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Why Does Marketing Automation Fail?

In the State of Marketing Research Series published by  Ascend2 , the report clearly indicates that Marketing Automation is the way to go for most businesses. In fact, 33% of marketing influencers consider their marketing automation strategy to be very successful at achieving important objectives (the most important criterion being to increase sale revenues). 51% consider their strategy somewhat successful. Which leaves out 16% unsatisfied customers, struggling to make sense of bitter failures.

That means some 1 out of 6 businesses are not getting the most out of it - a rather important number, coming with questions and concerns of its own. But, investigating the reasons and implications behind Marketing Automation failure is not as straightforward as we might think. This comes from the mere design of these advanced pieces of computer programing: understanding how they function is mandatory to diagnosing their failure.

This article aims to ease the path ahead of concerned adopters, trying to bring some context to an encrypted world of computer code, and good-old back-office work.

Spilled coffee

In October 2016, Ascend2 and several Research Partners published their Marketing Technology Trends Survey, with an important piece of  statistics .

Bar graph illustrating the reason businesses don't use marketing automation

Barriers to achieving Marketing Automation goals. Source: Ascend2.

The study merely points out the most relevant causes of failure, and the numbers tell a confusing fact. It’s hard to sort these barriers on a most-to-least important basis. They overlay; they coexist extensively, and need a technical savvy to dig down to the root causes. Let take a closer look.

Crumpled up paper on keyboard

Inadequate Budget

Budget constraints come as a result of a miscalculated marketing budget. More often than not, it’s tricky to benefit from marketing technology without being able to first assess revenue cycles. As a former sales manager of a B2B business myself, I know all too well that forecasting, benchmarking and accurately measuring revenues from leads in the funnel is a nightmare. As a result, marketers tend to undersize their Marketing Automation budget.

Lack of Effective Strategy

It’s important to understand that the skeleton of an effective marketing automation is no other than background work to develop the business’s customer persona, and formulate segmated marketing messages. Without a clear vision, it’s hard to exploit the marketing automation software at full capacity. Marketers should visualize the whole picture, according attention to all the pieces, from back-office work, all the way to the up-and-running marketing tool they long for.

Technology Integration

As technology is advancing, there is a growing concern around integrating it to already-running systems. Software adoption usually bumps into unexpected integration delays, promting failures. In a world charging by the minute, this engenders higher costs, and a growing panic around the software’s mere worth.

Other technology integration problems bubble up from the lack of a technically capable staff to operate the software. Deployement often requires resroucing to operate at full speed, and all the above should be accounted for in order to get the most out of marketing automation.

Poor Data Quality

Gathering big data and harnessing it into readily marketing actions falls within the burgeoning AI sector. It’s typical to encouter duplicated, missing, obsolete or incomplete data, hindering the AI “neurons”, and prompting failures.

A great way around this is to implement incentives for excellence when processing data. Customer related information should be net and updated on a regular basis. Rigor is key, because software are very sensitive to input, and any malfucntion can send off bad communication, and jeoperdize the whole brand. 

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