5 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes — And How To Fix Them

Jul 25, 2017 · 6 min read
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Marketing automation has experienced unprecedented growth over the last several years. In fact, more than half of B2B companies are using the technology.

But that still leaves a big chunk of organizations that have been slow to embrace this game-changing technology. If you think your organization is the only one that hasn’t yet implemented marketing automation, be reassured, you are not alone!

There really is no doubt about the benefits of adopting marketing automation; you name it, automation does it better, including gaining a better understanding of leads, shortening the sales cycle, scoring and nurturing leads, and aligning sales and marketing.Download our guide, “What is Marketing Automation” for more information on buying and implementing an automation tool.

Of course, there will be some trial and error involved at first. That is usually the case when you get accustomed to anything new, whether that’s learning to ride a bicycle or implementing your first workflow. But is that what’s really holding you back from using automation successfully? Probably not. If you are like other businesses that find themselves in the same boat, you are likely being slowed down by one or several of the following mistakes:

1. You’re intimidated by automation

Listen, there’s no shame in this. Do you remember in the olden days the first time you turned on a smartphone? You were probably a bit freaked out by all of the features and operations the device offered. How do I text? How do I take a picture? Where are my photos going? Where’s my inbox? What if I hit the wrong button and break the entire internet?

Once you invested a little time in getting to know how to use that smartphone, you realized that it took more than tapping on the wrong button to break the phone or the worldwide web. More importantly, you quickly figured out how easy it was to text, send emails, take and upload photos, and download your favorite life-enhancing (and time-wasting!) apps. Now, you can’t even imagine living without it.

Marketing automation, is the same. Like that new smartphone, at first all the new features can seem intimidating. In fact, time and time again, we find that there’s a genuine disconnect between the perceived and actual complexity of marketing automation. In reality, once you get past the initial fear factor, you’ll quickly find that you don’t want to live without it either.

The solution:

Take gradual steps with marketing automation like you do whenever getting started with any new technology. Learn how to use one feature and then move on to the next.

Start with the basics such as loading contacts, setting up forms, and crafting your first email. Move forward and design a simple workflow like a Welcome series to use when you add new contacts. Design a basic landing page to collect new leads. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, move on to more advanced tasks, like running split tests, creating nurture workflows, and scoring and tagging leads. Don’t worry, your marketing automation platform isn’t going to bite; it’s your friend. So have a little fun and play around with the platform until it feels like second nature to you.

By the way, try-before-you-buy is really a win-win situation. Sign up for a free trial of an automation product and experiment. You have nothing to lose.

2. You don’t have a long-term plan

Did you start using marketing automation because “everybody else is doing it” and you’re afraid you’ll lose your competitive edge? If so, maybe you started implementing it without developing a clear vision or long-term plan.

For example, perhaps you started using marketing automation software without first building a strong content strategy. The end result is that you aren’t attracting enough qualified leads to your website and the ROI of your marketing automation software is low.

The fix is easy: take a step back.

The solution:

Marketing automation isn’t going to function properly or have a high ROI if you put the cart before the horse. Before jumping in, implement an inbound lead generation strategy that focuses on grabbing the attention of people who actually want to hear from you. This includes writing blog posts, building landing pages, writing persuasive calls to action, using social media advertising and promotion, and optimizing your website so it ranks higher in search engines like Google. Build a solid foundation for all your marketing automation efforts.

3. You’re not using the platform to its full potential

Not using marketing automation to the fullest is like buying a Mercedes-Benz or Lexus but only driving it once a week to run to Walmart. Seriously? What’s the point of making that kind of investment in a car when you’re just going to drive it 15 minutes to a shopping center parking lot? Those cars have a whole lot more potential.

But that’s precisely what happens sometimes with marketing automation. According to SiriusDecisions, 85% of B2B marketers using a marketing automation platform believe they’re not using it to its full potential.

The solution:

Marketing automation is more than just a fancy email marketing tool. It is robust software that can handle a variety of tasks, including CRM integration, campaign management, landing page creation, lead management, campaign effectiveness analytics, and segmentation.

Before you buy, determine the features you really need in an automation tool. Use our checklist to help you. Don’t buy more than you need and don’t buy too little to do the job.

To embrace the full potential of marketing automation, devote 30 minutes every day to learn a new feature. It may take some time, but eventually you’ll become comfortable with the tools and you can optimize all the features and reap the benefits they offer. Your automation ROI will grow exponentially.

4. You’re operating in a silo

For an inbound marketing campaign to be successful, marketing and sales teams have to work as a cohesive unit. The problem? Many organizations implement marketing automation without considering how it’s going to impact all departments or teams.

Remember, your marketing team is responsible for producing an integrated marketing strategy that focuses on priming potential customers for the sales funnel, while your sales team is focused on finding and converting the right leads into customers. In other words, your marketing and sales teams have different responsibilities and goals — even though they’re technically on the same team.

Unfortunately, some organizations use marketing automation only across one team or silo — which won’t help achieve your overall goals. For example, if you’re using automation for your sales team to convert leads, but your marketers haven’t used the platform to prime them, you may be wasting time and missing your targets.

The solution:

Break down those silos and align your sales and marketing by:

  • Meeting regularly so both teams can work together to share and discuss processes, resources, and best practices

By aligning both teams, you’re also creating a shared vision and buy-in from all of your team members.

5. You rely on too many tools

Most marketers use a number of different strategies and tools to great effect. But sometimes, too much of a good thing…is just too much. For example, when brainstorming, your team may jot down ideas on a whiteboard, then someone places the top 10 ideas into a spreadsheet, then someone else decides to put 15 of the ideas into a separate online flowchart maker that no else can access and then — the ideas sit there because no one really knows where they are anymore and there’s no coordination.

This too-much-of-a-good thing process is time-consuming, unproductive, and can complicate communication when too many people are using too many tools and none of the tools are actually “talking” to each other.

The solution:

Avoid making that mistake with automation. Invest in an all-in-one marketing automation platform that integrates email marketing, landing pages, social media management, and robust analytics in one convenient platform. This saves time spent updating different spreadsheets or databases, keeps everyone on the same page, and allows you to quickly measure which efforts are working and which are not.

Over to you …

Think about what’s holding you back from trying automation, or what’s keeping you from achieving real success with it. Don’t allow these common marketing automation missteps throw roadblocks in your way. Once identified, these miscalculations can all be fixed with a little determination.

About iContact

iContact is the leading provider of email marketing solutions. This article originally appeared on iContact’s blog. For more information, visit us at www.icontact.com.

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Simple, powerful and affordable, iContact's email and marketing automation solutions propel businesses and organizations of all sizes to achieve better results.

Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Tips & News on Social Media Marketing, Online Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing, Growth Hacking, Branding, Start-Ups and more.


Written by


Simple, powerful and affordable, iContact's email and marketing automation solutions propel businesses and organizations of all sizes to achieve better results.

Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Tips & News on Social Media Marketing, Online Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing, Growth Hacking, Branding, Start-Ups and more.

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