8 | Minute Read

Marketing automation should improve your marketing processes tenfold – yet, as human beings, we all make mistakes. By not properly leveraging the automation tools available to us, many marketers end up hurting their engagement rates and overall ROI.

It’s not your fault. These common marketing automation mistakes are common for a reason; when marketers make the switch from traditional to automated digital marketing processes, lots of strategies and tools are bound to fall through the cracks. The cure for ignorance is knowledge, so that’s why we’ve written up this article – so that you might learn from others’ mistakes, and make less of them yourself.

Here are 7 common marketing automation mistakes marketers make, and how best to avoid them.

Leaving new subscribers hanging

New subscribers are invaluable; they’ve demonstrated clear, active engagement in your brand and/or products and services. So what do you do with them? Often more than not, absolutely nothing.

If your subscriber base grows, but you have no automated nurturing in place to welcome those new subscribers – it may be days, or even months until your new subscribers hear from your brand.

This is a major loss, and something so easily rectified. New subscribers, due to actively demonstrating trust and engagement, are highly valuable contacts and often ripe for conversion. For this reason, they should be immediately contacted with a Welcome Campaign.

A Welcome Campaign should welcome new subscribers automatically, either immediately after subscription, or no later than a day after. This Welcome Campaign can be prepped in advance, and set to ‘trigger’ (send) to a recipient once they’ve subscribed to your mailing list/s.

Batching and Blasting

If you’re using a sophisticated Marketing Automation platform, there is no reason why you should still be performing traditional batch-and-blasts.

What’s a batch and blast?

It’s when you send one generalised email campaign to your entire database. You aren’t segmenting your recipients into groups for specialised targeting – nor are you targeting them with content that’s specifically relevant to them. A lot of marketers default to batching and blasting – because that’s how we’ve historically carried out email marketing strategies. With the advent of innovative automation and segmentation tools, though, you are hurting your brand and marketing ROI by continuing to use this outdated method.

Instead of batching and blasting – do the exact opposite. Make sure that every campaign you send is specifically tailored to each recipient (this can be done automatically with the use of Personalisation and Dynamic Content tools), and make sure to segment your mailing lists into more specific groups for better targeting. An example of this would be to send an invite for a Sydney based event only to contacts who reside in Sydney.

Not collecting, analysing or using data

One major but often forgotten benefit for using an all-in-one marketing automation system (like ours at Swift Digital) is the amount of data that can be accessed and analysed with state of the art reporting tools.

Many marketers spend so much time on deploying a campaign that they often forget to measure the results, and to use those results to garner insights in order to further improve future campaigns.

A good marketing automation platform will collect and collate data as it pertains to the success of campaigns (email opens, click through rates, etc), and the behaviour of your contacts (what emails they engaged with, what events they attended, what interests they have). Having access to this wealth of data, and using it to inform strategy, is incredibly powerful.

If you’re wanting to increase ROI and the overall success of your marketing automation strategy, then properly reviewing reports, analysing data, and reflecting on what the data says about reaching your marketing goals is imperative.

Having an unnoticeable Call To Action

Calls to action are the be all and end all of the campaigns they’re related to. If your campaign is meant to drive traffic to your call to action, then having that CTA fail to engage your recipients is a massive blow to your goal.

Many email marketers think that having an inline text hyperlink is enough to draw attention to a CTA – but in this age of instant gratification, short attention spans, and chronic skim reading, your CTA has to be incredibly obvious to garner the click throughs you aim for.

Instead of linking to your CTA once in text, dedicate a whole line to your CTA, and have it display as a brightly coloured button. For extra measure, add more than one CTA button – so that those recipients who click through without reading will be grabbed by the button up top, whilst those who diligently read through the copy will click the button situated further down.

Using personalisation incorrectly, and uncreatively

Most marketers and marketing automation users alike are very familiar with personalisation/merge fields, but often they fail to use them correctly, or in creative stand-out ways.

The most common way personalisation is used is with first name greetings, either in the subject line of an email, or to start off a campaign’s copy. It usually goes something like this, “Hi [First Name]!”. Whilst addressing someone by their first name is a good attention-grabbing technique, your brand isn’t the only one delivering first name greetings in your recipients’ inboxes. To put it bluntly: your company isn’t special. 

You can personalise email content using any data you collect on your subscriber base. So if you know where they live, for example, you might refer to their city of residence. If you know what their interests are, you might want your campaign to only show topics they’ve said they are into.

However, before you personalise with certain fields – make sure that that data is collected for your wider database – and to make double sure, ensure you’re using a good backup word or phrase in case the data can’t be found for any one recipient. A common marketing mistake – when it comes to personalisation – is to insert a personalisation field that refers to data that isn’t available for most of your subscribers (for example, perhaps ‘favourite colour’ was only collected for subscribers who’ve subscribed since January, and not before that). 

Personalisation is important for relevance and engagement, just make sure you’re using it in new ways – and that the data you’re referring to exists!

Forgetting to suppress certain recipients

Many email marketers agonize over the right people to send to, but most of them forget to spend as much time figuring out who the wrong people to send to are.

Any good email marketing software gives you the ability to suppress recipients by behaviour, mail groups, or personal data. When recipients are suppressed from a campaign, that means they will not receive the email – regardless of whether they also exist on the send-to list.

This is particularly useful for event related campaigns – for example, where you want to send a reminder to register to the same mail group you invited the first time round, but you want to suppress anyone who’s registered or declined the event. There are countless reasons why spending time on suppressing recipients is as useful as spending time on who to send to. It adds that extra layer of segmentation, where you can better target exactly the right people with your campaigns, in order to stay relevant and trustworthy to your audience.

Sending to purchased mail lists

Perhaps the biggest mistake that marketers make is resorting to purchased mail lists to send their campaigns to. Not only is this illegal in many countries (Australia included) but it’s simply bad practice. 

If you send campaigns to a purchased list, you are essentially sending emails to recipients who have no familiarity of your brand. What do you do when you receive a generic email from a company you’ve never heard of? Mark it as spam and unsubscribe. If you send to a large enough purchased list, a high volume of spam flagging and unsubscriptions may land your brand on many email providers’ black lists.

Just don’t do it. If you’re in desperate need of subscribers, then consider incentivising subscription, making subscription easy and accessible, and ensuring you’re driving traffic from all marketing channels to easy-to-use subscription forms.

That’s it! 7 common marketing automation mistakes, and how to avoid them. Have you made any of the above mistakes? Chances are, yes, because most of us aren’t perfect. Marketing automation tools are rapidly changing and improving, so it’s easy to make age-old mistakes whilst forgetting to leverage these innovations as they roll out. As long as you’re aware of these 7 mistakes, and which tools to use to not fall prey to them, then you’re already doing leagues better than most marketing automation newbies. Marketing automation should improve your strategies’ results – so if it’s not, it’s time to look at the marketer, not the tools.

old postal letters tied up and in a line

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