Why Companies Fail at Marketing Automation

Changing the conversation around the capabilities of marketing automation is necessary for the businesses lost in the bells and whistles of a new platform. If you’re a first-time user, there’s a lot more you need to consider before automating anything.

Enterprise marketing automation tools are appealing. They sell you the dream of a manual-free process but the reality can be very different. Truth is, most people fail at marketing automation in one way or another.

Marketo users, Eloqua users… it doesn’t really matter. Start with the strategy and leave the tech behind if you want to maximise your efficiency. And when it comes to your marketing automation strategy, there are two things you need to start with.

Define your strategy first.

Without a defined strategy, it’s easy to be led in a different direction by new features or the latest buzzword. When you have the right approach, just about any tool you implement can have the power to transform your business.

Your objective should answer: what can this technology do for our business?

Regardless of your industry, this is an important step. Do you want to change a system? Automate enquiry follow-ups? Have legal and compliance know every time someone looks at your privacy policy?

The opportunities are endless and extend far beyond email marketing, but more on that later.

Then understand your manual process.

We’ve been a Marketo customer for almost four years now. The biggest challenge we’ve faced is thinking about the manual process before automating.

A well-defined strategy is a great starting point, but nothing beats knowing the manual process and customer experience your business wants to deliver to end customers—inside out.

Customer journey mapping workshops and strategy sessions are practically a prerequisite to an automated solution. They allow you to pick out where the gaps are and where your leads fall off the pipeline. This way, you understand how automation can change the process.

For our education clients, the buying cycle can be anywhere up to two years. This means you’ll need a longer nurture program just to get them to the point of applying. In the world of mobile applications, prospects need only minutes to convert.

So, it’s about asking yourself: what is the customer journey? And how can I educate customers on my product through the application of marketing automation?

For every industry, the answer will be different.

It’s more than email marketing.

If you’ve been sold on the dream and left with something of an expensive EDM tool, it’s time to stop thinking about marketing automation as email marketing. There are other tools that can do just that.

A platform like Marketo is so much more powerful. So eliminate that conversation around ‘can I send a batch of emails?’ and move to looking at the features that will transform your process. The list of triggers in Marketo is incredibly useful in understanding intent, whether it’s an NPS score or third-time visit to your website this week.

It’s also crucial to ask: how do I want to arm my sales team?

Imagine how your conversion rates might lift if you knew exactly when a prospect was actively searching—and exactly what to say to convince them to convert because they’ve just taken ‘this’ or ‘that’ action.

But when it is, content segmentation is key.

Automation working in isolation and content working in isolation just doesn’t work. Great results come from a well-oiled machine that can shift and respond in the same way as your prospects.

Creating a robust content strategy that addresses every stage of the buying process is a part of this. Often, marketing teams read online that they need to start hacking out the content once an automation tool is implemented – avoid this.

Instead, start by segmenting your database. Think about the types of content a consumer needs to hear or read at the beginning of their journey. Or what will they be thinking about in the middle stages of consideration?

And what are the final objections you need to overcome to convert that lead or opportunity into a sale? If we’ve learnt one thing about great marketing automation strategies, it’s the value of a well-defined customer journey and segmented content.

It’s easy really, think about your buyer first and their job to be done. Then focus on the tech.

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