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I have money in my savings account because my bank has a built-in auto-deposit process. Im not logging into my account every day and moving money around, but when I do log in, I can see the progress Ive made toward my goals by setting my account to automate deductions.

Think of marketing automation like auto-deducting money from your checking account and putting it into savings: The automatic process lets you invest in your future goals in an easier way than if you did it manually.

Marketing automation can play a significant role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy, but there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

We want to help you understand marketing automation, and how and when to use it to your organizations benefit. In this post, well discuss traps marketers can fall into when incorporating marketing automation and alternatives that solve for these challenges.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Quite simply, marketing automation refers to the software that exists to automate marketing actions -- actions like email, social media, and more. All of these automated actions are designed with the concept of lead nurturing in mind. In other words, marketers are creating and automating various types of content with the goal of actively attracting, qualifying, and moving prospects through the sales funnel towards a purchase.

And the marketing automation industry is huge -- Emailmonday estimates that 49% of companies use marketing automation software, and Marketing Automation Insider estimates that the industry is worth $1.62 billion per year.

The trouble is, because marketing automation software has grown so significantly as a part of the inbound marketing movement, some marketers arent adopting it correctly. Lets dig into some of the most common marketing automation mistakes below.

7 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)1) Youve invested in marketing automation without an inbound lead generation strategy.The Problem:

Youve purchased and started using marketing automation software, but you dont have a strong content strategy in place yet. As a result, you arent attracting enough qualified leads to your website, so the ROI of your marketing automation software is low.

To solve this problem, you might be considering buying an email contact list to build the size of your database.

The Solution:

Before you buy an email list, don't.

You see, its not a sound lead generation strategy to purchase email contact listsfor a few reasons. For one,people dont generally like being contacted unsolicited, and you dont want to irritate potential customers. Additionally, purchased email lists have generally high churn rates -- because the leads are often unqualified -- meaning yourdatabase wont have the long-term growth that youre looking for.

Instead of going that route, focus on developing an inbound marketing strategy aimed at attracting folks that actually want to hear from you.Write blog posts, create content offers, calls-to-action, and landing pages, and optimize your website so it will rank well in organic search. These efforts will ensure that your content is being discovered by your audience. Then, once you start generating more leads, youll be able to nurture them effectively with automated emails and social media posts.

2) You dont have a goal for your marketing automation.The Problem:

Youre sending out multiple automated email and social media messages without an end goal in mind.

The Solution:

Take advantage of the ease of use marketing automation software provides and invest time and efforts into determining your goals first. Once you have them, you'll want to assignthese goals to each automated effort -- social media, email workflows, and so on -- to ensure it's easy to track progress.

After all, marketers need a way to measure success when it comes to marketing automation, and one means of doing so is by evaluating goal attainment. For example, here at HubSpot, the Visual WorkflowsApp(currently in beta) lets you set a specific goal for each automated workflow. A goal might be a new lead transitioning into a marketing-qualified lead based on certain behaviors, such as downloading a specific number of content offers.

HubSpot Visual Workflows also allows you to track the percentage of contacts in each workflowthat achieve the goal, which is another great way to measure the success and ROI of your marketing automation.

3) You dont segment your email list.The Problem:

You have a database full of qualified leads, but youre using marketing automation software to blast out tons of emails that arent customized at all. As a result, your leads are churning because your emails arent useful to them.

The Solution:

Develop a lead nurturing strategy that includes email list segmentation so youre sending specific emails to specific people that theyre more likely to open.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 77% of email marketing ROI came from targeted, segmented campaigns in 2015, and segmented emails generate 58% of all revenue. Seems like a must-have strategy, right? Unfortunately, only 42% of email marketers are sending targeted messages.

With the right marketing automation software, its easy to execute an email list segmentation strategy that delivers strong results. For example, HubSpot customers can use the Visual Workflows App to target their emails based on dozens ofcriteria, both demographic and behavioral.

Need inspiration? We recently published a blog post with 30 ideas for email list segmentationfrom real brands.

4) You send too many emails.The Problem:

Perhaps your email list isnt segmented, or maybe youre a little overzealous with your marketing automation software. Whatever the reason, youre annoying potential prospects by sending way too many emails.

The Solution:

Strategically send fewer emails.

When it comes to your email database, focus on quality over quantity. Its better to have a lower volume of leads with higher engagement rates than a massive database of people who dont open your emails.

Why? Because higher quality leads are more likely to become customers.

A staggering 78% of customers recently surveyed by HubSpot Research have unsubscribed because the brand was sending too many emails. To avoid sending one of many such emails, make sure that every single email you send provides value to leads in a way that they wont be able to help but click.

5) Youre only automating your email marketing strategy.The Problem:

You use your marketing automation software to send out emails, and not much else.

The Solution:

Take advantage of all of the features your software offers to maximize efficiency.

There are probably a lot of little tasks over the course of your work day that dont seem time consuming individually. However, if you add up all of the time you spend posting on social media, updating contact information, and other tasks, you end up with a large chunk of your day spent on things that can probably be automated.

Poke around your marketing automation to see which processes you can make more efficient. For example, in the HubSpot software, users can bulk update lead contact information instead of clicking into each record and changing details there.

The more processes you automate, the more time youll have each day to strategize with your team about content, lead generation, and lead nurturing tactics to keep attracting quality leads to your site.

6) Youre only sharing your marketing automation efforts within your marketing department.The Problem:

You have marketing automation set up only for email marketing, social media, and other lead activities that are only impacting your marketing teams bottom line.

The Solution:

Use a smarketing approach, and make your marketing automation work for sales reps as well.

Think bigger than just the marketing team: What processes would help your sales team if they were automated?

For example, if there were a process in place that alerted reps to when their leads were checking out parts of your website, that would help inform their next call or email. When a lead fills out a form, it could trigger a specific email send from marketing and a follow-up call from their sales rep. Marketing automation software also helps users set follow-up tasks and to-do lists, which reps could use to keep track of the many leads theyre working at a given time.

Take your sales and marketing alignment to the next level by making processes easier for team members across the board to achieve their goals with the help of marketing automation.

7) You use too many different tools.The Problem:

Roughly half of marketers use marketing automation software, and those who do often combine different strategies into a Frankensystem of tools to achieve their bottom line.

For example, they might start on a whiteboard, move to a spreadsheet, then shift onto an online flowchart maker, and only then will they use marketing automation software. This system is problematic in a few ways -- its time consuming, numbers can be incorrectly analyzed, and communication is complicated.

The Solution:

Invest in all-in-onemarketing automation software.

The point of marketing automation is to make things easier and more efficient, and your team wont achieve that if youre spending too much time updating different documents or manually targeting your leads database.

All-in-one marketing automation software offers a variety of criteria options to target your audience, as well as visualization tools so you can see how your marketing automation efforts are working together. That means youll be spending less time writing out numbers and emailing spreadsheets to your team members, and more time implementing strategies designed to qualify leads.

Whats the biggest challenge you encountered when you purchased marketing automation software? Share with us in the comments below.

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25 Nov 2016