The main culprit for negative connotations around marketing automation probably lies in the name. The name “marketing automation” sounds as if the tool will take on your workload and tasks, leaving you without anything to do. It may seem you don’t need to do your job anymore, or that you might not even have a job at all. The second biggest misconception is that marketing automation is complicated and complex, while the third one is that it is expensive.
Let’s take a look at these three assumptions and dig into the facts.
1. Marketing Automation replaces your work
Does automation really take away all of your work? Most of the time that is not really the case. On a fundamental level, automation looks at how to improve a process or processes. Marketing and sales automation are actually process improvement tools or methods. Automation can be used with certain repetitive tasks you otherwise would have to do manually, which often is not the most efficient or best use of your time.
An example of marketing automation would be a lead funnel, meaning when someone comes to your website, reads your blog, sees a call to action, and clicks on it, the person would be directed to a landing page where they can fill in a form, share their contact details and then download a whitepaper, guide, e-book, etc. Once that happens, you have the contact information of a new visitor, which is a lead for you. If you do this manually, you would then have to deal with this new lead by creating a new entry in your CRM, if you have one, assign them to a particular list, decide what to do with the lead, and so on. You would have to do this every time anyone engages with your website, which can easily become a big chunk of work to manage.
Marketing automation enables you to create the process once and then forget about it. That means every time someone clicks on that call to action, fills in the form, and becomes a lead, the automation process creates the right properties in your CRM, adds the lead to the relevant list, and prioritizes and segments the lead. With all that in mind, I don’t believe automation it is going to take over your work; instead, I think it is going to improve your work by removing the repetitive tasks. These automation processes are getting more and more advanced and notice duplicates, as well as identify other human mistakes.
Moreover, in the constant digital noise of today’s society, it has been proven that most people only interact with you after having had 7 to 8 interactions online or indirectly. Automation can allow you to create several workflows, so the people who don’t respond to your first contact are added to a process where they then receive relevant content that is related to them. That helps you to keep the lead engaged and at the same time allows you to work toward qualifying that leads to becoming a marketing qualified lead and then a sales qualified lead.
Having a streamlined and clear process is increasingly important due to the close relationship between marketing and sales in a world where sales and marketing overlap more and more. Many leads from the marketing side end up in the sales ball court, so to speak before they are ready. A good process can help avoid that and make sure the leads are moved automatically only after certain steps have been achieved. If a lead is not ready to buy or engage at that moment, automation ensures they are not forgotten; the automation process will make sure to maintain engagement.
At this point, I really want to make something clear. Marketing automation makes your life easier and optimises your work and business, but only if you have clear processes and have these processes figured out before you apply the software. Marketing automation often fails or disappoints because people think that it just works on its own. Marketing automation is not the silver bullet if your processes are a mess to begin with.
You have to imagine marketing automation as an engine. No matter how good or expensive a car is, the vehicle is not going to work if you don’t maintain the engine. In this context, that means you need to fuel the engine with content. That can be anything from email sequences in the workflow to smart emails, blogs, whitepapers, e-books, you name it. You have to add all the pieces of content that are relevant to the potential lead in their different stages of the buyer journey. Top of the funnel contains content such as blogs and infographics. The middle of the funnel incorporates content like an ebook or whitepaper. Finally for the bottom of the funnel, which is the last stage of the buyer’s journey, you can present a demo of your product or even testimonials, but whatever you decide to do, it should be something personalised.
2. Marketing automation is complex
This leads us to the second misconception, which is that marketing automation is very complicated and complex. Let’s be real. Running a business, marketing your product, and closing sales are all complicated, hard things that take time. If you do it right, you implement systems and processes that allow you to optimize your work and get more stuff done. Marketing automation fits exactly into this mindset. If your business is a mess, to begin with, marketing automation will be complicated and impossible to figure out. It doesn’t work by itself. You have to do a lot of work to set up marketing automation. It doesn’t start with the software; it starts with the drawing board, the pen, and paper. How do you want your leads to be handled? How do you want to engage and interact with them?
Once you have those processes designed and outlined, marketing automation software is just a tool to put your strategy into practice. Marketing automation starts with pen and paper and it certainly is not going to solve the deeper, more fundamental processes and problems in your business. Marketing automation is not right or needed for every business. You need the internal processes to be in place and clear to everyone first. Don’t feel you have to invest in software just because everyone is talking about it and someone might be trying to sell it to you.
On the other hand it is also important to remember that using marketing automation is still an iterative process. You constantly have to develop your processes and feed new content into the engine. You need to adjust and adapt your flows and your calls to action and use the data you collect through your automation system. You collect a lot of data that will help you improve your processes and also help you measure the cost of everything and identify what is really working.
3. Marketing Automation is expensive
Another common misconception is that marketing automation is expensive and companies have to spend a lot of money on it. Although that is partially true, if it is implemented correctly and properly followed through, it saves you money. It is an investment and saves you money in the long term, more than what you initially spent. If you calculate the number of man-hours it would take for someone to do all these tasks you can automate, there is much more to it. Plus when using a tool like automation for sales and marketing, you can track and keep all data collected. If you do the tasks manually, the weakest chain is the human, not the machine.
Finally, the last misconception is about the cost of marketing automation. Marketing automation can be a big investment. You have to put quite a lot of effort into the initial phases to ensure you get everything working properly. That takes finances and manpower. Once it starts working and you see how much time is freed up, the investment is really not that much. You and your colleagues can focus on the work that really matters, such as interacting with your customers. Especially for the marketing team, marketing automation provides more time to engage with customers, which might uncover more needs and challenges and bring additional business, as well as make sure your customers are constantly getting value from engaging with your company.
Of course, marketing automation is expensive if you invest in it but a) never use it or b) never properly implement it. As mentioned above, it does not work by itself and if it is not being put to good use, it is definitely a waste of money. You still have to feed content into the engine as mentioned; the automation is a framework and a methodology that doesn’t work without your input, quality content, and a great product or service.
Imagine this. Consider how many times you have to call or contact someone before they pick up the phone or engage with you. Often you need to be consistent and patient. Without automation, you need to come up with an action plan daily. With marketing automation, you don’t have to spend your time on this task until the person at the other end is ready to engage. If you have an email flow that has been automated and the person starts engaging after the 3rd or 4th email you can start putting your time into it. If they unsubscribe from the emails and are not interested, then you never wasted any time. Either way, I save time and I engage with the people who are interested. I also get to spend the rest of my time doing things that create more value for my business. I consider that a win-win situation.