6 Common Reasons Why Marketing Automation Fails

why marketing automation fails
Why does marketing automation fail?

Marketing automation software is powerful. When properly used, it can automate huge swaths of your marketing, sales, and customer service.
With the proper integrations, you can add elements of automation to nearly any aspect of your business.

And yet, research on the use of marketing automation shows that many marketers feel they aren’t using technology to the extent that they could be—in some studies, up to 85% of marketers think they could get more out of marketing automation.

To help you avoid marketing automation mistakes and make the most out of your platform, here are six common reasons why marketing automation fails.

1. Lack of human touch

As I write this, I hear sirens blaring outside my window in Chicago. It’s an hour until the end of the work day, and I’ve reached that moment where the last cup of coffee has worn off but it’s too late to have another.

All of that is true—but me sharing it is also a copywriting technique described by legendary copywriter Gary Halbert in The Boron Letters. Describing your setting makes writing feel more personal and relatable.
Segmentation is critical. Personalized messaging can increase engagement.

But if the content of your message is impersonal (which is can be even if you’re using personalization tags), you can still sound like a robot.

For whatever reason, many marketing materials sound like they come from machines, or a thesaurus. In all of your messaging—sound like a person.
If you find yourself talking about “best-of-breed solutions,” consider taking a step back. If you have a choice between the word “utilize” and the word “use,” say “use.” If you can say “procure” or “get,” say “get.”
Personalize your messaging. But also be personal in your messaging.

2. No top-of-funnel growth

Just because you managed to get someone’s contact information, doesn’t mean you will be able to contact them indefinitely. Contact lists decay over time. By some estimates, 25% of an email list decays every year.

Whether someone has moved on to a new email address or has simply lost interest in what you have to offer, list decay is a major factor that needs to be considered for marketing automation.

You can’t just set up automations to send offers and launches to current contacts and call it a day.

Yes, those kinds of automations are “set it and forget it,” in the sense that you no longer have to manage individual offers. But you still need to spend some time filling the top of your funnel so that your automations have contacts to work with.

Growing your email list and attracting new prospects can help automation really shine. You can also use it to weed out inactive email subscribers (which improves your reporting).

3. Messages that are the same for everyone

Marketing automation software can help you send messages to a lot of people, very quickly, without going through tedious manual processes. Automated email is a huge time saver.
But if you set up automations to send the same messages to everyone, you could be drastically missing the mark. If you don’t segment your audience by interests, you could wind up sending bikini ads to 37 year old men.
Are there 37 year old men who might be interested in that offer? Maybe, and more power to them. But that probably isn’t the largest or most profitable market for bikinis.
Segmenting your lists is critical. Personalized messages can be a gamechanger.
Make sure you are collecting information from your contacts—whether through forms or behavior—that lets you deliver what types of content people are most interested in.

4. Messages sent at the wrong time

If a contact just signed up for your email list to get a free ebook, it might not be the best time to pitch them a thousand dollar product.
You can set up automations to send almost any message you want. But it’s also important to consider whether you’re sending your messages at the right moments.
Target your messages to the right stage of the customer lifecycle:

  • Identify: Contacts are looking for information, and you are looking to find contacts interested in what you have to offer. Attract contacts with your core value propositions.
  • Nurture: Contacts are looking to solve their problems, and you are looking to discern their interests and further the relationship. Send them actionable advice that helps segment them based on interest.
  • Convert: Contacts are ready to buy something that solves their problem, and you want to sell it to them. Here’s where sales and product content becomes important.
  • Retain: Contacts want to keep getting value. You want to encourage referrals and repeat business. Keep providing value.

Some contacts will only get in touch once they’ve already pre-qualified themselves and are ready to buy from you directly.
Other times, you’ll want to be careful not to send sales content to someone who is only just beginning to understand their problem.
The 5 Levels of Customer Awareness, from copywriter Eugene Schwartz, are another useful framework to keep in mind.

  • Unaware: A contact doesn’t know they have a problem
  • Pain aware: A contact knows they have a problem, but they don’t know there are solutions
  • Solution aware: A contact knows they have a problem and that solutions exist to solve it
  • Product aware: A contact knows they have a problem and has heard of your specific solution
  • Most aware: A contact is very familiar with your product and almost ready to make a decision

Your messaging should be targeted to meet contacts at their stage of awareness.
If a contact is pain aware, you can’t immediately start selling them your product—you first need to help them understand that there are solutions out there.
If a contact is product aware, it’s more appropriate to highlight features and benefits—you need to help them understand why your product solves their problems.
Understanding the customer lifecycle and stages of awareness can help you avoid a common reason why marketing automation fails—and deliver messages at the right time.

5. Limiting messages to email

A weekly newsletter is a fine marketing tactic. And it’s a perfectly reasonable way to use your email marketing platform.
But it doesn’t come anywhere close to tapping the full power of marketing automation software.
Automation can help you score contacts, and move them automatically through a CRM. You can do multi-channel marketing, sending text messages and automatically adding people to Facebook ad campaigns.
You can send emails, but trigger those emails based on purchases, visits to your website, email opens, or other factors.
One major reason why marketing automation fails is that it doesn’t gets fully used. When all of its capabilities are used together, planned out across the customer journey, marketing automation can be an extremely powerful tool.

6. Neglecting content marketing

Marketing automation is fantastic at helping you find the right people to send messages to. It’s also really good at telling you the exact right time to follow up.
One major reason why marketing automation fails? No message.
If automation is the engine behind your marketing, content is the fuel. Content marketing is a huge pieces of most marketing automation strategies because it provides the message.
There are a few different ways that content marketing fuels marketing automation

  • Marketing automation can deliver lead magnets to grow your email list—the actual lead magnet is content
  • Automations can help you re-engage inactive contacts—but the message in your emails and the content your direct them to are critical
  • Welcome series, upsell and cross-sell offers, and onboarding emails can all be automated—but all require high quality content if they are going to convert

Neglecting the writing of high-quality content is incredibly common—and a common reason why marketing automation fails.
You can tweak automation triggers, lead scores, and conditions all you want—if your content sucks you won’t convert as many people as you could.
If you aren’t getting as much from automation as you’d like, take a good honest look at your content and copywriting.

Conclusion: Why marketing automation fails

Why does marketing automation fail?
Usually, marketing automation mistakes lead to users not making full use of the software they have available to them.
To get more out of your platform, stop:

  • Sounding like a machine
  • Neglecting the top of your funnel
  • Sending everyone the same messages
  • Sending messages at the wrong time
  • Limiting yourself to emails
  • Neglecting content marketing

Avoid these mistakes—and watch automation grow your business.

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