Mike Owen
Mike Owen 3 July 2019

Is Marketing Automation really working…..Or just a waste?

Is Marketing Automation really working…..Or just a waste? There are some fundamental reasons why it might be considered a waste rather than a Marketing essential…

Marketing Automation (MA) has long been heralded as a key component of a highly effective and winning philosophy for generating increased revenues. The idea that by automating the necessary marketing tasks to deliver hot leads to sales for them to close through a glorified workflow platform seemed a price worth pursuing. For an overworked Marketing team it might seem like the golden light on the horizon, freeing up time for additional creatives, more campaigns and generating more leads.

However for many marketers the journey to implement marketing automation technology has been painful and instead of it providing the catalyst for increased sales it can become a marketing hindrance!

There are some fundamental reasons why it might be considered a waste rather than a Marketing essential…

Sources of waste

  1. Internal alignment and process analysis

With MA often there is a problem in measuring how effective it actually is. Whilst it may be great at automating campaigns to gain leads and reducing time to coordinate these tasks, it may ALSO be producing leads that are a complete waste of time.

According to a Marketo and ReachForce study half of the time spent during sales work is on unproductive prospecting, with sales teams ignoring as much as 80% of marketing leads. For both teams, that amounts to a lot of hard work for nothing. Marketing’s projects are often long-term with strong branding, and generating qualified leads, analysing metrics. Sales People on the other hand tend to have monthly or quarterly quotas to meet looking for opportunities to help solve a problem for a prospect, or be the personal touch that someone is looking for to close fast.

Often, sales and marketing departments view their roles differently. Marketers think generating leads is a numbers game. Sales says it’s not – that generating leads requires understanding and solving business problems. Marketing generates lots of activity, but Sales doesn’t always see connections between those activities and revenue. So the divide continues, as a result much of the work generated by marketing to pass qualified leads to marketing is largely ignored. 

  1. Process and technology Buy-in 

Then there is the buy-in, will the users invest their time and energy in getting to know the system. Will it be easy enough to use and give effective results? Many times the effective running of a marketing automation system has been let down by the complexity of the technology and/or ability for staff to use it.  Also if there is data flowing from many different sources there is a possibility that results could be corrupted, unless there is mastery at all stages, time is wasted in managing the process. 

  1. Increased manpower needed

It is often mooted that implementation of Marketing Automation technology will free up time for an already stretched resource. However rather than free up time for an existing resource Marketing Automation implementation may mean that extra resource needs to be recruited to help run the system, including performance marketers, Demand generation experts or content strategists.  So rather than becoming a much needed tool to free time, lower costs and increase revenues it represents the opposite.

  1. Complex buying cycle

Marketing Automation technology works on the basis of segmentation on certain firmographic traits such as industry, title and account information to coordinate campaigns. The technology is configured so that if a respondent hits a button then a predetermined action will be executed. However the buying cycle is often far more complex than that. Sales people need to know why they have responded in such a way. Leads generated in this fashion can quickly be wasted.

  1. Content vs Context

One of the promises of MA implementation is that it can free time to enable the development of new creatives and content for inbound and outbound campaigns. Based on the above persona traits above, copious amount of content can be written in campaigns to a pre-set range of interests, needs and motives. However these may be a complete waste due to the context of a specific buyer and where they are in the complex buying process. 

A buyer’s interests, behaviour and intent unfortunately for marketing automation to be successful are continually evolving for it to be successful by itself. For sales people to get a true 1:1 engagement at scale becomes hard to achieve, meaning that leads suffer and get ignored.

Engaging the evolving buyer profile

Marketing Automation largely streamlines workflows in an existing marketing lead generation process yet as long as it does not incorporate the needs of an evolving buyer profile, leads are going to be useless. To face the needs of complex sales cycles, B2B companies are turning to AI tools such as that of Idio to integrate with their marketing automation platforms to capture true sales triggers of intent which when fed into marketing campaigns can deliver hotter leads that sales want. Learning from new information (buyer behaviour, buyer intent, buyer interests) the platform decides what the next best action is for an optimal outcome. These applications of machine learning are well-suited to the enterprise environment, where constantly evolving buyer profiles and myriad pieces of content need to be categorized and structured before being served across web and email. 

According to the Fitch Group of CompaniesUsing a recommendation tool to show the next best piece of content a prospect or customer should read has given the salespeople an additional opportunity to explore upselling, and speak with more assurance about what that person is actually interested in. It also allows the salesperson to direct the conversation to greater sales.’

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