Avoid the seven deadly sins

Marketing automation can add significant value. Introducing omnichannel marketing automation is an innovative way of thinking about the companies’ marketing efforts, however, good intentions don’t do the job. Employees need to change their mindset and behaviour so that the culture in the company changes and is re-wired across the departments, and silo thinking is quashed – all with the purpose of focussing on the customer’s needs and requirements.

But what is really preventing companies from getting their marketing automation to fire on all cylinders? Where is the weakest link in the preparatory work? And which prerequisites are missing in the endeavours to ensure a consistent omnichannel programme that creates the most value possible?

Seven deadly sins that need to be avoided:

1. Lack of strategy

Most companies have a strategy during the time of procurement, but often it is too all-encompassing and not supported by a coherent set of objectives that the marketing automation system will be delivered into. Instead, there exist more or less incoherent activities where the system becomes the lead for the strategy instead of vice versa.

A concrete manifestation of these deficiencies in the strategy is the absence of a plan for commercial data, as well as the insight and value that this can (and must) add to the automation activities. The companies know that they need a plan, but the problem is that they do not have the tools, skills or resources for this. Some try to solve the problem by creating a Commercial Data Officer position. The absence of a plan for commercial data creates a number of difficulties in relation to e.g. choice of a data model, choice of systems that need to support automation, unclear integration requirements, unclear partnerships between marketing and e.g. IT, as well as demands to suppliers.

All of this reduces the possibility of success and lengthens processes.

2. Challenges with deployment

These are some of the typical challenges in the start phase due to a lack of strategy:

• Implementation becomes more expensive and takes longer than expected

• TCO is underestimated

• The need for technical skills and resources is underestimated

• The general need for resources is underestimated

3. Poor cooperation between Marketing and Sales

You will often see Sales and Marketing behaving like two ships passing in the night, or even appear to be shooting torpedoes in each other’s directions.

Ensuring the alignment between Sales and Marketing is a classical challenge. Often cultural differences and objectives are not aligned, which impacts the success of the marketing automation system. This is especially true for B2B companies, where substantial value can be created in the interaction between automation (owned by Marketing) and CRM (owned by Sales).

4. Lack of content

The amount of work required to produce compelling content for content marketing is underestimated. This means that – even in a situation with a clear strategy and communication plan – it may become difficult to provide relevant and personalised content. Lack of content to support an intelligent dialogue that gives the customer more knowledge means that the customer will be hit by messages that echo what the customer has already done.

Content marketing is a “beast that needs to be fed” and that is quite a task.

5. The glorified emails syndrome

All of the above may reveal our industry’s ‘dirty little secret’: that the system can really only be used for sending emails with little relevance and personalisation, and therefore does not represent omnichannel automation, i.e. a value-enhancing cross-channel execution with the customer in the centre.

6. Value model for Marketing

Defective model for measuring, managing, forecasting and improving the marketing pipeline. Just as important as sales generally are to pipeline management, it is equally as significant for pipeline management to have access to marketing. It is very difficult to assess the automation efforts when the model for lead generation – the volume, flow and speed through the marketing pipeline – is not clearly defined.

7. Marketing is focusing on the wrong key figures

It may be tempting to only base the automation activities on the systems’ pre-existing key figures – typical standard CPI’s such as open rate, click-through rate, conversion rates, etc. But this is not enough. For example, should the marketing activities result in sales and the marketing expenses be included in the equation? If they are not included, it can be difficult (if not impossible) to relate to ROI – which then makes it difficult to continuously improve the efforts and optimise the use of the automation system.

Marketing automation creates value for the customers because it makes the companies’ messages relevant and personal. The companies earn money on this, but there is more to it than just that. Marketing automation is also a fantastic catalyst that companies can use to tune their organisation and prepare themselves to meet future challenges and possibilities.