Marketing automation: this platform holds great promise, offering the potential to create a powerful engine that drives activity through the sales funnel, and turns leads down through conversion into customers. The reality is that a large gap exists between this potential and the reality. Oftentimes companies implement marketing automation platforms only to realize they do not offer the results desired – winding up with nothing more than an expensive email provider.

To help you avoid the commonly made mistakes and make sure your approach reaches its full potential, I have listed the seven critical areas commonly responsible for the failure of marketing automation expansion:

1. Treating your B2C as faceless beings and your B2B as real persons

Obviously, going through your records manually and connecting with each and every customer like you do in B2B is thoroughly impractical. The sheer numbers of B2C make that option impossible, unlike the more personalized purchasing world of B2B.

Although you are unable to deal personally with each customer, do not treat them all the same! The ability to take your prospective customers on targeted content journeys is the great value of marketing automation. Identify the various personas that make up your customers and create various content and messaging that will resonate with them. Do the work to gather meaningful insights about your influencers, so you can connect with your customers.

2. Nurture the customer lifecycle!

This generally comes down to branched logic versus the lifecycle. Branched logic is the idea that as customers continue down their cycle with you, they should agree with you about the next steps:

– Customer does X. Send them an email to do Y.
– Time continues, customer does not do Y. Send another email to do Y.
– This pattern continues several more times, with increasingly aggressive emails to do Y.
– Eventually drop them from the lead nurturing chain (if they never did Y, they will never buy), and add them to the general email blast with a coupon.

The problem in this logic is that a customer must continue in a certain prescribed “buying cycle”, as if once X is done than Y is the only action that makes sense next. The customer experience is more nuanced than that. For example, if your customer was in the comparison phase, they might drop back to the research phase of the buying cycle, and should receive emails based on that change. To nurture this, flag certain lifecycles contacts could be in, and nurture those with relevant content.

3. Post-sale blues

We have previously discussed the folly in treating a customer as if they are only as valuable as a sale. This ruins both the user experience and the value of your marketing campaigns. It is far easier to sell to customers who have already bought from you, so do it!

Use the time between purchase and when the product is delivered to send emails linking to your blog about how to use the product and introducing them to your social media. Give them an opportunity to share their purchase excitement on their social media. Follow up post-delivery with a Net Promoter Score survey.

After they have the product for a while, use this opportunity for customized remarketing: up-sell, cross-sell, and re-sell. These are the most powerful marketing levers in increasing a customer’s lifetime value.

4. Why email?

Do not limit yourself to communication via email: your brand optimally stretches across various digital and offline channels, and you should use all of the relevant platforms to increase your customer relationships. Telephone interactions, live chat on the website, social media interactions, and visits to physical locations are all useful and pertinent to whether your customers choose to buy from you – or choose to buy from you again!

5. Products over problems

The psychographics of your customer personas are linked to the “why” of their engagement with you. Why are they purchasing something; what is it for? This reason they are buying from you – also called “the job to be done” – is equally important as the what the customer purchased.

If you can figure out the why (with behavioral analytics, or by simply asking them!), using it in your marketing automation to frame the conversation will be much more persuasive than focusing solely on the object(s) bought.

6. Big data does not solve everything!

As noted above, instead of relying on Big Data behavioral analytics, try asking your customers for additional information needed to improve your product for them. If you are up front about why you are asking and what the information is used for, oftentimes people are much more open about sharing.

Make the case for sharing by showing exactly how you can help your customers. If they recently purchased gardening equipment, send a seed guide customized to the growing patterns of that region.

7. The 4th Dimension

Do not forget about time as a variable for sending your marketing communication! The timing of messages plays an integral part in making sure they succeed. The most highly relevant messages can fall flat and fail if sent at the wrong time. For example, if you are selling breakfast, why would you send it at 4 PM?

In short: send the right message to the right people at the right time!