I recently read that three out of five marketing automation implementations fail. Three out of five! That’s a 60% failure rate. That is alarming, but I don’t think that the reason that most of those fail is due to the software itself — there is some great MAT software on the market right now. The reason they usually fail is ultimately due to misguided expectations.
Companies are buying MAT software under the assumption that it is going to bring them better, more qualified leads that result in lots of new business. While this can very well be true, and is true for some that use marketing automation, it is not the standard. For you to achieve this, you have to do more than just purchase the software. You still have the responsibility to create new leads that feed into your MAT software, and the responsibility of closing sales still falls on your team, not the software. Marketing automation fits in the middle, taking the leads you have created and nurturing them until they’re ready to pass off to your sales team.
Why Marketing Automation Fails
Lack of content: If your website is not creating a steady stream of expert, indexable content on a regular basis, then you aren’t going to be driving enough traffic to your site to grow your database of leads. And if you aren’t growing your database of leads, then marketing automation can’t help you. MAT is only good for nurturing the leads you create and push into the system. If you just have a stagnant list that isn’t growing, then your MAT implementation will likely fail.
Lack of calls to action: Even if you have lots of great content, you must also be driving your site visitors to take action, things like signing up for the newsletter, downloading a whitepaper, or completing a “contact us” form. If you’re never turning visitors into leads, you are again falling short on your end of the bargain, and thus, not giving MAT a chance to do it’s thing.
Inability to close sales: Marketing automation can take your leads and nurture them until they are as ready to buy as they’ll ever be, but it can’t close the deal. You still need a real person to have a real conversation — or, more likely, several — where they can close the deal. Note that this is assuming you are a B2B business and you deal in high-dollar contracts. This is less applicable for the online shoe store.
How to Measure Marketing Automation Effectiveness
If you can’t measure the success of your MAT programs based on the number of leads you’re creating, and you can’t measure it based on the amount of revenue booked, then how do you determine if the investment is providing a return?
You measure the percentage of leads that turn into qualified new business opportunities.
For example, let’s say that prior to implementing MAT, your website was generating about 10 new leads each month, and of those 10, usually two each month would turn into a new business opportunity. Maybe your sales team is then able to to close one each month.
When you add marketing automation, you’re not likely going to see more leads generated, so you’ll likely still be at 10. However, the goal would be to turn more than two of them into qualified opportunities. Let’s say that you double your previous number and are now creating four sales-qualified opportunities that are being sent to your sales team. Your sales team will still continue to close at the rate they have (50%), so we can reasonably expect to see two closed opportunities each month.
Other Measurable Returns from Marketing Automation
In addition to nurturing more leads into opportunities, the other impact that MAT will have on your business is that you will be given much deeper insight into all of your marketing efforts. Since MAT ties together your CRM and your website, you can begin to track and see which campaigns and initiatives are creating more leads and which are resulting in more qualified leads. This can help you budget and put your marketing dollars in the right areas.
While MAT may not actually increase the leads you generate, it can help you see where your leads are coming from so that you can allocate your time and money to the right places, which will hopefully result in more leads. But again, the software doesn’t do it automatically. You must take the time to read the data and draw your conclusions and then take the appropriate actions yourself.
As you can see, MAT implementations can fail for a variety of reasons, but what is most important is that you set your expectations correctly and then be willing to spend the time and effort to hold up your end of the bargain — creating the content, taking action based on MAT reporting, and closing sales. If you’re doing all of these things right, then you should have one of the MAT implementations that see success!