3 Marketing Automation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Nov 02, 2013 9:32 PM  By

Marketing automation technology has revolutionized the way marketers communicate with their customers and prospects. Instead of traditional mass marketing techniques, marketing teams can now develop personalized messaging that can be delivered to individuals in real-time, based on specific behaviors such as filling out a form or viewing a blog post.

Truly, times are good in the land of the marketer. However, the adoption of marketing automation for many organizations has been a less-than-simple process, and there are three common pitfalls that every marketer should avoid.

Rushing to implement marketing automation without a strategy
There can be pressure to adopt marketing automation into your organization, even if you are not ready for what will happen once you do.

Not long ago, social media became the hot trend in marketing; companies rushed to set up profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn without a consistent strategy for engaging with followers and keeping the profiles updated with current information and assets.

The result was a slew of “official” branded social media pages that made organizations appear lazy and disinterested in engaging with fans. This is not a desired outcome. Today, many face this challenge when it comes to marketing automation, with one notable difference. Marketing automation is not cheap to maintain, so implementing it early can mean not only a loss of time, but a loss of a substantial portion of marketing budget.

The remedy to this issue is to slow down and understand that marketing automation is a project that is worth doing right instead of doing right now. Here is what you should do:

  • Build a team to be responsible for evaluating marketing automation tools and implementing them into the organization
  • Set up a plan for developing consistent content so you can populate your marketing engine once it is live
  • Invest in data quality; if you have clean, accurate data, the impact of marketing automation on your efforts will be much, much more effective

Once you have ensured you are ready to take on a marketing automation tool, continuously evaluate your campaign plans, data quality, and lead nurturing.

Communicating too frequently or not frequently enough
Since marketers are now capable of building and executing campaigns at a far greater rate than ever before, there can be a tendency to overdo it. That is, to send marketing collateral to leads more often than they would want to receive it.

This can result in fatigue of your leads and might end in a click on the “unsubscribe” button. Conversely, if you don’t communicate with your leads enough, you can miss out on opportunities to nurture them into eventually doing business with your company.

This is a direct result of the first mistake, because without a developed marketing automation strategy, more often than not leads are left sitting in the database without any activity.

Certainly, striking the right balance of communication is not easy, but there are ways that you can ensure your strategy is just right. To begin, ask your leads what the balance should be. Creating a preference center takes a lot of the guesswork out of this problem.

Your leads can choose how often they hear from you, what topics they are interested in, and what method of communication they prefer most. Just make sure you’re up to date with ISP deliverability issues. Consider your contact strategy and that some communications inevitably won’t make it to your leads.

Using marketing automation strictly as a sales tool
There is a reason it is called marketing automation. Leads do not want to be sold to until they are ready. Especially in the B2B space, the buying cycle is complex and can take a long time. It’s unrealistic to expect a lead to become acquainted with a brand and make a purchase right away. If you constantly send sales materials to your leads, you are once again on the fast track to an unsubscribe.

Marketing automation is an ideal way to nurture prospects and demonstrate expertise so that when they are ready to make a decision or engage an organization, your company is the one that they think of first! It’s not unacceptable to include communications about new products or services that you are offering, but it should not be the main focus of your marketing efforts.

Use your expertise to develop solid thought leadership assets such as videos, blog posts, articles, and white papers. This collateral should be useful to the needs of your audience, not to your corporate agenda. Lead your leads (catchy, right?) down a path so they better understand the problems they are facing and recognize that you could be a partner to help them succeed.

These are only a few of the common mistakes that we see our clients make when adopting marketing automation tools. The most important thing to remember is that making mistakes is alright. As long as you are constantly reviewing and adjusting your strategy so that it makes sense for your organization, you will be positioned for success in the long-run.

Bill Connolly is a marketing manager for Quaero.

  • http://www.agilecrm.com/ Sandhya Ramesh

    There are many things that go wrong with MA even when implemented correctly. Users of Agile CRM can track their emails and clicks, and often complain about how they don’t see their customers opening emails sent via the system. And more often than not, it’s because they have a bad subject line despite having great content. There are multiple things that need to be taken care of. LIke you said, having a dedicated team for MA helps.

    • Bill Connolly

      Agreed Sandhya! Thanks for the comment!

  • http://www.catalog-on-demand.com/ Catalog-on-Demand

    Mapping out your workflows in advance of any implementation is also critical. You will discover that many of your workflows cannot be 100% accomplished with the MA software. They will require integration with other systems or services. Getting this all figured out offline, in advance of your implementation with MA, will give you faster and better results.

    • Bill Connolly

      Good point. Mapping out everything offline is helpful – it gives you a guide to use once you’re in the system.

  • Lead Liaison

    Hi Bill – Thanks for the post. We think you’re spot on with the three mistakes. Regarding the first one, “Rushing to implement marketing automation without a strategy”, we’d suggest that strategies take a while to develop. It’s unrealistic that a company can develop a full strategy overnight, these concepts take time. It might be more effective to choose the right marketing automation partner/vendor that can help the customer ramp up with a vision and ideas for their strategy once they get to know the technology. Many companies don’t know what the strategy should be if they’ve never seen or experienced the technology. There are ways to jump into the shallow end of the water, and get your feet wet, without diving into the deep end first. Certain vendors, such as us for example, provide multiple editions to take costs off the table and allow a company to gain some initial experience, build the relationship with the provider, learn what’s possible and start reducing the learning curve.

    We’d love to hear if you have any thoughts on how to more effectively create a strategy.

    We also provide some tools that companies can use such as a Service Level Agreement template (SLA) to help define strategy and a Lead Management Grader to help assess a company’s lead management strengths and weaknesses. This might be a great way to get the ball rolling.

    SLA: http://www.leadliaison.com/best-practices/lead-generation/service-level-agreement/

    Lead Management Grader: http://www2.leadliaison.com/lead-management-grader/

    Thanks again for your great blog post…

    • Bill Connolly

      Thanks for the comment – I think you hit the nail on the head – it doesn’t happen overnight. My biggest recommendation would be to just get the ball rolling. Any strategy is better than no strategy!