When it comes to marketing automation, there is a lot of misinformation out there. From faulty assumptions to a simple lack of understanding, this misinformation often directly impacts how businesses and executives perceive marketing automation, often to the detriment of their marketing teams.
To help separate the truth from the lies, here is a list of the 4 most common myths about inbound marketing automation that you need to leave behind in 2017 for your business to grow.
Myth #1: It Will Fix Your Sales/Marketing Process
Having a good marketing automation platform in place can go a long way in bridging the gap between sales and marketing. Some platforms will provide closed-loop analytics, giving your organization greater visibility into what campaigns, traffic sources, and content helped generate leads, or even helped close a sale.
But this only serves to compliment your sales and marketing funnel, not create one for you. Before implementing marketing automation, be sure to have clear definitions of each stage of your marketing funnel. For example, your sales and marketing team should meet to decide what qualifies as a good “Marketing Qualified Lead”, and what the hand-off process should be between sales and marketing. This is a critical step in achieving sales and marketing alignment.
For marketing software to really do its job, you also need a clearly defined and well thought demand generation and inbound marketing strategy. Your marketing software should be implemented to help you execute that strategy with more efficiency and precision than possible without automation. Unfortunately, many organizations do just the opposite: They try building a plan around the software rather than implementing software around a plan, and then ultimately fail.
Myth #2: Ease Of Use = Less Sophistication
In many large organizations, there seems to be a myth that complexity is a good thing. If a tool doesn’t require a PhD to utilize, then it must not be all that powerful, right?
This couldn’t be further from the truth. A difficult, unintuitive platform is a bit like buying a manual car when you only know how to drive an automatic. If you can’t use the software, it’s unlikely that you’ll commit the time and resources necessary to reap the benefits and see a positive return on your investment.
Your marketing software should help streamline the work you do, not complicate it. Fortunately some platforms like HubSpot have invested heavily into ease-of-use over the years, making marketing automation lighter, faster and much easier to tackle without sacrificing functionality.
Myth #3: Lack Of Features Means More Focus
Of all the myths, this one is the closest to being true. Cramming every feature and functionality under the sun into a single platform can certainly dilute the effectiveness of the platform if it’s not integrated well with the core of the platform.
But having a broader set of features in your platform is actually ideal. For example—without tools to help you attract prospects and pull them into your funnel, how will anyone get to experience that wonderful lead nurturing sequence you build out?
A baseline marketing automation platform will include tools like lead nurturing, lead scoring, lead intelligence, landing pages, email, and forms. The more powerful platforms might also include keyword research, social media monitoring and publishing, personalization, a/b testing, PPC management, analytics, and sales-focused features as a part of the feature-set.
Some platforms like Marketo and Oracle Eloqua have focused very heavily on features that are important at the bottom of the funnel, such as lead nurturing campaigns and the ability to implement sophisticated scoring models. Others, like HubSpot, have taken a much more well-rounded approach, building a platform that allows you to execute nearly every component of a sophisticated demand generation funnel.
When evaluating different marketing automation vendors, be sure to consider these questions:
- When were those features last updated?
- How will the platform evolve in the year(s) ahead?
- Is the platform a true all-in-one, or has it been stitched together through acquisitions of other platforms?
- What do other customers say about specific features on review sites?
Look out for features that haven’t been updated in years, or situations where you’ll have to tack on multiple other platforms to make up for the shortcomings of another.
Myth #4: Marketing Automation Software Is Expensive
When marketing automation first came into the software landscape, it was primarily designed for larger corporations with deep pockets and large marketing teams. With many early adopters spending 250K+ a year on marketing technology, it’s no surprise that marketing automation became perceived to be expensive.
This price tag was due in part to the pricing model of charging per-contact. Larger companies often have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people on their email lists. Smaller companies have far fewer—which means a much lower subscription cost.
As marketing technology has gained adoption and competition has increased, enterprise-quality features have also become more accessible. Today, even the smallest of businesses can afford to implement some level of marketing software for their company.
Software like HubSpot’s Growth Stack, which includes a free CRM and easy-to-implement conversion tools, should open the door for every marketer and business owner to get started with marketing automation today. Expense is no longer an excuse.