Marketing automation, when done right, offers better efficiency, productivity and the potential for a huge number of sales leads. However, when done poorly, marketing automation can destroy new leads, set back your sales team’s productivity and disrupt your relationship with current customers.
Marketing automation, simply put, is a software system that automates certain marketing actions — things like email campaigns, social media posting and more. When done well, marketing automation is designed to bring in new leads with greater efficiency and speed. By some estimates, 49 percent of companies use marketing automation software, and Marketing Automation Insider estimated the industry is worth $1.62 billion per year.
Interested in adding marketing automation to your arsenal? Proceed with caution. Here’s how to avoid the three most common pitfalls of marketing automation — and make the tools work for you.
1. Failure to align sales and marketing efforts
Probably the biggest pitfall of adding marketing automation to your tool kit? Your marketing efforts may veer away from your sales efforts. Marketing automation may prevent strategic alignment by automating, or codifying, the processes that prevent collaboration. Before implementing a marketing automation tool, make sure your sales and marketing teams are on the same page on key criteria. How will new leads be shared between teams? What does a qualified lead look like? What feedback needs to be shared between teams to strengthen marketing processes and lead capture?
When marketing automation fails to assist your sales team, it’s because the automation happens in a vacuum. Imagine you run an email campaign to capture sign-ups for an e-book’s pre-release. The campaign automatically validates a user’s sign-up with a note saying someone will follow-up with more information in the next 48 hours. Unless your sales team is equipped with the staff, time and resources to handle those sign-ups, your leads will sour.
How to avoid alignment failure: Look for integrations between your CRM system and your marketing tools. InfusionSoft, Hubspot, Marketo and more can improve the communication between your marketing automation and sales-management platforms. Designate one employee to be the traffic controller between your marketing and sales teams.
2. Prioritizing the channel, not the customer
Marketing automation is sexy. It’s understandable these tools are exciting, and to a company looking to boost its bottom line, automation seems like a powerful solution. However, marketing automation doesn’t replace understanding your customers’ needs.
A common pitfall of marketing automation occurs when each channel is treated with a separate strategy. Sometimes, this mistake manifests as sending too many emails; other times, it manifests as lack of customer segmentation. When you treat each of your marketing channels with a separate strategy, you’re missing the opportunity to create a cohesive, consistent brand experience for new and old clients.
How to avoid channel obsession: Consider your campaigns from the perspective of your potential customer. Put that customer first, and understand all the ways they interact with your brand. Marketing automation works best when sprinkled across an omni-channel approach.
3. Turning on automation … and forgetting about it
Okay, you probably didn’t truly forget your automation is running. There is a common mistake in turning on marketing automation and then leaving it be. Marketing automations are tools, not total solutions or marketing plans. It’s not enough to have an email campaign you send once a week and then forget about.
Marketing automation software is constantly evolving. To get the most bang for your buck, your marketing strategy must evolve with it. Keep up-to-date on all the latest best practices for whatever system you use. Unlike traditional marketing tools, marketing automation systems can change in an instant. Not to mention you don’t want to come across like a robot to your customers. Irrelevant or impersonal messaging can damage your relationship with your contacts. Marketing automation is successful when you understand your audiences and speak to them accordingly.
How to avoid “set it and forget it”: Keep your finger on the pulse of your automation tools. Track the performance of your campaigns with analytics. Constantly tinker and improve on your strategy with real-time feedback. As previously mentioned, keep your customer at the forefront of your marketing strategy. If you find your marketing tool isn’t having the click-through or lead-generation success you imagined, it’s time to rethink your marketing arsenal.
Brooke Harper, a sales development representative at Tenfold, is a seasoned writer and sales consultant and has written hundreds of articles and white papers covering all aspects of business-to-business sales, phone marketing and advanced sales strategy. She is one of the top writers on Quora in B2B, and her answers get more than 100,000 views a month.
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