Marketing automation is a young and vivacious sector of an immensely beneficial and lucrative industry. Promising enormous growth rates and ROI, marketing automation platforms sell a service that truly works. However, it is not always the service that works, but the strength of concept that is truly valuable. No one can argue that an internal investment of time and utilization of the proper automation software can yield tremendous results, but are you going about it the right way? When choosing an option for your business, it is necessary to consider not only the glimmering promise of sales and revenue growth, but also the inevitable failings and drawbacks of this lucrative industry.
1. You’re paying too much.
If you are using marketing automation services, how much are you paying?
What percentage of your departmental budget consists of marketing automation platforms or an external service managing you clients?
The answers to these two questions are likely much higher than you would think. Already a billion dollar industry, marketing automation platforms (like Hubspot, Eloqua, and Marketo) continue to find new ways to coax clients into utilizing additional services with separate pricing tiers and subsequent service caps. Most small businesses and startups cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars every month for a single service.
Does the service you receive match the extreme rates you are paying? It is not secret that marketing automation is expensive, but what are the consequences of the overpriced service? For one thing, it means that only highly developed, revenue generating companies have access to the powerful growth potential of the software, and is the service really worth the cost for those who can afford to pay?
2. No Access to your data
Marketing automation platforms use big data for “Big” results, but without the right effort and access on the user end, results are unlikely to be of any real value. Marketing automation platforms are not only gladly taking your money, but they also get to choose what data you can access. Unfortunately, this means that all potential leads, consumer profiles and traffic data is filtered through your platform, they choose what percentage to give you as a report. As a result, you are at left at the far end of the data stream to use what you are given as opposed to what is yours. Why not allow access to it all, if you so choose? This brings us to the next point, that in addition to only having a limited amount of data access, you do not truly have any engagement with the powerful software itself.
3. Service Only, Not Software.
Marketing automation services are incredibly valuable to the growth of company. According to a survey published by Carlos Hidalgo of the Annuitas Group,
Businesses who use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.
In addition to staggering growth potential, the survey showed an increase in revenue of 417%. These statics imply that it will not be a matter of if businesses adopt, but when? Let’s explore what you are getting by way of service.
A strange dynamic exists between clients and providers, since you the client rarely engage with the software. You only receive the reports, leads, and data that is given to you in exchange for thousands per month. With the proper investment of time and an easy to use platform, anyone could utilize the strength of concept and achieve new growth potential. Currently, however, marketing automation users do not have access to the necessary software, and the service leaves much to be desired.
4. If You Find A Problem, Too Bad.
When a user experiences any sort of bugs, complications, or limitations in the program, they will have to wait until the next release and update. This drawback of closed proprietary services is common, but somehow almost expected. When a user runs into a problem with the program, they will have to wait until the platform developers address, fix, test and schedule an update release. When did this become the standard response upon encountering errors? What about the possibility of adding features and customizing the software for your purposes? Forget about it!
If you are a developer and coding is your thing, it does not matter that you posses the skills to fix and customize because you will never see that closed software.
5. User/Lead Caps
It is not enough that marketing automation platforms charge you a fortune, decide what data you receive, withhold access to the software, and make it impossible to address errors or add features, but they even add service caps in a multi-tiered service plan. Depending on the size of your company and what product or services you offer, some may not need to generate thousands of leads. Accordingly, each service plan includes a maximum number of leads. As your business grows and you find out that you can now handle all of these leads, providers will re-categorize and reprice your account to squeeze even more of your marketing budget out of you. All the while, you still are only receiving the reduced, chosen leads for which you pay.
When did these problems become so commonplace? I guess it is true that the one with the money and the software makes the rules. It takes a great deal of nerve and arrogance to demand the sky-high service rates of marketing automation providers and still limit your uses, access, experience and growth. So why has no one done anything about this dissonant dynamic?
There is Hope
Hope has arrived to an industry dominated by elitist proprietary services. While executives from Eloqua, Pardot, Marketo and HubSpot are laughing all the way the bank, changes are happening and the ground is shifting beneath their feet. Open source activists have penetrated into many sectors of the tech industry, and now it has reached the explosive marketing automation sector. What this means, is that the absurdly wealth executives who have gotten away with it so far, are about to learn what universal access to powerful marketing automation software will do to their company. Unless the clients are too wealthy to care about what they spend and too lazy to care about the quality of service, this open alternative will be utilized and will be developed.
A Bright Future
It is clear that the market is flush with opportunity and that marketing automation will continue to play an ever more vital role in growing businesses and organizations. The power of the concept is immense, the results are remarkable, and the service has left much to be desired. Software giants will not and cannot continue to do as they please while getting rich on your revenue. So choose wisely and remember what faults to look out for in a marketing automation service provider. Look to open source solutions like Mautic, a nonprofit development community with the only open source marketing automation software on the market. Now that the faults of the current system are clear and the solution seems to lie in open source transparency, more software and services will continue to pour from this powerful alternative.