As someone who has built a career in marketing automation, I sometimes like to stop and ask a deep question about its impact on business. I find asking these sorts of questions a great way to reinvigorate my love for what I do, whilst also letting me push my knowledge forward.
Before I take you down into the rabbit hole, I will say, if you’re looking for an answer to the title of this article. You won’t find a cut and dry answer here as every business is different with different needs. By reading this article I want you to think for yourself as to whether your business really needs marketing automation or not.
What is marketing automation?
The most textbook definition of marketing automation is, it’s the process of automating your marketing activities with software.
In a more practical sense, marketing automation is designed to help marketers to automate their communications with prospects through the middle of the prospecting funnel.
You can use marketing automation to handle your repetitive and time-consuming tasks like email marketing, social media and even ad campaign management. Freeing your marketing team to focus on delivering top-notch campaigns, content, frictionless customer on-boarding journeys and strategies. All of which will help your business to nurture your pipeline and start to generate business growth.
The boom in popularity when it comes to marketing automation has led to a massive misconception about what it’s actually good for. A lot of business owners and even some marketers are viewing automation as a solution for slowdowns in marketing outputs – for instance, generating new leads.
This misunderstanding is leaving businesses and marketers with powerful tools to automate middle of the funnel marketing activities, but no real solution for actually filling the funnel in the first place. And when your goal as a marketer is to generate new leads, the most crucial part of the funnel is the top.
This has ultimately led to marketers buying lists of contacts to nurture instead of generating inbound leads or qualifying their outbound ones. Whilst it’s a quick fix, it certainly isn’t a long-term solution to the problem. In fact, I’d argue it creates more issues because it ends up flooding your pipeline with unhealthy contacts, unusable data and ultimately, it inflates your pipeline with contacts who are never going to buy from you. None of which are going to help any business to grow. All of this is why it’s all so important to make sure any contacts who do enter your main pipeline, have been qualified.
This brings me on to the next point:
What causes marketing automation to fail?
I’ve already alluded to one of the biggest causes. And that’s the lack of a proper strategy that creates a solid top of the funnel foundation that will support what marketing automation is good for – the middle of the funnel.
You’ll have an abysmal ROI from marketing automation if you don’t have a steady stream of leads entering your funnel. The ROI gets even worse if your marketers keep chasing after the same people in your data for your market over and over. The more time spent chasing the same, arguably un-interested contacts, the more time your competition has free reign to target new companies in your market and mop-up their sales.
Something else to think about is the volume of leads you’ll need to hit your revenue goals. Does your database already have enough leads in there? You can do a simple reverse calculation of your conversation rates to figure this one out. According to Hubspot, email marketing databases decay by about 22.5% a year. If you’re not filling your database with high-quality leads, how are you going to keep achieving your revenue goals?
The last thing to think about here is, marketing automation is only going to help you to do one of two things:
It’ll help you to manage a large database or/and reduce your time doing repetitive tasks.
If your database and pipelines right now are small, you really need to think about whether or not it makes sense to invest the time and money into automating your marketing.
So let us bring it back to the initial question.
Is marketing automation hurting your business?
As I mentioned at the start of this article, there is no cut and dry answer. However, if a lot of what has been spoken about in this article feels familiar, then maybe it’s time you take a step back and reset your marketing strategy. Focus on how you can generate or engage with new contacts who have a legitimate interest in your product or service.