The Problem with Marketing AutomationBy Michael Shearer

Freed from the shackles of working for marketing automation companies and agencies, I can finally come clean about the truth behind the highly touted and sought after software.

What I want to say about it, and the way it is sold, is apropos with the theme here at Spin Sucks.

There are two very big ideas that are core to the pitch of marketing automation.

They are:

  1. “You’ll love it” 
  2. “It does everything”

You’ll Love Marketing Automation

Clearly I’m simplifying the language used by marketing automation companies, but have you seen the convoluted way many vendors try to explain it?

Yes, the benefits of marketing automation are many: Improved efficiency and effectiveness in functional and financial areas.  That doesn’t happen overnight.

You won’t love it at first when bumping up against:

  • Push back from executives and sales staff not wanting to do things differently (this still happens, trust me)
  • Slower implementation time than planned
  • Initial failed campaigns from lack of product understanding/training or insufficient strategic planning
  • Bugs and other gotchas that aren’t in the provided documentation

I’m not against marketing automation. I grew to love it early on in my exposure to it. However, I still encounter many of these hurdles every time I launch a new project.

Considering it’s still very new to many people, I can understand any lack of love teams have with their first few go-arounds. Truth be told, though, many people and teams do see the potential quickly, even through the learning curves and growing pains.

It Does Everything

Alternatively put, “yes, it can do that” is practically a rallying cry for any marketing automation sales person trying to move a lead forward.

Fat chance.

I’m sure salespeople  who catch wind of this will deny, but I’ve heard spiels from ample people in this space. It’s an oxymoron to the finer principles of what the software truly can do.   

While many representatives and platforms may boost of features that seem to do everything, very often they are:

  1. Insufficient and far lacking compared to best in class solutions, e.g. social media management.
  2. Really require integration into a third party service (that is an additional expense).
  3. On the product roadmap, but spoken of like they “right around the corner” or currently exist. Many times then delivered late or not at all.
  4. Misrepresented by sales to try to close a deal (sometimes by mistake, sometimes knowingly).

For What It’s Worth

Aside from this spin you may encounter, if deployed and managed correctly, you can trust the marketing automation system you invest in to deliver better business results. And even the vendors who may seem to deliver spin, do provide viable marketing automation solutions.

Ultimately, you are better off doing a formal marketing automation selection project versus taking the word of vendors or review sites (their often compromised counterparts) directly.

Defining your business objectives and feature requirements, then vetting vendors that fit are critical steps toward your success with marketing automation.

image credit: shutterstock

Michael Shearer

Michael Shearer is a veteran marketing technologist and Director of Marketing Operations for SelectHub. Michael has consulted on and delivered implementation and analysis work on hundreds of digital marketing projects for more than 75 businesses in both B2B and B2C markets. Aside from MarTech Operations, he is very busy raising his five children in the front range of Colorado.

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