Automation is leaving no corner of business untouched, and marketing is no exception. Eighty-two percent of business leaders agree that marketing automation can make their operations more efficient, so quick adoption of new technologies is becoming the norm — especially in the midst of a global pandemic that’s forcing businesses to try new strategies.

With new technologies, however, come new sets of problems. To access the revolutionary potential of automation, marketers need to be prepared to grapple with issues they might not currently be prepared for. While getting a handle on new sets of tools might feel intimidating, the payoffs in the end are well worth the effort — marketing automation can double sales productivity.

Small businesses need all the help they can get — and marketing automation can be a major asset if … [+] they can get past the intimidation factor.


In order to tackle the challenges of marketing automation and create an adaptable new strategy, you need to know what you’re dealing with first. Some of the most common issues marketers face when it comes to automation are:

1. Faulty Data

Customer and lead data is the foundation for a successfully automated marketing campaign. If you don’t know anything about the people you’re marketing to, you’re not going to be able to catch their attention. If your data is faulty and doesn’t accurately reflect your target audience, you could end up creating the wrong campaign. According to ZoomInfo, as much as 25% of businesses’ database contacts contain critical errors — meaning you might mis-market to up to a quarter of your leads. 

For most marketers, the focus is on copy, strategy, and content. While these are all crucial components of automated marketing campaigns, too, ignoring the data could render your hard work on other components of the campaign useless. Regularly update your data sets, and run ongoing consumer surveys to keep a finger on the pulse of your customer base. 

2. Platform Confusion

What do you need to coordinate your automated marketing efforts? Email, file sharing, design software, and likely much more. It’s easy to get accustomed to the tools you regularly use, but constantly switching between different platforms for your marketing can be a major drag on productivity. 

Chantal Peterson at Ontraport, a marketing automation solution, helpfully outlines the benefits of consolidating your marketing tools into a single centrally run plane. Keeping everything together ensures that no key elements, pieces of content, or leads get lost in the shuffle between different applications and services — not to mention the potential drop in costs as well. 

3. Impersonal Connotation

The word “automation” carries several connotations, namely related to robots and machinery. For your marketing to be successful, it needs to maintain a human touch, no matter where it comes from. 

The automation component mostly covers the targeting and distribution of your marketing materials, not their actual creation. If you’re worried about your marketing coming off as mechanical, use the data afforded to you by automated marketing to personalize more of your content — generate emails and other digital ads that appeal directly to certain types of consumers. Hootsuite recommends running separate campaigns on social media so you can reach the right audience with the right messaging. 

4. Too Much Aggression 

The average American sees between 4,000 and 10,000 ads every single day — a number that should terrify anyone working in marketing today. While plenty of marketers think that mere exposure is enough to catch people’s attention, recent events like Michael Bloomberg’s billion-dollar failed presidential bid should prove that’s not the case. 

In fact, most consumers likely feel something akin to ad fatigue: seeing any more content than they already do would likely just annoy them. Instead of using your marketing automation to find new ways to get in front of potential customers, use it to craft more highly refined pieces of content for them. A handful of eye-catching marketing materials will have a much larger impact and a much smaller budget than an onslaught of poorly crafted ads. 

5. Content Shortage

Automation gives marketers the power to deploy advertisements with unprecedented speed and efficiency. While getting your message out there might be an exciting prospect, your content creation likely won’t be able to keep up the pace. 

As a marketer, it can be tempting to schedule ambitious ad campaigns and deployments well into the future, but you need to make sure you have the content to back up your goals first. Coordinate your automation efforts with your content creators beforehand so everyone is on the same page moving forward. In order for your marketing to work, you need to have something to market in the first place. 

Automation is changing the world of marketing before our very eyes — it’s only a matter of time before it impacts yours. Especially in uncertain times, this technology can bring a sense of consistency and organization if you know how to harness it. Not every marketer will face the same challenges, but being prepared for whatever’s to come is the best way to stay one step ahead.