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.

2. Underestimating the value of uncommon skill sets

Either you've got an "A" player championing marketing automation... or you don't.

This job isn't easy. Often, companies are faked out by people touting themselves as "marketing automation ninjas," hustlers, and the like. Those folks often turn out to be false prophets with easy-to-obtain credentials and a lack of verified experience in the field.

What you really should be after is a candidate who is…

  • Realistic enough about the nature of marketing automation to not call himself or herself an expert
  • A problem solver (That's what marketing automation is at its core—one unique anthropological and psychological puzzle after another that can't be solved with the same approach each and every time.)

So, if someone tells you he or she is a guru, go to the numbers immediately. How's his following? Are people talking about her in the industry? Can he show you real revenue driven results of his team's efforts?

Creating and managing complex automated processes is a never-ending journey that gets more complex with time. Find someone who has worn multiple hats in his or her career and knows how to get things done or where to find out how to get things done. The job description of a modern-day marketer doesn't boil down to "clock in, clock out, call yourself a genius."

3. Passing the buck

It's almost a cliché these days that marketing and sales teams are butting heads and playing the blame game.

The buyer engagement cycle is a team effort with one shared goal... and yet when there's a hitch in the cycle, both sides often are quick to point fingers. Some might say it's a natural rivalry born out of a competitive field; I say it's laziness. It's expecting and assuming that automation will deliver great data without putting in the work.

If this is still going on in your company, it has to stop now.

When marketing and sales are aligned, companies experience a 20% growth. For long-term success, your two key departments must share an understanding of what automation software can provide. More importantly, they must share the data.

Automation can absolutely propel potential buyers through the sales funnel at a more rapid pace, but only when your marketing software is integrated properly.

There's no reason your break room has to act as a demilitarized zone between two (or more) warring factions. Make the necessary concessions, and understand that marketing automation is dependent of team and information collaboration. Marketer, tear down that wall.

Remember that a good builder never blames his tools. If marketing isn't blaming sales, it may be blaming automation itself for poor results. The program can't do all your work for you. The data you get is only as good as the effort you put in and maintain. Success is not a fixed destination; it's a journey.

Enter your email address to continue reading

Three Marketing Automation Fails You're Committing Today

Don't's free!

Already a member? Sign in now.

Sign in with your preferred account, below.

Did you like this article?
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
  • Copy Link

  • Email

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Linkedin


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

LinkedIn: Justin Gray

Twitter: @jgraymatter