9 Marketing Automation Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make

9 Marketing Automation Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make


According to a 2021 HubSpot Blog Marketing Trends Report, 69% of marketers surveyed say they use automation in their marketing role.

Whether automation is a new or standard practice in your company, we want to help you avoid common traps marketers often fall into.

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In this post, we’ll discuss them and alternatives that solve these challenges.

1. You have dirty data.

In a 2021 state of marketing automation report, 58% of B2B professionals say the number one tactic that most amplifies the success of their marketing automation tool is quality data.

Dirty data can cost brands not only money but also time, as they take actions based on inaccurate information.

This can be anything from duplicate records and naming inconsistencies to outdated contact information and incorrect attribution.

A simple example of dirty data is an email list that’s never been cleaned. Your list likely has disengaged users, spam addresses, and duplicate emails that threaten the integrity of your data.

This will lead to low engagement numbers, damage to your IP reputation, high email marketing costs, and a loss of leads.

For your automation to function properly, it’s essential that you work with clean data to ensure your work will be worth the effort you’re putting in.

2. You picked the wrong automation tool.

A HubSpot Blog research report on media and content planning revealed that finding the right tool is a roadblock for many marketers.

In fact, 45.9% of those surveyed who don’t rely on marketing automation say the biggest obstacle they face is that they can’t find platforms with the capabilities they need.

In addition, 59% of B2B professionals say they don’t feel they’re utilizing their marketing automation tools to their fullest potential, according to the state of marketing automation report.

So, not only are marketers struggling with picking tools, they also struggle to use them.

Picking the right marketing automation tool is essential, as it will determine how successful your strategy is. Here are the top features to look for in marketing automation software:

  • User-friendly, intuitive interface
  • Advanced analytics and reporting
  • Knowledge base and customer support tools
  • Integrations
  • Scalable options

Check out this article on the top marketing automation tools available on the market.

3. Your marketing and sales teams aren’t aligned.

The worst thing you can do with marketing automation is operating in a silo. At the end of the day, marketing is a function designed to support sales, products, and other business sectors.

As such, it’s imperative that your marketing team bring in all necessary stakeholders to build workflows that align with teams beyond your own.

This is particularly important with marketing and sales teams who work hand-in-hand to turn leads into marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) then sales-qualified leads (SQLs) and finally customers.

Have you thought about what processes would benefit your sales team? This could look like an automated email from a sales rep once a lead has completed a high-intent behavior.

Of course, to define what that behavior is, you have to define that with the sales team.

Marketing automation software can enable sales reps to focus on converting leads instead of tedious tasks.

4. You don’t train your team.

According to the state of marketing automation report, 31% of B2B professionals say the most significant barrier to using marketing automation tools is lack of training, the most popular answer after lack of resources.

Automation tools are powerful but worthless if your team doesn’t know how to use them.

Holding training sessions will ensure that key stakeholders know your tool’s capabilities, are aware of current workflows and understand the processes to create new ones.

Here are a few tips for training your team:

  • Curate your training to the team – Information overload is a very real thing. To prevent this from happening and keep your sessions productive, only teach what’s relevant to that team.
  • Invite service provider reps to participate – No one will know the software better than its reps. Reach out to your provider and see if they provide training sessions.
  • Hold a multi-step training process – One session likely won’t be enough to efficiently train your team. Make sure you hold multiple sessions, using a combination of various learning strategies to promote learning.

5. You set and forget.

Although automation does suggest a set-and-forget approach, the reality is it’s very hands-on.

The difference is that your attention is going to something else. Instead of focusing on output, you can direct your attention to assessing performance and optimizing.

6. You only leverage only one type of automation strategy.

Too often, marketers start using marketing automation, get familiar with one set of tasks, then focus on that. Never expanding beyond what they already use.

This is how you miss out on opportunities to improve your brand. Take advantage of all of the features your software offers to maximize efficiency.

There are probably a lot of little tasks over the course of your work day that don’t seem time-consuming individually. However, if you add up all of the time you spend posting on social media, updating contact information, and other tasks, you end up with a large chunk of your day spent on things that can probably be automated.

Poke around your marketing automation to see which processes you can make more efficient. For example, in the HubSpot software, users can bulk update lead contact information instead of clicking into each record and changing details there.

The more processes you automate, the more time you’ll have each day to strategize with your team about content, lead generation, and lead nurturing tactics to keep attracting quality leads to your site.

Here are automation strategies you can leverage:

  • Chatbots
  • Task management
  • Lead scoring
  • Lead nurturing
  • Contract/quote automation
  • Lead rotation
  • Drip campaigns

7. Your automation software doesn’t integrate with your CRM.

A marketing automation system is supposed to make marketing easier. A CRM system is supposed to make managing leads and customers easier.

If your automation software and CRM don’t talk to each other, then you are making a lot more work for yourself.

Before deciding on marketing automation and CRM platforms, make sure they can integrate with one another, and make sure you have the budget to make it happen.

8. You don’t have a goal.

Take advantage of the ease of use marketing automation software provides and invest time and efforts into determining your goals first. Once you have them, you’ll want to assign these goals to each automated effort – social media, email workflows, and so on – to ensure it’s easy to track progress.

After all, marketers need a way to measure success when it comes to marketing automation, and one means of doing so is by evaluating goal attainment. For example, here at HubSpot, the Visual Workflows tool lets you set a specific goal for each automated workflow.

A goal might be a new lead transitioning into a marketing-qualified lead based on certain behaviors, such as downloading a specific number of content offers.

HubSpot Visual Workflows also allows you to track the percentage of contacts in each workflow that achieve the goal, which is another great way to measure the success and ROI of your marketing automation.

9. You don’t segment your email list.

You have a database full of qualified leads, but you’re using marketing automation software to blast out tons of emails that aren’t customized at all. As a result, your leads are churning because your emails aren’t useful to them.

The solution? Develop a lead nurturing strategy that includes email list segmentation so you’re sending specific emails to specific people that they’re more likely to open.

With the right marketing automation software, it’s easy to execute an email list segmentation strategy that delivers strong results. For example, HubSpot customers can use the Visual Workflows App to target their emails based on dozens of criteria, both demographic and behavioral.

Marketing automation is a powerful tool for any company – the trick is knowing how to optimize it and which pitfalls to avoid. By keeping these in mind, you’ll ensure your automation is working at its maximum potential.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Nov. 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness

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