Diary of a Modern Marketer: Failing My Way into the World of Marketing Automation

Payal Raj

Dear Diary,

It’s me, Payal. I’m currently a marketing manager at Scale Without Borders – a Program Development Company. This past year, as we moved into a 100% virtual and digital world, I had the opportunity to reflect on my journey as a modern marketer and the successes and failures along the way that helped me grow.

Nowadays, as a modern marketer, I pride myself on my ability to use technology to understand reality through the voice of the customer and cultivate perceptions through creative storytelling. The enhanced information allows me to foster meaningful connections through various channels and engagements that compel people to act.

Up until 2015 I had worked in a more traditional and strategic marketing role. However, in 2015 I got a break and was tasked with the responsibility of developing and leading the marketing team. The organisation had recently transitioned its business towards selling SaaS product and relying heavily on digital marketing to achieve awareness and sales. It was in the first few months in this role that I experienced my first massive failure as a marketer.

I had been a novice at developing strategy and using marketing technology to achieve 100% of our objectives. This is the story of why I initially failed at understanding, optimizing and really getting the full value out of Marketo, our new marketing automation tool.

Project Initiative

Our project was launching a new regional landing page to attract a certain number of visitors to the site in the first month. As part of the project, we would be developing campaigns in new markets and regions, generating leads and collecting emails and data through opt-in forms and running successful emails campaigns. The objective was to achieve this with a recently formed small marketing team and our newly purchased and implemented software – Marketo.

Lesson 1: Set Marketing Automation Objectives

Unfortunately, our objectives for using our fancy new marketing automation product weren’t clear and weren’t fully thought through from the outset.

We knew we wanted to learn who was visiting our site, where inbound leads could come from, if our campaigns were generating leads and increasing the number of visitors to the site. However, we did not have our objective fully defined. We were, perhaps, naïve in our approach in opting in for a full feature set that would help in optimizing our use of Marketo towards our campaign and achieving our KPI’s.

Lesson 2: Build an Automated Marketing Process

One of the primary issues was that we had a great tool that would augment and automate our process, but we did not have the process prior to launching the first campaign. Our marketing processes had been very tactical and ad-hoc which were not compatible with optimizing Marketo successfully from the start. Part of my responsibility later became defining and building out our marketing process which dramatically changed our fortunes going forward.

Lesson 3: Test and Fix Email Marketing Strategy – Automated Campaigns

While running our first major campaign in Marketo, we suffered a major glitch when a user accidentally checked the “delete contacts in CRM” button. This ended up deleting all the contacts in our Marketo database. As you can imagine, this did not go down well. We quickly learned the importance of back-up i.e., opt-out data. Luckily for us, we were able to recover most of the data because we had downloaded a file with opt-out data prior to this.

After noticing poor results from our automated email campaign, we needed to quickly pivot to find a measure of success. We shifted focus to the quality of visitors and sign ups we were getting. With our new focal point, we developed our content to directly target what they were looking for. Using different lists and segments, we opted for smarter optimization and only gave the best content, further segmenting customers based on their interactions.

Fortunately, we learned quickly from our above mistakes. By the second campaign, we were able to turn these failures into wins by automating most of our email marketing strategy. We began to use Marketo more wisely to create automated email sequences and send them out to different email lists. This made it easier for us to tweak our email marketing strategy based on the data we were getting to help us to bring in more conversions.

Lesson 4: Dedicate the Right Resources

Part of our oversight was our underestimation of the time and effort needed to create content and manage a marketing automation tool. The marketing budget and personnel resources dedicated towards managing Marketo and the entire operations were scarce. We had believed Marketo would do most of the work for us. We quickly discovered we needed to allot more time to trying to make it work and that marketing automation is a beast that devours content.

Lesson 5: Inter-Departmental Communication Increases Customers and Prospects

In addition to our resource estimations, we also overlooked the power of Marketo to communicate with existing customers in identifying and creating up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. There was a huge misalignment between the sales and marketing team on the ability to collaborate and use the tool towards our common goal. This lack of knowledge lead to a lost opportunity in finding new sales avenues within our existing customer base. As with most teething problems, communicating might have changed the landscape sooner.

Reflecting on the Lessons Learned

If I knew back then what I know now, I would definitely start with defining a robust process and business need case for what a marketing automation tool requires. As a marketer, it is tempting to keep purchasing the latest marketing technology. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily mean it will work for you or is the right technology for your business needs.

Implementing new technology, grasping, and employing its full range of features involves time, understanding and team effort. I’m certain if I had this knowledge, I would undoubtedly have achieved greater success and adoption with the first major campaign as a new marketing manager.

It’s true that some mistakes we must make for ourselves. My hope is that after reading these fails and the lessons learned, others will be able to avoid some of the pitfalls when jumping into using new shiny marketing technology.

Yours truly,

Technology used: Marketo


Previous Article
Diary of a Modern Marketer: Embracing a Culture of Testing and Learning During Uncertain Times
Diary of a Modern Marketer: Embracing a Culture of Testing and Learning During Uncertain Times

Adopting a data-driven approach and a strong testing methodology are essential tools in Modern Marketing, e...

Next Article
Customer Benefits Guide Tech Stack Decisions, Not Trends
Customer Benefits Guide Tech Stack Decisions, Not Trends

Investing in new tech? Listen to your customers, not trends. Tegrita's CTO & President, Mike Geller, talks ...