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As more people become aware of the capabilities of platforms like Marketo and Eloqua, the more marketing automation is being perceived as the Holy Grail – the thing that’s going to save the day, the thing that’s going to make marketing campaigns more effective.

I disagree. Marketing automation platforms are not going to make your marketing more effective.

A bit controversial coming from an advocate of marketing automation and a Marketo practitioner.

Allow me to explain.

 

Effective vs Efficient

As you’ll know, there is a huge difference between being ‘effective’ and ‘efficient’.

Marketing automation platforms are exceptionally good at making your marketing campaigns efficient, but they are rarely the reason your campaigns are effective.

 

Before we start, what is marketing automation?

The easiest way to answer that question is to first understand what is meant by ‘automation’.

Automation (noun): the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.

So by extension, marketing automation is essentially the technique of controlling a marketing process by automatic means, reducing human intervention to a minimum.

An example of marketing automation would be to automatically send an email to your webinar attendees 24 hours after the event with a follow-up message.

 

How can marketing automation help a digital marketer become more efficient?

In simple terms, marketing automation helps a digital marketer do more because the repetitive time-consuming tasks are taken care of.

Using a simple “send an email, with a follow-up message to the openers, campaign” as an example, here is a graph to show how a marketer’s effort is distributed over time, without the assistance of marketing automation:

 

 

As you can see there are several instances where the marketer’s effort spikes, especially during the latter stages of the campaign.

Using the time/effort distribution, it’s easy to see how a marketer can reach 100% effort running just a few campaigns in parallel with this manual process.

 

Now let’s look at a chart showing a marketer’s effort over time, running the same campaign using a marketing automation platform:

 

As you can see the marketing automation setup requires more effort in the early stages, but then the marketer’s effort reduces to near-zero as the automated system takes over.

In contrast to the manual process, marketing automation allows the marketer to manage a lot more campaigns in the same time period:

 

As the marketing automation platform takes over in delivering the campaign, the marketer can move on to set up another campaign.

This has, of course, made the marketer’s campaigns more efficient.

 

Can Marketing Automation make a marketer more effective, too?

No.

Well, sort of, yes.

A marketing campaign’s effectiveness is normally determined by a combination of its research, planning and creativity. None of these things can be automated.

No matter what anyone says, a marketing automation platform is not a magic sales-lead-generating wand that can be waved at a campaign to make it effective.

But, used correctly, a marketing automation platform can help a marketer find time; time to think, time to plan and time to be creative.

So, can a marketing automation platform make a marketing campaign more effective? No. But automating time-consuming repetitive tasks can.