Although one of the best tools in your toolbox, it is often used wrongly. We have created a list of ways companies are using their marketing automation incorrectly. Go through the list and see what you are doing right and change anything you are doing incorrectly. Moreover, expand the list in the comments if you feel we have missed some points.
Why we usually fail with Marketing automation:
1. Sending e-mails to the same list over and over again
Use of a marketing automation tool without an extensive lead-generation strategy is like looking for girlfriends only within the pool of your ex- (and current) girlfriends. Since they know you, some might again try something with you, but the pool is simply too small. Our Marketing Automation (‘MA’) tool should be used in the TOFU, MOFU and BOFU (Top-, Middle- and Bottom-of-the-funnel) phases and, of course, there’s no TOFU and almost no MOFU if we always talk to the same group of people.
This means you need a fresh influx of email addresses every day. Most advertising channels allow you to run some sort of lead-generation campaigns (at least Facebook, Google and LinkedIn) that are often cheap(ish) and have high conversion rates while other tools allow you to import the contacts directly into your Marketing Automation tools.
2. Lack of website and email content
This is probably the biggest reason we most often fail with MA. An exhaustive and diverse mailing strategy requires an even more exhaustive and diverse list of items of content we are able to ship to our leads/contacts. Let’s do some math together.
If we want to send an email drip (or automation, a series of emails) with 5 emails, and each of those emails is to include links to 3 articles, then we need: 5 emails and 15 articles. An average article would be 1,000 words and, for argument’s sake, let’s say the average email would have half as many, namely 500 words.
Overall, this indicates we’ll need to prepare 17,500 words of content. If the base cost of content is 0.10 – 0.15 euro cents a word, we’ll need to invest at least €1,750 for the content of every email drip. And we should create multiple email drips, and add them regularly.
The other lack of content is even more problematic, and is connected to the first point. We need content to get people to give us their email address. No one and, I repeat, no one will scroll down to the end of your webpage, click the “subscribe” button you’ve hidden in the footer, and ask that you send them your emails. No. Quality leads come from your webpage content that is created with specific personas and user needs in mind. And these users are only prepared to exchange their email addresses for specific content, which is something ‘big’. Not just an e-book, but a video, an audio recording, an invitation to an event … it should be created specifically for the reader. So we need to create that content. The math here is easier. An e-book that requires some research and contains around 10,000 words would cost you again some €1,000 – €1,500 (here, we only calculated the cost of creating the content, but you should also plan on paying a designer and probably budget some funds to upgrade the website on which the e-book will be posted).
Of course, you can reuse content already published on your website, and we want you to do that as often as possible, but someone needs to create that content, too.
3. A lack of triggers to start automating
A key feature distinguishing real Marketing Automation tools from email sending tools are triggers based on user behavior on a website. Sharpspring will give you a snippet of code you add to every page of your website. That snippet allows you to figure out when a specific potential customer returns to your website and is acting as if they want to buy. And this is the right moment for you to reach out to that person by e-mail (or other methods, in-browser notifications, SMSs, whatever you want, email is just one option) and talk to them more. Because this is automated, you can do it often and with as many contacts as you want, at the same time.
And it is not only when people are acting like they are ready to buy. The triggers can be versatile, so you can contact visitors when they first arrive in a specific part of a website, or when they haven’t visited your website for some time. The more you know about your purchase funnel and about your customers, the more specific you can be with both the triggers and the content you send.
4. Forgotten by the sales team
We create all this content for one reason, and one reason only. We wish to convert cold contacts into hot opportunities. And when opportunities are hot, we need to work on them. The reality is that, in most companies, marketing (especially digital marketing) and sales live in two different worlds that do not touch (not to mention the missing link to product managers). And the information Marketing receives from Sharpspring (our Marketing Automation tool of choice) remains within the Marketing Department. Of course, it is great for the marketing team that 80% of people who start an email automation drip finish the drip. Yet, if that’s all that happens, no one gets any new revenue from this. They need to be contacted at the right moment, with the right message.
This is something you should do even if you do not use an advanced Marketing Automation tool. Even if you just send ‘old-school emails’, the people who have clicked on a link should be called first and will provide the highest conversion rate. Next, you call those who have opened that email and they will also have a higher conversion rate than people who did not even open (or even receive) the email. Work smart, not hard!
5. We do not use the extra features
When we make it to the point where we are sending automated emails based on website visitors’ behavior, we often feel we have reached the peak. But, as my father used to say, this is just an unnamed sub-peak of a sub-peak. The magic starts to happen when we start sending emails with forms that allow us to obtain more information about our users, and do so in a non-obstructive way. Because nothing is more frustrating than a form that asks you for your email address and your first and last name 45 times in a row. But since our emails and forms are connected to our CRM (a CRM is typically already part of the marketing automation system), we are able to fill in forms in advance if needed, or simply ask those questions we don’t have answers to yet.
And this is crucial because you won’t gather information about how big someone’s budget is on the first occasion. On the other hand, you’ll obtain that info if you ask for it in the 4th email as part of an email workflow.
6. Bad KPIs.
Seriously people! The email addresses you have are not there for you to simply possess them. Or to show off how long the list is at meetings. No, they exist to buy or to unsubscribe. That’s all.
So the size of your contact list should not be a KPI you measure.
New contacts and contacts that become opportunities should be your KPIs. Of course, open rates and click rates matter, but you need to look into what the people who come to your website actually do on the website. It is vital that you connect your emails with Analytics (UTMs) and observe not only the email sending metrics (open rates, click rates, forward rates), but the performance metrics.
If we look at the research showing into which channels companies will invest the most this year, content and email marketing always emerge on top. And, while this is great, let’s use the channels available to us smartly and they will produce top results. And let’s use them in such a way that the best results are ours. And this goes in the same way for Marketing Automation as it does for other channels.