4 Signs Your Marketing Automation Provider is Failing You

Maia Wells
Marketing Automation

Your marketing automation tool should never stifle your company’s growth. It should help you connect with current and prospective customers, and scale up the personalized experience that creates loyalty and appreciation for your brand. If it doesn’t feel like that’s possible, it could mean your marketing automation provider is failing you.

marketing automation fail
To be clear, considering a change doesn’t mean your team has failed. The reality is, there are a lot of marketing automation providers out there, and it’s common for needs and preferences to change as companies grow or pivot. Whether you’re dealing with a legacy marketing system that isn’t quite working like it used to, or realizing that shiny new marketing tool simply isn’t a good fit, you’re not alone. Many of our customers have made the switch from systems like Marketo, SharpSpring and Pardot. 

If it’s starting to feel like your platform could be holding you back, it’s time to make some tough decisions. There are four major signs to look out for.

1. You Can’t Even Get Started

If you haven’t even crossed the starting line due to a confusing, uninspiring, or non-existent build-out process, your marketing automation solution is a problem. Every month you pay for a technology you haven’t finished implementing (or haven’t implemented to its fullest) is an expense written off into the air. Whether you put the bad-fit tool in place yourself or not, you are here now, tasked with working something out.

When you think you have a bad-fit marketing automation tool because it hasn’t yet started to deliver the results you wanted, there are three choices:

  • Work with the platform’s success and support teams or a hire a marketing automation consultant
  • Reallocate resources on your own marketing team to help adopt the tool and put a marketing automation plan in place
  • Search for another marketing automation provider

Time to value is a major issue, and it is surprisingly common to see excruciatingly long wait times to achieve value with some of the popular marketing automation solutions. Many marketers are months, or even years into a contract with a marketing automation provider, (and expensive consultants) and they still don’t feel like they have it set up in a way that works for the business. There are simpler solutions out there to support businesses of all sizes, at any stage of growth. 

When you can’t even get started, your marketing automation platform is failing you. 

2. Complexity is Slowing You Down

If you can’t customize your marketing automation tool to achieve your objectives and engage prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey, it might be time to consider how that affects your momentum as a company. Your MarTech stack shouldn’t get in the way of marketers attracting and nurturing leads toward conversations and purchases.

Here are a few indicators your marketing automation configuration is too complicated:

  • Only one specialized person on your team can operate it, and when that person needs an occasional day off to live their life, everything falls apart
  • It takes months (not days) to update automated email workflows, or set up SMS engagement strategies with leads and customers
  • Segmentation and list management is a nightmare
  • You’re tracking behavioral data that doesn’t help you usher leads into your buying funnel, or worse, not tracking it at all
  • No one knows why the marketing automation workflows are set up the way they are, and even a minor change can make the whole system go haywire
  • Emails are cumbersome to brand and build and don’t reach their targets
  • Your competitors are killing it, while you’re dedicating a majority of time fixing systems and integrations

3. Total Cost of Ownership Isn’t Adding Up

The total cost of ownership for your marketing automation platform needs to align with the value it brings to your marketing team. Your marketing automation provider should help you attract, track, and communicate with people who want to buy your products or services. It should make it easier, not harder, for your marketing staff to do their jobs. And, it should definitely be paying for itself. When your marketing automation provider can’t deliver on their promises, there is a TCO problem. It’s important to ask yourself, “What is the cost of running a solution that doesn’t seem to be working?”

TCO includes the cost of the platform itself (usually a monthly fee, or a fee based on number of contacts), but TCO is about much more than that. In marketing automation, TCO is also how many people and hours you have to use to build and execute programs, the investment in maintaining the efficiency of your database, and the cost of implementing lead scoring, segmentation, and targeting to accelerate and deliver truly ready-to-buy opportunities to your sales team. When you can ramp up quickly, easily apply intuitive workflows, nurture programs, and conversion indicators, you’re going to perform better and recognize value sooner. Your overall cost of ownership will be lower. 

Once you decide to get started, it’s important to consider what it takes to actually switch to a new marketing automation platform as you consider the overall cost. Here are some common processes to think about when investigating TCO:

  • Getting team and company buy-in
  • The migration
  • The optimization and testing of the migration
  • Training and adoption
  • Continued use, optimization, and integration into daily processes 

So, rather than considering a solution simply because it seems to be the “gold standard,” or because you’ve heard of the brand before, think about the actual fit for your current needs and future goals as well. Total cost of ownership — including the opportunity cost of staying on a solution that is not working, or hiring expensive consultants to run the system for you — is one key factor too important to ignore. 

4. UX is Bloated or Customer Service Fails 

The truth is, marketing automation platforms do a lot of the same things. In fact, many features — like email nurturing and lead scoring — are standard. What seems to make a lot more impact is the relationship you’re able to build with your marketing automation provider, and what it’s like to actually use it to get marketing done. That includes your team’s experience actually using the software, as well as how well your marketing automation provider’s customer success team can support your specific needs. 

If your team has trouble using the software that is supposed to make things easier and more efficient for them, or can’t get personalized customer service when it’s needed, that’s a big problem to consider. 

It’s important to have all of your primary marketing programs and data at your fingertips. Whether your programs revolve around simple email outreach, or complex behavioral scoring, segmentation and cross-channel marketing, you need an intuitive solution that comes with help when you need it, and feels good to use. 

Changing Your Marketing Automation Provider Could Be the Solution 

It may take months or even years to finally decide your marketing automation provider is not the best fit for your business. However, if you’re seeing any of the four important signs discussed above, it’s time for some tough decisions. It can be overwhelming to realize you need a different tool to help your marketing team work more efficiently and bring in the best possible leads and customers, but the process of moving to a new solution doesn’t have to be excruciating. When your marketing automation provider is failing, find a better one, and watch your business thrive.