The best-laid plans of marketing automation often go awry — wait, that’s not the quote. You get the picture, though: there are a lot of ways that marketing automation implementation can fail.

But no worries, we’re here to help! After lots and lots of conversations with our customers (and a few implementations ourselves), there are a few common pitfalls that we’ve seen over and over. And we’re here to share what they are — and how to avoid them.

Let’s get right into it!

1. Failing to Create a Business Case

There’s a common adage in both the military and civilian circles: the 6 (and sometimes 7) Ps. Prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance. And part of that includes creating a business case.

You’ll want to consider

  • What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • What processes are ready to be changed?
  • What is the problem costing your organization right now?
  • How will solving the problem help your organization?
  • What will it take to get the problem fixed with this particular solution?
  • What involvement will you need from each team: leadership, marketing, sales, IT, etc.?

Having really great answers to these questions will establish that prior proper planning thing we mentioned earlier. The more concrete those answers are, the better shape you’ll be in to really get live and see ROI really quickly.

The opposite way (that I’ve seen a time or two) looks more like this: some leader who isn’t a marketer says, “you have this budget, I’ve been hearing about *insert big industry name here• and I think we need it.” And the diligent and well-meaning employee goes to immediately buy said software.

But… there’s no focus on ROI and really improving marketing operations if the decision is made because that’s what everyone else is doing. Marketing automation is a powerful tool, but can also be a huge time-suck if your team and/or organization really isn’t ready to implement. Make sure you have your ducks in a row and your team is on the same page — and you’ll have the best marketing automation implementation on the block!

More about how to build a business case in our (helpful, and non-salesy) Marketing Automation Buyer’s Guide if you’re interested.

2. Failing to Collaborate

It’s not surprise that teamwork makes the dreamwork, and that’s particularly relevant when it comes to the best marketing automation implementations.

Collaboration should extend to multiple parts of your implementation of marketing automation; from the beginning, all of your decision-makers should be involved in choosing your marketing automation platform and implementing it into your existing technology stack.

What does this look like?

Marketing + Sales Collaboration

In many organizations, the Marketing and Sales teams are attached at the hip. We’re even seeing the rise of Revenue Operations, which generally puts marketing, sales, and Customer Success under one system of data, team-building, and operations. Even taking into consideration how many teams have gone remote, it’s more important than ever for teams to have great communication and processes.

The absolute worst-case scenario of this is implementing a marketing automation platform and realizing (after the contract is signed), that the technology doesn’t integrate with something huge for the sales team, like a CRM.

So take into consideration how Sales and Marketing can collaborate throughout the implementation of a marketing automation software so you can avoid some of those bigger pitfalls.

Some questions to get you thinking:

  • How effective is the passing of leads from marketing to sales?
  • Is that pass clearly defined?
  • What requirements need to be met before a lead is passed?
  • Is the ideal customer of the Sales Team the same as the Marketing Team’s? If not, what’s different?

Marketing + IT

Your IT or technical team is another great, and necessary, team to involve in both the shopping and the implementation process. The reality is that a lot of marketing automation platforms require a heavy time investment from other teams like IT or internal technical support.

Involving that team in the shopping process, and obviously in the implementation process too, will ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to time commitment.

Or you could go with a company like Net-Results, where 75% of our customers find they’re live in 1 month and reports of seeing ROI are 2-3 times faster than our competitors.

Marketing + (the marketing automation’s) Customer Success

This is one that is not to be overlooked: marketing automation implementation is made infinitely easier by having collaboration with a great Customer Success Team. (Net-Results’ happens to be best-in-class and rated at 97% by our customers.)

But really, having a great and supportive Customer Success team can vastly change how successful your marketing automation implementation goes. Having a responsive team with a contract that includes live support will make a world of difference in how quickly you’re able to get live and really start getting more leads!

Trust me on this one, you want a good Customer Success who also values collaboration — like Net-Results has 😉

3. Failing to think Holistically

The third and final mistake we see a lot is the failure to think holistically. I’m not talking supplements and yoga here — but the way that marketing needs to account for the whole funnel with all the channels as opposed to focusing on a single stream.

We talk a lot about this over in our PDF Resource, People, Process, and Bottlenecks, but marketing automation isn’t just about making your life easier (I mean… it totally does, but that’s not the main point).

Marketing Automation Implementation should increase the percentage of prospects that take the actions you desire, increasing sales velocity and revenue growth! And the way to do that is by thinking of the whole funnel in an omnichannel marketing strategy. Marketing automation can deliver incredible value when used to address the bottlenecks that cause leads to drop out of your marketing and sales funnels.

But failure to take this into account means stagnation. Lack of ROI. Unreliable or just plain fruitless data. Time wasted on efforts that aren’t contributing to your KPIs.

So, how can you avoid this? By thinking holistically of course 😉

Just kidding. On the serious end of this, every decision that is made when implementing marketing automation software should take the bigger picture into account. Yes, your marketing automation platform allows you to make hundreds of beautiful drag and drop emails, but that doesn’t mean that you should… or that you shouldn’t, either! Because it depends entirely on your bigger picture.

Say you’re a one (or two) person band and your organization has decided it is truly ready for marketing automation implementation. You’re responsible for everything from the creation of creative like copy, ad design, and landing page creation, all the way through to the data integrity. Creating hundreds of new emails without thinking about the first step: who the audience is and what you’re trying to get them to do.

And even once you’re there, maybe building out tons and tons of emails with up-to-date content (that you then have to manage and actually remember to manage) isn’t the best solution. Maybe A/B testing email subjects is a better place to start; maybe you came to this decision because you took the issues with time capacity that your team has into account and adjusted your strategy accordingly.

What about the exact opposite situation? Maybe you lead a team of 7 marketers, all of whom are focused on different channels. Bringing the whole team to consider (here’s that collaboration thing we mentioned earlier popping up again) what parts of the overall funnel are lacking or could be helped with the use of marketing automation software will be necessary too. Keeping everyone siloed off and only focused on their own problems won’t help your team thrive either.

Those two use-cases include two very different situations and two very different funnels. Every single instance will be set up differently and be aiming to reach different goals. The key is to know what they are and how to achieve them for your organization’s marketing automation implementation.


I hope you found that helpful! If you’d like more blog posts like this delivered straight to your inbox (don’t worry, we don’t spam), make sure to subscribe to the blog below!

By the way, if you’re struggling with marketing automation implementation, might I recommend checking out our Marketing Automation Implementation Guide? It’s a super helpful and free resource that goes includes:

  1. All the worksheets that we use when onboarding new customers,
  2. Tips and tricks for making marketing automation work in the short, as well as the long term, and
  3. Concrete questions that will have you think and make important realizations before you get to actually implementing the software.

Download the Marketing Automation Implementation Guide.

And I’ll see you next time!


Sarah Augustinsky
Marketing at Net-Results

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Sarah Augustinsky

on the books: marketing at Net-Results — more commonly known as: sass master extraordinaire