Avoid these 10 marketing automation rookie mistakes

August 31, 2021 | 6 minute read
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If your company is considering marketing automation technology or you’ve recently implemented it, you're not alone. Investment for marketing automation will increase, even if the marketing spend globally continues to fall through 2021, according to Forrester.

More than an emerging practice, the automation of marketing functions is growing in both scale and scope to become a best practice. Brands use marketing automation to achieve efficiencies in executing repeated tasks, and increasingly rely on its capabilities to identify and target the best leads with relevancy. Even small organizations can justify an investment in advanced marketing automation given the powerful capabilities included in many of the solutions now on the market.

That’s why we’re sharing 10 rookie mistakes to avoid when implementing marketing automation properly for your company.

1. Assuming marketing automation is easy

By its very nature, marketing automation is detailed and complex, yet smart marketers with highly empirical, data-hungry minds enjoy working within its parameters and unlocking its true potential.

Marketing automation success has a cascade effect. It takes a lot of upfront knowledge to set things up correctly. And if you don’t, things will go wrong down the road. That’s why it’s important to accept that marketing automation implementation will not be easy, and to call on the expert services to help you get where you need to go.

Take your company’s lead scoring strategy. If you don’t define your lead scoring strategy correctly up front, or if you don’t improve your data hygiene, it will negatively impact the leads you pass to sales or advance to nurturing campaigns.

2. Using marketing automation as a glorified email marketing tool

Not using marketing automation to the fullest is like buying a Ferrari that you only drive to the grocery store on weekends.

Simply buying a marketing automation tool does not guarantee success. That’s because marketing automation isn’t as simple as “marketing on autopilot.”

Marketing automation includes (in no particular order) lead management, social media, CRM, closed-loop reporting, content marketing, contact washing, landing pages, query strings, advanced multi-channel campaigns, and more. Each feature offers unique value that should be put to use.

3. Only doing manual marketing

If you’re only going to use marketing automation for manual marketing, know that there are cheaper alternatives out there.

In fact, all the following can be automated without marketing automation. There are several point solutions on the market that can do the heavy lifting for any of these tasks. If you take this route, know that down the road, managing too many point solutions becomes complex and less efficient. Re-assess your needs as your scale and strategy shift over time. Eventually you may need to leverage marketing automation for these tasks to eliminate data silos or increase speed to lead.

  • Multi-channel and touch campaigns
  • Contact washing machine
  • Lead scoring
  • Advanced form processing steps
  • Dynamic personalized content
  • CRM integration

Now, really ask yourself: “Do I need a full marketing automation solution to accomplish my goals?”

4. Automating a bad process or having no process

Not properly integrating marketing automation with your CRM will result in hot leads left behind in the marketing automation platform. Trust me, they will never find their way to sales with incomplete information and no closed-loop reporting. This ultimately results in your marketing team losing credibility.

5. Implementing marketing automation in a silo

Implementing marketing automation across a single team or in a silo will lead to failure, especially in an enterprise company where there are 100+ marketers and 20+ marketing teams. Effective teams have a shared vision or buy-in from the front line marketer, as well as executive sponsorship, to achieve marketing transformation.

A simple way to avoid siloed marketing automation is by making sure sales buys in to the plan. Depending on which vendor you choose, marketing automation solutions include many sales tools that can, for example, give you better insights into how leads interact in the CRM. Include sales leadership in the conversation when setting up marketing automation (and other items like lead scoring) to help align sales and marketing.

Another challenge is that many enterprise companies use several marketing automation tools with overlapping capabilities at the same time. This leads to marketing teams customizing applications to solve only their team’s needs, which leads to the company paying for unnecessary, redundant solutions.

6. Not setting up your marketing automation properly

If you ask a marketing professional about their company’s competitive advantage and all they can say is that they’re using the “top marketing automation” solution, it means they have no marketing strategy—or competitive advantage. They’re more than likely missing out on automation’s full potential because all they’re doing is blasting emails with their marketing automation tool.

Marketing automation won’t function the way it should unless you use it with the right vision in mind. If you don’t take its full potential into account and or develop your strategy accordingly during the critical months of implementation, you won’t get the results you want.

7. Not building up your team of experts

Building a team of experts and partners for the implementation process is crucial. Across the board, a key ingredient for proper marketing automation implementation is a strong, reliable knowledge base. Here are some ways you can educate anyone who will use the solution.

  • Explain that many marketing automation vendors have learning modules where users can learn the best way to leverage each tool efficiently.
  • Note that marketing automation vendors have a wide range of support options. For instance, if you’re not sure how to properly launch your email campaign, you can do a virtual chat or call customer support. This usually works best to talk through the problem and resolve it during your call.
  • Hire and scale your team with people who have marketing automation skills—it’ll make a big impact on your long-term success.

8. Blaming marketing automation

“These leads are bad.”

“The tool isn’t working.“

“If only we had another vendor.”

While none of these statements represent entire marketing or sales teams, they inevitably crop up as teams grow larger and more people use marketing automation tools.

It doesn’t matter which tool they work with; the grass is always greener on the other side. But switching to another marketing automation solution isn’t the answer to every problem.

Understanding the problem with your marketing and how to use your marketing automation tool properly is the key to ending these kinds of complaints—and actually solving problems. 

According to Albert Einstein, “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”

So, focus on understanding the problem.

9. Automating what you don’t have

While it’s important to understand that marketing automation is merely a tool to automate parts of your marketing and sales functions, what will move the needle for your marketing automation strategy is inbound marketing with high value content and assets to drive prospects through the customer journey.

In other words, you can’t automate what you don’t have. Leads you don’t have can’t be nurtured.

The pace of content is only getting quicker, and you have a limited time to capture your customer’s attention. That’s why targeted content—and the right content—is what really matters.

By not batching and blasting your entire database, and instead using targeted segmentation, you’ll raise your conversion rates. Growing your database with targeted contacts and mapping out customer journeys according to the buyer personas will drive more revenue. Don’t annoy your leads. Help them move to the next stage in their customer journey by improving their customer experience.

10. Not leveraging the marketing automation community

The biggest mistake of all is not taking advantage of the resources, thought leaders, and content surrounding marketing automation.

Many marketing automation vendors have forums or communities where you can look up answers, documentation, or just ask for help. You can have your own private internal group where you share best practices and ask questions to others in your company.

This brings us back full circle to mistake #1: Don’t assume marketing automation is easy. It’s not. It’s powerful, wonderful, and transformative for any business, but it’s not something that you tackle on your own. Stepping out there, testing the waters, and teaming up is what will get you to the other side of this vast blue ocean.

Want to get it right the first time? With full control campaign orchestration that enables cross-channel B2B marketing campaigns to nurture leads throughout the buyer journey, Oracle Eloqua Marketing Automation can help prevent those rookie mistakes.

Ready to see Oracle Eloqua in action? Take a quick product tour.

For more information about marketing automation, please read:

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Updated October 2021

Alp Mimaroglu

Alp Mimaroglu is a digital marketing team leader who specializes in creating highly effective marketing engines for companies from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Alp is a Certified Eloqua Luminary, who has led large scale marketing automation implementations at Symantec, Salesforce, and Accenture. Alp specializes in marketing technology, demand generation, analytics, and marketing technology. Alp has extensive experience with both business and consumer marketing. He's passionate about how technology is rapidly becoming the key to success in both the corporate sales and marketing landscapes.


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