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Marketing Automation | March 23, 2018

Building the Foundation of Digital Marketing Success

Welcome to the first installment of Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle! A brand new blog series featuring interviews with the creators, architects and risk-takers behind marketing at Oracle. This series gives readers a peek into how marketers inside Oracle are applying our own products (“drinking our own champagne” as some might say) to drive innovation and build the future of digital marketing.

We are starting off with a bang as we sit down with Patrick McGavock, Senior Director- Marketing Systems of Global Marketing Operations to chat about the constantly evolving sphere of marketing automation, the current and future states of data and what it takes to be a powerful modern marketer.

McGavock came to Oracle about 14 years ago with the PeopleSoft acquisition in 2004 (though it doesn’t seem so long, he admits). Since then, he has been instrumental in building out the infrastructure and very foundation upon which much of Oracle Marketing Cloud operates. McGavock spends his days managing business analysts and marketing ops specialists around the world to maintain, advance and improve the capabilities that allow his team to oversee the systems that support thousands of events and tens of thousands of digital campaigns globally each year. And, on top of all that, this lifelong drummer (and former member of the PeopleSoft house band The Raving Daves) is teaching his two young daughters to play the drums like his favorite drummer John Bonham, or at least, as well as Dad.

Convenient Acquisitions

In late fall of 2012, McGavock and his team were looking into third-party marketing automation and began evaluating Eloqua and Marketo as prime candidates. “Eloqua came out way ahead for our use cases and for our set-up,” says McGavock, but then, “right in the middle of that was when they announced the acquisition!” With the tricky negotiations out of the way, McGavock and team immediately set about the construction of an entirely new marketing automation ecosystem, laying the foundational infrastructure for the tool we know today. The team worked at remarkable speed and pushed out the first campaign in just three months, unheard of in a corporation the size of Oracle.

In the following years this foundation was intricately fleshed out, “it works well today and it allows us to do what we need to do…We're always tweaking it and there's always room for improvement,” says McGavock.   

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Data is at the root of everything we do, but not all data is created equal. At Oracle, we like to say that “data is in our DNA,” but what does that really mean?

For McGavock, it means creating a well thought-out marketing automation ecosystem that has been optimally designed to support set business goals, “making sure you have the processes in place to be able to collect and manage the data efficiently and effectively.” He cites an age old marketing adage, “garbage in, garbage out”, that rings just as true today when applied to machine learning as it did in the early days of direct marketing. Machines will only learn what we provide for them, so marketers must set up an environment of success from the start or else what gets processed will never yield quality results, “if you feed the machine garbage, the result is more garbage,” says McGavock. Marketers must be cognizant of the quality of the data that they use, “It’s understanding the right KPI’s to focus on, with so much data available, sometimes people lose sight of the basics.” In the end, no matter how much fancy, new technology you have access to, nor how many incredibly minute data points you can measure, the success of your technology investment hinges on foundational marketing automation that is directed, digestible and actionable.   

This is ever more relevant with the rise of real-time decision making and dynamic lead scoring across channels. From the internal data warehouse to 3rd party providers, there are a number of different real-time data sources to digest/manage, “we want to make sure we are able to understand and act, as people are researching or looking into particular subjects or solutions, that we want to take advantage of and make sure that the prospects have the information they need.” At the same time, however, Oracle adheres to strict data privacy and security protocols that vary across globe, going above and beyond to treat customers with the utmost respect when it comes to how their data is leveraged.

“If you're worried about losing your job because of machine learning, then you're just not thinking about it right.”

Machine Learning and Job Security

AI and machine learning are at the forefront of every marketer’s mind these days. On one hand, it opens up an array of possibilities and offers a glimpse into what the future holds, but on the other hand, many of us are left with the creeping feeling that our jobs might be filled by computers. Perhaps McGavock can offer us some piece of mind with his admittedly “jaded” perspective on the robotic take-over:

“If you're worried about losing your job because of machine learning, then you're just not thinking about it right…there should be plenty of other things that you need to be participating in or could be driving around the systems, processes and data necessary to support machine learning programs… There's still a lot of heavy lifting that has to happen.”

This does not discredit the importance of machine learning, however. McGavock explains that nearly all Oracle lead scoring these days is being run by machine learning globally. And many more use cases are being built as we speak, “I think it's probably going to become more of a commodity where people will be able to use machine learning tactics without having a super deep knowledge of statistics.” There are seemingly boundless possibilities, so prioritization is crucial to investing time and capital into the technologies that will prove most beneficial to ROI. McGavock again emphasizes the need for data scientists, there needs to be someone who can look at data critically and on an individualized basis to pull the story from data, that is where the bottom line lies.   

Be Inquisitive, Tenacious and Accountable

Despite his many accomplishments as a marketer within and without Oracle, McGavock remains humble in his knowledge of the marketing space, “I kind of get a little nervous if somebody comes in and they are like, ‘I've got all the answers,’ because I have been doing this for a while and I learn something new every day.”

In any organization, but especially one the size of Oracle, one must be self-driven and go after the solutions oneself, “It's a big company, trying to get something accomplished. Nobody is going to really care about it if you don't care about it.”

And finally, harkening back to his own humble nature, McGavock says, “It's hard sometimes to say ‘oh we screwed up’ or ‘we could have done that better,’ but it's also kind of empowering because you don't get a lot of that.” The ability to own up to one’s mistakes, then to turn around and begin the search for the right solution on one’s own, is what brings all these qualities together to create an honest, effective, driven digital marketer. 

We don't lack for tools, essentially, so that makes it exciting!

Drinking Our Own Champagne

Other than being able to ride his bike to work every day, one of McGavock’s favorite aspects about working with Oracle is that his marketing team actually gets to utilize “all the great tools we have in our toolbox”. From Oracle Marketing Cloud products, as well as, Oracle Data Cloud and everything else under the Oracle umbrella, marketers at Oracle are not constrained in terms of “access to that software, hardware technology… we don't lack for tools, essentially, so that makes it kind of exciting!” This means that Oracle marketers know the technology inside and out—they know how to wield it for unique needs, maximize on all capabilities, predict challenges and solve issues with greater agility.

On a personal level, this means McGavock gets to work with products, like Oracle Eloqua, that he helped cultivate from its earliest stages at Oracle. He gets the unique joy of watching the fruits of his labor grow and challenge him in new ways—sipping on a healthy draught of his own champagne.

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