Fear Factor: Stop Avoiding These Three Marketing Automation Features

Marketing automation, when used properly and fully, is intended to be the best friend a company’s marketing team could have. All too often though, the individuals who support the marketing automation efforts become intimidated by the array of tools available and end up viewing the entire system as a foe. As with most things in life that scare us, the best plan of attack is almost always to confront the fear head-on. In order to slay the fear of marketing automation software, embrace the fact that some time spent learning will be involved initially, but that the results will be worth it in spades. Here are some concrete ways to nix the fear and open your arms to the three marketing automation features most commonly avoided.

Lead Scoring

If you told your sales team that from now on they would only be making calls to a select group of hot prospects who are most likely to buy, they would be ecstatic. It makes sense to everyone that the more targeted your prospects are, the more time you will save in converting them into customers. However, lead scoring remains one of the most underutilized features of marketing automation. It could be that most marketers just don’t know where to begin when it comes to going from beginner to advanced with lead scoring. HINT: scoring by demographic, title, and job function falls into the “beginner bucket.” Scoring by behavior and needs falls into advanced.

All marketing automation platforms have automatic data collection systems in place that will assign scores based on everything from basic information about the lead to how they engage with your website. Setting up the lead scoring system can be: tedious, sometimes hard, and be a point of contention among sales and marketing pros. Don’t let this be a reason to walk away from one of the most critical pieces of your marketing automation investment.

If you’ve properly set up personas (and you shouldn’t even be using marketing automation software if you’ve skipped this step), then you have everything else you need to score leads more deeply. Use those personas as the roadmap to determine additional scores beyond the basics. Some personas will instantly start with a higher lead score than others, based solely on what you already know about their needs. Then you add behaviors on top of that. For example, if a lead downloads a white paper they move up a couple points. That’s it. They do not pass go to sales, they simply move along the nurture bucket. It’s not until they also spend time on your blog, sign up for your emails, and join a webinar that they get passed off to sales. HINT: If your lead scoring system is rating leads on a scale of one to ten, it’s not deep enough to make this system truly work. Get in there, learn how to use this tool, and give it some depth.

Campaign ROI Reporting

Another feature of marketing automation that is drastically overlooked is the tool of campaign ROI reporting. Spanning almost every industry, execs desire a way to track the success of their marketing efforts and seek metrics to reveal the answer to them. This feature handles that smoothly and accurately, and yet companies are missing out on it. The main reason more people are not jumping on board with this feature is because what is necessary foundationally to make this tool successful is daunting. For operative campaign ROI reporting to fall into place, it is key to have assimilation between your CRM and your web analytics. It is not enough to just know how many new hits you have on your website as a result of a marketing campaign – you need to know who those people are and be able to track if they end up as leads or customers. This is referred to as closed loop reporting, and is crucial to make this feature work. Once you get this securely functioning, you will be on your way to easily determining which campaigns are thriving and which are not. And consequently, you will know undoubtedly where to spend more money and where to tighten the belt.

Lead Nurturing Through Diversified Content

A surprising feature of marketing automation systems that is not used as prevalently as it should be is lead nurturing by way of content other than emails. This element seems to be the simplest to incorporate and capitalize upon because it is almost entirely automated, so it is unexpected that so many are failing to take advantage of it. The primary hang-up that paralyzes most companies is that they are unsure of what content to use or unable to produce enough content to make it worthwhile. A simple fix to either of these roadblocks is to face the fear of making your content perfect. You should always strive for excellence, but there is not one perfect formula for content that must be attained before successful lead nurturing can occur. Decide to frontload the work and devote some time right away to generating a stockpile of different kinds of content – video, blogs, landing pages — that will be pumped out at each stage of the funnel. Then work to create new content at scheduled intervals. If you can’t handle this internally, there is a world of content marketers out there who can help. Then leave the rest to the automation – isn’t that the point?

Fear of getting something wrong or being imperfect with marketing automation features freezes even the most competent marketers into inactivity. It is far more worthwhile to tackle the tools and learn through doing than sit in fear and miss out. Take some time to grasp features like lead scoring, campaign ROI reporting, and lead nurturing, and give yourself some patience along the learning curve. If you get past the fear and just hang in there, you are guaranteed to see an upsurge in customers and ultimately ROI.

Justin Gray is the CEO and chief marketing evangelist at LeadMD. The company helps businesses generate and manage leads better through marketing automation processes and technologies. He can be reached at jgray@leadmd.com.


  1. says

    Hi Justin. Thanks for your excellent article. I wholeheartedly agree with the theme of your article as unfamiliarity can lead to fear. That fear prevents some marketers from getting the most out of their marketing automation investment. But there’s hope… Many that have had similar experiences have pushed ahead to achieve great results.

    At Net-Results Marketing Automation, we spend significant time and energy stressing the importance of the features you’ve outlined so clearly, especially lead scoring. Working with hundreds of customers around the world we have found that those who invest time into developing a sound lead scoring strategy and continually refine their lead scoring rationale achieve significantly higher ROI then those who do not. Yes, it takes time and continued collaboration between stakeholders (sales and marketing) but the results speak for themselves.

    Thanks again for the excellent article.

    Frank McSwain Jr.

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