4 Reasons Why Marketing Automation Fails

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Posted: April 14, 2016 | Marketing Automation

Today’s buyers have unlimited choices, access to a wealth of research, and are being bombarded with countless marketing messages each day. So it’s no wonder that many marketers are finding it difficult to break through the noise.

In my experience working with clients as a Solution Consultant, I see marketing teams do a lot of guesswork when it comes to their campaigns, hoping that their message will be heard. Instead of building a sound strategy based on a few proven fundamentals, they continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. But, that’s avoidable.

Let’s take a look at 4 pitfalls you need to avoid to ensure your marketing automation efforts are a resounding success:

1. Not treating your target audience as individuals.

From my experience, many marketing teams still operate in batch and blast mode, sending out a one size fits all message. This is problematic because, according to a study by eMarketer, more than 85% of internet users specifically expect and accept personalization as a part of their online retail experience. In fact, CMO Council reports that more than half of senior marketers say that using enriched or personalized content and digital interactions yield higher response and engagement rates.

Your customers want you to know them and remember them every time they interact with your brand. So to get started on the right foot, make sure that your messages are targeted at a specific segment of your database based on known preferences. Secondly, always personalize your content so your audience feels like they are having a conversation. One of my customers is realizing a 28% increase in lead generation through their email marketing activities based in large part to personalization and behavior-based triggers. This brings me to my next point.

2. User behavior is not being used to target the audience.

This is another case where companies are blasting out unspecialized messages to heterogeneous audiences with limited results. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to trigger your messages based on what an individual person is doing and respond with relevant information. The fact is that a message sent based on customer actions gets more opens, clicks, and conversions because it is contextual. When David Daniels, co-founder of The Relevancy Group, was an analyst at Jupiter Research, he reported that targeting emails based on web click-stream data increased open rates by more than 50% and increased conversion rates by more than 350%. To get started, you should first make sure you are listening to user behavior: pages they are visiting, emails they are opening, and links they are clicking. Secondly, set up a scoring model to help gauge overall interest. With this information, you can set up triggered responses to user behavior and start engaging in meaningful conversation.

3. Marketing efforts are not designed to meet key business objectives.

In my opinion, the biggest mistake marketers today make is not tracking key performance indicators back to corporate business objectives. If you continue to collect traditional marketing metrics such as opens and clicks to support your decision-making, you may very well be setting yourself up to be excluded from a seat at the revenue table. While they can be an important measure of progress for a specific marketing activity for the marketer, most of these metrics are meaningless to key stakeholders because they don’t tie directly to revenue.

Focusing on driving revenue is the best way to align with your executive leadership and even your revenue teams. To put this in another way, ask yourself, “How are my efforts contributing directly to the company’s bottom line?” This is easier than you think. For example, for your campaigns, you can track metrics such as cost per program success, new names per program, cost per opportunity, pipeline generated, and pipeline to investment.

4. Not being on the channel your buyer is on.

People don’t think in terms of what channel they’re going to be on. As Ashley Johnston, SVP, Global Marketing at Experian Marketing Services put it, “Consumers don’t wake up and say, ‘I’m going to be a mobile consumer today.’ They just use the channel that best fits the moment or task.”

Engagement marketing is about more than being on as many channels as possible; it’s also about understanding how your buyers prefer to engage and using those channels to communicate with them. This cross-channel approach is known by some as opti-channel marketing, in which you use the optimum channel your buyer prefers. A great example is that most millennials communicate using mobile, while retirees prefer to use email or direct mail. You have to know your audience and communicate with them where they are.

At Marketo, avoiding these pitfalls are some of the fundamentals of effective marketing. The key is to remember who’s ultimately receiving your marketing messages on the other side of that computer, mobile device, or direct mail: individuals.

Don’t let these marketing automation fails happen to you. To learn how you can empower your team with marketing automation, check out our ebook How Marketing Automation Can Help Small Teams Succeed.

What other pitfalls should marketers be on the lookout for as they’re planning their marketing automation campaigns? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jamie is a Principal Solution Consultant at Marketo and has been in the CRM and marketing automation space for over 15 years. He works closely with marketing agencies and MSPs who leverage Marketo to provide state of the art marketing services to their clients. His focus is consulting on engagement marketing strategies and best practices, in particular regarding top of funnel lead generation using social platforms.

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