Fast technological development has empowered companies with an array of SaaS tools, helping break down the traditional barriers between business and consumer. If used effectively, marketers can deliver exceptional customer experiences – easily and profitably.
What are we on about? Marketing automation of course!
Only 51% of businesses are using marketing automation – what’s causing this roadblock? It’s certainly not the ROI: triggered messages drive 624% more conversions than batch-and-blast emails (Blueshift Benchmark Report, 2016).
If you find your challenges overwhelming, you need to take a step back and:
- plan ahead with realism
- invest your time wisely
- adopt technology that helps you reach your customers
Challenge #1 – data
Data can be a stumbling block for businesses. It can either bring strategies to fruition or stop them in their tracks. The #1 priority for worldwide marketers, according to eMarketer, is to generate traffic and leads. However, this ultimately hinges on the data processes adopted by your company – so it’s crucial to get to grips with your collection, enrichment and management of data.
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B, your data will tell a story. Extracting insight is a fundamental practice that will contribute to the success of your marketing efforts.
Single customer view (SCV) is a mystifying term that needs to be addressed. Commonly thought of as a product, SCV is actually an optimum flow of data that informs marketing, enables sales and yields analytics. It’s the most important process in business and heavily relies on having the right technology in-house.
SCV could be the sum of a customer’s behavioral, transactional and demographic data. These data sources provide complete and actionable insight, meaning you can treat customers as individuals in your marketing campaigns. As a result, they’re likelier to engage with you and buy from you.
Challenge #2 – technology
Technology innovation is shaping the digital landscape, and with it, the customer-brand relationship. Consumers are now the decision-makers when it comes down to communication.
Those who fail to move with the times will be left in the lurch – if brands don’t adapt to customers’ communication preferences, they’re as good as out of businesses.
Aspirational marketers must adopt the right tools to meet the demands of their audiences. And while there are many SaaS options available, it’s wise for businesses to work with a powerful platform that plays well with others – where native products, integrations and widgets work together under one roof.
Today, brands can no longer use the ‘technology gap’ as a legitimate excuse for delivering poor customer experiences. The development of marketing automation systems has empowered businesses to be champions of personalization and one-to-one communications. These data-triggered messages deliver twice the number of leads than bulk emailing. Blitzing contacts with a shower of emails simply doesn’t cut it anymore! Plus, the market offering is so plentiful that there’s an option to suit every budget.
Challenge #3 – time
It can be hard to break the routine and take time to focus on your wider strategic goals. As marketers, we often get bogged down in day-to-day tasks that need to be churned out; in doing so, we neglect the things that matter most.
79% of marketing leads never convert into sales, for example; poor lead nurturing efforts are to blame for this, and the root cause is a lack of time.
Marketing automation is the answer; making time to implement it means saving more time in the long run. You also make more money – 75% of marketers swear by automation as a revenue-generating tactic.
These winning automation practices can help you save time and make serious money:
- Automating social media posts can save you around 6 hours per week – time better spent elsewhere!
- Dynamic content variations in email deliver a 20% uplift in sales
- Businesses that automate lead nurturing with timely emails see a 10%+ increase in revenue
- It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, so implementing an aftersales program is top on the agenda
Challenge #4 – resource
Not having enough resources in-house can hold you back from kickstarting your automation journey.
Many marketers prioritize their everyday tasks, neglecting proper time to focus on process improvements or alternative solutions that will make life easier. This can compromise long-term strategy and weaken marketing effectiveness to the benefit of the competition.
If you’re familiar with this scenario, you’re not alone.
40% of UK marketers surveyed in an eMarketer report said limits in resource hinder their email marketing automation.  This was the highest response rate for any given reason, which included a lack of strategy and budget restraints. Likewise, in an Econsultancy report, 60% of B2B marketers cited resource as the most significant challenge impeding marketing automation. 
Whether you want to create a customer lifecycle program, or need interim campaign management support, outsourcing your automation efforts means you can hit the ground running. After all, there are people out there – like us – building automation programs day in, day out.
And while this alleviates your resource constraints, your best brains get the chance to strategize and plan more programs. This will boost your long-term performance and ROI.
Challenge #5 – expertise
The surge in digital channels means that marketers need to leverage the right expertise to utilize their technology effectively.
According to a study of marketers conducted by the Digital Marketing Institute, strategy and planning emerged as the leading skills gap among US and UK organizations. Plus, only 8% of those who were tested on digital marketing competency achieved entry level skills! 
Ambitious marketers limited to in-house resources can easily get ahead of themselves and end up with too much on their plates. A whole host of things can suffer as a result: the learning curve, productivity, strategic planning, to name but a few. Not every marketer knows everything – and that’s okay! It’s important to remember that each knowledge gap you encounter is an opportunity to be seized.
If there’s a limit to your expertise – and this is preventing you from realizing your strategy – then it’s high time you considered outsourcing knowledge. A touch of marketing know-how is sometimes all you need to take your business to the next level.
Whether it’s practical advice from a digital marketing specialist, strategic guidance from an account manager, or a full-blown digital consultancy session – the learnings are there to take away and build upon.
When sourcing expertise, don’t forget to:
- research the options available to you
- network at industry-wide events
- look at what the competition is doing
For the key takeaways on how to beat these five marketing challenges, download our handy cheatsheet here.
 eMarketer, Challenges of Marketing Automation According to Email Marketers Worldwide [Chart], 2017
 Econsultancy, State of B2B Marketing Automation, 2017
 Missing the Mark: the digital marketing skills gap in the USA, UK and Ireland, 2016