Marketers risk wasting marketing automation potential

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 19 May 2015

Marketers risk using marketing automation as a “Rolls Royce that's sending out emails”, according to Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising CEO Jodie Sangster.

Speaking with AdNews at last week's ADMA Techmix event in Sydney, she said while marketers were excited about the potential of marketing automation, they weren't thinking about the organisational change needed to truly unlock the potential of the technology.

“Marketers aren't thinking 'what does this mean for us as an organisation to be able to actually deliver on it?', so I think it's more of a lack of planning leading into it rather than vendors telling them one thing but expecting something else,” Sangster said.

“The other part of it is that it requires a complete structural change of your marketing team to enable the team to deliver on true marketing automation.”

She said that marketing departments were currently campaign-led rather than thinking strategically about the customer journey in a digital environment.

“Marketing automation shouldn't be looked at as a technology, but an approach,” Sangster said.

“It's a complete rethink of how you go about planning, how you structure your team, and how you go about acquiring the skillset within your team to deliver on it.

“What we're not getting right is the pre-work that needs to go in before the technology solves the problem. Understand what you're doing, and then get your technology and then it will deliver the outcomes.”

As a result, marketers are currently buying up technology solutions and only using a fraction of their potential.

“People think marketing automation is an email platform. So what you end up with is a Rolls Royce that's sending out emails. That's what happening,” Sangster said.

“It's not that the technology isn't being implemented, it's just not being used to its full potential.

“It gets blamed on the technology when it's the business' fault for not planning around it.”

She said it was up to senior marketers to take leadership on the issue within marketing organisations, but technology vendors also had a part of play in the conversation.

“I think vendors have a big role to play in it because they are the experts in this area, but it's a two-way street. Vendors can provide as much information as you want about the tools, but it's for the marketers to educate themselves as to the questions to ask,” Sangster said.

“The vendor is there to sell a product and they're there to talk about all the features of the product, what marketers need to figure out is the features they actually need to deliver on their strategy.

“That's a two-way conversation, but at the moment it's a one-way conversation.”

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