4 Ways to Avoid Common Marketing Automation Fiascos

Just like with your New Years Resolutions or that P90x boxed set that’s collecting dust on your DVD shelf, everyone starts off using marketing automation with nothing but good intentions. But just like your New Year’s Resolutions and the aforementioned P90x tapes, people often don’t realize that success isn’t going to happen overnight.

This is exactly what causes marketers to encounter roadblocks with their new automation tools. According to a recent webinar hosted by Mathew Sweezey, Marketing Evangelist at Pardot, and Katie Melick, Implementation Coordinator, there are four reasons that people “fail” with marketing automation:

  1. Cluelessness, i.e. shiny-object syndrome
  2. Insanity
  3. Lack of correct content
  4. Unwillingness to try

Let’s take a look at each of these common automation roadblocks, and see how they can be avoided.


“Ease of use does not mean ‘no set-up required.’”

– Mathew Sweezey, Marketing Evangelist at Pardot

A lot of marketers immediately think tactically when it comes to marketing automation, instead of looking at the big picture. Implementing an automation tool involves a lot of moving parts, making it easy to fixate on really specific tasks like sending out a Tweet or creating an automation rule. This can lead to frustration when new users start getting bogged down in all of the possibilities at their fingertips.

Tip #1: Take a step back. Talk over your goals and strategy with your implementation specialist before you start thinking about your specific tactics. This will make tip #2 that much easier.


Marketing campaigns pull from a ton of different tools and use a lot of different channels (so when you look at some of the campaigns you’ve had for a long time, the processes start to look like a jumble of lines and words, i.e. “insanity”). When you’re rebuilding these campaigns in your automation tool, it’s important to think critically about what you’re recreating. As Mathew Sweezey states, “rebuilding a bad process in a marketing automation tool just recreates the bad process.”

Tip #2: How can you break down and simplify your processes? Give some thought to the following as you get started with an automation tool:

  • your lead flow
  • form questions
  • what is a lead?
  • what is a marketing-qualified lead?
  • your cold lead flow
  • automations

Be sure to ask during implementation, “can this be eliminated?”

Lack of Correct Content

Many people feel unprepared for marketing automation from a content perspective. As I’ve stated in previous blog posts, content is the fuel that makes your automation engine run. Without it, you’ll have a much harder time moving your buyers through the sales cycle or collecting leads via forms on your site.

Tip #3: Remember, everyone starts at a different point when it comes to content. Here are a few ways that Mathew and Katie suggest getting started:

1. Create content to support your sales cycle. Follow this outline to make sure you have each area of the funnel covered:

  • stage 1: content that helps people do their job better, like white papers and blog posts
  • stage 2: social proof that can help make a business case, like a case study
  • stage 3: why is your business the right choice? Think buyers guides and industry reports

2. Involve your team and get in your sales reps’ heads. Make sure you’re creating content that’s needed, not superfluous.

3. Partner up with content! Look at your network to see if there are any companies you could partner with to create some mutually-beneficial content — using half the work!

Unwillingness to Try

“It takes too long to create content!”

“Marketing automation will take too long to implement.”

These are common excuses that come up during the implementation process, and are the reason that many companies don’t reach their full potential when it comes to marketing automation.

Tip #4: Just begin! You have plenty of resources at your disposal throughout the implementation process that can help you with any roadbloacks you may encounter. Just like with those New Years Resolutions (and the workout tapes), you won’t see any results if you don’t put in the effort first.

Check out the full webinar by clicking on the banner below!