If you follow globalHMA, then you know we are big marketing automation enthusiasts. As an agency, we have used this technology for many years now, both for clients and for our own growth. Experiencing the power firsthand has led us to recommend marketing automation as one of the most effective marketing tools our clients can use. Yet, in proposing this technology, it is abundantly clear that marketing automation can be a confusing and mysterious concept to grasp. That being said, we’d like to offer a little clarity on common marketing automation misconceptions.

  1. Marketing automation is not an email service. When discussing marketing automation platforms, many people think of it only as an email service provider. This could not be further from the truth. Can you send mass emails to your contact list through marketing automation platforms? Of course you can, but if all you intend to do is send one-off email campaigns, you should invest in an email server rather than a marketing automation platform. As our fearless leader is known to say, “Using marketing automation as an email service is the equivalent of using a back-hoe to bury a goldfish.”
  2. I can use marketing automation as a CRM. True, but not true. While some marketing automation systems include a built in CRM system, many do not. Before subscribing to a marketing automation system, make sure you’ve done your research. The last thing you want to do is invest in a system thinking it can double as a CRM, only to find out it doesn’t work that way. Note that many platforms offer integrations with CRMs, such as SalesForce and Sugar. Again, researching before purchase is your best bet.
  3. Campaign set-up is simple. This is the misconception that makes me shake my head the most. There is nothing simple about setting up a campaign. While the end product will run itself on an automated schedule, there is a lot of strategy, design and work that goes into building a marketing automation campaign. This includes content choice, scoring, triggers, flows, design and scheduling. There is a lot of “behind the scenes” work that needs to be thought out and implemented before a campaign can run. If you’re considering marketing automation, make sure you’re budgeting for the platform set-up and subscription fees, as well as campaign creation and implementation. There is no point in having a marketing automation system if you are not going to effectively run nurturing campaigns.
  4. Campaigns are a once and done thing. Because marketing automation campaigns are automated, many people think that once they launch, they will run themselves and that will be that. You could do it this way, but you’d be missing out on some of the best aspects of a marketing automation platform. These platforms enable you to track your leads and watch how leads interact with your campaign and content. This means campaign maintenance becomes an easier and more effective with this tool. The ability to track what campaign emails are opened, what media is downloaded or viewed are more important than you realize. With this information, you can determine the campaign emails and landing pages with the highest interaction and see what needs revamped. This allows you to edit your campaign messages to get the highest results and effectively nurture leads. Campaign maintenance could be the difference between a lead remaining a lead or a lead turning into a conversion.
  5. Marketing automation templates and drag-and-drop builders mean I can do it all myself. While many marketing automation platforms provide you with email/landing page templates and drag-and-drop design features, you’ll still need some help. I freely admit I don’t like to ask for help. When I’m building marketing automation programs, I always attempt to create emails and landing pages myself rather than going straight to our interactive designer. Though these emails generally look okay, they lack the quality of a professional design. I can drag-and-drop images and edit text within the code. But I’m not capable of coding to ensure these pieces are fluid-responsive, developing graphics or confirming image pixels and resolution. If you want the highest quality digital pieces, you’ll need to add a interactive designer to your marketing automation team.

We highly recommend investing in a marketing automation platform. But you shouldn’t go into such a large investment without full consideration of all the platform’s aspects and a solid marketing strategy as Drew suggests. When used correctly and with knowledge of the common marketing automation misconceptions, marketing automation is an invaluable tool. To learn more, download our marketing automation infographic and see how it can fit in your budget.