Marketing Automation, the process of automating parts of or maybe even your entire marketing funnel. In an ideal situation, it helps to guide your prospect through their buyer’s journey with relevant and timely communications. Communications that help nurture them from a prospect to lead, to a customer and in the long run even to brand advocates.
Marketing Automation works in parallel with the efforts of your sales team. It can shorten their sales cycles, decrease the cost per lead and improve customer retention.
Sounds like an ideal world scenario right?
It sounds like such a holy grail that according to research by Pardot in 2013 at that time already:
A quarter of all B2B Fortune 500 companies are already using marketing automation, along with 76% of the world’s largest SaaS companies.
And although marketing automation adaptation has exploded in the last couple of years, too many marketers still make a lot of mistakes in the implementation and usage of their marketing automation tools. Like any tool, marketing automation is only as good as the person using it. If you fail to set up your tools in a proper way this can lead to frustration in the short team and lots of missed opportunities in the long term.
So what are some of the most made mistakes by companies of any size in regards to marketing automation and how to fix them? Let’s dive in.
#1 No clear defined strategy
Starting something without a clear defined strategy is like going to the supermarket without a grocery list. You might get some food, but mostly you end up with stuff you don’t need and are missing essential ingredients for dinner that evening. So, like any other marketing effort, you do for your company, everything starts with a well-documented marketing strategy.
Make sure that the plan you set out to use for your marketing automation is inline with your content marketing and social media strategy. Everything should be tight together as a whole. In the end, any marketing automation tool you will be using is just a means of executing on said strategy, not the strategy itself.
#2 Using marketing automation as a glorified email marketing tool
Marketing Automation is so much more than just sending out your weekly newsletter. But apparently according to research done by SiriusDecisions in 2014:
Just buying some marketing automation tool and hoping it will solve all your problems is not enough, however, in the end, it seems that most companies only use marketing automation tools as a glorified email marketing machine. This, means they are missing out on so much of the amazing capabilities.
Marketing automation isn’t just putting your marketing efforts of automation, that is an incomplete understanding of all it’s potential. Things like lead management, community management on social media, CRM, content marketing, landing pages, advanced multi-channel campaigns, etc., etc.
And this is just a glimpse of what Marketing Automation can do for you. Even when these features are implemented, they are still most of the time underused.
#3 Selling instead of nurturing
Just because you can do sales-related communication with your clients and prospects does not mean you have to do it all the time.
Lead nurturing, and education of your leads is one of the most compelling aspects of any marketing automation tool. It can help people move along the different steps of the sales funnel.
If they are in the early stages, you can nurture them by sending ebooks and whitepapers, or courses training your leads. Content that gets them to you know your company and proves that you can help them solve their problems. To showcasing success stories from your customers all the way at the advocacy stage.
For every step in the buyer’s journey, there is content, and marketing automation can help you deliver that content on the correct time to the correct person.
An effective marketing automation tool will allow you to identify who needs to be nurtured versus the once who are ready for the sales. By setting up your tools correctly, it will deliver a lot of value in return.
#4 Not producing enough targeted content
Although the word Marketing Automation consists of 50% out of the word marketing, this does not mean everything should come from only one department. Getting the correct content to your customers and leads at all stages of the Buyers Journey requires team from multiple departments sometimes (depending on how big your organisation is) to work together.
Too often, the people that produce the content live in a separate silo, without getting much interaction with their sales counterparts.
If you want your marketing automation to start producing the results you’re looking for you need to bring the different departments together. This is the only way for people to determine which content is working and which content should better be left alone.
Start by identifying common sets of targets or goals to help foster the relationship between the departments. According to a 2010 study by the Aberdeen Group:
So it makes to combine these, you don’t want your marketing team saying we provided tonnes of leads and thinking they’re successful and the sales department telling the leads aren’t qualified so they can’t do anything with them.
Content team members should be involved at each stage of the Buyer Journey so that they can provide the sales team with a steady value of high-value super targeted content.
#5 Tracking the wrong metrics
According to a survey by the Fournaise Group in London in 2012, 80 percent of CEOs don’t trust marketers. In comparison, 91 percent do trust their CIOs and CFOs. Ouch.
Today’s marketer has to be more “math man” and less “mad man”, combining a metrics-driven approach with the creativity that great marketing is made of.
It is, however, easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis, especially when all tools can give you such a vast amount of data. If you’re not able to separate the forest from the trees anymore, because you got so much data flowing in, it’s a clear sign you’re focusing on the wrong metrics.
It all starts with setting S.M.A.R.T. goals for your each stage of the Buyers Journey. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. If you don’t set the goals for each stage of the Buyers Journey, you can never know what to track properly. To much companies overvalue things like basic traffic or social shares, while they don’t properly track things like lead or customer conversion rates and overall ROI through all steps of the journey.
If you can identify all the key metrics for each stage of the Journey, it will help you get more relevant data for each step, because you know what things you need to track and what things you can ignore.
It might start out as simple as email opens and click-through rates, but as people continue their Buyers Journey with your company and are moving deeper and deeper into the funnel, conversion is all that matters.
#6 No Process for Experimentation
Having the perception that optimisation and testing are not that important when you’ve got your marketing automation in place is wrong. Automation does not mean that your ideal customers and leads don’t change over time and that they always stay the same. Or even if your leads are staying the same that the market around them is changing.
Marketing nowadays is part science and part art, and a lot of times the science is neglected a bit. Everything that you’re doing should be continuously tested and experimented with to get new learnings and insights and to see if you can improve your conversion rate.
Try running experiments continuously within your organisation, from small to bigger ones and at the end of each experiment do one of the following:
- If the experiment turned out to be a failure, write down your learnings and stop with the experiment
- If you see a slight increase in conversion or lead generation or whatever another goal you set for the experiment, try to optimise it and see how you can make it even better
- If the experiment results are blowing you out of the water, try scaling the experiment and implement it on a more steady basis
The last one can be a bit tricky, though, every channel scales differently and just by adding more ad money into the equation, for example, doesn’t mean you will automatically keep on getting the results that you are looking for.
Don’t forget to revisit your experiments over time again as well, just because something is or isn’t working at this stage, does not mean it will or won’t in the future.
Optimisation helps you get the most out of all your business processes. Do not just automate, but keep optimising your process. This will help your business to remain successful for a long time!
#7 Running on autopilot
Marketing automation can promise a lot, from streamlining your marketing to increasing your leads and growing your business. Despite the name, marketing automation doesn’t mean it can run on autopilot.
It doesn’t replace your entire marketing department, nor your sales team and it is certainly not a set-and-forget tool. Just like your leads, who need to be nurtured your marketing automation tools need to be nurtured as well.
After all, you don’t want your automation tools turning into a sales prevention tool, when your forms are not working properly anymore or when leads are not properly moved through the journey in your database when in fact they did.
Running marketing automation means you have the means to dig deeper into your data sets and uncover leads that need to be re-engaged or leads that should be passed on to the sales team. Always be checking an optimising!
#8 Paying too much for automation software and underusing it
If you’re only going to use marketing automation for things that can be done manually, know that there are cheaper alternatives on the market. The top marketing automation software comes with a high price tag and often includes all sorts of features to engage with your leads and customers.
Before you start paying these potential high monthly marketing cost, do your research and decide if it is something you need and how you can use everything to its full potential.
There are a lot of thinks that can already be automated with a little bit of effort from your end without investing into expensive marketing automation software. Things like:
- Automated Multi-Channel Campaigns
- Lead Scoring
- Advanced Form Processing Steps
- Dynamic Personalised Content
- CRM Integration
Can be done already without the full blown implementation of a Marketing Automation suite. So ask yourself, do you need and want a marketing automation suite or can you achieve your goals without it?
Now that we discussed these eight mistakes companies make, you can easily avoid them in your organisation. Try thinking of a marketing automation tool as an extension of your marketing and sales team. If used and implemented properly it can help your business move forward, but only when you keep the above things into consideration.
Are you using a marketing automation tool at your organisation? If so, which one? Please share any tips, tricks or experiences you have by leaving a comment below.