The lure of marketing automation is clear: companies could increase sales productivity by 14.5 percent while reducing marketing overhead by 12.2 percent. That’s tempting for both marketers and their managers who realize marketing automation – properly implemented – can have extraordinarily positive impact on revenue and efficiency, yet the statistics on marketing automation make quite the splatter chart depending on which studies you look at. One master list of marketing automation statistics cites studies showing:
80 percent of users in one study saw an increase in conversions, while another study showed half the companies experiencing no increase in qualified leads, with only 19 percent showing a dramatic increase. Other studies have found that 74 percent of respondents consider their marketing automation efforts to be either very or quite beneficial to their company, while a different study found a mere 32 percent of companies believed marketing automation was very successful.
What’s going on? Is marketing automation a game-changer or not?
Marketing automation can change the game for marketing teams – if your efforts don’t get obstructed by any of these common marketing automation myths:
Myth #1: Marketing automation fixes your marketing problems.
One of marketing automation’s great advantages is its ability to offload rote tasks and perform those tasks at a much faster pace than if some tired, overworked junior marketer had to do them. Which is to say: marketing automation amplifies whatever your team is already achieving – or not achieving.
One team uses accurate, relevant criteria to qualify and segment prospects, and has high converting content available that it uses to nurture them successfully. For this team, automating tasks like selecting which prospects will get what kind of content or touches, and when, lets them apply a proven, successful process onto a large data pool. Even if their high conversion rate doesn’t go higher, they’re doing better because they’re executing their successful campaigns on a bigger pool.
For a team without proven processes and content, automating so-so or even bad workflows doesn’t magically make their content effective or compelling. It just means the team can now send out crappy, irrelevant content faster and to more people. Yay.
Myth #2: Marketing automation glosses over bad data.
Similar to myth #1, marketing automation won’t fix your data problems. Too many companies try to implement marketing automation software without ensuring that the data they use to run that software can handle the workload.
The first problem is too little data or lack of a strong steady stream of new data coming into your system. To work effectively, marketing automation needs a certain volume of data to get going and then thrives on a steady volume of new prospects in the database. You will churn and burn your list if you keep pounding the same people with automated blasts every week, so focus needs to be paid to expanding lists.
The second data issue is just that: bad data. If you import data from your other marketing programs and Business Intelligence (BI) software to add to what you collect from your marketing platform, take time to clean up the formatting and duplicate data across systems. Then set up integrations that will protect your data integrity moving forward. You don’t want to send a new customer the promo for an even better deal just one week after their first purchase.
Bad data means bad campaigns, no matter what software you use. Take the time to implement good data hygiene before you automate.
Myth #3: Marketing automation is only for email campaigns.
The email drip, lead nurture campaign is the quintessential use case for marketing automation software. Once you get a name into your database, the data collection and personalized content push can begin.
Don’t leave it there. Most marketing automation platforms include tools that help with lead acquisition as well. This includes contextual sign-up forms that pop up on your website based on which page a visitor goes to, and lead gen forms that appear on your social media platforms. If you’re stuck with shallow data stores (see myth #2), refining and automating your lead acquisition processes may be the right place for you to begin your automation efforts.
Focusing only on creating email campaigns can obscure another critical advantage of marketing automation; let’s make this one myth #4.
Myth #4: Marketing automation frees up time because you can ignore what you automate.
Popularly known as the “set it and forget it” fallacy. Having an automation tool doesn’t mean that you’ll never have to look at your campaigns again. If you don’t actively glean insights from your automation efforts, you’ve missed the point.
Marketing automation frees up team resources to focus on the creative and person-to-person aspects of marketing. This found time should also be used to assess and analyze what your campaigns and automated workflows achieve. Because it works on large data collections, an automation tool returns statistically relevant information about what works and what doesn’t, with greater precision as to what variables are having an impact.
Automation platforms continue to improve the tools to help users make actionable decisions quickly, like providing multivariate testing. If you aren’t learning from your automation workflows, then it’s no wonder they aren’t improving.
You also want to monitor more than the metrics. Spot check to ensure that your workflows work as intended, and that the wrong messages don’t get sent to the wrong people.
Myth #5: Market automation’s work is done after the sale is closed.
Why ignore engaged customers? Follow up and help them get the most of what they purchased. They represent upsell, cross-sell, and repeat sales opportunities. Continue to engage them and remind them why they love you. By keeping the conversation open, you develop brand ambassadors who share your content.
You’re not ignoring them, are you? You have campaigns and content designed just for them. Marketing automation will nurture the post-sale relationship just as well as it does for the lead nurture.
Moving forward with success
The studies and surveys on marketing automation return inconsistent results because companies use them inconsistently. Successful teams recognize these myths, and don’t let them hamper their marketing automation. Those teams still operating under these myths aren’t going to find success in their automation attempts.
One consistent point across these studies is that adoption of marketing automation continues to rise. The bottom-line potential of marketing automation is just too great to ignore. So it’s time to get real about how to use it to achieve results.