5 Rookie Mistakes in Marketing Automation

November 20, 2014 Appirio

By Jane Gibson

The licenses are purchased, and the Marketing team is excited. Ready to run with a new automation tool? No – STOP!  Start with stretching and then walking rather than sprinting out of the gate. Don’t let yourself fall victim to rookie mistakes that all too often cripple the sprinters. Here are five common rookie mistakes in marketing automation that you hope you avoid:

1 – Building without (enough) Sales input 

There are a lot of excuses. “It’s hard to take Sales off the road,” “We’ve got marketers that really know the business,” “We can just train Sales later,” for example. But there is no substitution for strong Sales input from the start. As a marketer, your colleagues in Sales are key partners. Think of your foray into Marketing Automation as choreographing a routine that will capture your audience – anyone watch Dancing with the Stars?  The last thing you want to do is come up with a routine and go on stage with a partner that is not lock step with you, especially through the tough moves.  Sales input is the same.  You should have your partners define the ‘to-be’ processes, hot leads, service level agreements, and feedback loops from the start. Why does this matter?  First, it forms the processes with the expertise and experiences of those who will be accepting and acting on leads so it is fit for purpose. Second, it sets the precedent that you’re kicking off a joint effort. The collaboration between the two teams is the rehearsal that improves the routine and leads to a flawless execution.

2 – Not understanding your end to end CRM processes

If you didn’t fall victim to the common mistake above, you’re well positioned to escape this one too.  Don’t forget the admins and power users in your CRM system.  You need these people to help transform your vision into the system as intended. Data points and statuses that should trigger action, like lead assignment rules, are of utmost importance to make sure there is no break in the chain. Take the time to understand the CRM or you could end up generating a lot of hot leads with interest that fall through the cracks. This is bad for you and a bad experience for prospective customers.

3 – Data – know it, prep it, clean it

Look at your data early and often. If you’re creating a program to reach out to contacts with job titles X, Y, and Z, don’t wait until you are ready to test to find out that 80% of the job tiles in your database are blank. From the early stages, identify what data is important and include data preparation as part of your campaign development.  You may need to help from the sales team to populate or clean current data or you may be able to use one of many tools (like Data.com) on the market to clean and augment your records.

4 – No testing methodology

It goes without saying that testing is part of the process. But the rigor of your testing approach can make all the difference in the world. The easy approach is to fire off all emails to a seed list and call it tested. This gets a few sets of eyes on the emails, but misses most of the key automation elements. Your testing should account for variations in a customer’s path: was an email opened/ not opened, was a link clicked/not clicked and the next actions. Make sure to test drip programs with updated wait times (5 mins) to make sure the experience is what it should be. There is nothing more embarrassing than sending an email that misses the customer’s behavior. For example, including the phrase “Did you see…” when the customer has not only seen, but also purchased. Or perhaps even worse, sending messages in the wrong language to a customer – I’ve seen it happen.

5 – Starting too complex 

A final pitfall is wanting to do it all from day one, with dynamic content across various segments and complex behavioral and demographic scoring models in place. Once you start to peal back the layers, it isn’t hard to get caught up in all the possibilities that Marketing Automation tools can offer.  Break off some simple pieces and get walking!  Auto responders and Contact Us forms are a simple start.  Use smart phasing to get started while you continue to learn more and develop more complex elements.

Just because you’re new to Marketing Automation, doesn’t mean you’ll fall victim to these mistakes. Just remember one thing – take time for thoughtful preparation in key areas.  This is the training that you need to be able to sprint and to keep going!


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