It’s no secret that right now one of the hottest topics in every marketing department is marketing automation. If you haven’t already implemented your marketing automation platform don’t worry because you’re not alone. Many companies are considering it for the first time and will be rolling out their systems within the next few quarters.

But many of you have already taken the plunge and you’re on your way to marketing automation success.

Well…not exactly. But that’s the way every company makes it sound right? While the promise of marketing automation is big like Elvis the truth is that it is only as powerful as the administrator of the system.

So who is in charge of your marketing automation platform?

Whether you’re looking to hire someone specifically for this role or you are looking to develop these skills in-house or within yourself – good for you. You’re on the frontier, along with the rest of us, and working with one of the most exciting technologies in recent history. So what can you do to make yourself great in this new and exciting field? After you’ve mastered the basics of marketing automation I strongly recommend studying these areas:

Study Item 1: Standard Query Language (SQL)

Yes, you read that correctly. The first thing I am recommending is to learn Standard Query Language, or SQL for short. Let me explain.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come over since companies like revolutionized the industry by making CRM available to any person and any company at any time, and how companies like Marketo and Pardot revolutionized the marketer’s toolkit by providing powerful database marketing capabilities

Study Item 2: Basics of Programming

I know, I know…this sounds crazy. But basic programming techniques will expose you to many concepts that will accelerate your learning curve.

Taking a basic course on Codeschool or Coursera (try Programming for Everybody) will introduce the concepts of programming logic, data queries and (most relevant to our marketing automation success) the importance of designing reusable, modular functions. Why is the concept of a function so important? Because, as a newbie, many of us will start out by building long, complex marketing automation programs that do a whole bunch of different, possibly unrelated things.

Here’s an example: You want to build a marketing program that creates a follow-up task for your sales rep in CRM when a prospect visits a pricing page. But then you realize that you want to

Study Item 3: Database Design

How can we trigger this particular program? How can we …

The foundation of your marketing automation program requires intelligent database design. How will you effectively segment your messaging? How will you create a call-down list of all of the leads that require action from sales (hint: Tasks and email notifications are not scalable and do not constitute a process)? How will you allow your sales team, who are churning through leads on a daily basis, to send signals back to the marketing automation system?

All of this requires careful planning and database design. Here are a few globally acceptable database design best practices:

Lead Status

Graveyard Reasons

Task Status

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