Marketing Automation CostsJust because you’re paying for a marketing automation platform doesn’t necessarily mean you have marketing automation. Given the broad range of features and functions provided by most marketing automation platforms, what you don’t use, you can lose in value, and what you misuse can cost you even more. This is actually why many marketing automation providers invest heavily in maintaining effective customer success teams, and consistently create thorough how-to guides and best practice resources. Their ability to secure you as a return customer still hinges on your ability to gain enough value from using their technology. As you’ll see in the data below, however, not all marketing automation users have gotten the message. Hopefully, you’re not among these ranks, but considering the potential impact of these four worst practices, you may want to double check either way…

Email Marketing Only – Burning Cash for Warmth:

Email is used by 95% of Best-in-Class marketing automation practitioners, 88% of Industry Average users, and 79% of Laggard users. Empirically, it’s what marketers use their platforms for most, and from a technical standpoint, it’s arguably the easiest function to use. If, however, email marketing is the only function being used, you’re really just overpaying for an email service provider (ESP). Accounting for both low cost and crème-de-la-crème ESP options, the average cost per year is around $6,000. Doing the same for marketing automation platform vendors – low and high offerings – the average cost per year is around $30,000. Essentially, you’re paying five times more money for the same functionality – plus added integration, upkeep, and personnel costs to boot. If you’ve invested in marketing automation, ensure that you’re using it for more than just email.

Ignoring Reporting & Analytics – “The Good Advice You Just Didn’t Take”

Paired with the majority of marketing automation users leveraging email, 86% of Best-in-Class firms utilize website forms, along with 80% of Industry Average, and 65% of Laggards. Together, these are the two most direct marketing functions supported by marketing automation – pumping out messaging in emails, and pulling in contacts / leads through forms. What’s a little too ironic, though, is that a tactic that can dramatically improve the performance of both of these features, actually has lower adoption rates – even among the Best-in-Class.

Research from one marketing automation vendor found that 30% more time spent analyzing marketing performance data yields 3X higher open rates, and 2X higher click through rates, on average. However, only 78% of Best-in-Class firms report using reporting & analytics from their marketing automation platforms, followed by 55% of Industry Average users, and 36% of Laggards. If you’ve invested in marketing automation software ‒whether you’re actually using the platform or managing the people who are ‒ you should always have a report of what’s working, what’s not, and what (in benchmarking terms) good looks like.

Leaving Lead Management to Chance – Flooded by Your Own Leaky Pipes:

A combined 74% of Best-in-Class marketing automation users have a well-defined lead management process in place with either some or all facets supported by automation, but only 43% of Industry Average users, and 15% of Laggards have the same capabilities. Without well-defined lead management processes, your marketing automation platform – if everything else is working correctly – is generating a mass of contacts and leads that have nowhere to go. You have more data to manage, more leads to dilute your conversion rates, and less insight into marketing’s overall contribution to revenue. In some cases, you won’t even be able to calculate how much money it’s costing you, and in others, the sheer logistics in having to find a way to route leads to sales can incur clear added expenses in personnel, time, and supporting systems. If you want to make the most of your marketing technology, make sure your people and processes are able to support effective lead management.

No Marketing-Generated Lead Goals – You Can’t Raise the Bar if You Don’t Have One

This is a no-no that even a large percentage (41%) of Best-in-Class marketing automation users are guilty of – namely, not having a process to determine the number of marketing-generated leads needed to reach specific pipeline or revenue goals. Fortunately, 59% of the Best-in-Class do maintain this practice, but only 40% of Average firms, and 25% of Laggards follow suit. Of course, to calculate this necessary lead gen goal, marketers need to be able to measure the close rate of marketing-generated leads in order to accurately predict how many raw leads will be necessary to yield a set amount of closed deals. However, 64% of Best-in-Class firms also cite this capability, so a secondary worst practice here is being able to set a clear lead gen goal but not doing so. The primary worst practice here, however, is far more damaging as not knowing how many leads they need to hit, marketers are left to more basic, “all or nothing” strategies where they have to throw as much as they can haphazardly into lead gen programs. This can mean spending more money than needed to fuel a sales-forecasted pipeline, or even not having the foundation to ask for more budget if current efforts aren’t enough to support the business.

No Lead Scoring or Lead Nurturing – Are You In Denial of Empowered Buyers?

Research on lead scoring shows that 68% of Best-in-Class marketing automation users utilize lead scoring functionality. Additional research on lead nurturing shows that another 68% of Best-in-Class marketing automation users leverage lead nurturing. To be blunt, lead scoring is how you know your buyers are ready to buy from their own behavioral and demographic data. Lead nurturing is how you empower your buyers to make an informed decision through strategic, planned marketing engagements over time. Both tactics are a representation of the necessity to engage and understand your buyers in their buying journey on their terms. What’s more, customer experience management research shows that organizations with a formal process to map and manage buyer and customer journeys enjoy 79% higher year-over-year increases, on average, in cross-sell and upsell revenue, as compared to companies without such capabilities. Through lead scoring and lead nurturing, you have a clear means to map and manage the buyer’s journey, and if you’re not using it, you may be cutting your own ability to capitalize on the advantages in catering to empowered customers and buyers.

Of course, with all the capabilities inherent to marketing automation platforms, there are plenty more places where no use or misuse of platform features and functions can come back to haunt you. To ensure you’re up to speed on all the best practices of marketing automation, read Aberdeen’s free report, State of Marketing Automation 2014: Processes That Produce.