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Is Marketing Automation Really Automatic?

Is Marketing Automation Really Automatic?

There is certainly a lot of interest by marketers in a new category of software known as “Marketing Automation.”  This category of software has seen double-digit growth in 2009 and doesn’t seem ready to slow down at all.  It reminds me a lot of the go-go days of “sales force automation” back in the early 90’s.  Back then, “SFA” as it was known, was the next silver bullet that was going to make sales easier and everyone’s lives better.  Yea, needless to say we all know how that ended up.

Yesterday, DemandGen Report had a feature story about the increased adoption of marketing automation solutions in 2010.  In the article, John Neeson the Co-Founder of Market Research firm SiriusDecisions, is quoted as saying “…less than 25% of those who have marketing automation are taking full advantage of the system’s functionality.”

This isn’t really too surprising.  Marketing Automation software is simply a toolbox with lots of tools in it.  To say that it is “automated” is to overstate the reality.  To successfully adopt marketing automation and realize the benefits first requires rethinking the following aspects of your go-to-market game plan:

  • Who do you communicate with (should you change/expand your target audience)
  • What do you say (are you using language your prospect speaks everyday)
  • When your audience does respond, do you know what to say next (how do you help them through their process)
  • When is the right time to introduce solutions (versus a demo of our product too soon)
  • How do you make sure that your sales team gets involved at the right time

When you have that figured out, you have to make sure that you have the right content and messaging to effectively communicate with your audience at each stage of their buying cycle.  The number and type of resources required to successfully get the most out of marketing automation platforms is well beyond what most companies have on staff.  Thus, few companies who jump on the bandwagon of Marketing Automation are realizing the full potential.  It just isn’t automatic.

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