When Marketing Automation is Overwhelming

Creative Commons by foxtongue


As B2B companies start adopting Marketing Automation at a faster rate, there has already been backlash regarding the use of such a necessary platform.  

We’ve seen one company use three platforms in as many years.  We’ve seen one rush into Marketing Automation without processes in place, and without coordination with the Sales team which was running the CRM platform.  We’ve seen the trained end user leave a company and the efforts fall by the wayside.  We’ve seen companies spending more money on Marketing Automation than they did on their former Email Service Provider, only to use the platform without scoring, without nurturing, without progressive profiling, without A/B testing – in other words, as merely a glorified email app.

Most troubling, however, is we’ve just spoken with a company going “cold turkey” and dumping its Marketing Automation altogether.  How can they do that, you say?  Most Marketers we have spoken with over the years who have been fortunate enough to implement Marketing Automation don’t want to have it taken away.  So what is going on?

Simply put, they are a small startup that produces high end videos.  Most of the employees are production-oriented and the one dedicated salesperson (the CEO sells too, of course) was given the job of managing the Marketing Automation platform.  He actually did a great job investigating platforms and settled on the HubSpot solution.  We blogged about HubSpot last year, saying it had come a long way since its purely “inbound marketing” positioning and had a great UI for less sophisticated users.  We subscribed to the company’s newsletters and thought they did a good job reaching out.

But that wasn’t enough – and it was explained that the company’s decision was not based on any shortcoming of the HubSpot platform, but rather the bandwidth of the individual responsible for managing it.  Holding a quota and running a Marketing Automation platform is more than just a “hot seat,” it’s downright self-sabotaging.  They know the benefits of Marketing Automation but can’t get out of the hole of work it creates, thus negatively impacting revenue.  That’s Marketing Automation’s dirty little secret if you’re a small company.  While it automates and does things at a scale never before dreamed of by an enterprise, it also demands almost constant monitoring and creation of content.

So what is a company like this going to do – put the blindfold back on?  We hope not.  Allinio offers agency-like demand generation services to augment a resource strapped company at affordable prices.  You will be seeing more agencies pop up doing this because lean and mean companies, a concept from way back in the eighties, have to adapt but also have to allocate resources wisely.  Not using Marketing Automation is not a wise direction to take, but not burning out is also a prudent path.

The bottom line is that what matters to Sales is qualified leads, not specifically who produced them or on what platform they were nurtured.  Ultimately that should be seamless so therefore is now becoming pure service.  What do you think?




  1. Penny St. Clair-Holmes says

    I am in the process of documenting marketing automation requirements for a small company . I implemented one previously in a public company with different requirements so the contrast is interesting. I agree with the bottom line: what matters to Sales is qualified leads. But getting to that point without marketing automation can require too much manual effort and at the end of the day is flawed. I welcome suggestions on companies to consider that will minimize the pain and challenges.

  2. says

    Hi Penny, thanks for the post. There are several things to consider when deciding when taking the marketing automation plunge, including but not limited to:

    1. Exactly “who” are you selling to (in terms of persona)? How many different personas are involved in the buying of your product/service?
    2 What are the explicit and implicit attributes that make the persona qualified for sales to speak to?.
    3. What is the value proposition to each of those personas?
    4. What is the state of your content inventory?
    5. What type of content do your personas consume and in what format?
    5. Do you have an editorial calendar for generating new/repurposing old content?
    6. What are the stages of the buyer process regarding your particular product/service?
    7. What are the key performance indicators that you consider to be successful in your marketing efforts?
    8. How much segmentation do you really need to do with your communication?
    9. How are qualified leads distributed in your Sales organization?
    10. At what point should Sales relinquish leads back to Marketing for more development/nurturing?

    As you probably found out from your last company, there are a lot of moving parts to Marketing Automation. With one implementation under your belt, you can hopefully be a better judge on the “nice to have” versus “gotta have” features of Marketing Automation, and design a path for implementing a platform in phases – one persona or product/service at a time.

  3. says

    Useful article and perspective Joe.

    I think the key question for applicability of email marketing automation is ‘Do we have sufficient repetition?’. If we’re selling one product in large numbers to one market who follow one core path then it makes sense. Internet Marketers using Infusionsoft to sell ‘business start-up’ opportunities is an example.

    If there’s a first point of contact such as a website registration form then an email Welcome Sequence can add value. That’s where I see small companies can start to see a return. Then they can build from there as volumes and experience grows.

  4. says

    Mark, yes, that’s a critical point too. There are plenty of business individuals who are the sole decision makers that can be marketed to using Marketing Automation. You do not need a very complex product or service; but you do need to have your content relevant and there is still probably a lot of segmentation and scoring that could be leveraged.

    Thanks for taking the time to contribute!

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