What prevents great marketing automation? 5 common reasons

5 minute read

Marketing automation has been around for a while. Still, how to make it great seems to puzzle many companies, and often misplaced or siloed data is blamed as the root problem. However, there are many other reasons that prevent us from utilizing the full potential of automated marketing.

1. Marketing automation is not only a technology

When talking about marketing automation, we usually speak about it in the context of technology. IT infrastructure, software and data are crucial parts of marketing automation, but that’s not all there is to it: it is also a distinctive way of thinking and executing. Implementing marketing automation does not only require the application of technology, but even more importantly it requires changes in an organization’s resources, marketing processes, and ways of working.

Organizations frequently ignore or lack processes that are needed to implement, onboard and develop marketing automation. Deploying the technology is only one step of the journey in making great marketing automation. This step is — or should be — followed by continuous processes that aim to make it a significant factor in the company’s success.

2. Marketing and tech teams struggle to find a common language

The essence of marketing automation is data. In order to harness it for achieving business goals, both technical expertise and a business mindset are required. This is where cooperation of marketing and tech teams comes into play. However, putting these teams together does not automatically create the perfect solution.

Marketing professionals have the required mindset for setting business goals. They will identify the need for a welcome journey or steps for activating passive customers, but understanding what kind of data or technical solutions are required to achieve them might be their weakness.

Discussing these ideas with the tech team might also be problematic. Tech people might not understand marketing activities and goals, and therefore struggle to provide viable technical solutions.

Both teams benefit from the ability to think from each other’s perspectives.

3. Marketing has changed — but we haven’t

Marketing has traditionally been an ad hoc discipline, where new ideas and needs and actions tend to pop up with a short notice. In theory, the digital world enables quick action, but when it comes to creating marketing automation, this can be problematic. Impromptu needs easily lead to the implementation of separate “one-time” solutions, which do not contribute in creating a comprehensive, scalable marketing automation system.

Marketing has drastically shifted in a direction that requires developing IT environments and systems. This means that modern marketing professionals need — besides the ability to think creatively and in business terms — a certain level of technical understanding. It also requires a slight change in thinking: instead of separate campaign messages, we need to consider bigger, logical processes that combine personalized messages, channels and goals.

To adapt to this new way of marketing, we need time and education to learn the required skills and mindset. Too little effort is spent on training, which leads to blocked progress, unorganized practices and inefficient use of marketing automation tools.

4. Proper onboarding is easily forgotten

Marketing automation tools aim to make marketing more efficient, and reducing manual work is one crucial step toward that goal.

However, the time required to properly introduce and teach a new system is often underestimated. One workshop is never enough. Companies that successfully utilize the opportunities of marketing automation usually have at least one person dedicated to overseeing and supporting the use of the system.

5. Marketing automation lacks the support it needs

Companies have a good understanding of what marketing automation is and have valid goals and reasons for implementing it. The plans are wonderful — companies want to provide holistic customer experiences and create influential customer journeys — but often their success is blocked by organizational hierarchy or internal processes that do not support the development of marketing automation.

Marketing is regularly forgotten when IT solutions and architecture are discussed. Marketing automation requires an owner who can work as a trustee and oversee the continuity and development inside the organization, and create processes that support the marketing technology.

Tackle risks with knowledge

Above are the 5 most common problems we have seen when companies start implementing marketing automation. It is important to understand your organization’s readiness for marketing automation before proceeding with a new technology. By identifying potential issues in resources, processes or skill levels before you get excited and up to your elbows in your marketing automation project, it is possible to manage risks that could stop you from succeeding.

–> Learn more: Creating value with intelligent and data-driven marketing automation 



Milla Hallanoro

Marketing Automation Practice Lead


Milla has over ten years of experience in marketing management both from B2B and B2C sectors. Her expertise is built around marketing automation, digital marketing and marketing leadership, one of her strengths being comprehensive understanding of the role of marketing as a part of the overall business. Milla is greatly inspired by the endless possibilities digitalization continues to bring for businesses and for the way they do marketing.

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