What are the key challenges in marketing automation?

February 12, 2021

There’s no shortage of resources that wax poetic about the benefits of marketing automation. While there’s no doubt that creating a more customized, personalized path for your audience is a game changer, there’s little reference to another topic -- the challenge of building your marketing automation strategy.

Setting your automation strategy in motion doesn’t happen until there’s a foundation and infrastructure in place to feed and support it. That means your initial focus should be thinking through the key challenges that are inherent to any marketing automation plan and figuring out upfront how you’re going to tackle them.

In this post, I’ll share three key challenges in marketing automation that are most likely to slow you down -- and explain why you need to think through each to ensure future success.

Getting personal

One of the biggest reasons for adopting a marketing automation strategy is the ability to create a more personalized experience for your audience. Having a more empathetic approach shows prospects and existing customers that their needs are understood. And if your messaging is executed correctly, it positions a business to deliver value to those needs.

To marketers, this idea isn’t new. But I’m betting most businesses haven’t taken the time to map out the pains, frustrations and motivations of their target audiences.

For brands looking to get the most out of their marketing automation, there needs to be time and resources devoted to sufficiently understanding who you’re talking to. There are likely multiple decision makers that you’ll need to account for. Our team has worked with clients targeting as many as six different personas -- and it’s possible that you’ll need to target even more.

Skills and know how

Not-so fun fact: One-third of organizations that have a marketing automation platform aren’t using it. 

The problem is that businesses tend to underestimate the skills, resources and time that are required to build and maintain an effective marketing automation strategy. Marketing automation platforms provide the tools and capabilities to generate and nurture leads, but none of it happens without developing the strategic and technical know-how inside your business. 

This leads us to the crux of the challenge: Does your organization have the patience to develop an in-house specialist who understands lead scoring, sales enablement and setting up different types of marketing automation? If not, it’s vital that you consider where that level of support and skill will come from. Some marketing automation platforms offer better support and education than others, but managed services can alleviate your team from potential heartache.

Creating engaging content

Every marketing automation campaign depends on engaging content. 

The challenge -- especially if you’re targeting multiple decision makers -- is that a personalized, customer-inspired approach calls for a huge amount of content. 

Take, for example, an email campaign that is designed to encourage a CFO to schedule a call with a member of your sales team. Any CFO has specific needs, and likely isn’t looking for the same things in a product or solution as your target’s CEO or CMO. That means you’ll need to craft a series of emails that is unique to the CFO -- being mindful to address all the pain points and needs that you identified when taking stock of what they value. Of course, it won’t be enough to simply send messages without positioning yourself and brand as an expert who can resolve their problems. So to support your efforts, you’ll need to have blogs, case studies, videos and other types of content to entice your target.

Now multiply that by the number of stakeholders that you’re aiming to reach.

There are strategies to help repurpose and minimize the amount of content needed to support your marketing automation plan, but it’s also fair to say that writing one blog post per month isn’t going to get you to where you need to be. Expect there to be a need for a lot of content upfront. And even after the foundation is in place, you can count on your marketing automation plan requiring a steady cadence of content as you adjust your strategy to meet the evolving needs of your audience.

How to Tackle the Challenges

Here’s the thing: Your marketing automation platform isn’t going to manage itself.

If your team will be responsible for running marketing automation campaigns, start with an honest assessment of your team’s skills, resources and time. It can take between six to nine months to build and begin executing your plan without the right support. 

Make sure you’ve got the specialists that you need from the onset -- and if you don’t have them, find a team that can fill those gaps.

Damien Pierce is Director of Digital Strategy and Marketing at WiredViews. He's responsible for client management, marketing strategies, SEO, PPC, Automation, and integrated digital marketing campaigns (MAAS!).

He’s a seasoned vet in all of these disciplines and has worked for a number of organizations across industries. When he's not crafting digital marketing strategies, he's getting lost as a hiker in the Appalachian Mountains.