By Tracey Gordon

A recent eBook published by Lattice Engines revealed that an astounding 62% of users claim that marketing automation technology did not equate to an increase in sales. For a technology that boldly claims to revolutionize lead management, measure results, enhance targeting and increase sales, your gut reaction may be to blame the platform for its failure to deliver. Unfortunately, your gut is missing the point: technology alone doesn’t inspire a lucrative marketing campaign—people do. Just ask Scott Brinker, CTO of ion interactive who argues “the biggest challenge to the adoption of [MA technology] isn’t technical. It’s human.”

Marketing automation technology enables marketers to access rich web-behavioral data in order to start meaningful dialogues with their customers. But according to Brinker, the platform “require[s] new thinking, new practices, and new skills in the marketing team to realize [its] potential.” Most businesses hesitate at the prospect of hiring an in-house marketing specialist with the necessary skills and leading-edge knowledge to operate a MA platform in ways that achieve top-line growth. In-house specialists are costly and require constant professional development in order to stay current with the ever-evolving MA landscape. Why risk hiring the wrong person when you can work with an external consultancy who can help you gain the maximum ROI and resource efficiency from your investment in Marketing Cloud technology?

A recent B2C interview with John Muehling, Sr. Director of Client Services at Digital Pi, revealed that most marketers are underutilizing the features of their MA technology, with most operating the platform at basic levels. Muehling argues that one of the biggest challenges facing marketers today “is evolving their processes, strategies and overall mindset in ways that complement their technology investment.” Indeed, acquiring an advanced MA technology without establishing the right processes is the quickest route to failure—as Muehling argues, “it’s an automation system – how can you automate a process that doesn’t exist[?]” Muehling goes on to explain that many marketers make the mistake of incorporating new technology into old processes expecting huge results. “Best practice” dictates it is far more effective to develop new processes to complement MA systems than trying to make old processes work in a new system.

If you’re a business owner, ask yourself if you have someone on your team with the right knowledge, experience, and skillset to develop and implement these so called MA “processes.” Without specialized knowledge of a particular MA system’s vast functionalities, the average marketer is ill-equipped to take on this role, and will likely cost your business more in the long run. So what’s the alternative? A Marketing Cloud consultancy has the fine-tuned expertise you need to see the wood for the trees. Most offer a full range of MA services from implementation and training straight through to campaign execution and analytics—working with you at any or every stage of your digital marketing journey.  With skillsets spanning disciplines from the creative to the technical, MA consultants drive your strategic vision by setting realistic goals and providing invaluable insight on your customers, competitors, brands and markets. They guide the development and continual improvement of your one-to-one marketing goals—and all at a fraction of the cost of an in-house hire.

Far too many MA platforms today claim ease of use, but they really aren’t that easy.  Let’s take a look at 3 more reasons marketers aren’t getting the most out of their MA technology, and how an experienced MA consultancy can help:

Lack of Defined Buyer Personas— Hubspot defines a buyer persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” Buyer personas are crucial for marketers to understand which customers are worth pursuing and what type of content they respond to, but Muhling asserts that it remains one of the biggest obstacles facing digital marketers today. He argues that “without a clear understanding of who [marketers] are targeting and what stage those targets are at in the buying process, marketing automation…simply becomes a very expensive email broadcast system.” Defining buyer personas may seem like Marketing 101, but you’d be surprised to discover that more than 90% of B2B companies don’t do it. An MA consultant can help you analyze customer traffic and demographics and establish the right nurturing triggers. They have the skills and resources to guide you through a comprehensive buyer persona strategy so that you can speed up the sales funnel.

Lots of contacts, lots of data—now what!? Marketers who invest in MA technology without the proper strategy in place typically become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data it collects. The right MA consultant can make sense of mind-boggling transactional and behavioral data and transform it into actionable steps that turn prospects into leads and leads into converts.

Integration Issues—The ability to integrate with other systems you use is a prerequisite in today’s eCommerce market. When left in the wrong hands, integration can have a detrimental impact on your campaigns. After all, any engine is powerless without its fuel. Getting data into your Marketing Cloud platform is paramount to its success. Effective MA consultants have a number of innovative integrations available to ensure the fluid transmission of data.  Using an API they are able to integrate your newly acquired MA platform with your CRM system, marketing database, website or Facebook page. With an API marketers are able to automate previously laborious processes, taking the pain and potential for inaccuracy out of manually updating your backend database.

Marketers are quick to blame the technology when something goes wrong with their digital marketing campaigns, not realizing that human error is to blame. With technology advancing at the rate that it does, marketers shouldn’t be expected to know everything about marketing automation software. With the right Marketing Cloud consultancy your side, you won’t have to worry about best practice, because best practice is part of the package. By putting your technology in the wrong hands, you’ll be hard pressed to see a return on investment. Now ask yourself: do you want to be part of the 62%?


About Tracey:

Tracey is currently VP, Client Services at Bubblebox®, with a passion for delivering ‘cutting-edge’ implementation, training and consultancy services on leading marketing cloud platforms such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud (aka ExactTarget). With 15 years of experience in the digital marketing area, Tracey has helped hundreds of companies of all sizes, gain revenues from the pragmatic actionable approach she delivers. She is responsible for helping organizations make their email and digital marketing programs more effective and profitable.