Marketing automation has many advantages. But none of them are particularly easy to realise, not least because many marketers underestimate the upheaval required to make their MA systems do what they want.
Beware the common pitfalls, and learn to recognise when it might be time for a change of tack. Here are four telltale signs that something's gone wrong:
One of the main bullet points on the box your MA platform came in was: more effective lead management. Marketing automation means marketers are able to pass only the hottest leads over to sales, and myriad inter-departmental benefits cascade down from there. But this nirvana is far from automatic.
If sales are rejecting a large chunk of MA-approved leads, it’s very likely that the agreed definitions and scoring models in place are wrong. Yes, the system has spat them out and labelled them ‘ready to buy’ but that’s only because you’ve set the parameters by which it decides what’s what. It pays to regularly monitor the attributes of prospects that close and those that don’t. Subtle adjustments to lead scoring rules can make all the difference.
Relatively few marketing departments are blessed with spare time. I’m yet to meet a marketer boasting about their super-manageable workload. But there is a difference between someone who’s busy and someone who’s run ragged. And misaligned MA set-ups can certainly create the latter.
A hell of a lot of work goes into setting up successful marketing automation campaigns; this shouldn’t be forgotten. But the trick to making sure it doesn’t leave you pulling your hair out is to focus down on key groups and key messages. It’s tempting to run before you can walk with MA, but baby steps – and a laser-sharp focus on which sections of your audience to target – will help.
Admittedly, this one could apply to basic email marketing as much as MA, but it’s frustratingly common. MA should mean you’re sending increasingly targeted and relevant messages. And their recipients should, in theory, welcome the development.
However, MA isn’t going to make your ill-conceived content strategy any better than it was when you wrote it. If your content isn’t adding value, the fact it’s being sent as part of a triggered campaign isn’t going to stop prospects clicking ‘unsubscribe’. A robust content strategy is required, as well as the creation of its many components, before you can realistically expect MA to help you reach the next level.
It should go without saying that marketing automation is not the silver bullet that may have been advertised in years gone by. Anyone expecting a quick win needs to be made aware they are barking up the wrong tree, and that might mean managing expectations up as well as down the hierarchy.
Marketing automation is all about learning and gradual improvement, and a commitment to measurement and flexibility are the order of the day. B2B Marketing research has consistently shown that departments that have been using their systems for three years are more likely to regard their investments as worthwhile than those that have more recently started the journey. That may sound like a long time, but MA is a strategic concern. Not a quick fix.
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