By Julia Rosenthal , Digital Product Manager, Niche Media
If the promise of marketing automation is to make the jobs of marketers easier, why do things so often get so fuzzy so quickly?
Marketing automation, by definition, involves software platforms designed for marketing departments and organisations to more effectively market on multiple channels and automate repetitive tasks.
Applying this very broad definition to your everyday tasks is where things become a little fuzzy for the majority of marketing departments. Countless meetings take place exploring the relevance and value to individual businesses, yet time after time people leave these meetings without actionable tasks to get the ball rolling on an implementation.
People know they should be doing it, but don’t know where to start. Researching automation tools and knowing how to apply them in an everyday sense, can be a daunting project in itself.
Adding to the complexity is the question that, unless you have someone in-house who’s previously gone through a similar process, how are you meant to be aware of the pitfalls and limitations of each system – pitfalls and limitations that may have a huge impact on the useability for your unique requirements?
For example, when I ran through the process while working as digital marketing specialist at a global B2B employee health and wellbeing provider, I didn’t even think to ask about the responsiveness of the landing page templates offered. We had a responsive site, and I naively assumed each automation platform – being at the forefront of web technologies – would also offer responsive capability, seeing as the ‘mobile-first’ mantra had been widely echoed for a number of years.
However, this wasn’t the case. Not only did they not offer responsive templates, but the platform itself struggled to accommodate custom built responsive designs. But, because I didn’t specifically ask, I didn’t find this out until after I started using the system and was locked into a 12-month contract.
In my case, this caused major problems that needed a web developer to fix, costing thousands of dollars. It also impacted my ability to use the lead nurture campaign options of the platform. And when it all boils down, no automation platform is going to work out your lead nurture or user journey mapping for you. This still requires a significant investment of time from your marketing department.
I doubt this is any huge revelation for most readers, but I do think a lot of marketers underestimate the required time to map out a robust email lead nurture campaign. Building the emails themselves is one of the easier tasks. Mapping the campaign and thinking of every possible scenario, in order to account for each fork in the journey, is the most difficult part.
Which is why, when all’s said and done, much of marketing automation is still at the mercy of skilled campaign managers.
There’s a real art to building a successful email lead nurture strategy. Marketing automation does certainly enable levels of personalisation, and for user choices to be accommodated along the journey, even notify sales reps of choices their clients make in real time. But I don’t think there will ever be a time where the platform can relieve much of the time burden associated with setting something like this up. If you’re looking to implement an automation platform, make sure you have a skilled campaign manager on board also, because that will ultimately dictate your success or failure.
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