Avoid these common pitfalls in marketing automation

Despite all the technical solutions B2B marketers can utilize to connect with their target audience, the sales cycle is getting longer and more complicated. This is why more than half of the top B2B companies have adopted an online marketing system to grapple with modern buyer behavior, according to Pardot’s 2013 “State of Demand Generation” report. Part of the reason for this widespread implementation is because these top brands have a great deal of market visibility, and companies want to keep up with their competitors. Because of the increased investment, marketing automation technology may experience new developments that will offer companies even greater benefits, Mathew Sweezey wrote for ClickZ.

However, some B2B brands are reluctant to adopt a marketing automation platform for a variety of reasons. When weighing the barriers to adoption against the benefits, marketing automation can offer improved Internet lead generation and nurturing initiatives, which can contribute to a higher percentage of deals won – helping you boost profitability over time.

Why are B2B companies avoiding marketing automation adoption?

One of the biggest reasons smaller B2B companies have delayed implementing an online marketing system is because they don’t think they have the in-house expertise to properly utilize the platform and see a full return on investment, according to an article in VentureBeat written by John Koetsier. The majority of modern, effective marketing strategies are largely technical. Data-driven efforts can deliver the level of personalization that prospective customers want. However, Koetsier pointed out that a recent Adobe study found most marketers don’t have the technical skills needed to succeed in these initiatives.

Because of the lack of knowledge, many executives don’t think they will experience the complete promised benefits of these solutions. This is most likely in correlation to the belief that employees don’t have the right skill sets. Koetsier suggested that the adoption of marketing automation has largely occurred in the tech sector. Companies have shied away from these programs because they are fairly new to the market. Some businesses have reported underwhelming results in the extent to which their lead generation campaigns have improved. However, marketing automation can increase the number of qualified leads your sales and marketing teams are able to attract and ultimately improve conversion rates when used properly.

How can you avoid lackluster results with marketing automation?

Fear of not capturing ROI can hold companies back from adopting an online marketing platform, but this can prevent them from significantly improving sales and boosting the bottom line. In addition, some businesses fail in their marketing automation endeavors. Writing for Ad Age, Jason Abbate suggests several factors that lead to marketing automation failure and how these can be avoided:

1. Sales and marketing aren’t aligned

While these platforms can help bring the two teams closer together, software can’t do all the work. When implementing a marketing automation platform, both teams need to be involved in the process. This helps them form shared metrics. The first thing sales and marketing employees need to do is agree on the definition of a qualified lead. Abbate said most companies think this is an easy task, but very few B2B brands maintain this definition. Misalignment between the two teams can reduce sales effectiveness because representatives may be wasting their time following up with unqualified or cold leads. However, when these two groups of employees collaborate, lead scoring efforts can be more efficient.

2. Gaps in knowledge of your audience

One of the top benefits of marketing automation is increased visibility throughout the buyer’s journey. However, companies won’t experience this without content tailored to customer preferences. You need to provide targeted content for each stage of the sales cycle. It’s nearly impossible to accurately target your audience without complete knowledge of their pain points, top industry issues, business needs and goals. You need to gain deep insights into these issues to provide the best experience for customers and offer the most relevant content.

3. Not enough content

Marketing automation platforms have powerful targeting capabilities, but they won’t function well without sufficient content. Many B2B marketers are struggling to produce enough content, but this tactic forms the backbone of marketing automation success. However, the mistake some businesses make is thinking “enough” content simply means quantity. Relevancy can often trump quantity. Going back to collecting meaningful insights, this can inform content marketing decisions.

4. Not acting on metrics

To reiterate: Marketing automation has many advanced capabilities, from capturing leads to engaging prospects to reporting the results. Having the right metrics in place can help you see all the promised benefits of these platforms. All insights collected from these systems need to be actionable. If the data is showing a trend within one customer segment, it may be worthwhile to make slight adjustments to your content strategy. These metrics can help you establish triggers within the system.

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