Most brands I’m familiar with want to transform at least part of their marketing. Whether you’re revamping your email marketing, revitalizing your mobile approach, connecting your website with other channels, or bringing all of your channels together in one place, marketing automation technology can help.

But to get the most out of the technology, you have to understand more about making that transformation, including how the tech works and the top mistakes many brands make.

Does Marketing Automation Work?

Let’s get real. An automation platform is not a substitute for “bad” marketing, and it won’t suddenly fix disconnected processes or silos. It’s not a silver bullet that will suddenly remedy all your woes.

If each one of the 7,000+ marketing tech tools out there could actually live up to half of their hype, the majority of marketers would be executing flawless, perfectly placed campaigns that convert enough visitors to make the marketing department self-sustaining. Marketers would have tons of time on their hands and less work to do. But that’s not happening just yet.

So does automation work? Yes, it works really well if you want to simplify processes and production, scale personalization across your database, and measure results. As with all things, though, the strategy and work you put in is exactly what you’ll get out of it. It’s also crucial to understand how tech can help and where its shortcomings lie.

How Does Automation Work?

Whether you’re an automation beginner or pro, understanding the basics about how automation works is always good.

Automation platforms — as opposed to one-off point solutions — work to unify and centralize all customer data from a single source. This includes every channel you’re using, be it email, mobile, social media, your website, and even offline data.

In doing so, these tools enable you to create a complete view of each customer. Interactions across email can be reflected when that person visits your online storefront, for example. Follow-up emails or social retargeting ads with relevant content and messaging can be automatically served up when that person builds a shopping cart without checking out.

These solutions are a dime a dozen. Much more advanced platforms with built-in, embedded layers of artificial intelligence and industry-specific blueprints are completely repaving the way for the future of e-commerce marketing.

Related Content: How AI Marketing Works: Achieving 1-to-1 Personalization at Scale

One of the biggest drawbacks to not using automation technology to supplement your marketing is that personalization is impossible to achieve manually. Audience segmentation, granular targeting, and omnichannel communication are also nearly impossible without automation. A marketing automation platform worth the cost can boost those efforts and help your business maintain effectiveness regardless of the channel the customer chooses or when they’re interacting.

Michael Doyle, Head of Marketing at City Beach, articulated how marketing automation has transformed his business:

“What I’m seeing now, it’s almost like a marketing renaissance… driven by technology. Through a bit of automation and some fairly basic personalization, we were able to roll out a bunch of campaigns — and when I say a bunch, we send a lot of emails. [However], less than 2% of our emails are automated — but over 30% of our revenue is driven by those emails. It was all facilitated by the automation platform.” ~ Mike Doyle, Head of Marketing, City Beach

twitter “With #automation, we were able to roll out a bunch of #campaigns – less than 2% of our #emails are #automated, but > 30% of revenue is driven by those emails,” says Mike Doyle of @citybeach CLICK TO TWEET

Check out this article a more comprehensive overview of marketing automation where we share more can’t-miss tips.

Top Marketing Automation Mistakes

Misconceptions, myths, and downright mistakes still run rampant among marketing organizations across the globe. The mad gold rush to adopt tech and the over-emphasis on features has, in part, caused widespread misuse of the software, itself.

It’s as if some marketers have lost sight of the classic Marketing 101 fundamentals that our mentors taught valiantly. We need a better way to think about automation. Here are three of the most common martech mistakes.

1. Amassing a towering tech stack

One of the most common misconceptions is that the bigger your tech stack, the better… or the more powerful your marketing will be. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the more tech in your stack, the more vulnerable you become. Consolidation is the name of the game, and working with IT to ensure new tech adoption is seamless is mandatory.

Douglas Karr

“A marketer’s job is not to be putting together technology. It’s to be creative, to come up with incredible solutions and communicate effectively. It’s frustrating to me that it’s almost upside down.”

Douglas Karr • Founder, Martech Zone, & Strategic Consultant, DK New Media • @douglaskarr

Tech stacks cost time, maintain redundancies, frustrate the marketers who have to use it, and pose security risks.

stacks cost time

2. Letting software dictate strategy

Don’t fall victim to relying on tech to drive your strategy. Things should work in the opposite manner! When we let an automation platform dictate what we can (or want) to do, we fall into a self-limiting, restrictive pit.

Robert Rose

“You’ve got to take a step back and stop letting the technology drive the strategy. Most organizations right now say ‘what tech or capabilities do we have?’ and thus that becomes the strategy. It needs to be the other way around where we say ‘here’s what we want to do, this is our strategy’… and we then find the technology to facilitate that strategy. Most businesses find that the gaps they have are mostly in connecting things together (not in the capabilities to actually do the thing).”

Robert Rose • Marketing Strategist, Author, Speaker, Advisor and Storyteller • @Robert_Rose

Things only get messier and more difficult when you start with what the tech can do as opposed to the objectives you want to achieve.

3. Not leveraging your automation platform to become smarter and drive maximum revenue

Raise your hand if you’re legitimately using your marketing automation platform to gain business intelligence insights, learn more about customers, and drive more revenue to its fullest extent.

Hands not in the air? Don’t worry — you are not alone! The stark reality is that, in the face of overflowing to-do lists, an over-saturated industry with hundreds of choices, and escalating performance demands, many organizations are simply investing in the shiniest new object, hoping it’ll at least temporarily relieve their pain.

“Empty software” is a pervasive issue plaguing marketers everywhere. When we buy hefty tech and only use a portion of what it can actually do, we’re wasting our investment and neglecting game-changing capabilities that can help boost the bottom line.

Brenda Stoltz

“The strategic function [of automation technology] within a business is huge… [tech] is designed to achieve a goal — but the basics must still be covered. Martech is a tool; it’s not magic. If you don’t have processes in place, if you don’t execute good marketing, martech isn’t the magic fairy dust that’s going to make things [suddenly] good. It is magic fairy dust if you want to scale, be efficient, and have the right analytics.”

Brenda Stoltz President, Ariad Partners @BSStoltz

twitter “#Martech is magic fairy dust if you want to scale, boost efficiency, & gain access to #analytics,” says @BSStoltz CLICK TO TWEET

Parting Thoughts

The right marketing automation platform can unlock major benefits, but only when leveraged as a piece of the strategy, as the means to bringing that strategy to life.

To get the most out of your automation platform, understand what you want to accomplish, what the platform can do, and if it will be a means to those defined ends. Only there will the magic of martech be found — and when it is, a new level of growth will be achieved.◾

Grab The Omnichannel Marketer’s Growth Roadmap to learn more!

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