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9 Marketing Automation Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

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9 Marketing Automation Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make

According to a 2021 HubSpot Blog Marketing Trends Report, 69% of marketers surveyed say they use automation in their marketing role.

Whether automation is a new or standard practice in your company, we want to help you avoid common traps marketers often fall into.

In this post, we’ll discuss them and alternatives that solve these challenges.

1. You have dirty data.

In a 2021 state of marketing automation report, 58% of B2B professionals say the number one tactic that most amplifies the success of their marketing automation tool is quality data.

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Dirty data can cost brands not only money but also time, as they take actions based on inaccurate information.

This can be anything from duplicate records and naming inconsistencies to outdated contact information and incorrect attribution.

A simple example of dirty data is an email list that’s never been cleaned. Your list likely has disengaged users, spam addresses, and duplicate emails that threaten the integrity of your data.

This will lead to low engagement numbers, damage to your IP reputation, high email marketing costs, and a loss of leads.

For your automation to function properly, it’s essential that you work with clean data to ensure your work will be worth the effort you’re putting in.

2. You picked the wrong automation tool.

A HubSpot Blog research report on media and content planning revealed that finding the right tool is a roadblock for many marketers.

In fact, 45.9% of those surveyed who don’t rely on marketing automation say the biggest obstacle they face is that they can’t find platforms with the capabilities they need.

In addition, 59% of B2B professionals say they don’t feel they’re utilizing their marketing automation tools to their fullest potential, according to the state of marketing automation report.

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So, not only are marketers struggling with picking tools, they also struggle to use them.

Picking the right marketing automation tool is essential, as it will determine how successful your strategy is. Here are the top features to look for in marketing automation software:

  • User-friendly, intuitive interface
  • Advanced analytics and reporting
  • Knowledge base and customer support tools
  • Integrations
  • Scalable options

Check out this article on the top marketing automation tools available on the market.

3. Your marketing and sales teams aren’t aligned.

The worst thing you can do with marketing automation is operating in a silo. At the end of the day, marketing is a function designed to support sales, products, and other business sectors.

As such, it’s imperative that your marketing team bring in all necessary stakeholders to build workflows that align with teams beyond your own.

This is particularly important with marketing and sales teams who work hand-in-hand to turn leads into marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) then sales-qualified leads (SQLs) and finally customers.

Have you thought about what processes would benefit your sales team? This could look like an automated email from a sales rep once a lead has completed a high-intent behavior.

Of course, to define what that behavior is, you have to define that with the sales team.

Marketing automation software can enable sales reps to focus on converting leads instead of tedious tasks.

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4. You don’t train your team.

According to the state of marketing automation report, 31% of B2B professionals say the most significant barrier to using marketing automation tools is lack of training, the most popular answer after lack of resources.

Automation tools are powerful but worthless if your team doesn’t know how to use them.

Holding training sessions will ensure that key stakeholders know your tool’s capabilities, are aware of current workflows and understand the processes to create new ones.

Here are a few tips for training your team:

  • Curate your training to the team – Information overload is a very real thing. To prevent this from happening and keep your sessions productive, only teach what’s relevant to that team.
  • Invite service provider reps to participate – No one will know the software better than its reps. Reach out to your provider and see if they provide training sessions.
  • Hold a multi-step training process – One session likely won’t be enough to efficiently train your team. Make sure you hold multiple sessions, using a combination of various learning strategies to promote learning.

5. You set and forget.

Although automation does suggest a set-and-forget approach, the reality is it’s very hands-on.

The difference is that your attention is going to something else. Instead of focusing on output, you can direct your attention to assessing performance and optimizing.

6. You only leverage only one type of automation strategy.

Too often, marketers start using marketing automation, get familiar with one set of tasks, then focus on that. Never expanding beyond what they already use.

This is how you miss out on opportunities to improve your brand. Take advantage of all of the features your software offers to maximize efficiency.

There are probably a lot of little tasks over the course of your work day that don’t seem time-consuming individually. However, if you add up all of the time you spend posting on social media, updating contact information, and other tasks, you end up with a large chunk of your day spent on things that can probably be automated.

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Poke around your marketing automation to see which processes you can make more efficient. For example, in the HubSpot software, users can bulk update lead contact information instead of clicking into each record and changing details there.

The more processes you automate, the more time you’ll have each day to strategize with your team about content, lead generation, and lead nurturing tactics to keep attracting quality leads to your site.

Here are automation strategies you can leverage:

  • Chatbots
  • Task management
  • Lead scoring
  • Lead nurturing
  • Contract/quote automation
  • Lead rotation
  • Drip campaigns

7. Your automation software doesn’t integrate with your CRM.

A marketing automation system is supposed to make marketing easier. A CRM system is supposed to make managing leads and customers easier.

If your automation software and CRM don’t talk to each other, then you are making a lot more work for yourself.

Before deciding on marketing automation and CRM platforms, make sure they can integrate with one another, and make sure you have the budget to make it happen.

8. You don’t have a goal.

Take advantage of the ease of use marketing automation software provides and invest time and efforts into determining your goals first. Once you have them, you’ll want to assign these goals to each automated effort – social media, email workflows, and so on – to ensure it’s easy to track progress.

After all, marketers need a way to measure success when it comes to marketing automation, and one means of doing so is by evaluating goal attainment. For example, here at HubSpot, the Visual Workflows tool lets you set a specific goal for each automated workflow.

A goal might be a new lead transitioning into a marketing-qualified lead based on certain behaviors, such as downloading a specific number of content offers.

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HubSpot Visual Workflows also allows you to track the percentage of contacts in each workflow that achieve the goal, which is another great way to measure the success and ROI of your marketing automation.

9. You don’t segment your email list.

You have a database full of qualified leads, but you’re using marketing automation software to blast out tons of emails that aren’t customized at all. As a result, your leads are churning because your emails aren’t useful to them.

The solution? Develop a lead nurturing strategy that includes email list segmentation so you’re sending specific emails to specific people that they’re more likely to open.

With the right marketing automation software, it’s easy to execute an email list segmentation strategy that delivers strong results. For example, HubSpot customers can use the Visual Workflows App to target their emails based on dozens of criteria, both demographic and behavioral.

Marketing automation is a powerful tool for any company – the trick is knowing how to optimize it and which pitfalls to avoid. By keeping these in mind, you’ll ensure your automation is working at its maximum potential.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Nov. 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness

Free Resource: How to Reach & Engage Your Audience on Facebook

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MARKETING

How To Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Personal Brand

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How To Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Personal Brand

Updated August 17, 2022

Anyone who didn’t win the billion-dollar Mega Millions jackpot this year needs to read this article.

With the talk about the Great Resignation (or Great Reshuffle), I bet you’ve pondered the future of your money-making work. Even if you’re completely satisfied with your current employment, it’s smart to plan for future promotions and pivots (especially unexpected ones).

And that requires doing something today that should feel very familiar: creating a content marketing strategy.

This time, though, you’ll create it for your personal brand.

Not sure you need to invest the time?

Consider these wise words from a CMWorld Twitter chat a couple of years ago that still ring true today:

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“Careers in marketing make personal branding even more important. If you can’t develop your own brand, people might not have the confidence that you can help them develop a company’s/product’s/agency’s brand,” Mike Myers tweeted.

The chat’s guest speaker, Anh Nguyen, agreed: “All the knowledge and experience gained for your personal brand can be scaled for content marketing for a client or an employer.”

The knowledge and experience you gain from marketing your #PersonalBrand can be scaled for employer or client #ContentMarketing, says @AnhTNguyen via @AnnGynn @CMIContent.

What is a personal brand?

Before you can craft your personal content marketing strategy, it’s important to understand what a personal brand is.

“Think of it as your reputation and calling card to the world,” Anh said in the Twitter chat. “Your personal brand helps you connect with prospective employers, clients, customers, collaborators, and so on.”

Gabriela Cardoza explained in the chat that a personal brand helps you:

  • Differentiate yourself
  • Build thought leadership
  • Grow trust and credibility
  • Build a network

You have a personal brand already. Every time you engage with people, you create perceptions of who you are in their minds.

When you craft a content marketing strategy for your personal brand, you’ll set yourself on a path toward shaping those perceptions to help you achieve your goals.

Craft a #ContentMarketing strategy for your personal brand and get on an intentional path to achieving your goals, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Use these seven steps to create a documented content marketing strategy for your own brand.

1. Craft a brand mission statement

All good content marketing strategies start with understanding the mission and goals. Thus, the first step in your personal content marketing strategy is to create a mission statement.

Here’s how Gabriela broke down the components of a personal brand mission statement:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What you stand for
  • What your unique value is

I’ll add one more – What do you want to achieve with your brand?

Here’s a personal brand mission statement that might work for a content marketing writer:

I use my creativity and sense of business to help B2B brands engage with their audiences through compelling content. I work to ensure my content is equitable and inclusive. I want to grow my recognition as a go-to resource in the content marketing industry.

TIP: You can’t develop your personal brand without considering your employer’s brand because you’re tied together publicly. Tweak or supplement your personal mission statement accordingly.

You can’t develop your #PersonalBrand without considering your employer’s brand. You’re tied together publicly, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

2. Write an editorial mission statement

Put together your personal editorial mission statement, which connects to your brand mission.

CMI’s Jodi Harris writes that a great content mission statement details three elements (I’ll go into more depth on each later):

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  • Core audience – who you aim to help (serve) with your audience
  • What you’ll deliver – the kind of information you provide
  • Outcome or benefit – the things your audience can do (or will know) because of your content

A content mission statement answers the why, who, and what of your #content, says @joderama via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing #PersonalBrand Click To Tweet

You don’t need an elaborate statement. Just give a brief overview in a sentence or two.

With your personal brand and editorial mission statements complete, you now have the required footing to develop a content marketing strategy.

3. Detail your brand’s content marketing goals

Your personal content marketing can help you achieve your professional goals (to get a raise, a new job, more clients, etc.), but those aren’t your content marketing goals.

Content marketing involves creating and distributing content to attract and retain your audience and, ultimately, drive profitable action.

Here are some personal content marketing goals to consider:

  • Build brand awareness: Get your name out there.
  • Earn brand trust: Help people see you as a valuable, reputable resource.
  • Deepen brand loyalty: Connect with people on a deeper level (e.g., get them to sign up for your newsletter or share your content).
  • Attract strategic partners: Get people to want to help you (e.g., guest blogging and conference speaking).

Once you define your content marketing goals, you can zero in on the right audience.

4. Detail your target audience

You know what you want, but what does your audience want?

First, describe who your audience members are. What industries do they work in? What roles or titles do they have?

Then detail their interests and behaviors. What do they want to know? What are their pain points? Where do they live (online or geographically)?

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Let’s say you’re a content marketing specialist for a financial services company. Your goal is to build awareness of your name and skills. Your audience members are managers and directors of content marketing, communications, and marketing in the finance industry. They want to know more about how to get buy-in and budget support from their firm’s leaders. They check LinkedIn every few days but never use Facebook.

5. Identify your content sweet spot

Think of a Venn diagram. In one circle are your content marketing interests. In the other circle are your audience’s interests and needs. Where the two circles overlap is your content sweet spot.

These are the primary topics that your personal content marketing should cover.

You can also determine preferred content formats and distribution vehicles. For example, if your audience prefers podcasts over videos and you’re looking to build a subscriber database, you would want to create a podcast rather than start a YouTube channel. Or, if your audience usually attends an industry conference, you could submit a proposal to speak at the event. If your goal is brand awareness, you could offer guest blogs on sites your audience visits.

6. Build your content calendar

Now that you have identified your topics, formats, and distribution platforms, it’s time to build an editorial calendar. But remember, you’re just one person – and you probably already have a day job. This is not the time to be ambitious.

I recommend creating a minimum viable calendar – the least you know you can create and publish regularly. If that’s just one blog post a month or a quarterly LinkedIn profile review, that’s fine. If you attempt to do too much and fail to hit on every cylinder, you’re more likely to give up entirely. By setting realistic expectations, you’re more likely to keep going.

Create an editorial calendar for your personal #ContentMarketing. But don’t attempt to do too much, or you’ll give up, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #PersonalBrand Click To Tweet

7. Set measurable goals

Now that you have documented your purpose, audience, content formats, and frequency, you should add numbers and dates to the personal content marketing goals established in Step 3.

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For example, if your content marketing goal is to earn brand trust, your metric might be to gain 50 subscribers to your newsletter in the next three months.

It’s important to connect measurable goals to all your tactics – it’s key to understanding how well your content works.

TIP: You might struggle to come up with realistic numeric goals in the beginning. Don’t let that prevent you from setting them. If you find your numbers were unrealistic in your review, change them. That’s one of the perks of developing your brand – no clients or bosses to complain about the shift.

Connect measurable goals to all your tactics so you’ll know if your #Content is working, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Make yourself accountable

The hardest part of your personal content marketing strategy may be that you’re doing it alone. Without a boss or client expecting your content, it’s easier to push off the work.

Set deadlines for every step in the content production and distribution process. Mark them on your calendar. If you get overloaded and know you won’t meet one, move it out, but don’t remove it from the calendar, or you’ll never get it done.

Want to add one more layer to your accountability? Get an accountability partner. Share your production calendar with that person. Treat this partner as you would a client or boss – let them know when the step is done or tell them about the revised date for completion. (You can do this simply by using the calendar’s notification system.) Even better, become the accountability partner for them too.

Let’s get started. On what date will you complete your personal brand content marketing strategy? Note it in the comments, and I’ll reach out that day to see if you’re done.

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Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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