marketing automation software We are the first people to tell you that marketing automation software should help you manage your time more effectively.  When done correctly, marketing automation can take time-consuming and manual marketing processes out of your hands, freeing you up for other duties.  But what happens when you trust your software too much? Despite the name, marketing automation is not automatic.  It requires a human touch to set up and maintain it.  We’ve come up with three reasons why marketing automation software fails and how you can avoid this.

#1 Way to Fail.  Don’t set your system up for success

Keep your marketing automation system organised One of the beauties of marketing automation is that you can set up processes to run automatically alongside your marketing activities.  The downside is that these processes take time to set up and require maintenance to keep your strategy on track. This is obvious in two specific areas of marketing automation:

Nurture campaigns

These campaigns allow you to send content to your email recipients based on how they interact with your content.  You can send different messaging to people depending on whether they open your email, click on your links or ignore your message altogether. The downside of this is that you need to create all the email templates, landing pages and alerts you need to run your nurture campaign from start to finish around the same time you get ready to launch it.  While this saves you from creating new email templates every few days for follow up emails, the longer set up process may impact your campaign plan or schedule.

Lead scoring

By scoring your leads based on their engagement with your content and their web activities you can get a better idea of how they move through the sales cycle.  Creating a thorough lead scoring profile can mean the difference between cold calls and educated prospect engagement. Because lead scoring is equally important to sales and marketing staff, the setup effort tends to be very involved.  Sales and marketing need to work together to determine what actions sales-qualified leads carry out and make sure that system scores them accordingly. This doesn’t mean that you should only work on lead scoring up front.  In fact, sales and marketing should be making a plan to reassess your lead scoring model on a regular basis.  This will make sure your program is evaluating leads in ways that are still relevant to the business.

Steps for Success:

Make sure that you consider all of the setup and maintenance time involved in running a campaign through marketing automation and factor it into your department or campaign schedule.  Better to have extra time left over than to be scrambling at the last minute, blaming your system for poor planning.

#2 Way to Fail.  Cut Sales out of the equation

If you forget to bring sales along for the ride you're going to have a bad time The word “marketing” in marketing automation is not meant to exclude other departments from using the technology.  In fact, the system makes it more important than ever for sales and marketing to join forces in attracting and nurturing leads. Sales and marketing need to work together on several aspects of your marketing automation implementation and use.  You’ll need Sales’ input on setting up lead scoring profiles and reporting functions and you’ll want to make sure that they are well trained on the system so you are all on the same page.  Nothing ruins data quality, and lead tracking, faster than a breakdown in communication between Sales and Marketing. If marketing is on board with the system but sales is not, both teams will become frustrated as Sales blames Marketing’s techniques for low-quality leads and Marketing blames Sales’ low program adoption for the same thing.

Steps for Success:

Involve Sales as early as possible in your implementation, and be sure not to forget about them when it comes to regular maintenance of your marketing automation platform.  By keeping them involved with the implementation you’ll increase user adoption and departmental alignment; by keeping them involved in the running of the system, you’ll increase leads and grow your business.

#3 Way to Fail.  Forget about providing new, high-quality content

Keeping your marketing on track with automation means creating content to feed the system Marketing automation software provides some great tools for understanding your customers as they move through your sales cycle.  The problem arises when you don’t have enough people coming into the top of your funnel. Content marketing and inbound marketing have become popular buzzwords in 2014, and it’s becoming harder and harder to dismiss them as marketing techniques.  This is especially true when you begin working with marketing automation software.  You can have all the high-quality email templates and landing pages you want, but if you don’t have enough high-quality content drawing potential customers to engage with you, you will be hard pressed to fill your funnel. Marketing automation provides some excellent tools for nurturing leads.  If you are struggling to find leads to nurture, the problem may be in your content strategy.  The more content you have the bigger the top of your funnel and the more use your software will be to you.  Without content, you are reducing your wonderful software to a mere email tool, which is such a waste of capability.

Steps for Success:

Take advantage of the time you save using marketing automation for your content distribution and use it for content creation.  It can be helpful to use a content calendar to make sure you have enough content to “feed the machine,” and many marketing automation programs have that feature built in to help you succeed.

Conclusion

Don’t let the name fool you.  Marketing automation is not a set-it-and-forget-it piece of software, at least not if you want it to transform your business.  For the most successful use of your software, make sure your marketing plan includes set up and maintenance time, get Sales involved and spend your new free time creating content for your users to enjoy.