Are you getting the most from your marketing automation platform?

An online marketing system has the potential to revolutionize your efforts. You can generate a higher number of better quality leads and nurture them throughout the revenue funnel without adding to your workload. However, many B2B companies expect to take a marketing automation solution out of the box and see instant results. This inevitably leads to frustration. While these systems have the capacity to deliver results and a high return on investment, you need to ensure your internal operations are in line to avoid many of the common obstacles. Although marketing automation can significantly cut down on the repetitive tasks sales and marketing employees are responsible for, the platform isn’t a magical solution that can be left running on its own. Here are some issues that companies have when implementing marketing automation and how to combat them:

1. Trying to use too many tactics instead of employing a strategy

With the extensive capabilities included in most marketing automation systems, it’s easy to go overboard. The issue with this approach is executives can be short-sighted when it comes to tactics over strategy, according to an article for VentureBeat written by Carlos Hidalgo. This method often reinforces internal silos, which can prevent sales and marketing alignment. Savvy B2B companies form an in-depth strategy before implementing a marketing automation platform – one that typically revolves around what buyers want and how to reach them. This approach can inform the decision of which tactics should be employed.

2. Significant lack of sales and marketing collaboration

This is a problem that has plagued B2B firms for many years. Internet lead generation is a primary source of contention between sales and marketing teams. Marketers often focus on acquiring a higher number of contacts, but sales representatives complain about the quality. Unqualified leads have a very low chance of ever converting. In addition, marketers typically think their work is done after they pass contacts over to the sales team. However, the lack of communication between the two teams often results in a disconnect when it comes to lead generation efforts. Marketers can’t attract the right kind of prospects unless they know what characteristics the sales team is looking for. When implementing a marketing automation platform, these gaps in communication and a lack of a shared definition of what makes a qualified lead can impede success, Christian Nahas wrote for ClickZ.

These solutions can bring the two teams closer together by offering shared metrics. However, the first step needs to be agreeing on the characteristics that make a qualified lead. In the initial stages of a marketing automation implementation, sales employees should give the marketing team feedback on the leads they’ve been given so marketers can adjust their practices in the future. This will lead to better sales efficiency because reps won’t be wasting time following up with cold or uninterested prospects, which ultimately translates to higher revenue gains. Both marketing and sales teams need to play to their individual strengths to drive results throughout the organization.

3. Not enough content

If your company doesn’t have enough sales and marketing content, implementing new technology will not solve this problem. While these platforms can automate the process of distributing content during the different stages of the sales cycle, they aren’t a substitute for creating adequate marketing materials. Many companies believe they don’t have enough content, but the problem is usually quality, according to Hidalgo. Relevancy can act as major driver of movement in the sales cycle. You need to make sure you’re sending the right message to the right prospect at the appropriate time. Good lead nurturing practices dictate that content needs to engage leads and help them move to the next stage of the revenue funnel. Keep in mind that content should always have a human touch. Leads aren’t likely to trust communications that seem like they were produced by robots.

4. Leaving the platform running in the dark

Like all digital marketing methods, you can’t set marketing automation and forget it. Although these solutions can significantly boost organizational efficiency, you need to regularly assess your controls to make sure everything is functioning as it should. Are leads dropping out mid-funnel? Are prospects interacting with the content reps send over? The answers to these questions and others can inform your ongoing strategy. If elements of your approach aren’t working, adjustments should be made. This can help you capture more sales and boost revenue over time. Another mistake is believing that marketing automation is exclusively for sending nurturing emails. Most platforms come equipped with strong reporting features that can tell you how effective your initiatives have been. Analytics are an important element of a marketing automation strategy and should not be overlooked.