The 6 Biggest Myths About Marketing Automation

by Eloqua on August 12, 2010 in Lead Nurturing,Revenue Performance Management

I spend much of my time talking with marketers who are considering making an investment in marketing automation.  In doing so, I come across a few recurring “myths” about what marketing automation entails.

Given that only 10% of B2B companies currently use marketing automation, while, growth rates in the industry are much higher, it’s reasonable to conclude that many marketers are on the brink of adopting an automation platform.  Because of that, it’s worth clearing up a few of these myths.

If you’re in the later stages of considering marketing automation, you may believe at least one of the following myths:

1. Myth: You need a dedicated staff member to get the most from marketing automation.

Reality: Before you adopt marketing automation, you’ll need to modify some of your business processes. The biggest change is taking your focus off your sales process and placing it on your customers’ buying process. These changes must be led from the top down and involve both your marketing and sales departments. Be prepared for some significant shifts in team tasks, but not necessarily any extra people. 

Once the systems are in place, marketing automation can free up your staff’s time and increase their productivity. Think of the time your marketing staff can save by automating a repetitive task, like following up to events and webinars – as opposed to sending messages manually.

 2. Myth: Marketing automation software is expensive.

Reality: An investment must be made to increase your marketing effectiveness. However, even the top marketing automation platforms are more economical than you might have thought, especially when you consider the high costs of:

 (a)    Sales rep time spent chasing bad leads. Instead of trying to convert poor-quality leads, your sales reps can maximize their time by contacting people who are serious about your offer. Marketing automation gives your sales team access to new data – such as your leads’ digital body language. They can use these insights to start relevant conversations and drive sales.

(b)   Marketing team’s time performing repetitive tasks. Time-consuming tasks, such as event marketing and management, can be streamlined through marketing automation. Your marketing team can simplify their processes and still drive higher attendance at events. In addition to event management, automation can make all your marketing more efficient. This means your team will get more done in less time. 

(c)    Lost opportunities as dormant leads buy from your competition. If you don’t nurture leads in early stages of the buying process, they will most likely buy from your competitors. A marketing automation platform sends leads relevant content until they’re ready to move to sales.

3. Myth: Marketing automation is hard to learn.

Reality: For your marketing automation efforts to succeed, you’ll need to discover your customers’ buying process, clarify what makes qualified leads for your sales team and develop relevant content that can be used for lead nurturing. This process can be challenging and will involve many debates around a whiteboard.   However, once an agreement has been reached on how to score leads, what nurturing campaigns to run, or how to follow up with attendees of an event, the actual process to implement the marketing automation program is usually much simpler than the whiteboard discussions on the business process.

4. Myth: We don’t need marketing automation software because we already have an email blaster.

Reality: Response rates to email campaigns are plummeting. According to the Epsilon Q4 2009 Email Trends and Benchmark report, open rates average only 22%. If you don’t understand your buyers’ needs and send them relevant content, they will opt out of your messages or even report you as spam. Only a marketing automation platform will allow you to segment and target your messages based on your buyers’ online behavior, and it is this online behavior that truly indicates what content the buyer will find relevant – driving up response rates.

5. Myth: My customer relationship management (CRM) system already includes marketing automation.

Reality: While many CRM systems include basic emailing, and even some process workflow, none of the major platforms have the depth needed to understand buyer behavior. Sending your buyers automated messages without knowing their interests will drive them away.

Marketing automation lets you see your buyers’ exact areas of interest, which enables you to send them the right content at the right time. Once buyers express a deeper interest in your product or service, you can pass them along to sales. Marketing automation can be integrated with your sales team’s CRM platform, which means sales won’t have to change their lead tracking system.

 6. Myth: My current process works, so there’s no harm in using it for just one more year.

 Reality: According to DemandGen Report, marketing automation is becoming a “must have investment for leading BtoB organizations in 2010.” This shift is driven by “the growing pressure to demonstrate ROI” and the lack of buyer response to untargeted mass communications.

Your greatest opportunity to engage customers is through relevant and rich content. If you don’t address your buyers’ concerns and send them the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions, your competition will. There’s a good chance your competitors are adopting marketing automation to nurture your buyers. By the time the poor ROI shows up in your sales results, it will be too late to regain those lost opportunities.

 Chances are, if you are a B2B marketer, you are seriously considering an investment in marketing automation.  If so, you may have come across one or more of these myths.  If you think of marketing automation as a technology that enables a change to a more buyer-centric marketing process, you will realize that these myths quickly disappear.

Good luck on your journey towards marketing automation.


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  • Joe Zuccaro

    All excellent points; the key is that along with adjusting your marketing and sales processes to be more aligned, the technology can be transformative for an organization. It requires change, which can be difficult in certain corporate cultures, but the payoff of better leads is real. Marketing automation is not a fad but a trend that more and more businesses are regarding as indispensable to their operations.

  • John Sweeney

    Amen Steve,

    I’m spreading the message hear in the UK and know full well the reticence of marketers to give MA the focus it deserves. I doubt there are no more that 200-300 companies using it here today.

    Is it time to stop talking to the marketers? Sales Directors get real excited when shown what MA will deliver in terms of increase in leads and opportunities. A big challenge in the UK is persuading marketers to knock on the door of their Sales Director or CEO and start the process. Would we save time by going direct to sales. I’m beggining to feel this approach will be quicker.

  • Steve Woods

    John, Joe, thanks for the comments. It’s an interesting point that my delay in getting back to the comments was that I was down in Austin at a full day success tour event focused on precisely what you commented on John, the enabling of sales.

    From identifying key accounts showing activity, to understanding who to talk to at those accounts, to knowing how to start the conversation, marketing automation can enable sales teams to be productive well beyond just a flow of raw leads.

    Should be a fun year ahead as the space is clearly catching fire.

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