Marketing automation is a significantly underutilized tool in distribution, but when implemented effectively, it can increase conversion rates, shorten the sales cycle, slash your cost per lead and decrease overall sales and marketing costs.
But when the ROI isn’t what you expected, it may be tempting to cut ties and retreat to a basic email newsletter package. Before you do, get honest about whether you really gave marketing automation a chance.
How marketing automation works
The beauty of marketing automation is that it tailors your company’s messaging to each customer by capturing data around their habits and engagements with your company.
This includes so much more than email blasts to your list. Marketing automation can manage, nurture and score leads; target messaging based on customer segment or behavior; integrate blog and social media content activity; track and report; and so much more.
Well-implemented marketing automation can increase sales productivity by an average of 14.5%.
Unfortunately, distributors face plenty of hurdles to getting the most out your marketing automation software. When there is nothing pressing your team to understand its full functionality, it’s easy to revert to your program’s most basic form and miss out on countless benefits.
With better planning and effort up front, you could be seeing results in less than 30 days after implementation.
Read more: The Case for Marketing Automation in B2B
Here are five marketing automation pitfalls that result in failure:
1. Retreating to the Comfort Zone
Marketers rely on old habits. If they’re familiar with simpler tools like Constant Contact or Mailchimp, it’s more comfortable to default to using marketing automation the same way when they are up against deadlines. A harried marketing team worries about sending out necessary messaging (blasting a promotion to their entire list) instead of planning proactive campaigns targeting specific customer segments.
This is the danger of the honeymoon period. During the initial training for a new marketing automation software, staff may be initially dazzled by the various functions, dreaming of increased efficiency, and excited to learn more about integration with their other systems. Then, when the trainer packs up and goes home, the daily grind picks up, emails and deadlines pile up, and the hopes of learning a new program scatter.
On the customer-facing end, your big investment in marketing automation tools may look like the same old emails while you’re overpaying and underperforming.
2. Not integrating with CRM for full visibility and support for sales efforts
If you haven’t connected your marketing automation software to your CRM system, you’re missing out on a major benefit of being able to see the full picture of digital interaction a customer has had with your company. Well-integrated marketing automation can even go so far as to send alerts for specific customer activity to notify sales reps so they can approach customers with more relevant and timely offers.
3. Lack of leadership
Marketing automation is a sophisticated software that can be complex to understand at first. But if sales leadership isn’t curious and bought into its high-powered data and analytics to make their teams more efficient and effective, the marketing staff can’t be blamed for not going all in.
There must be strategic in-house support put in place after installation and initial training for marketing automation to take root. Investing time in ongoing training to deepen your team’s understanding is inexpensive and only requires a little direction from leadership. Marketing automation platforms such as Act-On also have robust resource and training libraries. Encourage your team to carve time out of the day to read articles and explore the program’s functions.
4. Skeletal marketing teams
It’s no secret that distributors don’t often have robust marketing teams. This is even more of a reason to make sure a plan is in place to make marketing automation installation successful. When it’s integrated into the company workflow, marketing automation can save your marketing team more than 12% in overhead.
5. Shaky marketing foundation
If your marketing strategy and core processes are already on the back burner, the best marketing automation system in the world won’t fix it. Go back to basics to make sure your marketing strategy and the core components and processes it depends on – including your email lists – are sound before throwing money at a marketing automation system and hoping it saves the day.
If your company manages successful ecommerce and CRM programs, there is no reason why it can’t integrate marketing automation solutions. Before retreating and missing out on leads, reevaluate your company’s procedures and try again.
Marketing has traditionally had a limited role in distribution. For a distributor to truly drive value with marketing, it needs to invest in tools like marketing automation that can incorporate multiple channels and more targeted messaging, and avoid the ineffective spray-and-pray methods of the past. Don’t give up on this powerful tool: Marketing automation will pay off if you support it with the right leadership, training and support.