A marketing automation platform (MAP) is any software that automates marketing activities. The platforms normally provide automation features across email, social media, lead gen, direct mail, digital advertising channels and their mediums. The tools provide a central marketing database for marketing information so communication can be targeted using segmentation and personalization.
There is a great return on investment when marketing automation platforms are implemented correctly and fully leveraged; however, many businesses make some fundamental mistakes when choosing the platform for their business. Here are the ones that I continue to see:
Mistake 1: MAP Is Not Only About Email Marketing
When marketing automation platforms were first developed, the central focus of most was automating email communications. Email is an inexpensive channel with a great ROMI where businesses can track and report their performance. However, email isn’t the only medium anymore. Marketing is about sending the right customer the right message at the right time – and MAPs enable this.
Example: I recently assisted a client to run their webinar leveraging their marketing automation platform. From pre-event registration, event day check-in, to the post-event follow-up – it was an automated process across both email and direct mail channels. An email marketing automation platform alone wasn’t going to help us meet our objectives.
Mistake 2: The MAP Is Not Aligned With Wider Marketing Objectives
In my years of experience working closely with clients, each client had their thoughts on their platform preference. More often, the C-level decision-maker heavily relied on the cost of the platform and nothing else. And when auditing their marketing technology stack, we identified where the platforms were underutilized – or worse – not used at all.
The first thing that should be always asked when choosing a MAP is:
- What are your marketing goals in 3 months?
- What are your marketing goals in 12 months?
- What are your marketing goals in 24 months?
Marketing automation isn’t a fancy buzz word nor is it a silver bullet. It is a tool to assist you in achieving your marketing goals. Therefore, always asking what you need to achieve and set up your MAP to align directly with your marketing objectives and measure your key performance indicators (KPIs).
Example: An e-commerce client wants to increase revenue through email channels because that only channels the business currently using and they have a relatively large database. They may not even need automation… an email service provider (ESP) combined with an experienced email marketing specialist may be able to achieve all of the results. What’s the point of wasting over 5 times the budget to use a MAP doing the same thing?
Mistake 3: MAP Implementation Costs Are Underestimated
How knowledgeable is your team? Talent may be the most important factor when investing in a MAP, but is commonly ignored by many businesses who are making the choice. To achieve your marketing goals, you need someone who can fully manage the platform and execute your campaign with it.
More than half of my clients have chosen a platform without the talent internal to leverage it. As a result, they end up paying a marketing agency to manage it. That expense reduces the return on investment and may even make it a loss. Agencies are often great at assisting you with your MAP implementation, but it’s a relatively high-cost for many small to medium-size businesses to employ them ongoing.
Other businesses choose to up-skill their in-house team. During the budget process, though, many forget to plan training costs into their marketing budget. Each solution requires significant skillsets; therefore, the training costs vary. Marketo, for example, is a user-friendly solution with basic training costs of about $2000 AUD in Australia. Alternatively, Salesforce Marketing Cloud training is free on Trailhead.
Consider the costs of your human assets and their training when you decide on a platform.
Mistake 4: MAP Customer Segmentation Goes Unused
MAP can categorize your prospects and customers any way you need it to. This is not only about the data elements you have, but also correctly targeting where the customer is in their journey or marketing lifecycle. Sending the correct message at the correct time depending on their customer behaviour will increase customer value… driving an increase in your ROI.
Additionally, most major MAP vendors do A/B testing to optimise campaign results. This will enhance your marketing results… by improving the time and messaging you’re sending your customer. Targeting customer segments and their behaviour, and segmenting each demographic group will take advantage of the behaviour difference across buyers.
Choosing the right MAP solution has never been easy and considerations must be made beyond the cost of the platform. Of course, there are many other reasons your MAP investment may not deliver… but at least these 4 common mistakes will improve your chances of fully realizing your investment!
If you need further help on choosing one, please reach out and we are happy to help.