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How Digitally Intelligent are you?

Techedge | Apr 07, 2016

It doesn’t take long to learn why many organizations are dissatisfied with the performance of their Marketing Automation investments. There are 7 or 8 key reasons seen over and over again.

In this blog we will address two of the most common ones and in future blogs we will address the others.

Marketing Automation Key Challenges

Not enough leads coming through to Sales

The thing about Marketing Automation is it’s about passing ‘hot’ leads to Sales, they are ‘hotter’ than the ones that used to be passed directly from Marketing to Sales because they’ve been nurtured.  It is relatively obvious that if you used to pass 100 leads per month to Sales just because they had attended a marketing event or registered for a white paper, once Marketing Automation is in place and you are extending the Marketing led dialogue whilst scoring them on their interest level and only passing those with real demonstrated interest to Sales far less than 100 would be passed to Sales than before all things remaining the same.

Hence, you need to make sure you have a very efficient top of the funnel process which leverages all your owned properties, your digital advertising, your community activity and unites them under a common goal – turning them from ‘clicks to leads’.  Sounds obvious doesn’t it.  But it’s generally something overlooked in the Marketing Automation planning process.


A common misconception is that once you get the Marketing Automation system in place and have a quick one week training session with your Software vendor or Partner all your problems will be solved and the ability to start tracking cookies will automatically start pulling through more leads in the top of the funnel.

This might work if you already have a highly efficient digital properties which are driving high volumes of traffic to your site.  But in the majority of cases we find the following situations with our clients:

  1. Multiple fragmented digital properties web, social and mobile all of which are being driven by separate product lines, brands or marketing groups each creating a fragmentation of Marketing Effort and a lack of leverage in creating the kind of numbers you need to make a difference to the top of funnel drivers.
  2. Social Digital activity limited to Communication versus Engagement and Lead Generation. Many of our Clients who have made significant investments in the Social area have yet to understand how you can really leverage these Media to generate leads.  We recently ran a gamification campaign for one of our clients and in less than 6 weeks had generated over 2,000 leads and 1,000 ebook downloads.
  3. Focus on the wrong channels or the wrong content and tone of voice. We have encountered some customers who are trying to target B2B groups without a Linkedin Presence or are using Pinterest when most of their products do not lend themselves to visual images. Or try to repurpose the same content across multiple social and digital channels without consideration of the appropriate ‘tone of voice.’
  4. No internal alignment between the team responsible for the Marketing Automation Customer Journeys and Digital and Social teams. This is an important point and leads nicely into the second quoted reason for Marketing Automation failure.


Marketing Automation is being used as a glorified Email Engine

Marketing Automation is NOT an Email Marketing tool.  The hype around Marketing Automation and the lack of understanding about what it really is is being exacerbated by Email Marketing Platforms calling themselves Marketing Automation tools.  However, if you buy a Marketing Automation and use it for email marketing it is like buying a Ferrari to go to the supermarket and back.  It becomes a very expensive run around which is difficult to justify in the long term.

Outside the lack of awareness of the functionality there is a more practical and problematical reason as to why Marketers tend to utilize the email functionality v all the other features of the platforms offer:

The people who are usually responsible for the Marketing Automation operational use are those who are responsible for Direct Outbound Campaigns.  And, in general these teams have worked in the campaign management process by segmenting their marketing databases, creating campaigns which have relied on creating landing pages and sending out emails with followup via different sales channels.  So, it is natural that they continue this process and are naturally attracted to Marketing Automation as a better tool to segment groups of customers and send out more emails.  In order to leverage the full set of inbound channels available Marketing Departments need to break down their silos and create cross LOB teams with Digital and Social participation.  This is a theme I will deal with in more detail in one of the future blogs.

But sending out more emails is not the answer to creating more leads for your sales.  Most organizations are overwhelming customers with email.  I recently talked to a client who was sending 140 million emails a year to their customer base but was doing nothing to generate inbound leads via social media.  Inbound campaigns.  Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. (State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)

So what to do.  We generally help our Clients in two ways.  Where we get engaged with a Client before they have begun embarking on Marketing Automation we undertake a Digital Intelligence activity to understand how they can make sure they are really leveraging all their Digital Assets efficiently so that when Marketing Automation is implemented they will not see a reduction in the number of leads delivered to Sales.

Or, we engage after Marketing Automation has been implemented to provide a Healthcheck based on our Implementation Best Practices to ensure they are really making the most of the tool.

The good news is that the results of top of funnel adjustments can be seen very rapidly.  Most of our Clients see a dramatic improvement of results within two months of project completion.

So we would encourage anyone on the verge of implementing Marketing Automation to really think through the complete Top of Funnel process prior to implementation as we believe this is a critical piece in increasing Marketing Automation ROI. 

In the next edition of this series we will discuss the importance of having a set of clearly defined KPIS and Sales and Marketing Processes before starting your journey.