Digital Marketing Automation Challenges and How to Solve Them

Marketing Automation Pro Tips Series

Pablo Rueda
May 31, 2022

Welcome to Part 1 in our blog series offering pro tips for marketing automation. We will start by looking at the current state of marketing automation platforms and explore the reasons for automation challenges in modern-day martech stacks.

Marketing automation has been around since the early 1990s, but only went fully mainstream in recent years. Today, 51 percent of companies rely on it for tasks such as email marketing, social media, or customer service.

But still, 27 percent of companies consider themselves ‘new’ to the field and 61 percent found setting up their marketing automation platform difficult. A whopping 36 percent took six months to set up their platform, while 12 percent even took an entire year.

As every marketer knows, the challenges are far from finished with set-up. While 86 percent of marketers consider ‘ease of use’ the most critical factor in choosing a marketing cloud, day-to-day operations prove anything but easy. To the point where 47 percent of marketers are unsure if their marketing automation platform even delivers any kind of ROI. Ouch!

The Issue with Modern-Day Martech Stacks

Reasons for these marketing automation pain points can be found by looking under the hood of today’s martech stacks. Diagnosis: The word ‘complex’ does not begin to describe it. 

The average digital marketing team works with 88 apps in their stack, including specialized apps for anything from social posting to URL shortening. Tech companies use as many as 155 apps on average.

Overall, the average stack holds 22 percent more apps than four years ago. That’s quite some growth, especially keeping in mind that this growth usually lacks structure or strategy. 

Why the lack of strategy? Because marketers install and adopt new apps into their stacks as needed; mostly to solve new challenges or finally automate their TikTok feed. This is done, in most cases, without asking whether the new apps play nice with the rest of the stack, especially with the marketing automation platform at the center. Which explains some of the challenges in this article.

The Truth About Marketing Automation Platforms

When it comes to choosing a marketing automation platform, 38 percent of marketers demand ‘integration with other technologies in the stack’ as the top priority. But the truth is: Not all platforms are built the same.

Some platforms, especially low-tier products, have not been designed with integrative principles in mind. Others may offer integration, but at an extra fee. So instead of the desired ease of use, marketers report challenges such as inadequate technology integration (37 percent), problems with measurement and metrics (32 percent), and understanding the available technology (28 percent).

And with so much available technology to understand, who can keep track? 

In recent years, the trend has changed from relying on a centralized marketing cloud to 38.5 percent of marketers running hybrid stacks that blend in-house platforms with third-party vendors. Marketers rely on specialized apps for search engine optimization (SEO), content management (CMS), personalized engagement, email marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and online advertising. Again, function comes first, integration somewhere down the line.

The 5 Main Digital Marketing Automation Challenges

The good news is that many of the following five marketing automation challenges can be solved by placing the right, interconnected marketing automation platform at the center of your stack. With this in mind, here are today’s marketing automation pain points and some remedies:

1. Data silos and missing app integration

These two pain points usually rear their ugly heads together. That’s because in an age where customer data is currency, any lack of data integration in the stack will cause widespread issues. In a marketing automation platform, root causes include:

Solution: Adopt a marketing automation platform that not only executes campaigns, but also streamlines data warehouse architecture to capture data streams across channels, including third-party apps through APIs and connectors.

2. Usage limitations or pay-to-play functionalities 

If a ‘free’ app for marketing automation or one that’s very inexpensive sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. High-end automation, the kind that sprinkles actionable data with AI-powered magic to make it all sing, hardly comes for free. Otherwise, you’ll hit roadblocks like: 

Solution: Read the fine print before choosing a platform or app. And anticipate your team’s needs and marketing volume over the long haul: If you’ll outgrow the free plan, why not start on a professional tool and secure your data in the long run.

3. Limited language support and international policies

If your company operates in a globalized marketing landscape, so should your marketing automation platform. Otherwise, regional teams need to clobber together makeshift fixes for their markets, ultimately increasing the risk for dreaded data and integration issues. Watch out for:  

Solution: Involve stakeholders across your organization in the selection process of your marketing automation platform. Also look for platform extensibility to accommodate future legislation or data privacy laws.

4. Limited personalization and content options

Today’s customers want to be treated like individuals, even if you automate your engagement marketing. Once you collect all the necessary data for wowing them with smart content, it’s a major downer when the marketing automation platform slows your roll with:

Solution: Insist on some ‘must haves’ in your marketing automation platform like A/B testing, audience segmentation, dynamic content, and marketing-specific AI to turn automation into smart automation.

5. Reporting issues

Taking it back to our first pain point, lack of data integration will ultimately taint the quality of your entire customer intelligence. On a micro level, your customer profiles should be able to capture data from all channels, including web, mobile, social, e-commerce, email, and customer service. On a macro level, capturing website behavior and email (un)subscribes for all visitors allows for a big-picture perspective. Otherwise, you’re stuck with:

Solution: Opt for a marketing automation platform with integrated data warehouse architecture as the key to relevant messages and carefully segmented campaigns; replete with the kind of real-time reporting and optimization that keeps your automated marketing laser focused. 

In the next edition of Marketing Automation Pro Tips, we will show criteria for Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform for your organization’s needs. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about the advantages of using one single omnichannel tool rather than a siloed range of tools right away, we invite you to book a free consultation with our team. We would love to learn about your specific requirements and challenges, and help you explore how Selligent Marketing Cloud can help meet your needs and solve your problems. Contact us to schedule your consultation.

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