Marketing automation is steadily growing, and many companies are taking advantage of its benefits. According to research by Emailmonday, 51% of companies are currently using marketing automation, and more than half (58%) plan to adopt it.
But while marketing automation is reaching mass adoption, the bad news is that there are many automation mistakes people can make. These mistakes can range from email spamming, to not integrating automation with the company's database. And worse, some of these common errors can end up ruining a campaign, and/or damaging a company's credibility.
To help you avoid such headaches, here are six mistakes to avoid when using marketing automation.
1. Starting without a plan
Marketing automation will likely fail if you don't have a strategy in place.
A survey by Three Deep Marketing found that 58% of marketers felt they were having trouble finding success with automation tools due to lack of an effective strategy - and of course, it's challenging to achieve results without a plan to guide automation efforts.
Before getting started with automation, it's crucial to determine campaign goals and objectives. For example, the purpose of the campaign may be to generate leads or increase email open rates – each goal requires a different strategy.
It's essential to take the time to develop a strategic plan for marketing automation which includes outlining goals, segmentation, integrations, content, and other components.
2. Blasting irrelevant content
With marketing automation tools, it's easy to create and schedule campaigns quickly - but it's also easy to go overboard and blast too many emails or social media posts to audiences which aren't relevant.
In terms of email, spamming your contacts' inboxes can result in higher unsubscribe rates, which not only loses you contacts, but can additionally lead to account suspension with email service providers.
Be sure to segment your audiences, and only send relevant emails to the right people at the right time. You should also look to stagger them appropriately to avoid bombarding your contacts.
For example, a real estate agent might segment their email list to personalize content based on where clients are in the buyer's journey. While first-time homeowners will be interested in content related to maintenance, property taxes, or insurance, clients looking to sell their home are interested in topics such like tips for staging a house or how to price a home. Remember, the content has to always add value to the reader, so only send material that's useful and relevant.
With social media, posting too much content that's not centralized on a specific topic or industry can confuse followers. People use social media to be social, which, again, underlines the need to provide relevant posts that are useful and engaging.
3. Failing to integrate technology
Marketing automation solutions have to integrate with a company’s other tools and databases to be successful. Otherwise, automation tools won't be able to communicate with other systems, or leverage valuable data to create personalized customer experiences.
According to ResearchCorp, 89% of users that have deployed marketing automation systems have integrated it with their CRM systems. Such integration facilitates a unified approach to data management, and will greatly enhance customer interactions.
And while many marketing automation platforms are able to connect with other tools and systems, businesses can also use data management software to help them combine automation solutions.
4. Setting it and forgetting it
One of the major risks of utilizing marketing automation is to fall into "set it and forget it" mode.
Adopting this type of approach will not see you generate optimal results. While marketing automation certainly saves time by automating manual tasks, it still requires someone to take the reins and monitor campaigns
Users should frequently check in on automated campaigns and monitor their performance in order to catch any errors or unwanted outcomes.
For example, a trigger may not work correctly, or there could be a lack of engagement as a result of your automation process. Monitoring each campaign enables businesses to stay abreast of what's going on, and pause the campaign and make changes if needed. Otherwise, a campaign that isn't effective will continue running.
5. Not testing or optimizing
Testing content is a critical part of marketing automation, enabling businesses to learn more about their audience and predict whether or not a strategy or campaign will succeed. Then, users can make changes to optimize campaigns based on results.
For example, users can conduct A/B testing to maximize the capabilities of their email marketing automation tool. Instead of creating just one version of a campaign, they should build two versions and compare elements, such as the subject line, CTA, or sender address. Be sure to only test one variable at a time to find out why something is working.
Real estate agents, for example, can test their email subject lines by sending their email to a smaller segment of their list to see which one persuades clients to open, and then send the winning subject line to the rest of their audience automatically. They may find that a question, such as "Are you still looking in X neighborhood?" performs better than a statement like "Check out these properties in X neighborhood."
It's also important to test how emails appear on different devices, and design them responsively.
And social media can be tested as well - in fact, it’s crucial to test your social media post CTAs. Maybe “Learn more” just isn’t working, but there's something else that gets people to click on the post. Be sure to test out writing longer and shorter posts (on the networks that allow) too, and test out how well different hashtags work.
6. Fixating on the wrong metrics
When reviewing the performance of an automated campaign, it's easy to get excited by a high-performing metric and ignore other significant numbers. Don't get distracted - make sure you dig further to get the full picture and understand the results of your efforts.
For example, a high email open rate is good to see, but this metric doesn't necessarily mean a campaign is performing well. Look further at the click-through rate to measure a campaign's success. Just because users are opening an email, that doesn't mean that they're taking action.
Be sure to look at various metrics when measuring the performance of an automated campaign.
Businesses that automate manual marketing tasks should be careful to avoid these mistakes. When done correctly, marketing automation can undoubtedly help companies to grow and increase their ROI - but as noted, it can be easy to fall into simple traps and lulls that will derail your overall effort.