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One of the hottest trends in all of marketing in recent years has been the dramatic increase in automation options capabilities.

As the potential ROI of automating a ballooning suite of marketing operations becomes more and more apparent, interest has risen dramatically.

In response, the amount of tools, technologies, and marketing automation consultants available to cater to marketers’ automation needs has also grown exponentially. For reference, here’s what the “Marketing Automation” category of’s annual “Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic” looked like in 2012…

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And here’s what it looks like today:

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Over half of companies are now using marketing automation of some kind, and that number is expected to grow.

But while automation is increasing in marketing operations across the board, results aren’t always growing at the same pace.

Imagine investing into a sophisticated, expensive automation platform only to see little or no meaningful business growth. That’s surely a disappointment to any marketing leader or business owner who bought into the automation hype.

Well-implemented marketing automation staffing and technology can undoubtedly improve your marketing and increase ROI. It has the potential to drastically scale up your campaigns, respond faster to opportunities, and target your audience more precisely.

So if you’re one of the people who’s been disappointed by the results you’ve seen so far, you’re no doubt wondering why some businesses are taking off while you’re stuck in the slow lane.

Three Big Misconceptions about Automation

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There are a variety of reasons marketing automation can fail to deliver the “promised” returns. Many of them stem from a few misconceptions about what automation really is and what it brings to the table for marketing.

Misconception 1: Automation Can “Save” a Lackluster Marketing Program

Automation is an excellent compliment to your overall marketing strategy. It can fundamentally transform the way you engage customers and grow revenue.

But it will utterly fail if you think of it as a magic wand that solves all your marketing problems. If your marketing is fundamentally broken to begin with, no amount of fancy tools and expensive systems can save it.

Before all else, you need effective marketing leadership and strategy to create a strong foundation for all other operations to work upon.

Misconception 2: Automation Reduces Your Need for Marketers

In most fields, automation has historically dramatically reduced the amount of manpower needed to accomplish a task. One need only glance at manufacturing or agriculture over the last century to see what a profound effect it can have.

However, this trend carries poorly to the field of marketing. If anything, automation actually increases your need for innovative, cutting-edge marketing talent.

Sure, it might reduce the time a professional spends doing repetitive, menial tasks. But marketers aren’t just workers on an assembly line; that extra capacity must then be put towards analytical, strategic, and creative thought if you want to maintain a competitive edge.

If you’ve viewed automation as a replacement for quality marketing talent, you’re in trouble.

Misconception 3: Once It’s Set Up, Marketing Automation Can Run on Its Own

Automation isn’t a fire-and-forget system where you simply set up your processes, press the start button, and then sit back while the money flows in.

In reality, automated marketing systems need constant maintenance and monitoring to ensure they’re working properly. And to get the best value from them, you need talented marketing analytics staffing or marketing automation consultants periodically making improvements and optimizations to your systems.

Businesses that try to replace their marketing automation staffing and agencies with digital programs and tools are in for an unpleasant surprise.

How to Get More Value from Your Marketing Automation

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A quick Google search will serve you endless articles, guides, and tips on better marketing automation implementation.

But for business leaders, there’s a simpler, “secret” solution almost no one talks about: talent.

Marketing automation experience and expertise is paramount to taking full advantage of what today’s technology has to offer.

In any craft, a tool is only as good as the artisan wielding it. Marketing automation is no exception. So if you’ve been investing in automation but not seeing any results, the problem probably isn’t in the technology, but the professionals responsible for setting it up and maintaining it.

Most modern automation systems are fairly simple to set up. But they still require the nuanced touch of someone who’s both tech savvy and fully understands the customer experience.

Perhaps your organization lacks the leadership and strategy needed to harness the power of automation. In that case, a digital marketing executive search may be in order.

Maybe your team just isn’t familiar enough with automation concepts and technology to take advantage of it. In that case, you could consider reinforcing it with marketing automation staffing or training it with marketing automation consultants.