There are tons of articles on why Marketing Automation is amazing and will “transform your business.”
There are also plenty of articles out there on why marketing automation fails.
While quite a few are the “We forgot that token format, so everything went out as Dear First Name,” a lot of the articles are about why companies never reach the true potential marketing automation offers.
Today, I want you to help you avoid losing $100,000 this year.
That’s a bold claim and if you read this entire post, and deeply consider the advice, you will make the most of your Marketing Automation Platform this year.
No one knows how to use the software
In my experience, this is the top reason MAP installations fail. Your team bought the vision, but no one really understood how to use the tool. Not only does no one on your team know how to do more than send email, no one truly understood how to achieve the vision the salespeople sold you on.
Once you realize this about six months in, panic sets in and you do one or more of the following:
- Call in a new consultant (this is often where I am asked to help).
- Fire the old consultant (if you even had one).
- Remove the inexperienced marketer you put in charge of the tool.
- Start looking for a new marketing automation tool…because it MUST be the vendor’s fault
- Blame anyone you can, because that was at least a $50,000 mistake just in cash, let alone time.
A lot of companies will switch tools several times, wasting a lot of cash and time which could have been focused on business expansion instead of pointless automation. One consideration is “Will the vendor grow with your ability to use the software?” A primary reason I chose Marketo the first time was they were at the right complexity for my team’s skills and we could grow as Marketo became more powerful. Education is very important.
Over the decades, plenty of articles and books have been written about failed software installations, and marketing automation is no different – it’s a special kind of software you build to market.
What are you solving for?
Many SMB firms, and a surprising number of large enterprises, find themselves using a MAP as a glorified email send tool after a few months, or even years, into an implementation. Everyone knows it’s wrong, yet they keep failing to move forward to nurturing or funnel transparency.
If your team wants to “automate the buyers’ journey” or “do lead nurturing,” rather than achieve funnel transparency, perhaps all you need is Mailchimp or a similar system. Such tools are a fraction of the cost (less than 10% of a MAP) and now perform quite a few “marketing automation” functions.
More hiring: Understand the true costs
While this is rarer these days, many firms did not realize the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a MAP and most vendors don’t discuss it openly. The reality is you are adding to your cost base without a clear plan for generating revenue from the tool. And that’s not your fault! Tools don’t “generate revenue,” they empower the marketer to do more with less or achieve transparency for better resource allocation.
- Annual and monthly subscription fees.
- Marketing Automation Manager to build/run tool.
- Hiring new staff that are trained on a MAP to build infrastructure behind each marketing program.
- Training costs.
- Implementation costs.
Even a small MAP could cost you $100,000 in the first year in TCO.
Automate Your Business First
What exactly are you automating? Lead flow and hand off between Marketing and Sales? Content distribution? What is your process now? Does it need to be automated?
Be clear about your goals at each phase of implementation so you don’t overpromise to yourself and executives. Use the Martech Maturity Model™ to help design an implementation plan. Take a look at some of the surveys showing adoption rates and unrealistic “time to value” expectations.
Lack of Content, Lack of Thought
I cringe a bit at this failure point because it is common and easy to blame. It is true…and not so true. Certainly, a lack of commitment to a strong content program will stymie the potential gains from automated content distribution machines. And a lack of content likely means no one has thought deeply about Buyer Personas, segmentation, targeting, and the buyers’ journey to the point of needing to automate it.
This failure of content also means you won’t be able to take advantage of MAP tools like Nurturing or Marketo’s Engagements, which are truly powerful–if you have Personas, Continuous Content, and a Journey.
So do blame a lack of content strategy, but also blame yourself for not building this up before, during, and after your MAP implementation.
Don’t lose $100,000! Do these things instead!
If you haven’t purchased a MAP yet, read this article. And read it even if you have purchased a MAP. Understand the path to success.
If you already have Marketo, and aren’t sure how to attain the vision, or to get your team trained well enough to go beyond Batch and Blast, I have two great options:
- Marketo Crash Course: do everyday demand generation with Marketo in a few days.
- Lead Lifecycle Crash Course: get that sync working today!
Training can be a small fee compared to a failed implementation.
Interested in more? Stay subscribed.
Jason Keller says
Josh, this article isn’t wrong, but in the wrong hands it can completely blow up a legitimate pursuit of using an automation platform; especially to those in a discovery phase (they may not realize there are a ton of automation options that can be had for much cheaper than $100K). I wish you would cross-link to some of your posts about how best to leverage MAPs too.
Josh Hill says
Yes, if you just read the headline, you could go down the wrong path. The goal of this article is to shock people into considering their options more clearly. A lot of people either sell themselves or get sold before they are truly ready to take advantage of the power. Some people should start with HubSpot or Mailchimp before moving to Marketo, for example.
I believe I did cross link to the Martech Maturity Model and others that discuss the purchase process and best practices.