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6 Marketing workflow automation mistakes agencies must avoid

Marketing workflow automation is the talk of the town, and it’s easy to see why. Automating the marketing tasks your team takes on can significantly improve efficiency and productivity. It can also boost conversions and even profits.

How can automation make your agency more efficient and productive? Download “Agency Marketing Through Automation” to find out.

It’s not surprising that 70 percent of business leaders plan to increase their investment in automation (BusinessWire). Like everything else tech-related, though, there are plenty of pitfalls. You’ll want to watch out for them when you adopt marketing workflow automation.

We’ve put together this list of common marketing workflow automation mistakes. With it in hand, you'll be better prepared to adopt automation the right way.

1. Automating everything all at once

One mistake agencies make with marketing workflow automation is automating everything at the same time. In theory, this sounds great—in practice, it often causes problems.

It’s better to automate one process at a time. A great tip here is also to start small. Don’t start with your biggest or most complex workflow, even if it will save you the most time in the end.

Why is that?

Marketing workflow automation can take time to figure out, especially if your team is new to it. If they’re still asking, “What is marketing automation,” have them work with a simple workflow so they can work out the bugs and refine the process. When the automated workflow is working well and your team understands it, you can apply it to other processes.

2. Taking a “set it and forget it” mentality to marketing workflow automation

The concept of automation sometimes suggests a “set it and forget” mentality. After all, it’s supposed to do the grunt work for your team.

That doesn’t mean your team has no role in marketing workflow automation. In fact, marketers play a big part in designing automated marketing workflows. They need to understand the customer’s journey, so they can pick the right behaviors to act on.

This is another reason it makes sense to start with a small, simple process for your first automation. Your team needs to define the workflow and decide on the right triggers. If they pick the wrong conditions, then your workflow might not kick in when it needs to. Depending on where the customer is in the buying journey, that can be make or break. It might also confuse leads—such as reminding people to sign up for a webinar they’ve already signed up for.

It can take some time to get this right, which is why you want to make sure your team tests and reviews every workflow.

3. Dirty data and not segmenting your contacts

Data is the single most important piece of your marketing workflow automation attempts. High-quality data is crucial. It helps you design your workflows and reach customers with the right message at the right time.

Dirty data—data that’s incomplete or incorrect—can muddy the waters. You may not be able to get an accurate picture of the customer journey. In that case, you can’t pick the right “trigger” actions in your workflows. It might be tough to decide which message is right for a prospect with inaccurate information.

Segmenting contacts is also key for marketing workflow automation to work its magic. If you don’t segment the list, then everyone will get the same messaging. It hardly makes sense to send someone who’s already had a product demo a note asking if they’d like to book a product demo. If your workflow isn't configured properly, though, it could happen. The same is true in our webinar example. You need to interact in a different way with people who have taken action versus those who haven't signed up yet.

Pay attention to inactive contacts here as well. You should nurture inactive contacts in a different way from those who engage. Separating inactive contacts from active ones lets you send the messages they need to see to re-engage.

4. Not aligning sales and marketing before automating workflows

It's tempting to see sales as separate from your marketing workflow automation efforts. After all, they’re the sales team, and the automation is happening in the marketing department.

This can lead to all kinds of trouble, though.

Sales might follow up with customers that marketing has already contacted. Your salespeople might send out information that the automated marketing workflow has already sent.

What if sales books a product demo or gets someone to sign up for the webinar? If sales and marketing don't work together, marketing might send repetitive messages to confused prospects. This can lead to frustration, as the prospect says, "I already signed up for that!" and quickly unsubscribes.

This is why it's key to pick a marketing platform that integrates with your sales CRM. In fact, it's actually a smart move to invest in a sales CRM that has marketing automation built right in. An all-in-one solution helps your teams work together—not against each other.

5. Picking the wrong channels

Automating everything at once is one common mistake. Adding the wrong marketing channel is another.

This can happen for a few reasons.

One is not knowing your audience. It’s easy to automate Instagram posts and responses. If your audience is on another platform, then you won’t see the results you want.

However, the most common mistake in this area is automating email workflows and nothing else. Email marketing is a great candidate for workflow automation. It is also incredibly effective (TechJury), so putting your automation efforts here can pay off big time.

Unfortunately, though, many agencies add email automation to their workflows—and then stop. While email marketing can be a good first choice, it may not be the only choice or even the best choice for your agency.

Always test the marketing channels you’re using to determine which ones are the biggest and best for you. You don’t want to automate everything all at once, but you’ll see better results with the channels your customers actually use.

6. Forgetting to automate key marketing workflows

Finally, many agencies forget to automate some key marketing workflows. Oft-forgotten workflows include:

  1. asking for feedback
  2. dealing with anonymous users

Not adding automation for feedback can result in lower customer satisfaction, as you miss out on precious insights from your clients. It might also mean fewer re-engagements. Remember, closing the deal isn’t the end—it’s the beginning of a relationship with your new client.

Automating feedback workflows helps you hear from the client to see what you’re doing right. It can also show you where you can improve. Adding a workflow lets you follow up any time your team interacts with clients. This could be when you wrap up a service call or when someone receives their order. It might even be when an existing customer buys a new product.

Then there are anonymous users, who comprise the bulk of most agencies’ web traffic (InsuranceNewsNet). This is a challenge, because they don’t leave behind valuable data. That means you have no way of bringing these potential leads into your funnel. By adding marketing workflow automation for these users, you can change the story. Better yet, you create the opportunity to turn them into clients.

Adopt marketing workflow automation the right way

Marketing workflow automation has so many benefits. From higher productivity to higher client satisfaction, there’s no reason not to adopt it. Optimistic agency owners, though, often jump in with both feet. They're left wondering why they’re not seeing the results they thought they might.

Being aware of the potential pitfalls in implementation is key to preventing this situation.

These common marketing automation workflow mistakes could be holding you back. Now that you know about them, you can add automation to your marketing workflows the right way. In turn, you'll see what automation can really do for your agency.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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