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The Dangers of Myopia in Digital Marketing

Posted on 8.31.2013

:: By Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD ::

We live in an era of rapid business technology advancement. As soon as we learn how to use and capitalize on the latest platform or device, another one comes along with newer, shinier features and functionality. With all of the tools available to build and release campaigns, there’s no doubt that it’s a great time to be in marketing.

Yet these expanding opportunities haven’t translated to greater ROI for everyone. Since they’re too busy to learn new technologies or simply don’t want to venture out of their comfort zones, too many marketers suffer from feature myopia – a dynamic where they become so focused on a specific feature that they ignore all others. Not only is this a terrible waste of the financial investment in the technology, it’s also a sacrifice of all the potential (e.g. branding, revenue, customer engagement) that could be derived from the neglected features.

While even consumers are guilty of this with smartphones and laptops, businesses are especially vulnerable to feature myopia with marketing automation. Instead of utilizing it as the powerful solution it is, most marketers treat it as a one-dimensional email platform. In addition to overlooking the multiple opportunities available in marketing automation, these marketers have antiquated outlooks. It’s about time they all get the memo that blast email marketing is declining and destructive as a strategy. Beyond this, the real consequences of feature myopia can be even more damaging.

The Failure to Prepare

When marketing automation problems are analyzed, one overriding issue quickly becomes evident: There has been a failure to sufficiently prepare. Many businesses hastily purchase new technology but skip the necessary homework, from defining overarching strategies to establishing benchmarks to getting the right training.

Consider that marketing automation is often sold with the intention of rectifying a specific issue. While that might be the high-level strategy, all too often users adopt the path of least resistance on a tactical level and simply continue their previous behaviors. When the original issue continues, the platform itself becomes the unfortunate scapegoat, rather than the blame being assigned where it belongs — squarely on user dynamics.

Typically the problem originates from a failure to define marketing automation success. While marketing automation represents a move to acquire better leads, rather than more leads, the only metric many marketers have as they go into implementation is the number of net new leads per month. Their natural tendency is to focus on trying to raise that number, which leaves them without data against which they can compare velocity and lead quality for benchmarking.

It’s not hard to understand why these problems are so widespread. Many marketers lack the time needed to study all of the features. Furthermore, the guidance they need from experts on how to properly utilize the more complex aspects is often absent.

The key to solving these problems is sticking to a best practices model where critical processes are refined prior to purchasing new technology. This gives marketers the time to optimize and smooth out any issues before they’re under pressure to obtain results from a platform that’s already being paid for.

Unexpected Costs

As discussed earlier, these shortsighted tendencies generally result in several detrimental effects. The tendency to scapegoat the technology itself, rather than the behaviors, often leads to scrapping one or two platforms in search of the right process. Not only is this kind of turbulence a headache that’s costly in time and money, but it also takes a toll on lead generation. Energy and time that could be spent pursuing leads and stirring up buyer interest is instead spent worrying about implementing a new platform.

In addition to having a negative impact on revenue, the breach in continuity can land a negative blow to a marketing department’s reputation. Investing in an expensive solution like marketing automation means that marketers must strike gold the first time around to justify their software purchases — a total budget rarity for marketing departments. Any high-profile failures therein can drive good talent away or even cost jobs.

Marketing automation is one of the most rewarding tools available on today’s marketing landscape, but only if its full capacity is understood and utilized. While feature myopia is a natural, albeit unfortunate, dynamic in many teams, ambitious marketers will commit themselves to pushing past their comfort zones, learning to maximize their platforms for ultimate success.

DON'T MISS: WM's Big List of Marketing Automation Software (the 2013 version!) 

Remove Your Blinders

Given the epidemic proportions of feature myopia, how can marketers combat their own narrow views?

1. Come prepared. Know what you must do in order to ensure success, which means refining your processes and establishing benchmarks to produce the most meaningful results possible from your new platform.

2. Train your team. This will make or break the success of your marketing automation venture. Training will ensure your team members know how fully to exploit the platform functionality; without training, their own feature myopia will set in and limit your results.

3. Invest in ongoing education. Nothing in marketing is stagnant anymore; accept that the future will continue to deliver more technological advancements, and those developments will involve learning curves.

4. Ensure your company is on board. Your reputation can take a serious hit when you hit a roadblock in your own organization.

5. Communicate. Set expectations carefully for both your team and your stakeholders. Be realistic, rather than promising the world, but also communicate wins accurately. Remember that internal marketing can be just as critical as lead generation or revenue.

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