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In the right hands, marketing automation software streamlines clunky processes and enhances the effectiveness of campaigns. To avoid becoming an ineffective robot, consider what does and doesn’t work before deciding if marketing automation is worth the time and effort. After all, automation relies on the people behind the analytics.

The Good

According to a 2015 study from Marketo and Ascend2, marketing companies with “Best in Class” ratings — meaning those that develop outcome-based metrics, leverage automation, create and audit benchmarks and focus on accountability — are 67 percent more likely to use marketing automation platforms. At its best, marketing automation software reduces the workload by streamlining marketing tasks and providing data to measure and manage campaigns while nurturing prospects with personalized, relevant and useful content. Marketing automation tools also deliver benefits such as:

  • Keeping track of leads
  • Letting buyers set the pace
  • Providing visual stats that allow brands to see what works and what doesn’t
  • Tracking prospects, leads and customers with real-time numbers
  • Keeping campaigns neatly organized
  • Forgetting the Kardashians; brands need to keep up with the competition instead, and many of them are making the switch

With a little marketing savvy and tech know-how, brands can leverage marketing automation tools into significant revenue. The key is to also avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with marketing automation software while maximizing results.

The Bad

Without a good strategy, marketing automation tools can turn a great brand into a lackluster robot. Even worse, it can land a company square on the list of marketing fails, rivaling an iHop misstep of 2015.

A lack of a clear plan and an infusion of bad marketing processes prevent even the best marketing automation software from working effectively. Companies need to adjust their corporate structures and resource allocation to integrate the technology. In addition to being costly, businesses have to make sure they choose the right tools for their needs, and they may still end up needing an actual human being to seal the deal.

If brands plan to use automation strictly to sell to leads, they may want to think twice. Consumers love buying but rarely enjoy a hard sell. Cultivating relationships and creating an efficient, effective buyer journey is crucial for automation tools to be effective. Likewise, businesses must ensure that they have human beings on hand to answer questions that automation can’t and keep the automation infused with fresh content that appeals to prospects and current customers alike.

Maximize Results

Most experts estimate that marketing automation, already worth billions, will surpass the $100 billion mark by 2018. Clearly, marketing automation software is big business. But content is still king. To maximize benefits and results, brands must use the two together. Simply marry efficient marketing automation tools with targeted, quality content. Otherwise, they risk going over to the dark side. And that’s where the automation morphs into spam and falls flat with potential customers and clients.

To get the most out of the time and money invested in marketing automation systems, brands need to let marketing automation software and high-quality content work hand in hand to deliver relevant, engaging content targeted at audiences without turning into robots. Bottom line: marketing automation works best for brands willing to take the time and put in the effort to maximize results.