The Dead-Honest Truth About Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is not rocket science, but it is not third-grade arithmetic either. Many businesses get sold on the idea of marketing automation, yet fail to either implement it or take full advantage of it.
When I was offering my free lead generation and marketing automation consultation to business owners as well as mid-level marketers that were shopping for a marketing automation platform I noticed they all had somewhat similar misconceptions about marketing automation. This is why many small businesses I worked with migrating them from HubSpot to WordPress were leaving HubSpot. The expectations did not match the reality. That’s why I wanted to get a few things straight to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Marketing Automation Is Not Marketing Autopilot
Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot do not get you leads. It is a tool that facilitates the lead generation and nurturing, but you must do the work. It is really like a car: it will get you from point A to point B quicker than walking but you must drive it and you must put gas into it. It’s a tool!
This means that yes, you do have to blog, create emails, create other content, talk to people on social media, and other marketing activities. There’s a reason why 93% of companies using inbound marketing increased their lead generation (source). They did the work that’s necessary!
If you were given HubSpot for free, without spending a minimum of 10 – 15 hours every week (or paying someone to do it for you) on producing content, promoting it, analyzing data, engaging in social media, and other marketing-related activities – it will be a waste of money and you will not get leads!
This is true regardless if you’re using a marketing automation platform or not. You must do the hard, necessary work if you want leads.
Many of the clients that I switched from HubSpot to WordPress were primarily using HubSpot as a CMS to have a website. Some were lucky to create a few landing pages, and maybe (huge maybe!) they had a few lead nurturing emails setup. They did not blog, they did not engage in social media, they did not use data HubSpot collected to help generate more leads. It wasn’t HubSpot’s fault, it’s a tool.
Don’t think that going with a cheaper alternative like WordPress for marketing automation will solve your lead generation problems. You will get all the necessary tools to generate more leads, but you have to do the work!
Marketing and Automation
Here’s what I tell everyone I talk to about marketing automation:
Marketing automation does not improve the quality of your marketing, it improves the efficiency of your marketing.
The “automation” facilitates activities and processes that you should have in place.
For example, everyone struggles with lead nurturing emails because they don’t know what emails to write or how to schedule them. They’re lost. The reason is, you can’t automate nothing. And when you try to automate nothing, you wonder where’s the ROI?
In this example, you need to have a sales process (or sales cycle) in place first. Lead nurturing is designed to warm up leads, to move them from one stage to another – closer to sale. If you don’t know what your sales process is you won’t know how to effectively nurture your leads. Sending out time-based autoresponders is not lead nurturing. You need to understand where the lead is in your sales process, hence cater a lead nurturing campaign to help move the lead to the next stage.
The point is this: you have nothing to automate.
Your lead generation problem is not automation, it’s marketing. If you can’t generate leads without marketing automation, you will not be able to generate leads with marketing automation.
Just because WordPress marketing automation is cheaper than HubSpot or other platforms, doesn’t mean it will help you get leads.
Elbow grease is not included.
Hi Viktor, we’re a marketing department trying to decide between marketing automation and updating an email platform from 1993. We have our leads, we send email regularly to targeted groups. We have an active presence on Facebook and a website that also needs to be updated. I don’t want to make our website dependent on our MA, but it should have integration. We also have a blog site for one of our target groups–we need to provide content more regularly. We produce a monthly digital dashboard and we follow our email results. We are looking for MA to make us more efficient, but we don’t have the budget for Hubspot. Is there somewhere I can plug in what we do and get a few options to review?
Hi, thanks for your comment. HubSpot is the only MA platform that offers website hosting platform (COS). All other MA platforms offer integrations with existing websites. If you were to switch to WordPress to power your website, you would be able to blog more regularly and have SEO tools to optimize your content (and website) better to get more traffic. It would also open more opportunities for MA platforms. For example, you could use InboundNow or Spokal with your WordPress website.
If building a new website is not feasible right now, then you would need to consider platforms that integrate with your existing website. Most will, so it comes down to specific needs like email. Questions you should ask yourself, do you need a CRM? What email features do you need? Do you need lead scoring? Hatchbuck (I use) and AgileCRM are good email-based platforms that include CRM.
You need to come up with a list of features you’re using right now and what you might need to grow your marketing, then see which MA platform is able to give you these features. Sometimes, on a budget, you might need to find 2-3 tools that will get the job done together. If you haven’t read my post about picking the right marketing automation platform, I highly recommend you read it.
Hope that helps,
Glad I can offer feedback.
Nice post Viktor, I agree. We still need to explain to potential clients that software doesn’t run itself, it still needs some input from them. I wish we could phase out the word AUTOMATIC from the term and come up with something else, move away from the set and forget mindset that seems common.
Or are we just faced with a group of lazy marketers who want max $$ for zero work and so are sucked in, much like the old SEO scams which sort of offered the same massive rewards for little effort?
You are good at what you do mate, have read several of your posts and love the way you gain insight behind your posters!! :>)
It’s the sales rep’s job to ensure they explain exactly what their platform does, so the clients can effectively use it… unfortunately, I’ve worked with clients who would complain about sales reps lying and them getting screwed. I won’t call out any names, this applies to all sales people.
Sale does not stop after payment is received, it continues throughout the lifecycle of the customer and ensuring customer’s success.
You’re right Frank. Many forget about building relationships and focus on generating more and more leads with old mentality of “sell, sell, sell”. But it’s not that easy anymore. People crave value. Leads charge value for their attention and contact information.
I fully agree. The old words “A fool with a tool is still a fool” is probably ‘truer’ than ever, especially in times where we have access to hundreds of pieces of marketing technology (see chart at http://chiefmartec.com/2014/02/1000-marketing-technology-vendors-new-normal/). My personal favorite combo for small businesses and freelancers or consultants is a combination of Wordpress and Contactually. Especially this group has to rely on a working relationship to its customers and leads. Contactually is not so ‘fat’ as a fully blown CRM and offers a good way in to a marketing automation mindset. More info: https://www.contactually.com/invite/welschlehmann (Disclaimer: I am a fan of Contactually, so I am an affiliate 😉
Hi, Just a couple of points I ran into… your “continue reading” link didn’t seem to work. I don’t see anyplace to sign up for your blogs or other info? No “subscribe” option..
Hi Evelyn, thanks for stopping by and mentioning the issue with continue reading. I just took this new design live about a week ago. Did not see that issue for some reason, so thanks for pointing it out. Fixed now 🙂
As for subscribtion option. I haven’t had the chance to add new optin box yet, will add soon. In the meantime, feel free to subscribe to receive blog updates here http://eepurl.com/LHfwz
Again, thank you Evelyn for taking the time to comment and let me know about issues.
This post makes a very good point. Marketing Automation needs something to automate! For someone starting out I recommend a simple communication flow triggered by a new customer / prospect sign up via a web form. It’s a really simple starting point for new businesses.
I’m using Simplycast btw which I find really easy to use and has a low price option for start ups.
Thanks for commenting John, but you should mention that you work for Simplycast. You’re not a customer.