3 Major Marketing Automation Misconceptions

I recently had a conversation with a budding marketer about my experience with a leading marketing automation platform, and when discussing its robust capabilities was asked, “So, will this program create infographics for us to send out?”

shutterstock_69470824Despite how obvious the answer may seem (the answer is no, by the way) it became very apparent to me that there are many misconceptions about marketing automation, and a significant disconnect on how to use the features on today’s platforms most effectively. Technology like marketing automation play a big role in any Demand Generation Strategy, however, it’s important to remember technology enables a strategy, it doesn’t drive it. The features and functions of any technology need to be managed, integrated and optimized for maximum results no matter how sophisticated the platform, user or environment.

Gone are the days when batch and blast email campaigns were the sole focus of marketers and the only use of marketing automation. In recent years, these platforms have taken an impressive turn to encompass everything from lead scoring to progressive profiling, while still enabling extensive nurture programs based on targeted database segmentation.When used to their full potential, today’s platforms allow brands the ability to expand the reach of their content, provide a greater impact on their audience, improve conversion rates, and prove return on investment to the C-Suite with sophisticated analytics and reporting.

Sounds great, right? It can be, though it’s important to keep in mind that with great power comes great responsibility. Powerful platforms such as these allow marketers the ability to either wow their prospects and peers, or underwhelm them via poor program development or sloppy execution. That being said, I think it’s important to address three leading misconceptions about marketing aumutomation that can cause new adopters unnecessary headaches:

Marketing automation implementation is not a magic wand-
Simply installing even the most robust marketing automation platform does not mean that you will have instant results. The implementation and execution of a platform and deploying effective programs requires a solid Demand Generation Strategy, program development, A/B testing, and most importantly, an understanding of the way that your buyer’s buy and how your business works in order to deliver maximum results.

Marketing automation is also not a content generator-
As I learned in my conversation referenced above, many people that are new to the world of marketing automation don’t yet realize that the platform is simply the delivery mechanism for content to recipients. Without well-developed, buyer-centric content (or in this case, content and a solid plan) you’re not delivering anything of value, no matter how helpful or amazing your content may be. Marketing automation technology doesn’t create content, it enables delivery based on various trigger events or automated steps.

Marketing automation is not a license to SPAM-
Oftentimes, marketers that implement an automation platform for the first time are trigger-happy with email sends and find a reason to email their entire database…all at once about everything. While it seems logical to believe that everyone in your database wants to hear from you, it’s important to keep in mind that each persona has a different way that they want to be communicated with and preferences for content consumption. Not to mention, spamming your database does more harm than good. Batch-and-blast email tactics (wherein you email your entire database with the exact same email message) will not only land you in the spam folder or on a black list (possibly due to poor IP warming or lack of CAN-SPAM compliance), but will also make your prospects feel as though they are being spammed. And, with those tactics, they are.

The beauty of a marketing automation platform is its ability to enable cohesive integration with your CRM system and provide interdepartmental transparency of a prospect’s path on the buyers journey. Marketing automation is a powerful platform – but it enables a strategy, it doesn’t create one, nor does it create content. Yet.

Author: Sarah Shelnut @SarahShelnut Director, Strategy, ANNUITAS

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