There's a lot of buzz around whether marketing automation software is worth the investment of time and money, or whether it's a waste. Here's the thing: marketing automation can be a really great complement to your inbound marketing strategy IF it's used correctly. Many marketers, however, have come to believe some things about marketing automation that simply aren't true, which leads to misuse of the software and ultimately ends in a lot of disappointment and dismal results. Let's clear up 5 of the most common misconceptions that surround marketing automation and highlight both the dangers and merits inherent in marketing automation.
1. Marketing Automation Gets You Leads
This is the biggest misconception out there about marketing automation, so let's clear it up right now. Marketing automation does not get you leads; inbound marketing does. In fact, 25% of your database expires every year, so it's crucial to maintain inbound marketing efforts alongside marketing automation to ensure your database doesn't slowly wither away. When done correctly, however, marketing automation does help you make the most of those leads by nurturing them and navigating them through the decision-making process until they decide they're ready to buy (and even after they become a customer, to make sure they stay happy!).
2. Marketing Automation Means 'Set It and Forget It'
This is one of the easiest ways to make sure your marketing automation investment is a complete waste. Marketing automation software can offer robust functionality, but without an insightful marketer behind it to continually analyze and tweak campaigns, all that functionality is useless. Is your click-through rate on an email low? Test a new subject line. Is one segment of your database opting out of emails at a faster rate than others? Perhaps your send frequency is too high, or your messaging isn't quite hitting the mark. No one (and I mean no one) gets it right the first time. Keep coming back to check in on your data, adjust what didn't work, and do more of what works well.
3. Marketing Automation Helps With Email Deliverability
You can definitely still spam people with marketing automation, and marketing automation software cannot help you get your emails through spam filters. Marketers still have to understand and implement email marketing best practices and avoid things like sending irrelevant emails, emailing too frequently, and emailing people who haven't opted in to their communications. Between sophisticated SPAM filters, email overload, and advancements like Gmail's priority inbox, marketers have to ensure lists are segmented and emails address something the prospect cares about. If not, messages will get weeded out of inboxes in a jiffy, no matter how sophisticated your marketing automation software is.
4. Marketing Automation Personalizes Communication
Marketing automation scales personalized communication; it doesn't create it. The onus is still on the marketer to create buyer personas and interpret leads' behaviors to align their needs at any given time in the buying cycle with the message they should receive. Marketing automation software is not capable of gleaning what to send, when to send it, and to whom it should be sent all on its own; it needs a marketer (usually with the help of the sales team) to tell it all of these things.
5. Marketing Automation Sells For You
No, marketing automation software is not the salesperson of the 21st century. Marketing automation software simply helps bubble up the people that are inherently more "sold" on you because you've done a good job creating educational content and getting it in front of them. You still have to create and optimize that content, promote it in social media, drive visitors to landing pages with killer offers, and (this is the biggie) ensure your marketing automation software is running in such a way that it delivers the right content at the right time, and it understands how to identify those people who are ready to speak to a salesperson.
The major caveat to all of this (and if I haven't emphasized this enough, here it comes...) is that marketing automation only works when done correctly. Approach marketing automation as a tool to improve your inbound marketing, not a replacement for it, and learn how to interpret visitor activity for effective use of the tool as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
What other misconceptions have you encountered about marketing automation?Have you implemented it as part of your own inbound marketing strategy?