After 5+ years of using marketing automation to sell my products online, you can bet that I’ve made every mistake in the book! Have you been there? Talk about frustration-central! I want to share some of those rookie mistakes with you here, along with specific tactics to help you seamlessly bypass any unnecessary challenges that might get in the way. That way you can stand on the shoulders of others who have gone before you to achieve your growth goals faster and easier!

5 rookie marketing automation mistakes and how to avoid them

Mistake #1: Automating what you don’t have

It’s important to understand that marketing automation is merely a tool that is meant to automate parts of your marketing and sales functions. Using high value content to move potential customers along their customer journey is what will actually move the needle for your marketing automation strategy.

In other words, you can’t automate what you don’t have. Leads you don’t have can’t be nurtured.

The attention span of the average human is now shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. That’s why targeted content — and the right content — is what really matters.

Takeaway: By not batching and blasting your entire database, but actually doing targeted segmentation, your conversion rates will be higher.

Mistake #2: Automating a bad or inefficient process (or having no process at all)

Bill Gates famously said: “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Are you automating an ad-hoc content plan that just kind of happens on the fly? Or do you have more of a system for creating, distributing, and re-using content?

Your planning should also include being prepared for what happens after the leads start rolling in. Marketing automation helps manage new leads, providing continuous engagement as well as nurturing casual visitors into, hopefully, paying customers.

Takeaway: ask yourself, “What are we automating?”

Mistake #3: Using marketing automation only as a glorified email marketing tool

Not using marketing automation to the fullest is the same as buying a Ferrari that you only drive to the grocery store on weekends. Buying a marketing automation system does not guarantee success. Most companies only use marketing automation as a gloried email-sending machine when you can do a lot more with it. That’s because marketing automation isn’t as simple as “marketing on autopilot.”

Marketing automation includes (in no particular order) lead management, social media, CRM, content marketing, multi-channel campaigns — you get the idea.

For product-based businesses, it’s essential to sync your shopping cart to your marketing automation program.

Takeaway: It’s one thing to attract new customers, but leveraging those into repeat buyers and turning them into raving fans is a far better use of your marketing spend than constantly marketing to a cold audience.

Mistake #4: Not understanding your buyer’s end-to-end journey

For marketing automation to be successful, it needs to address your customer’s needs and requirements as they evolve over time. That means, being able to serve each customer’s individual needs at each stage of their time with you, from potential to long-term customer.

Growing your database with targeted contacts and mapping out customer journeys according to their buyer profile will grow sales.

Takeaway: Help your leads move to the next stage in their customer journey.

Mistake #5: Starting too complex

Oh my goodness, this one seriously tripped me up big time. I felt paralysed by the size of the task and consequently avoided doing anything for a good 6 months!

Marketing automation software gives you a lot of very big levers to pull. It can be tempting to equate success with pulling all the levers and turning all the dials.

But, like I experienced, trying to implement every feature right out of the gate is more likely to result in a setback than a big win. You will be much further ahead a year from now if you start small. To do that…

Choose a single, specific audience or product and build your first campaign around that.

Takeaway: Think of your first campaign as an experiment—a way to test-drive your new marketing automation strategy. What you learn from your first campaign will improve subsequent campaigns.

Final thought

Remember, the strength of your marketing automation strategy will be in its ability to meet the different needs of your audience as they move through their customer journey from “just came across you” to “repeat customer and raving fan”.

When you have a great product and you know your ideal customers really well, you’ll be able to forge quality relationships supported and assisted by the use of marketing automation technology.

Take a deep breath and dive in – you can do this!

Click here to download my free guide: "The Productpreneur's Guide to Marketing Automation Success"