A recent post by Jeff Pedowitz on Marketing Automation Software Guide argues that marketing automation vendors – selling tools that automatically send and track responses to marketing material to target prospects – are floundering, or at least not growing as quickly as they should. Pedowitz says they are 1) wrongly targeting marketing executives who lack the clout to make purchase decisions, 2) focusing too much on the software and technology industries, 3) not doing enough to educate customers, 4) requiring customers adopt processes that are too complicated and 5) making their tools too expensive for early adopters.
As someone trying to grow his own use of these tools, all of these shortcomings sound correct. But the two that strike closest to home are lack of customer education and making the whole process too complicated.
First, the lack of education. We can’t even agree on what to call this new market. Is it inbound marketing? Email marketing? Demand generation? Social media marketing? Content marketing? Inbound inline marketing? Closed-loop marketing? The people we’re trying to sell to are too busy trying to close deals and keep their jobs to stay on top of all this jargon. Software and services vendors – myself included! — need to look beyond our own pitches and provide a simple description of the benefits we offer.
Next, even if you’re sold on the idea of marketing automation, it’s WAY too complicated to implement. I’ve chronicled my hellish experience moving my blog to WordPress, which provides only the content management and presentation side of the puzzle. Developing, delivering and monitoring response to your content is a whole other can of worms. HubSpot, among other tools, requires a course and certification which I’d love to take advantage of, except for this small diversion of making a living. Kudos to Jeff for calling for best practice templates, pre-built programs, one-click activation and other easy-to-use aids for us mere mortals.
Marketing automation does have a future, as those early adopters with the right blend of skills in-house are showing every day. But the rest of us need some help crawling before we can walk, much less run. Anyone vendors out there with truly easy-to-use (and reasonably priced) platforms? And anybody got a good, catch-all description for what we’re trying to do?
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