7 Top Marketing Challenges that Marketing Automation Eliminates

marketing event automation

How Marketing Automation Enables Marketers to Have a 360 Degree Customer View

Welcome to Marketing and Event Automation 360: Our 3-part series on marketing automation and event automation integration. Join Mike Earley, Certain’s Product Manager, as he analyzes the top marketing challenges that data-driven marketers face, and how event and marketing automation can eliminate these pain-points. This 3-part feature will kick-off our Event and Marketing Automation Benchmark report, where we provide detailed industry metrics on how marketers are currently using event and marketing automation.

Take it away Mike!

In the first part of this series, you’ll learn more about:

  • Manual processes
  • Messy data
  • Too many systems
  • IT Dependence
  • Proving marketing budget ROI
  • Mind-set shift
  • The true 360 view

Before becoming a Product Manager at Certain, I started in marketing automation building custom lead management applications with a heavy emphasis on lead routing and lead scoring for manufacturing companies. This was back in the days when a lot of people still used index cards to track their sales leads! I am not kidding! You’d be amazed at how complicated and sophisticated the lead routing rules can be in a large global organization.

I moved to Eloqua specifically to help implement marketing automation for enterprise-class organizations. We would very often be integrating Eloqua with at least a half-dozen systems in the marketing technology stack; like content management, event management, data warehouse, CRM, ERP, and other in-house systems.

After having designed and implemented marketing automation solutions for many years, I decided to see what it would be like actually owning and running a marketing technology stack for myself. So I joined Twitter as Marketing Operations Manager, where I was responsible for maintaining and running a number of marketing systems, including marketing automation, the webinar system, event management, content management, and even some data from Twitter itself.

My different job experiences enabled me to see marketing automation not just from the product side, but as a marketer. At Eloqua, I learned the importance of good data practices when you need six systems to talk to each other. At Twitter, I learned how much work it takes to align people and processes in a marketing organization, giving me a new appreciation for all of the hard work my customers had done over the years.

And now, at Certain, I’m a product manager driving their growing marketing automation product, giving me a 360 degree view of the marketing landscape. Here, I’m back in product design and development, but now with the benefit of all the experience I picked up at Eloqua and Twitter.

While it is different for every company, I found a few common threads. These are the 7 most common challenges marketers are hoping to eliminate or overcome by implementing marketing automation:

1. Manual processes

Most businesses are looking to automate manual work, such as entering leads into excel sheets and then transferring those leads into CRM systems. Creating all of the content necessary for a cohesive and well-organized demand generation effort takes a lot of work, even more so when you are doing it all by hand. Getting “the prospect lists” in order is often a manual process for businesses without marketing automation systems.

Marketers, for example, may have had to put in a request to an IT department for a list pull and may not get the list back for a week or more, impeding timely follow-up. Then, the marketer had to take the file that they got from IT and manually load it into their email marketing system. Repeat this process for a follow-up email.

And again. And again. This sort of process is probably very familiar to many marketers and creates repeated headaches throughout the course of each campaign. It’s a nightmare!

2. Messy data

I am not sure I’ve ever met a marketer that believes that the data they are capturing or able to analyze is “good.” Which records in their system are still valid? Who is unsubscribed? Of all their records, which ones are actually marketable? How do you send a campaign to executive-level contacts only?

Can you use the title field? Which system even has title in it? Does every record have a title? Is it a normalized field or does it have free-form text?

I once did an analysis of all the values in the title field for a large well-known Silicon Valley business and found that they had 90% uniqueness in the title field across their entire marketing database. That means 9 out of 10 titles were only found on ONE record — out of millions of records. How can you ever score using this?

Answer: you can’t.

3. Too many systems

Whether it is legacy systems, acquisitions and new business units running their own sets of systems, or a collection of different small system choices that were designed to perform very specific functions, most organizations looking to move to marketing automation have intentions of consolidating as many systems as possible.

Before marketing automation, you’d have a separate system for email (often more than one), a separate system for lead management, sometimes 3 or 4 content systems (website, blog, CMS, etc.), and many more. This can be very confusing, and often times I would work with marketers that wouldn’t even know which systems had which data. It is very difficult to focus on strategy when you have these sorts of tactical obstacles.

4. IT Dependence

Once upon a time, you needed to know how to write a SQL query to pull a list of contacts for sending your email. And you needed to know how to write HTML and Javascript by hand in order to create a simple landing page on your website. This led to a lot of marketing teams becoming very dependent upon their IT departments for getting simple, everyday marketing tasks completed.

For many marketers, the allure of marketing automation is that they will have the tools to do all of the formerly technical work themselves. You can put up a landing page using drag-and-drop tools in a matter of minutes. You can build a list in seconds. (Ok, maybe minutes, but still…)

5. Proving marketing budget ROI

Before (and even with) marketing automation, it takes an intense amount of organization and discipline to pull off a well-executed marketing campaign, let alone be able to track the total cost and ROI of that campaign…let alone track the ROI of all of your campaigns and be able to compare them with each other so you know what worked and what didn’t.

Marketing automation holds the promise that by streamlining and automating many of the tactical aspects of campaign execution, marketers are finally free to focus on strategy and how to meet business goals. Depending on how marketing automation is integrated, you can even fully automate ROI reporting!

6. Mind-set shift

It can take a long time for an organization to shift gears. I’ve certainly seen businesses continue to use marketing automation like nothing more than a glorified batch-and-blast email system. Taking advantage of the full capability of a marketing automation platform actually requires more process change than technology change.

This is why a strong evangelist inside the organization can help drive success with a paradigm-shifting technology change. Very often, this evangelist is hoping that the marketing automation platform itself can serve as a catalyst for this change.

7. The true 360 view

When CRM systems first came into prominence, the vision was that they would create a 360 degree customer view, showing all the interactions and touchpoints the business has throughout a customer’s life-cycle. While this was true to a certain point, it turns out there was a whole world of micro-interactions that take place in the various marketing systems that CRM wasn’t seeing. Details like viewing your website, favoriting one of your tweets, signing up for your newsletter, these are customer interactions that CRMs were incapable of tracking.

And this collection of behaviors is very critical in understanding if a prospect is about to become a customer or if a customer is about to STOP being a customer! Without marketing automation, who knows where all of this data is captured, if at all? Eloqua has a great term for all this data: “digital body language.”

This digital body language is actionable information that can be used to prevent a customer from churning or to turn that prospect into a customer.

Manual processes, messy data systems, too many systems, and IT Dependence are common challenges that data-driven marketers face and reasons that marketing automation eliminates these pain-points. Marketing automation also gives marketers a true 360 degree view into customer interactions, which enables marketers to target prospects more successfully.

So what can marketers be doing to ensure that their marketing automation system is set-up to succeed? In the next part of this series, I will discuss best practices in order for marketers to leverage the data captured through their marketing automation system, and a follow-up piece on how to best integrate your marketing and event automation systems.

In the mean-time, take our Event and Marketing Automation Readiness Quiz to evaluate your own readiness, and stay tuned for our Benchmark Report, so you can see where you measure up alongside industry leaders and data-driven marketers!

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