Why Too Much Marketing Automation Can Be Worse than Not Enough

Marketing AutomationThere is an oft-repeated expression among boaters: “The two happiest days in a boater’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells that same boat.” Having owned sailboats in a prior life, I can definitely relate to this statement. Likewise, many B2B marketers who are so excited by the prospect of marketing automation as an easy answer to many of their problems can find that it creates as many problems as it solves.

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As I write about in our new whitepaper, Navigating the B2B Marketing Automation Minefield, we see five common problems with MA systems:

  1. Too complex. Companies have bitten off more MA than they can chew. They intend to self-implement and utilize an existing employee to manage the system. But in reality, it often takes one or more outside consultants to implement, and before you know it, your part-time system coordinator becomes a full-time system administrator. Even worse, if the system administrator leaves or becomes ill, the system is paralyzed.
  2. Lack of process. The most effective MA implementations are highly flexible and driven by a well-thought-out process. Conversely, failed systems often force an overly cumbersome set of processes on managers and users, which often leads to a lack of usage and a slow death for the system.
  3. Poor data quality. Marketing and sales technologies are only as good as their data. And if that data is old, inaccurate or spotty, the system will produce poor results. Best to clean and normalize your data before implementation. For MA, this starts with your list data and extends through your collateral and website.
  4. Solving the wrong problem. We had a client who believed the answer to their marketing problems was to purchase a fairly expensive MA system. However, their root problem was poor messaging and the inability to qualify the trickle of leads they were already generating. Fortunately, we were able to redirect focus to solving these problems first, and then help them implement an effective MA system.
  5. Little or no integration with sales department. Great synergy is achieved if the marketing and sales functions follow a seamless lead-to-revenue path. Conversely, if these two functions (and associated technologies) are not coordinated efficiently, results will be poor. For example, if the lead nurturing stage is skipped and the marketing department sends poor quality leads to the sales department labeled as MQLs (marketing qualified leads), the sales team is going to be unhappy regardless of the sophistication of the technology.

I realize that this post is all about problems and not solutions to marketing automation challenges — but as they say, you have to admit you have a problem before you can solve it. (Twelve-step programs come to mind: “Hi, I’m Chris and I am a recovering business software user.”)

We’ll talk about solutions in my next post. In the meantime, feel free to download the new whitepaper.

Christopher Ryan
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