9 Common Marketing Automation Pitfalls to Avoid


Margo OvsiienkoFreelance Growth Marketing Strategist

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

You’ve probably heard this many times: marketing automation can help your company generate leads on autopilot. While this idea can sound attractive, it doesn’t always work this way.

Article 6 Minutes
9 Common Marketing Automation Pitfalls to Avoid

Here’s the truth: most marketing automation strategies require dozens of hours of proper setup. Once deployed, automation flows need optimization, adjustments, and, sometimes, major reworks before they can start working the right way.

So what should you do to set up your marketing automation for success and avoid costly mistakes?

1. Following someone else’s formula

When introducing marketing automation for the first time, you’ll most likely look for successful examples and consider how you can apply this to your own strategy.

While getting some inspiration can be useful, remember that your company operates in a unique environment with different customer segments and products.

Instead of blindly following someone else’s formula for success, adjust it to your own needs and requirements.

It’s also important to keep all of your visual and text elements consistent with your brand, so you target your audience with your unique message and not an imitation of someone else’s campaigns.

2. Neglecting reporting

Setting success metrics and implementing an automated reporting process is crucial for measuring the impact of your automation strategy. Otherwise, how will you know if it brings any results?

While you might find measuring campaign results an obvious thing to do, many businesses that introduce marketing automation often forgot this and, as a result, it becomes hard to judge if an automation flow is working well or needs optimization.

When analyzing the performance of your marketing automation strategy, start by defining your success metrics, the KPIs you consider important. For example, you can track your email campaign’s open rates to understand if your subject lines are engaging enough.

3. Being afraid to improve on things

Working on your marketing automation strategy involves building assumptions about how your audience would interact with campaign content, and when you finally introduce your automation components, you can start testing your assumptions.

Sometimes, they work out, and you can quickly notice positive results. However, in some cases, you won’t see the campaign achieve satisfactory results and will need to rethink your assumptions.

For example, if you end up generating a lot of warm leads that don’t convert into sales. You’ll then need to think about why this is happening; could it be poor performance of triggered email sequences, inaccurate categorisation of potential customers?

4. Forgetting about lead scoring

For automation to help your sales funnel, you need to think about lead scoring; how do you know if a lead is ready to buy from you? Or if they need more information?

To answer this, you need a lead scoring system in place that’s based on specific ranking criteria. Determine the value of every action your leads take and what the threshold is for different stages of the purchasing process; how do you know if a lead is cold, warm, or hot?

This lead scoring mechanism is often neglected as organizations focus excessively on other elements of their marketing automation engine, such as email.

5. Choosing the wrong automation stack

There are a lot of marketing automation tools you can choose from — some will help create a simple sales funnel within a few hours, while others combine a variety of features and often require additional training.

Choosing a tool that is difficult to navigate or one that is simple but lacks a lot of key features could be the difference between success and failure.

For example, you might end up spending too much time figuring out how a more complicated tool works without achieving any significant results, or you might end up paying for a simple tool that doesn’t actually help with key functions such as lead scoring or email nurture sequences.

To avoid such issues, create a list of features that you’re looking for and how they’ll support your current strategy.

To learn more about how automation and AI can transform your marketing strategy, watch our interview with Mike Rhodes on The Strategic Marketing Show:


Listen to the episode via your preferred pocast platform:

6. Spamming your list

It’s easy to get carried away with email communication, especially if you have a lot of ideas around email content.

But here’s the truth: while you might be excited about delivering useful information to your email lists daily, your recipients might find this practice annoying and might start sending your emails to the spam folder.

To keep your recipients satisfied with the frequency of emails they receive, always double-check your email triggers and consider setting up an automation rule to prevent multiple emails from being sent on the same day. Especially as you want to avoid some users getting more than one email a day if they fulfill certain trigger criteria.

7. Forgetting about A/B tests

There are various elements in your automation flows that you can test — email copy, frequency of sending emails, the length of automation flows, and more. By testing different elements, you can improve the performance of your automation and achieve a higher ROI.

However, planning and executing tests often requires a lot of time to create new content and strategy behind your automation logic.

When facing strict deadlines on launching automation flows, marketers often decide to run tests later but you could achieve much better results with your automation strategy if you engage in A/B testing earlier and spend more time on experimenting. This way, you will be improving on various areas of your automation flows bit-by-bit.

8. Not setting up email triggers

Triggered emails tend to be more effective compared to one-off email campaigns sent to your whole list, as they’re a lot more personal to the individual’s interactions with your brand.

However, they’re also more difficult to set up. You need to think about what kind of triggers you want to set up and then what those triggers actually do. For example, offering a discount code if someone abandons the checkout process, or showing them what’s on offer at the moment if they’re account has been inactive for a while.

9. Using poor email lists

The best marketing automation strategy won’t work unless it’s applied to the right audience.

There are a few reasons why you can end up sending your campaigns to the wrong people. Often, companies prefer to buy email lists instead of working on generating leads on their own.

And such lists can be used by hundreds of other companies. Just imagine how many emails those lists receive every day. Would they really care about your brand or products?

Even if you decide to generate leads on your own, you can still run into the same issue if you target ads to the wrong audience segments or build your SEO strategy around the wrong keywords.

Summing up

Marketing automation has become a key part of the modern marketing plan but it’s not always the tools that make marketing automation successful. Even the most sophisticated tool won’t do the job without a good strategy.

By understanding its weak points, you can quickly set up your marketing automation strategy for success. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand where you might be going wrong and how to fix it.

Margo Ovsiienko

Margo is a Freelance Growth Marketing Strategist. She creates content that converts website visitors into paying customers for SaaS companies and tech agencies by building sales funnels. You can read her posts on the blog margoleads.com


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