Ten Marketing Automation Mistakes Killing Lead Generation
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Ten Marketing Automation Mistakes Killing Lead Generation

Investing in Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is your process for staying in touch with a large number of contacts through email marketing and various other touch points and tactics. But it takes strategy, time and commitment from team members to get results. 

Companies of all sizes are embracing marketing automation as they look to find prospective customers and improve the return on their time and money from sales and marketing.

In fact, marketing automation must be seen as an investment. When done properly, marketing automation becomes a marketing engine driving leads and sales for years to come.

Barriers must be overcome to get a solid return from your investment in marketing automation.

10 Common Mistakes & How to Fix Them:

1. Poor Strategic Communication

Marketing automation must clearly communicate your business strategy and competitive advantage. This the starting point for most problems in marketing automation. The marketing strategy is either not well-defined or communicated poorly, which leads to weak results. 

Your strategy defines how and why you are better and different than competitors. It should be crystal clear what you do and how you do it so your target market can easily choose to work with your company.  Dive deep and understand the value you bring to your target market. Make it simple for prospects to understand your message. Do not expect your target market to understand what you do anywhere near the level of your understanding.

If it becomes a challenge to demonstrate your competitive advantage, use the people, process and key values of your company to define how you are different.

2. Content Does Not Work to Solve Customer Problems

A huge marketing mistake is talking too much about yourself or your company and not enough about the problems you solve for your customers. Read and review content from the prospective of a first time reader—someone who has never heard of your company. If you can educate and show value to these readers, you can be successful with marketing automation. It’s easier said then done!

Also, your content can’t help solve problems or add value if it’s not distributed from a platform read or watched by your target market. Content must come in a variety of formats including video and audio. Your target market has a preference for how they take in content. It’s key to understand these preferences or your message will be lost.

3. Poor Writing Not Connecting to Target Market

Most information and messaging in marketing automation will be written content. 

Most people at your company hate to write. They did not like to write in school and they don’t like to write on the job. The good news is there are people who love to write and they are very good at it. They can also easily write on a variety of topics, including your company. Find these writers and pay them for content.

4. Customer Segments Not Well-Defined

Marketing automation requires you to understand and know your customers segments and how to reach them. This includes job titles, industries, location and other key demographics and psychographics.

Marketing automation doesn’t work if the customer segments aren’t a good fit for your services or products. The best marketers know the needs of their target market inside and out. Marketing automation enhances this talent and allows you to send targeted messages to each customer segment.

5. Not Enough Frequency of Communication 

People scroll through emails and social media quickly ignoring much of what they see. In order to get seen and rise above the noise, you must send out your content with enough frequency to get noticed. You must find the balance between too much and too little. Use your stats for key insights and observe your competitors.

I recommend weekly email blasts and two to three social media posts per week minimum for most businesses—especially B2B. B2C marketers are making multiple 

contacts daily with their contact lists. Subscribe to Banana Republic’s emails and you will see what I mean. You must communicate often enough to be in front of your prospects. Monthly or quarterly will most likely not drive results.

6. Poor Middle-of-Funnel Content and Calls to Action (CTAs)

Marketing automation requires you to establish funnels and a flow of communications and CTAs. The middle of the marketing funnel is critical—this is where people research and do their homework on your company. It’s also the piece the puzzle that takes the most effort to develop. Establishing a content form and attempting to go right to the close is easy but, in order to best meet prospects’ needs, you must have middle-of-funnel content like webinars, seminars, ebooks, podcasts, videos and more ready to go.

Read our guide to better webinars here.

7. Very few or No Regular Meetings to Review the Data Scorecard

Review the results of your marketing automation efforts in your weekly digital marketing meetings. If you are not having meetings, start this week! These meetings are a great time for the sales and marketing team to meet and review lead quality and the results of various sales conversations with prospects.

Set goals for each area in marketing automation. Let’s call it your marketing automation scorecard.

Target a 20% email open rate or better for warm contacts in your targeted segments. Target a 15% email open rate for less-engaged or cold leads. Look for a close rate of at least 20% from your sales team working qualified leads.

8. Not Using Marketing Automation App Features 

Current marketing automation tools like Hubspot are packed with features driving real benefit. Using these programs to only distribute email blasts and blog posts will not provide the best return. One of the most helpful features in Hubspot is lead scoring. Speak to a rep at Hubspot or with your email marketing provider and ask how to maximize the app’s features to reach your goals.

9. Making Marketing Decisions by Committee 

Someone must be held accountable for marketing automation results. Accountability should not be shared among the team because the lack of focus will hamper results. When no one is accountable, the scorecard results have little impact and the team settles for lower results.

If you are responsible for the marketing automation scorecard and you are not getting the desired results, here is a tactic few marketers use to turn things around: go and talk to your prospective customers to understand how they interact with your content and what they find useful!

Conduct user testing on your website or call and talk through peoples’ experiences with your online brand. Marketing automation data shows you what is happening, but not why it is happening. You must get inside your prospects’ heads to understand why they do what they do.

10. Poor Efforts to Grow the Contact Lists

Growing your marketing automation list and market segments is an ongoing task that never ends. This is a key part of your scorecard because older contact names will grow stale.

The process of growing your list includes contact form submissions, email subscribers, interactive tools, downloads, webinar sign-ups and many more CTAs used to capture an email address. Run an audit of your online CTAs and make sure you are covering these critical areas.


Go through each of these 10 areas and use it as a checklist to improve your marketing automation. Getting this right will produce sales and marketing results. A very strong ROI, indeed.  

More on marketing automation here.

Get started today on building a marketing engine that will provide a return for years to come.

Contact IW to improve your marketing automation and drive results.

Thomas Young

Thomas Young is the CEO and Founder of Intuitive Websites. He is a consultant, award winning Vistage speaker and author of “Winning the Website War” and “Sales and Marketing Alignment.” Tom has helped thousands of companies succeed online and has over 25 years digital marketing experience.