There are a lot of misconceptions about marketing automation. As a result, myths abound about what this technology can and can't do for business-to-business (B2B) companies. Here are the top 10 myths about marketing automation so you can decide if it makes sense for your company to implement.
(With all due respect to Nessie, the Loch Ness monster).
1. It's expensive and is only for large companies
In the early days of marketing automation, this was true. Most of the marketing automation platforms catered to large companies and came with a heavy price tag.
These days, it's a totally different story. There are many (many!) affordable and easy-to-use marketing automation solutions that are designed for small to mid-sized businesses.
They offer much of the same functionality as larger platforms, on a modular basis so that you can deploy (and pay for) what you need, as you need it.
Some small business marketing automation options to consider:
2. It's difficult to learn
About half of B2B companies are currently using marketing automation (and another 37% plan to start using it). The statistic reveals that marketing automation is entirely 'doable' - if the platforms were not easy to use, adoption would be lower.
What's more - the learning tools around marketing automation have become incredible. Free online learning centers like Udemy and Hubspot's Academy offers dozens of courses and certifications for marketing automation.
3. It's only for email marketing
A common misconception about marketing automation is that it’s strictly for email marketing. Yes, a lot of platforms did start as email only (and some still are), but most marketing automation now encompasses email, blogging, social media, paid advertising, video, and a host of other functions.
And the best part is that they offer the ability to MEASURE the results of marketing.
4. It limits creativity
Marketing automation provides just the opposite. It opens up a world of creative capabilities because it automates the mundane tasks that have to happen to execute marketing campaigns, and allows marketing teams to focus on strategic messaging, effective campaign structures and measuring impact.
In addition, for those companies and marketers without designers, most platforms offer pre-built templates that you can customize to your brand and message. Plus, options like dynamic content and segmentation allow B2B marketing teams to craft customized marketing messages to the right audience at the right time. That allows for a more personalized touch and to meet complex promotional requirements - ie, better marketing.
5. It's too impersonal for B2B
This is a valid consideration in B2B, where a lot of sales success comes down to the ability of an expert sales person to tailor solutions to the exact needs of buyers.
But it is indeed a myth. Marketing automation is not intended to 'close' deals - it isn't the right solution for getting a valid opportunity to a closed deal. That's what sales team or account-based marketing (ABM - see #4) are for.
Marketing automation is to be used at the early stages of the buying and research process when prospects have identified your company and are looking to learn more, but might not be qualified buyers yet. Marketing automation is the perfect way to nurture dozens or hundreds of potential prospects that a sales team would not be able to effectively manage on a manual basis (nor should they be using their time for).
6. It's for lazy marketers
Hardly. Yes, marketing automation allows marketers to auto-schedule content for future distribution. That certainly doesn't make life a cake-walk. Marketers who focus on quality know that it takes work and scheduling to execute solid marketing. Savvy B2B marketers are constantly seeking ways to improve their outreach tactics. Marketing automation enables them to monitor and measure their marketing metrics and the impact of marketing initiatives. With the reporting and metrics available, they can home in on what’s working and what’s not to drive better results, rather than spending their time coding.
7. It doesn't generate quality leads
Quality and quantity of leads - and lead generation in general - is a top priority for B2B companies. Marketing automation platforms offer a series of capabilities that are good for the top, middle and bottom of the funnel. The list for lead generation is plentiful. B2B marketing teams have the ability to send automated trigger emails based on prospect activity and create automated programs that automatically channel prospects into a pre-built nurture stream pushing them deeper into the funnel. They can track website visitors and gain insight into the companies that are coming to their site regularly, accompanied by their content interest areas. This enables sales to better target their contact strategy. Web forms can be created to capture information about prospects when downloading value add content, which pushes contact data into your CRM for sales. SEO audits can be performed to ensure your website and content are optimized for inbound traffic.
8. It creates SPAM
Spam is unsolicited, irrelevant or inappropriate email sent to a large number of recipients. It is a huge no-no in the marketing world now - with most marketing software platforms capable of shutting down any sender who is identified as a spammer.
Marketing automation doesn't create spam. But it has to be used properly - which means only sending to lists of opted-in recipients. This is the marketer’s responsibility, although marketing automation platforms enable recipients to unsubscribe, which is one requirement to be compliant with current email laws.
9. You can 'set it and forget it'
This is almost never the case in marketing. Marketers need to leverage their marketing automation platforms to create nurture streams that generate meaningful interactions with prospects and can help them move through the various stages of their buying process. These nurture streams need to be monitored and modified based on engagement and conversion rates so that they produce the desired results. A marketer's job is never done, because there's always something to improve.
10. It doesn't do anything for the sales team
Marketing automation is integrated with CRM, the tool that sales teams count on for their livelihood. The syncing of data allows lead scoring models to be set up and empower the sales team to get alerts and triggers when prospects are primed and ready to buy. Sales can also see the activity and content areas prospects have engaged with to create more personalized conversations.
Don’t let misconceptions keep you from adopting a marketing automation platform. The benefits far outweigh any potential pitfalls people throw your way. Using a platform brings a world of possibilities above and beyond any savvy marketer’s dream. Talk to us about how you can implement marking automation to take your B2B marketing to the next level.
This post was updated from an original published in Sept 2016.
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