5 obvious signs you’re wasting your marketing automation budget

‘Marketing automation platforms are a cure-all!’ says the slippery software salesman. ‘In fact, once you finish the super-simple set up, you basically just press a big green ‘Go’ button and watch the leads flood in!’ (Cue evil laugher and Mr. Burns-esque ‘Excellent’ finger gesture).

While the above scenario may seem a bit far-fetched, there are a lot of B2B businesses that have been tricked into thinking marketing automation is a quick-win solution to their sales problems. The problem is – this train of thought can actually have the opposite effect, by cutting into your marketing ROI.

Because by not using these automation tools to their full potential - or by failing to develop an associated marketing strategy to help support them - you’re basically just flushing that marketing investment right down the toilet.


But how can you tell if you’re guilty of these crimes? In our experience, these are the big pitfalls you’ll want to sidestep in order to avoid wasting your marketing automation budget. 

1. You haven’t developed a long-term content marketing strategy

Marketing automation software is a platform for your marketing activities: it can’t exist – or get results - on its own. 

Think of it like an oven – and your results like a delicious chocolate cake. First, you need to get all your ingredients together (your content), and then you need to follow the method (your killer strategy) to help assemble them properly before you can pop it all in the oven (HubSpot/Pardot, etc.). Then, while it’s cooking away, you need to check on it frequently to make sure it’s developing properly.  

None of the components work without the other – it’s a harmonious (and delicious) symbiotic relationship.

For help developing your marketing strategy, we recommend picking up a copy of Content Strategy for the Web (Second Edition) by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach. It’s a great read and a solid resource for building an efficient content marketing strategy for your business. 

2. You haven’t invested time to train team members or fund on-going management of the software

Marketing automation tools are capable of performing numerous, complicated feats, and understanding the technology and the back-end processes required to execute these tasks is imperative.

A tool like HubSpot or Pardot can’t be mastered overnight. Learning the basics will take a few weeks of training and you’ll want a least one person who understands the tool in and out (which could take a few months to learn completely).

It doesn’t just end with training though. Keep in mind most tools are constantly being updated with software upgrades, additional functionality, new resources and training opportunities. Make sure you have someone internally or a specialist agency who can dedicate their time to staying on top of all the latest developments. Otherwise you risk missing out on the full functionality and ROI of your marketing automation platform.

3. You aren’t measuring your progress

As well as being powerful machines in terms of execution, marketing automation software is also chock-full of analytics and data to help you measure the progress of your marketing activities. In fact, the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming to a lot of first timers, or those unfamiliar with the software’s nuts and bolts.

The critical issue here is to understand what is important to your business in terms of progress – is social reach and brand awareness important? Or are you only concerned with conversions and website traffic? All these elements are important in their own way, but you need to understand what specific metrics are relevant to your organisation. Then you need to understand how to source that data and how to communicate it back to the business in a clear, logical and consistent way.

If you need help figuring out which metrics you should be measuring, get in touch with us for a free goal-setting session.

For more advice about putting together your monthly marketing report, check out one of our most popular blogs – why the monthly marketing report is your best friend.

4. You haven’t connected it to your CRM

One of the most classic marketing automation mistakes is not closing the loop between your marketing and sales. Say you convert a lead through your marketing automation tool – amazing! And then what happens?

- Who follows it up? 
- How do you assign that lead to your sales team?
- Can your sales team see and use the following data from your marketing automation tool about: lead scoring, content viewed, time of first contact, etc. on their follow up calls?
- Once they’ve followed up, how do they update the status of that lead in your marketing automation tool and add it to a nurturing program? 

A marketing automation tool is just a piece of the sales and marketing alignment puzzle – and you’ll lose out on streamlining and optimising your sales process by not connecting it to your CRM. 

5. Your expectations are unrealistic

We’ve saved the best for last here because this is actually the most important point (this is why you should always read blogs to the end!)

What do you think you’ll achieve with your marketing automation software? Instant opportunities? The phone ringing off the hook?  More business than you know what to do with?

Sorry to break it to you, but that’s not going to happen.

Marketing automation will get you results, but not immediately. According to HubSpot, almost 50% of companies using their software saw an increase in sales within 7 months

It’s often compared to a gym membership: you’ll only get results if you use it regularly and work up a sweat!

You also need to look at what you’re spending to determine the results you’ll achieve. Kuno creative has done a great job breaking down what you’ll spend vs. what you’ll get in return on your activities. If you’re expecting big results, you’ll need to ensure you’re making the associated financial investment. 

If all of this sounds scarily familiar, don’t fear. Even if you’re not getting an ROI from your marketing automation software now, you can turn it around. The best place to start is with an inbound marketing assessment, which provides you with a report, telling you where you are, and where you need to be with your marketing activities.

Are you getting the most from your marketing automation software? Tell us why or why not in the comments section below.