Tackle the 3 Challenges of Implementing Marketing Automation

August 13, 2019 Michael Brumitt

After much planning and effort, your marketing team has launched a new email campaign. It’s packed with product info, photos, links to blog articles, and discounts to boot. As the results roll in, you find that the click-through rates aren’t as high as expected. In fact, they’re actually pretty weak, and everyone’s asking, “What went wrong? Shouldn’t our marketing automation tool have prevented this?”

Answering that question would require looking at how your team is using (or misusing) your automation software. If a campaign has gotten a lukewarm response, it may be due to a few challenges that are common to marketing automation. Whether you’re brand new to it or are trying to improve your skills, getting the most out of a marketing automation tool depends on understanding these inherent challenges and then figuring out how to best respond to them. 

“Automation” itself is usually thought of in terms of saving time by handling repetitive or time-consuming tasks. Marketing automation definitely provides that, yet it offers a lot more, giving you the ability to formulate a more detailed perspective of your customers, what their sales journey is, and how to best connect with them. Making all that happen will be a matter of being clear on what the challenges are and devising a strategy for conquering them.

The Implementation Challenges and How to Conquer Them

Learning how to use marketing automation isn’t a quick process, and it’s also not a “set it and forget it” kind of tool. Assuming that adding some automation software to your infrastructure will automatically improve your campaigns won’t lead to a great outcome. Your team will need to ensure your automation software is integrated with your marketing infrastructure, that your team members know how to use it, and that you have tangible proof that it’s benefiting your business. 

Integrating the Tool with Your Tech Infrastructure

Just as you don’t want silos within your organization, you don’t want your marketing automation in a silo either. If your automation software isn’t fully integrated and is, say, missing out on data from social media, you’ll only have a fragmented view of your customers’ journeys. You won’t know which tactics will work best for different consumers at different stages of their journey, and consumers will definitely notice.

Let’s say you’re offering a sale on a high-priced item and send out the news via Twitter and Facebook. Yet your typical customers for that particular item are people who aren’t that active on social media, and the end result is that few people take advantage of the sale due to a lack of awareness. Certain audiences respond best on certain channels, and with a fully integrated approach, you’ll be able to gather data on who is buying which products, and which marketing channels they respond to. Otherwise, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice and missing out on potential sales opportunities.   

Solving This Issue

The recommended solution for integration issues is to create an architecture map of your marketing infrastructure. This should indicate the systems you have in place, where all your data resides and the formats that it’s in. You’ll also need to clarify the tasks you want to automate. When you have an overview of the processes and can pinpoint where improvements can be made, you can decide how to best automate them or ensure that they’re being automated effectively. 

Also be sure to plan how data will be gathered from these different channels and how frequently. An integration specialist with experience in architecture mapping and integration will need to be brought in to achieve this, either someone from a different department or an outside vendor. The goal will be to orchestrate all your different channels in conjunction with your automation tool, so that you can automate tasks in any channel and pull data from all of them.

Lack of Adoption by Your Team and Lack of Automation

It’s common for any change—a new process, task, or approach—to met with some resistance. Learning a new software tool isn’t always easy, especially if it’s as complicated as marketing automation. Once you’ve implemented the new tool, it will be vital to convey to your team how it can make their lives easier. You don’t want to spend the time and money on software that’s ignored by your team because they don’t know why it’s needed or how to use it. 

Solving This Issue

Whenever any kind of change is introduced, communication is incredibly important and can stem any potential problems from occurring. You’ll need to convey to your department why marketing automation is needed, what can be accomplished by using it, and what the expectations are for using it. 

You’ll also need to provide some thorough training that will help people learn how to use it, test it out, and ask questions. Once people are comfortable using it and know the advantages it can offer, they’ll be more likely to adopt it and use it on a regular basis.

The training you provide should also convey how your team will benefit from the tool and connect this to achieving larger business goals. When people know that they’ll both be saving time and helping guide consumers toward making a purchase, they’ll see how an automation tool can contribute to company growth.

Showing a Return on Investment

In addition to having a  learning curve and being tricky to integrate, marketing automation has proven to be tough when it comes to measuring performance. Without any solid data on how a tool is providing benefits, you have no way of calculating an accurate return on investment and won’t be able to justify its use. 

Any ROI issues will likely grow out of the earlier challenges. If you’re facing a lack of adoption among team members or experiencing integration problems, you’re definitely not going to have a strong ROI. With a limited amount of data, you’ll only have a segmented view of your buyers’ journeys, and your ability to deliver personalized messaging will be hindered. Conversely, you could have a wealth of data from all the consumer touchpoints, but if no one knows how to analyze it, you won’t be able to derive any insights from it about how to connect with consumers. Whatever the situation, a lack of adoption or training on your team will make measuring ROI a huge challenge.

Solving This Issue

Solving your integration and adoption problems will go a long way toward having a stronger ability to calculate your ROI. When everyone is using the tool and data from all your marketing channels is being gathered, you’ll have a better pathway to knowing how well the benefits of automation match up with the time and expense of implementing it. 

Also be sure to use some specific goals as your ROI metrics. Your overarching objective might be to increase revenue, which is great, but you’ll need to have some more precise, identifiable goals in mind. Monitoring each of them will help you determine if you’re getting a strong ROI from your automation efforts.

This could be looking at whether your social media campaigns’ click-through rates increased, how many downloads an e-book received, or the email newsletter signups you gained. All these factors will indicate that you’re targeting your different audiences effectively and delivering content that speaks to their interests and preferences. 

Unifying the Multichannel User Experience 

Treating each of your customers as individuals, with messaging that’s tailored to their preferences and sales history, is within reach for any brand. All it takes is a combination of the right marketing automation tool and the knowledge of how to use it effectively. 

Once your automation software is in action and you’ve developed strategies for meeting the three main challenges, your team can achieve a number of benefits:

  • Handle repetitious tasks and save time.
  • Personalize marketing efforts based on customer data.
  • Find campaign weaknesses that can be analyzed and improved.
  • Track customers at each touchpoint and have a holistic view of the buyer’s journey.

By monitoring your progress and how well your campaigns are performing, you can gauge your ROI and determine how well you’re meeting your marketing objectives, 

For more details on conquering marketing automation’s challenges, contact one of Appirio’s automation experts. Our team can help you plan to craft a seamless customer experience that will meet (or exceed) expectations and build brand loyalty.

About the Author

Michael Brumitt

Michael Brumitt is a Communications Specialist at Appirio. As a writer and editor, his career has focused on creating engaging content that helps people solve problems, and his experience includes everything from e-books to traditional print-based publications. He currently lives in Indianapolis.

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