Why is Marketing Automation so Painful?

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This is a guest blog by Pankaj Mondal.  He is a business blogger and content marketer helping businesses with branding and generating leads. He's the Founder of Monkey Goes Digital and you can find him on LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter


Disruptive innovation has been a buzzword ever since Clayton Christensen coined it way back in the mid-1990s. The latest disrupter was none other than Oracle and their customer management applications business sector, then by Salesforce. And currently, Salesforce faces the risk of being disrupted by another industry honcho, HubSpot. Interestingly, HubSpot is now on the verge of being disrupted by incumbents at lower market tiers.


The marketing automation (MA) industry is dominated by several established players like Marketo, HubSpot, Act-On, Eloqua and many more. And there are new entrants popping up every single day.


If there are a host of solutions that cater to any company's requirements, what are the reasons for businesses still not adopting the technology even though it's been over half a decade since MA has been around?


Techcrunch once reported that nearly 70% of marketers are either marginally happy or not satisfied with their marketing automation tools.  It's apparent that MA is going upmarket and has started overshooting some of the earlier needs of customers.


Here are some reasons why MA has been a curse rather than a boon to marketers:


Lacks Automation

MA platforms lack the fundamental automation part. An ideal situation for a marketer is to pull out of the box solutions, turn them, and let them function on their own. We can all undoubtedly agree that we haven’t reached there yet, but most of us expect our MA tool to be intelligent enough to handle a decent chunk of all our marketing work. Although most platforms make this tall promise, there are some conflicting issues.


According to B2B Marketing Automation Report, 17% of businesses take a year, and 59% up to six months to adopt and implement MA software. Approximately 61% of businesses find implementing the process difficult, based on a post by Email Mondal.


Autopilot states that 44% of businesses are not happy since they find it extremely difficult to learn the software. However, some larger platforms offer free training to their customers.


The most important hindrance that impedes the success of MA for marketers is the dearth of content.


There are many companies who have bought the software, implemented, and then let it sit, unused for years. The only cause-they didn't find the software automating all the important aspects of their business.


Here is one example to try out: Digi SMM


Heavy Fees

Since MA companies entail the software to be implemented, they normally pass the buck on to the customers. For enterprises, this may be nothing new, but it’s the SMEs that have to face the brunt. And most companies ask for year-long commitments with payment up-front. This translates to massive deployment of capital for such companies. Once again, enterprises are used to these types of terms.


The evidence can be seen from the fact that more than 51% of Fortune 500 firms have adopted MA, a considerably higher percentage compared to their smaller brethren. The adoption continues to grow at a relatively rapid pace within enterprise organizations compared to smaller companies.


There are some ways to cut off the cost issues. Partners, for example, can modify payment terms to a quarterly payment system to east the costs related to the contract. But most importantly, it is important to understand the leverage and potential benefits from analytics: 
Read: How Leading Organizations are Leveraging Big Data and Analytics


Miss Out On Current Events

If you schedule all of your tweets and posts weeks or even months in advance, you'll fail to have a good grasp of current events. The only way to engage your fans on social media is to involve yourself in hot topics. If you automate your social messages, you’ll not be able to use current events as a way to engage your fans. Though current events may not have a direct relation to your brand, sharing your thoughts is a way to get people to notice your company.

Read: How to Tap into The Power of Social Media Icons 


Not Designed For Your Niche

This is a complaint we at Geber Brand Consulting here all the time: our industry is different, our business model is business, that software isn't suited to our needs. 


Yes, automation tools aren't always designed to cater to your business needs. It's logical to state that there will be a disparity when deploying tools that aren't built for your niche; still, most businesses are doing it. Most of these tools are programmed with generalized functionalities and data, indicating that they may not be smart enough to address your specific market or/and respond to users on the other end of the computer.


Prospects Want To Talk To Real People

While MA can assist your business in various ways, it can also give you a harrowing experience. Your prospects want to talk to a real person and not to a computer. Trying to strike a conversation with artificial intelligence can be frustrating and tiresome at times. Think about the number of times you've been on the phone talking to a machine. Isn't it frustrating to press 10 buttons just to talk to someone? And that's exactly how your customers/prospects will feel if you are automating your social media.


MA is still in its early stage and a solution should crop up that fixes all of the issues mentioned above. Or companies need to accept the fact that there are things that cannot be automated and scaled up and move on. That said, larger platforms have taken massive strides in addressing the challenges pointed out, with marketers coining 2018 “The Year Of Marketing Automation.” So we should see massive advances (especially though the use of Artificial Intelligence) in the coming years. 

Read: 4 Ways How AI Can Augment the Digital Marketer  and AI and the future of marketing