Don’t Put Your Marketing Automation on Autopilot

Optimize your marketing automation

Marketing automation promises a lot—from streamlining your marketing to increasing your leads and growing your business. However, your success isn’t automatic, and marketing automation often isn’t the silver bullet it’s made out to be.

It’s not your marketing department. It doesn’t replace your sales team. And it certainly isn’t a set-and-forget tool.

In fact, marketing automation requires considerable strategizing and execution to get an effective program up and running. To assure your investment is built on a rock-solid foundation, you’ll need some good, old-fashioned hard work in the following four areas.

Set your strategy first

The purchasing process is more complicated than ever, which is why any slapdash marketing efforts will likely produce disappointing results and wasted budgets. Success demands strategy and real thinking—from experienced leaders, not Joey, the intern.

Get input and buy-in from key stakeholders, including the sales team, customer service and even the C-suite, to nail down your marketing automation campaign strategy and what tactics you’ll leverage. Do you want to build a thought-leadership reputation, offer incentives to drive sales, create hype around a new product launch or just maximize brand awareness through repeated exposure? Be sure to align your strategy with your established business objectives.

Messaging matters

One problem we all face is information overload. Think about your email. You probably have a tough time answering all of your messages—and your customers likely do, too.

Optimize your messaging to make a quick, powerful impact on customers. Concise, benefit-oriented messaging that speaks to prospects in their own language is the best way to break through the increasing amount of marketing noise.

For example, if you’re targeting a purchasing and procurement audience, messages about branding and marketing topics won’t resonate. Instead, they’ll care more about pricing and effects on the bottom line. You must focus on what matters to each audience. Map out their specific communication nuances and craft your automated tactics around relevant messages to trigger action.

Push the design

Marketing automation systems can hinder your creativity—but only if you let them.

Sure, you can whip out an email just about as fast as you can fill that coffee mug sitting next to your computer. The question is: will prospects find it compelling?

Don’t think they won’t notice a stripped-down brand presence or a run-of-the-mill design template with your logo slapped on it. Image is everything, and it pays to make a strong impression. If it looks like you don’t care, why should your customer?

The key is to not let your marketing automation system box you in. Sure, it’s easy for me to say “be creative,” but really, you have to push the design limits to maximize your brand aesthetic and stand out. It’s always wise to get the A-OK from your brand manager to ensure that each communication is not only on-strategy but on-brand, too.

Think big picture

A key advantage of marketing automation is the ability to aggregate and analyze the data of your automated tactics in one cohesive platform. While this may seem like a fully integrated marketing approach, don’t forget that effective tactics exist outside of marketing automation systems.

It’s critical that you treat your marketing holistically. Marketing automation is just one component of your marketing strategy—it’s not your complete strategy. So don’t forgo tradeshow participation, print advertising or other effective tactics just because they don’t directly integrate into your system. Your job is to create synergy across your efforts and maximize your total marketing power.

Marketing automation is a great base to work from, but it shouldn’t define your marketing nor should it limit it. It isn’t an excuse to be lazy, so don’t let the promise of streamlined processes get in the way of creating truly compelling marketing. There’s always an opportunity to do something better or make a stronger impact. Study your audiences, know their challenges, be creative and speak to customers in their language about how you can help them reach their goals.

About Jim MacLachlan

Tartan Marketing president, Jim MacLachlan, has more than 20 years of experience in marketing management, sales segmentation and strategic selling.

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