3 Reasons Why Marketing Automation Initiatives Fail Technology can't stand alone

The marketing automation holy grail

So you purchase the system, sign your team up for training and six months later…. your leads are scored, but only a few are nurtured or followed-up on, and conversion isn’t optimized. You have no more real intelligence about your leads than you had before you put the platform in place.

What went wrong?

Well it turns out, while marketing automation platforms are powerful, they are just that – platforms. They provide enormous potential, but unless you have a comprehensive strategy, resources to deploy and the buy-in of the entire organization, you won’t find yourself holding the Holy Grail – an automated marketing engine that turns leads into prospects, prospects into sales and sales into customers.

Lack of Content Strategy

Sure, you have few great white papers, but do you have an editorial calendar that lays out how you’re going to create ongoing content that meets the needs of all your audiences across the funnel? Vertical audiences? C-Suite? Technology decision makers? Business unit decision makers? Key influencers across departments? And do you have the thought leaders lined up to create that content?

Marketing automation is an intelligence and delivery system that sits at the core of a comprehensive content marketing strategy. If you buy a luxury car but don’t fill it with gas, it’s not going anywhere. If you purchase marketing software without committing to an investment in content, you’re wasting money and time.

Getting Sales On-board

The ultimate goal of your automation initiative – and of all of your marketing activities – is to drive sales. Most marketers have their hands full getting their side of the house in order, and are reluctant to dive into the sales team’s processes and work flow (not to mention the potential political minefield involved).

However, if you want to start automating and optimizing messaging to move leads through the funnel, you’re going to need to get into the weeds with your partners in sales. How will sales handle these leads as we move them along the funnel? How will the information feed into our CRM system? How will the sales team provide ongoing feedback about leads, prospects and customers?

These and a wide range of other questions need to be resolved for an automation initiative to succeed.

The sales and marketing teams need to own these initiatives jointly. They will be providing a great deal of intelligence to each other as the process is implemented and optimized over time.

Lack of Marketing Resources

Let’s face it, you’re busy and you’re understaffed. Marketing has gotten more complicated – you’re handling everything from trade shows to email to product development research. One of the reasons you pushed to get a marketing automation platform in place is because you thought it would make your team more efficient. But the planning took more time than you expected, and by the end you just wanted to get it live and move on. Now you have your hands full, getting basic email drip messaging approved and launched. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to learn everything the platform can do, to create detailed content for each audience and coordinate with sales (see #1 and #2 above). Taking full advantage of comprehensive, automated marketing takes a chunk of bandwidth, something that is in short supply in most busy marketing departments today.

Technology – Strategy – Resources

Smart marketers understand the power of systems that can score, segment and nurture leads and are pushing to harness that potential for their organizations. However, success in marketing automation requires more than just a technology platform – it takes a comprehensive strategy and ongoing resource commitments. All of these investments – technology, processes and people – can pay big dividends but investing in one without the other two will leave you disappointed.

You may only get one chance to get this Initiative off the ground – if you’re realistic and focus on the big picture, you’ll maximize your chances for success – and maybe you’ll be sitting at the next company meeting with the Holy Grail in your hands.

02/08/2013