Is your marketing automation platform letting you down?

This is a “tale as old as time” – a company purchases a piece of software, such as a marketing automation platform (MAP), and expects it to immediately function to its maximum potential and be the unicorn system you were promised during the demo.

However, a marketing automation platform is just a tool. On its own, with no external intervention, it won’t do much. The value comes from the time and effort made by you to configure it to your business processes and needs, which again isn’t always conveyed during the pre-sales process. Or maybe it is, but you don’t really appreciate how much effort, time and consideration is needed, and you are left feeling underwhelmed by your new piece of software.

Below are some of the common marketing automation issues we often see, our thoughts on why they usually come about, and how you can avoid them!

1. Data

There are a few different ways we’ve seen MAPs fail to meet our client’s expectations in terms of data. In some cases, they are not seeing all the data they want to within the records of the MAP. In other cases, they have the fields mapped, but the data doesn’t populate correctly from the CRM.

More often than not, there is a logical reason why you cannot see the data or the values are not visible. It just requires a bit of investigating to understand why.

Below is the approach we like to take:

    Step 1: List out the fields in your CRM you want mapped over to your MAP.

    Think about fields for:

    • segmentation
    • personalisation
    • dynamic content (if your MAP does that)
    • reporting

    Step 2: Work with your CRM admin to see what record types these fields are and ensure they are compatible with your MAP.

    For example, Pardot cannot sync to a LookUp field

    Step 3: Decide on the data flow for each field and which system should be the “master”. This is where we like to get visual and draw out the data flow.

    Tip: Just because data enters your MAP doesn’t mean it has to be the “master” database

    Step 4: Next, it’s time to configure the custom fields in your MAP

    And before you do some big system sync – test your fields!

    You can usually do this via a form submission test, or by manually creating or updating a record in either your CRM or MAP (depends which way the data is meant to flow)

One area we’ve not touched on is duplicate data, but in the interest of keeping this blog short we’ll just say this: Keep your CRM data clean and tidy!

2. Limited use of email functionality

Here we find businesses are getting frustrated with their highly-invested MAP because no one seems to be using it to its full extent. Marketing teams will send basic, one-off emails, but there are no nurture sequences or workflows, and emails lack even basic personalisation.

In these scenarios, the issue is actually a lack of training rather than being a problem of the platform itself. When introducing any new piece of martech it’s vital to set aside time and budget to get your team properly trained on how to use it.

There are a few different training options to consider. One could be that you rely solely on training material and information from the software provider, and your team will be capable of self-training.

Another option is to get an internal champion to go through more rigorous training sessions and certifications (if available), and then rely on them to support your team as they learn.

Lastly, you could get an external trainer to come in and do face-to-face sessions with your team, or train via video conference which works well too. The benefits here are that your team get 1:1 time with an expert who knows the system and can answer questions on the spot, as well as tailor the training to the needs of your business and team.

We highly recommend a mixture of all three, as each one presents their own benefits and will complement each other if planned out correctly. Ultimately, the training will address issues around the team not using the marketing automation platform to its full extent.

3. Sales

We can’t talk about marketing without getting sales involved. Whether you (or they) like it or not, these two teams have a symbiotic relationship which business success depends on. This will become even more prevalent when you have a MAP. Issues revolving around sales come from both sides. You either have the marketing team flagging that sales are not leveraging the information gathered and provided by the MAP, or you have the sales team baffled at how this tool is meant to help them nurture prospects and close deals.

Without sounding like a broken record, training here is key. But before going down that route, you first and foremost need to have a clear understanding and plan of how your MAP is going to support your sales team and their existing processes.

We recommend holding a mini-discovery session with your sales manager(s) to uncover their processes, pain points and ideas on what type of information would be most beneficial to them. Then you’ll be able to assess your marketing automation tool and identify where it can fit in with the sales process and overall make it a smoother, faster one.

Map out and document how you see the marketing and sales processes working together, and get buy-in from both sides. Only then, should you embark on getting the sales team trained up, and not necessarily on the MAP itself, but on the type of information it will surface in your CRM and what they should do with it.

4. Attribution/ROI

A key selling point of most marketing automation platforms is that it will help marketers attribute their activity against revenue. While this is true there are so many organisations that continue to struggle with this.

There are a few reasons.

Firstly, there needs to be an understanding of how the sales/opportunity process is tracked within your CRM as this will help you identify where it needs to be made clear there were marketing touchpoints supporting the sales process.

Secondly, understanding how to report on revenue against marketing activity is key. The marketing automation platform can deliver rich information in terms of how leads progress from contact to sales qualified lead and customer, but the set up and integration with the CRM is critical.

Thinking through the set up carefully, the data you need to surface in the CRM and the types of reports you need to create all come back to naming conventions, data collection on forms and how you’ve determined your segmentation, scoring and lead stages are all essential. 

Whilst it’s something that you can fix at a later date with a whole heap of pain, giving it some thought from the get-go will make the transition easier (and enable you to deliver value back to business faster).

5. Set up

A bit of a catch-all and leading on from the previous points, but a poor set up from the offset is the reason why we hear the following:

  • “We’re not really using the automation features and so tasks are still very manual.”
  • “We aren’t able to segment our data the way we want to.
  • “We don’t have full visibility of our CRM data and have to manually import leads and contacts.”
  • “Our email preference center doesn’t seem to work like it should.”
  • “We are struggling to find things we’ve created in Pardot.”

While some of these relate to the areas we’ve already been discussing in this post, they also come down to organisations either being left to their own devices to set up their MAP, despite not having in knowledge in-house to do so correctly. Or, they did work with a partner to get things up and running, but there were no considerations for the business processes and objectives to enable a true customisation of the MAP to support the business.

The best way to avoid this when first setting up your MAP is to find a partner who can provide not only the technical support needed for implementation, but also strategic configuration so the system aligns to your business.

When it comes to implementing and configuring Pardot, we can support you in both ways! In fact, we’re able to support in all areas covered in this blog – data, sales and marketing alignment, training and attribution.

If you’d like to have a chat about the challenges you’re facing with your marketing automation platform, send me a message on LinkedIn. Or, take ten minutes to complete the assessment below to receive personalised recommendations:

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