking, mapping onto a spider diagram, thus:


This mapping is a useful exercise in itself.  However, the real value lies in the structure it gives structure to define and map realistic future states and a roadmap to get there.   The holistic view it gives can also help being realistic about the extent of organisational change that is needed to deliver the marketing automation promise.

If you’re in need of help with your marketing automation – and agree that it’s more than just a technology challenge, then drop use a line at and let’s see how we can help.