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9 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes

Written by Tech Marketer

September 9, 2020

Having worked in marketing automation and digital for many years, I have noticed some frequent mistakes across different verticals and businesses.

In this short article, I will elaborate on some of the most common, and costly mistakes, businesses often make with marketing automation.

The list is non exhaustive, and I’m sure there are others not on the list that we could argue should be.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions and feedback.

You don’t need a bazooka to open a door

1. Purchasing Unnecessary Functionality

A common mistake marketing leaders make is buying technology or additional functionality that the team will not immediately use; and in extreme cases never at all.

It’s vital that the tool you choose has the available long term functionality and channels that align with your strategy; however, this doesn’t mean you need to pay for them now. Likewise, you don’t need a bazooka to open a door. Let your tool grow into your plan and objectives.

Therefore, if you’ve no social media plan in place, don’t add the social media module just yet. It’s a poor allocation of resources that could be invested elsewhere within the department or business.
Any decent software vendor will allow you to bolt on functionality to your existing package when the real need arises. For this reason, it’s imperative to understand and outline the short and long term needs of the team and the business during vendor analysis.


2. Data Dissasters

Data is the lifeblood of any successful marketing tool. Below are three of the critical areas where data and its organization can be problematic.

Firstly, not planning and requesting the data which is necessary for present and future planned campaigns. Necessary information does not mean your marketing automation system should be a data warehouse.
Remember, the goal is to create a customer centric Marketing DataMart for the marketing tool.
Secondly and closely related to the first point, don’t overcomplicate your data model. A complex data model will potentially make the campaign build far more challenging. It may complicate the logic required and thus increase the build and run times. As my old professor used to say, “keep it simple smart”, (KISS).

Finally, the adage, garbage in garbage out (GIGO) perfectly sums up the need for good, quality data. If the information in your DataMart is unreliable, incorrect, inconsistently formatted or merely missing, this will cause you, and your customers’ problems. Your campaigns will only be as good as the available data, so get it right.

3. Lack of Training & Support

After making a substantial investment in technology, the same investment must be made to create a team of digital marketing black belts. Whatever tool you have chosen to use to assist your marketing team, it is not a panacea to your marketing challenges, and it will take time to learn the intricacies of the technology.

Make sure that the team are not left holding a rather expensive baby and expected to perform marketing miracles with a tool it barely knows. Give your team the training and time it deserves to learn the new technology with its idiosyncrasies and processes.

It’s crucial to give the team hands on training from experts who can compress the keystones of their knowledge and experience into a few sessions. However, the average person won’t become an F1 driver after a couple of sessions with Lewis Hamilton. Therefore, ensure that the team has the support of an expert , particularly in the embryonic stages.

4. Running before you can walk

It’s imperative that a robust, well considered strategy and plan of execution is implemented and strictly followed.

Of course, using different channels, technology and latest features to enhance the customer experience should be an objective; however, this
should not be at the detriment of getting the basics right first.

Once the cornerstones are in place, there is a solid foundation, and consistency, then further features, channels, personalisation, and complexity, can be layered on, to enhance the customer experience.
If the plan is inadequate, rushed and weakly executed, then an excellent omnichannel automation tool will exacerbate the inherent problem. It will become a nightmare for both the business and its customers.

5. Over-Filtering

It’s essential not to batch and blast content to all of your customers, and therefore, careful filtering and segmenting should always apply. However, with any extreme, be attentive not to over filter you target audience.

By over filtering, I mean applying very restrictive logic to your primary audience, in search of that perfect segment or audience. There’s nothing worse than spending hours building campaign logic only to find out at the very end that your campaign will communicate to a handful of customers.

It’s very rarely a good return on investment. To counteract this, try to run approximate initial counts before starting any campaign and then calculate the cost benefit of building and executing it.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

6. Poor Personalisation

Adding a person’s name to communications does not constitute personalisation.

We are a world of individuals with unique preferences, likes, dislikes and each has our idiosyncrasies. Sending an impersonal, generic, marketing communications is a sure fire way to tune out your customers very quickly, and kill any rapport your brand had with that customer.

Customers expect tailor made communications to match their double helix of likes, interests, and preferences, such as the content, delivery method and frequency.

A business must leverage its data to engage in dynamic, bi directional conversations with each individual.

7. Over-Contacting


Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Too often, marketers can over communicate with their customers to the point that customers become annoyed, frustrated and misunderstood.

Sometimes, less is more. Carefully plan your contact strategy and consider your customer types, their engagement, the best delivery channels, the appropriate message content to align with the point of the journey with your brand.

Beware, particularly with email, as poor customer engagement, or complaints, can be detrimental to your email deliverability and inbox placement.

8. Not giving your customer control

It should be easy for your customer to update their preferences. Our preferences may change over time for a multitude of reasons. Failure to
make this process simple will often frustrate and disenfranchise your customer. Imagine if every time you wanted to opt out or change your preferences, you had to call to a call centre. How would that make you feel?

It should be simple for your customers to opt
in, opt out and amend their preferences, so you, the business, can listen and respond appropriately.
Seriously consider implementing an online, centralised preference centre that connects directly to your tools. The preference centre will give the customer back the control they desire. And, it will allow them to tell you what they are interested in, how often you should communicate with them and what channels are best to do so.

Knowing this additional information will help your marketing team segment better and provide the types of communication your customer desires on the best channels.

Number 9?

What common mistake should take the final spot? I look forward to hearing your suggestions and will update the document in due course.