Don’t bowl cannonballs at your audience. When automation goes wrong.

I’m going to let you into a little secret… you know all those people that are downloading your ebooks, pdfs and guides? They’re not all red hot leads…

Simply because I found the title of your ebook of interest doesn’t necessarily mean I’m at a position where I’m preparing myself to purchase your service. Let me explain.

Marketing Automation Rocks….

I love the advantages that Marketing Automation Software can provide my clients. When clients are producing great content and receiving fantastic feedback, confidence grows in their ability to build a highly successful route to market through sharing industry insights. The phones ring and the enquiries flow. Hey, it’s inbound baby!

At the same time, we’re seeing a good level of response on the back of our latest downloadable guides. What responsive action do we take? We ‘nurture’ those leads through the recipients preferred route of contact, email. We continue to provide valuable insight through thoughtful content.

Shouldn’t we be turning those leads into customers? Of course. However, the process is entirely dependent upon the sales-cycle of your products and the receptiveness, authority and demand of the recipient. Marketing Automation doesn’t simply provide a quick-win mechanism to ‘reeling in’ new clients. Just like every aspect of your marketing campaigning, it requires a strategic approach.

When Marketing Automation Goes Wrong

Today, I was inspired to write this quick blog post based on a ‘follow up’ email I received from a company who provide Social Media monitoring software.

What provided them the opportunity to contact me through email? I downloaded a brilliant in-depth and insightful ebook packed with statistics and commentary. Yes, I was indirectly interested in their offering. I help a range of businesses to setup and monitor social listening posts.

  • Did I download the guide due to my requirements for a new piece of software to utilise myself, or on behalf of my clients? No.
  • Was I highly impressed with how this business presented their case studies and insights within their ebook? Yes.
  • Did I download the ebook based primarily around the content? Yes.
  • Did the content increase my awareness of their brand as well as spike my interest in what they offered? Yes.

From a marketer’s perspective, that’s a pretty successful return.

So, what happened next?

4 hours later I received an email from a ‘Sales Administrator’ (… ‘John the Sales Administrator’) who was ‘delighted to see I had downloaded their latest guide’ and as hoping that ‘I really enjoyed the read’.

I’m not sure about you, but there’s a significant divide between what I define as ‘enjoyment’ and what I define as ‘interesting’.

You know, ‘John’ was enthusiastic in his email, I couldn’t fault him for a little over exuberance, could I?

He then wanted to ‘arrange a call’ so that we he could ‘find out how [his software] could help Rhodes Consultancy Limited (my business trading name) with our Social Media monitoring’. You know why? Because his company helps ‘hundreds of companies just like mine each and every day’.

Sorry ‘John’, but you’re wanting to find out about my business, and then telling me you’ve helped hundreds of companies just like mine? Do you see what the slight issue here?

Here Lies The Problem With Marketing Automation Software

You can apply marketing automation to a series of outbound marketing scenarios, whether email, search or social media. It’s meant to humanise your offering. ‘Hey, look, John from Company X is in touch, I just have to have a chat with John!’

I’m placing all the blame here on John. I’m tempted to suggest it’s not necessarily John’s fault. He just makes the calls. Somewhere within the Marketing Department somebody was tasked with building response through email. Here’s a few suggestions for that particular person:

  • Assume I found your ebook interesting. You’ve put together a great piece of content. Be proud of it
  • Use that pride to highlight a few of the key factors within the ebook, ‘just in case I’d missed them’
  • Point me in the direction of other content in a similar theme
  • Maybe I’d like to keep up to date with your business through Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter?
  • Tell me about the next ebook, when it’ll be published and how I can get my hands on it
  • Let me know about the latest video you’ve uploaded where your CEO talks about the subject of Social monitoring in great detail
  • Maybe invite me to your next webinar?
  • Draw my attention to when you’ll be emailing me next and what the subject matter will be
  • Don’t hesitate to ask me if I’d like to speak with one of your sales representatives, just in case I’d like to talk about my business requirements

Digital selling isn’t about collecting email addresses and firing out ‘let’s chat’ emails. It’s a nurturing process. John and his team should know better than that.

If you’re using, or thinking about using, Marketing Automation don’t fire out the cannonballs in hope you’re hit the target. Use precision, be patient and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be hearing from me soon. You know, you did produce some excellent content there.

Written By:

Ian Rhodes


Founder of Ecommerce Growth Co. Helping you grow sales making more effective use of data, technology & the human touch. Get my HOW TO OPTIMISE lessons to your inbox below...

2 Comments on “Don’t bowl cannonballs at your audience. When automation goes wrong.”

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Michael. I see a lot of companies who are overly eager to launch Marketing Automation tools thinking about their own end goal (revenue/lead generation) rather than the end goal of their consumer (confidence in making the right buying decision).

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