Industrial Marketing Blog

Don’t Count on Marketing Automation to Solve All Your Lead Generation Problems

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Some B2B marketers tend to think of Marketing Automation as the silver bullet that will solve their lead generation crisis. Of course, Marketing Automation alone cannot live up to those hyped up expectations and has to take the brunt of the blame.

That is unfortunate because Marketing Automation software is a very useful tool and in my opinion, a necessity these days. However, B2B and/or industrial marketers must learn to use it correctly in order to harness its true power.

Let’s get one thing straight from the get go, if you are in a declining market with low demand for your products and services, no amount of automation will help you generate new leads. You need to rethink your business model first and fast.

Marketing Automation software is widely used to execute key marketing functions like lead scoring and routing, nurturing via drip marketing, creating email campaigns and landing pages, tracking, measuring and reporting using a unified dashboard. There’s is no question that marketing departments do become a lot more efficient by automating many of these marketing tasks.

However, is improving efficiency enough to justify investing in Marketing Automation? Or do we need to show a verifiable ROI? To most C-level execs that really means answering the question, “How much revenue did it generate?” It is the second question that seems to cause the most problems.

Preventing Marketing Automation Failures

Let’s first look at why Marketing Automation fails to live up to its promises. I found a good answer to that in a comment by Mike Gospe on a blog post at where he wrote, “But when it comes to marketing automation, I recommend caution. I’ve seen too many marketers crash and burn because they believed that by “automating” all of their lead gen problems would be over. They forgot to first set a strategy that carefully targets prospects with relevant messaging. Automating the “garbage in, garbage out” marketing approach benefits no one.”

Mike suggests that before you buy into marketing automation software, you should make sure you have:

  • Defined the target audience/personas
  • Crafted a positioning statement that maps to the target
  • Developed the “story” that you want to unfold through the course of the campaign
  • Planned your moves with a “marketing blueprint” that links your activities and offers together in a way that’s meaningful and relevant

Measuring Marketing Automation Successes

What should you measure and track to prove ROI and revenue contributions? For the answer to that question, I went to the “The 9 Metrics Every Marketer Must Track” webinar by Megan Heuer, Research Director, SiriusDecisions and Craig Rosenberg, Vice President, Products & Services, Tippit.

Here are the key takeaways from the webinar:

  • Don’t confuse marketing activity with results. Number of campaigns sent out, trade shows attended or press releases published do not generate revenues.
  • Learn to differentiate between metrics and key performance indicators (KPI). The first is a diagnostic tool and the second one measures the health of the business.
  • Four KPIs that show marketing’s revenue contributions are:
    • Marketing Sourced Pipeline — % of sales pipeline uniquely created by marketing
    • Marketing Influenced Pipeline — % of sales pipeline touched by marketing
    • Investment-to-Pipeline — average cost of demand creation of the sales pipeline
    • Investment-to-Revenue — average revenue generated from $1 invested in demand creation
  • Metrics that matter the most are:
    • Number of inquiries
    • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
    • Sales Accepted Leads (SAL)
    • Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
    • Closed/Won Business

The bottom line is use Marketing Automation software to implement key marketing functions, track and measure metrics and KPIs that prove marketing’s contribution to revenue generation. Don’t think of it as the panacea for your lead generation problems.

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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  1. Achinta;
    This is a great article – thanks for posting it! As a practitioner in the field of Inbound Marketing Automation, I couldn’t agree more with you, and Mike Gospe’s view points about the need for a strategy before you embark on a quest for Automation tools.

    I would take this a little further. The tools are wonderful – they do indeed automate many of the tasks you listed (email handling, lead management, nurturing, etc.). But here’s the thing: Inbound Marketing Automation, like most complex issues, is a Process. It’s a combination of tools, methods or procedures, and analysis and activities. Sure a part of the thinking and analysis go into the strategy, but it’s never a one off activity and your strategy and results should be analyzed on an ongoing basis. If you don’t think of Inbound Marketing Automation this way, and then design your whole approach as a Process, your results will be less than hoped for.

    As with any Process, the best way to design one is to follow the path of Continuous Process Improvements: Think, Plan, Do, Measure and Repeat. If you design your formal Inbound Marketing Automation Process this way, you will begin your implementation on a path to consistent and constant improvement over time – you will literally get better and better at the whole Process, as you repeat each cycle.

    If you’d like to read more about how to design this process, this Blog Post may be useful:: The Process post is the top one on this page.

    • Eric, Thank you for posting your thoughtful comments. I like your steps for Continuous Process Improvements. Sort of the Kaizen of Inbound Marketing Automation.

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