In my years as a marketing automation consultant, I’ve seen the same mistakes made by B2B companies as they implement and use their chosen software. Here are six common mistakes organisations make and how to avoid them.
The excitement of moving into the sophisticated realm of automation gets marketers jumping in and playing with their shiny new tool as soon as they have access. And that’s understandable because marketing automation software, with its impressive features and ability to simplify the daily tasks of marketing and sales teams, is definitely something to be excited about!
Of course, it’s also a big investment, which means marketing directors are under pressure to put automation software to use as soon as possible, so they can start to demonstrate its value.
That being said, launching headfirst into something you’ve yet to fully understand actually costs time and money, rather than saving it. With that in mind, how can B2B businesses get the most out of their automation capabilities?
1. Failing to plan
Marketing automation tools do not replace marketing strategies. They are simply a way of rolling out marketing plans with more ease and broadening the scope of what we can achieve in our communications with prospects and customers.
When you start sending emails, importing, or syncing contacts, and playing around with automation features without a real and documented plan, you are, in a nutshell, winging it.
Great marketing automation begins with a written plan that considers:
- Marketing goals.
- Data management.
- Audience segmentation.
- Scoring and grading.
- Lead handling.
- Folder structure.
- Templates and assets.
- Third-party platform integrations.
- Team responsibilities.
- Reporting and analytics.
Once you have this and the whole team is on board with the overall strategy and plan, then you can start to implement and roll out activity.
2. Not integrating with your CRM
Just to clarify, marketing automation software is not the same as a CRM. Marketers use automation software to generate and nurture leads until they are qualified as ‘sales-ready’. Sales and customer service teams use CRM platforms to win new customers and deliver ongoing customer service.
The most effective lead management happens when marketing and sales are aligned. This means integrating your marketing automation tool with your chosen CRM so that both teams have visibility over the essential information they need.
From a sales perspective, having the ability to see the full engagement history of qualified leads can help to tailor pitches and close a higher percentage of customers.
For marketing teams, receiving feedback from sales regarding the quality of the leads assigned to them and the outcome of their conversations is vital to improving lead generation and nurture activity and attributing marketing activities to sales revenue.
Whenever a business is selecting a marketing automation software, they should consider whether it integrates with their existing CRM (for example, Pardot integrates seamlessly with Salesforce given the two are Salesforce products).
3. Treating marketing automation tools like a glorified email marketing tool
Premium marketing automation platforms are so much more than an email marketing tool. Yet businesses too often invest in costly software that they go on to use to simply send email campaigns.
The first step to getting your money’s worth out of marketing automation software is to really research the different features and capabilities of the tool. If it comes with lead scoring, use it. If you can automate lead management, do it. Just don’t forget to make a solid plan for how you’ll tap into these features to improve your marketing.
4. Overlooking team training
Whether your marketing team are digital experts or not, when you implement a new software it’s vital to run structured training sessions or provide a learning programme that will help everyone adjust to and learn the specific platform you’ve chosen.
Most premium marketing automation companies have endless training opportunities via their own communities. For example, Salesforce has the Trailhead programme, which is full of guided learning paths and certifications that your team can do at their own pace.
Not only will this mean a faster learning curve, but it will also provide professional development for employees that can support recruitment and retainment initiatives.
Of course, you can also lean on outsourced partners for both training and ongoing, personalised support.
5. Setting and forgetting
As I said before, marketing tools do not replace the marketer themselves – any automated activity that is running still needs to be reviewed and optimised from time to time. The general attitude I recommend is to ‘always be improving’. Nothing should ever be set and forgetten.
Perhaps you’ve included links in your welcome email to blogs that are now outdated. Or invited event sign-ups for a trade show that’s passed. Keeping on top of your automated content is vital to ensuring prospects always receive up to date and relevant information.
6. Not running regular audits
With all of the possibilities marketing automation software provides for marketers, it doesn’t take much for the system to become unruly. Multiple automations, campaigns, segments, scoring categories, lead assignments and the like can make it difficult to see everything that’s happening within your account.
For this reason, businesses should be running major automation audits at least once a year and quick reviews every quarter.
An automation audit means taking a step back and reviewing everything you have set up in the system so you can see holistically where there are issues and opportunities. Think about these questions:
- Could prospects be receiving too many communications?
- Is data being synced and segmented correctly?
- Are there drafts and irrelevant assets littered around? Are you nearing any usage limits?
If you want to read more about automation audits, check out the MarCloud Consulting blog. It’s focused on Pardot and Marketing Cloud as platforms but can be useful for other tools, nonetheless.
Any of these marketing automation mistakes sound familiar?
No judgement! As I said, the mistakes I’ve shared above are those I see frequently and across businesses of all sizes and industries. Hopefully, seeing them in black-and-white will help you to correct any mistakes you think your business may be making.
Feel free to share this article with others and get everyone on board with approaching automated activity in the best way possible for the best results.