Marketing Automation Fails and How to Avoid Them

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As is life, what can go wrong, will go wrong. It’s just the way that the universe works. This can particularly be true of marketing automation platforms (MAPs).

While MAPs are being adopted by many companies, marketers can still face difficulty getting the best result out of the tech they are using. This can sometimes lead to disastrous results. Problems can arise from a lack of a clear strategy, the complexity of the MAP being used, data quality issues and technical skill. All of these can lead to problems further down the line.

So let’s take a look at some of the issues that can be encountered and how they can be resolved before they reach the end user.

Failed Personalisation

From time to time you may get an email reach your inbox with something along the lines of “Hi FirstName”. This unmodified tag may appear as your name, your company’s name, industry, location, etc. It’s a fairly simple error but can make the end user know that they were part of a mail shot, rather than on the receiving end of a personal email.

This error can be corrected by having the correct data at the correct time. All it needs is one extra field in a database to be filled and ensuring the tag itself is correct. Plus some basic testing, such as sending the email to different people within the organisation to make sure it works as expected.

If you feel as though you don’t have sufficient data for all of your clients, or the time to test that automation, it could be best to leave it to a minimum or having fallback options such as default text. Having no personalisation can be better than a failed attempt.

Remember to test your email campaigns before you send them to help avoid this issue.

Not controlling your auto-replies

Having auto-replies can free up your time for the more important things. But sometimes it’s no match for the human touch.

Take the example of timed posts on social media, they can free up time once they’re set up. The posts can be scheduled to go out during the most active times and can portray a message of your choosing. But what happens if they’re ill timed?

Sometimes something major can happen in your country, for example, a natural disaster. What happens if your happy, scheduled post still goes out during this time? Or what if you’ve misjudged the tone of your post and it turns out offensive? Sometimes, having a human touch can be better than having automation. It can be best if you leave some things to people and let machines have the boring tasks.

That’s not to say automation shouldn’t be used as it’s a great way to stay on top of social media. But reviewing what’s scheduled frequently, or only scheduling a short time in advance can help avoid these issues.

Not following up on leads

MAPs are designed to help you keep track of (and follow up on) leads. So if you’re losing them, then you’re defeating the purpose of using automation in the first place.

A good MAP will offer the ability to integrate web data into other channels. It can be surprising what you can learn about a visitor (and a potential lead) from their browsing behaviour on your website, and yet this can go overlooked for a number of reasons.

This problem can be made worse by the complexity of the MAP being used and how hard it is to integrate into existing systems. One effective way of combating this is to add some tags onto your website so that you can monitor which links are clicked and how users navigate around. Tools like Google Analytics are a great resource, and one you should consider for your website.

Campaigns having bad data

Bad data can impact your MAPs in several ways. From having unreliable metrics to imprecise targeting, and from incorrect personalisation to lower lead quality. Having any of this in just your email marketing can impact deliverability, click through rates, bounces and unsubscribes.

This is bad enough, but this data can be moved from your MAP to your customer relationship management (CRM) software and then into your internal databases. This can mean that you can have incorrect data in many touchpoints with your customers.

The best way to prevent this is to have a robust data lifecycle in place and a data management plan.

Focusing Small

As it goes, the Devil is in the details. This is never truer as it is with automation. There are so many small aspects of it that it can be easy to get caught up and lose sight of the bigger picture of what you’re trying to accomplish.

A MAP is only a tool, and tools are only as good as those that are using them. If you feel as though your marketing isn’t generating the desired results, it can be good to take a step back and analyse how all the little things fit into the bigger picture.

Summing up

A good MAP shouldn’t do the work for you. It should just automate the repetitiveness of your marketing so that you can focus on what’s important. If you just rely on your MAP and have your campaigns on autopilot, then it’s likely you’re not getting the full result you expected. Sometimes marketing needs the human touch to keep it heading in the right direction.

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About the Author

Siân Morris

Pay Per Click Consultant