Marketing Automation: How not to cook up a recipe for disaster!

Marketing automation helps marketers to integrate technology and software platforms to be able to run and manage marketing campaigns, analyze data and to successfully convert leads to customers.

Standalone email marketing tools do not adequately help marketers to efficiently steer leads from various channels to sales-ready contacts. Therefore, to make marketing campaigns productive and for systematic lead nurturing, Marketing Automation is critically important for marketers.

Marketing Automation

According to a recent study conducted by Marketing Growth Strategies on marketing automation adoption, large enterprises are the largest adopter of marketing automation with around 20% penetration; mid-size companies were at about 10% penetration and small-size companies were less than 10% penetration.

In adding to low penetration, failure of marketing automation initiatives is also rampant among companies of all sizes. So, why do they fail?

Top-5 reasons why marketing automation fails!   

(1) Poor strategy:

Marketers often put technology ahead of strategy. A tactical approach towards marketing automation often results in short term success and future miss-alignment of marketing goals vs. actual outcomes.

(2) Poor selection of right automation vendor / tool and deployment failure:

A vast majority of firms fail to choose the right vendor and the right tool because they either overestimate or underestimate their automation necessities.

As per marketing automation analyst David Raab’s survey with VentureBeat – 25% of users cited “missing features” as a major obstacle in their automation initiative.

I interpret this as a major oversight in the part of the marketing team and a gap in their strategy for failing to thoroughly evaluate the vendor and the tool features during the selection process.

Deployment failure would be another common hurdle in the path of a successful automation initiative. Poor collaboration between the CMO and CIO, poor requirement gathering prior to deployment could invariably result in far from successful deployment.

(3) Poor content strategy:

Most customers prefer to receive high-quality content periodically in a non-intrusive way. Absence of a robust content strategy leads to lack of enough good content to feed the automation engine.

This invariably leads to spaced-out campaigns, poor lead nurturing, declining inbounds and eventually leading to loss of valuable leads, prospects and customers. Similarly excessive content sharing (unrealistically frequent email campaigns) is also disastrous as it would irritate and drive the customer away.

(4) Poor internal collaboration:

Poor collaboration between marketing and sales is often attributed as a key reason for a failed marketing automation initiative. It’s true, but it’s not the exclusive reason… Lack of collaboration and communication between the CMO and CIO is also equally accountable for a failed automation initiative.

CMOs tend to believe that marketing automation is just another SaaS application and they try to operate in isolation. It is also reported that CMOs and CIOs do not proactively collaborate during the tool evaluation, implementation and post implementation phases resulting in misaligned systems and processes and missing features in the tool they finally buy.

(5)  Undermining the power of analytics:

Launching email campaigns and analyzing open rates, click through rates (CTR) and bounce rates is not enough to justify the marketing automation spend.

Bulk of marketers focus on basic reporting only; thereby neglecting valuable data through the customer buying cycle, program ROI data, keyword analytics and social media interaction reports which are extremely critical to monitor the effectiveness of campaigns and to take necessary corrective actions.

So, how to avoid these pitfalls?

Now that we know why marketing automation initiatives fails to deliver, it should be easy to set the guidelines that help avoid the pitfalls.

It is important for marketers to have a robust automation strategy, select the right technology that fits the firm automation needs, have a robust content creation engine, to be able to manage data, score leads in a scientific way and to be able to collaborate with multiple internal stakeholders including senior leadership, sales and inside sales teams for a successful automation initiative.

(1) Kick-off the initiative with Collaboration and team work; The CMO, CIO, Sales and Inside sales teams should work closely from ideation to implementation phase and perpetually thereafter.

(2) Have a meaningful Marketing Automation Strategy that includes end-to-end implementation roadmap, KRAs, timelines, ROI parameters, content strategy and key stakeholder role definitions.

(3) Choose the right Automation tool and vendor who is able to offer you the features in line with your automation vision and is able to guide you through the implementation process as well as train your team adequately to help them run the system efficiently.

Marketing automation vendors you could consider – 

Aprimo, Act-OnAdobe, CallidusCloud, HubSpotIBM, MarketoOracle, Salesforce.com, Salesfusion

(4) Understand the customer, map your customer lifecycle, understand their preferences to launch targeted campaigns and constantly analyze their behavior to fine-tune the campaigns during the acquisition journey.

(5) Create a formidable Content Strategy to generate high quality and engaging content on an ongoing basis. Create engaging landing pages, optimized emailers, produce quality videos, create high quality sales and marketing collaterals or as applicable to your business.

(6) Finally, Analyze data by constantly monitoring program ROI, map campaigns vs customer’s buying cycle, evaluate landing page performance, analyze keywords and monitor social media to know what prospective customers say about you (social listening).

I hope you liked what you just read! I look forward to your comments and feedback on this blog. If you like this post, please share with your friends.

Additional read: 

The Forrester Wave™: Lead-To-Revenue Management Platform Vendors, Q1 2014

Act-On Identified a Leader in Both Forrester Wave Categories for Small Marketing Teams and Large Enterprises

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