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Marketing automation is often implemented by marketers who think it can turn around struggling sales numbers overnight (at least) and do an entire department's work (at best). If you're thinking that way, you're probably making sloppy mistakes already—ones that that will be illuminated on a grand scale once you apply poor process to automation software.

However, some of the worst mistakes aren't reserved for newbie marketers. Seasoned marketers who have worked with automation for years still repeat bad habits that sink their chances of getting the most out of the technology. They hear "automation" and think, "Cool, my job just got a lot easier!" when in actuality, they should think, "Ugh, I need to be so prepared it hurts."

If you're making any of these three common mistakes, consider stopping immediately:

1. Patting yourself on the back with vanity metrics

Remember when clicks were the gold standard by which marketing success was measured? Clicks meant views, and views meant followers. And none of it meant anything in particular, least of all lead acquisition. Marketers used to lick their chops, pat themselves on the back, and celebrate these milestone "interaction" numbers, which did zero for the bottom line.

We've grown smarter about those vanity measurements. Just as a click doesn't equate to an engagement, a lead doesn't equate to a sale. And "lead" is dangerously becoming the term du jour for marketers focusing on the wrong thing.

With the rise of account-based marketing, modern marketers are now focusing on a quality over quantity.

Marketing automation lets us cast a wider net, but wider nets often don't yield results worth keeping. Celebrating leads in general is the new vain way of approaching automation. Focus instead on engagement within accounts we know to fit our ideal customer profile. It's time to cast the shiny-handled net aside for good.

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image of Justin Gray

Justin Gray is the CEO of LeadMD. He founded the company with a vision to transform marketing via the use of marketing automation and CRM solutions. Reach him via jgray@leadmd.com.

LinkedIn: Justin Gray

Twitter: @jgraymatter