Customer engagement – why marketing automation platforms only provide part of the solution


In today’s digital world – marketing technologies are being adopted with the expectation they will create the best results. However, no matter how good the technology is – it won’t influence customers by itself, writes Michael Barnard, General Manager at Customology

The number one pain for 73% of marketing automation platform users is maintaining the right personnel to execute it effectively¹. Many brands use best-in-class platforms, however no-one knows or has the time to effectively use them, so most end up doing blast emails to all customers/subscribers – a basic platform could do that.

Jim Collins, author of the number 1 bestseller ‘Good to Great’² (a book which examines why some companies achieve superior results), claims that when technology is used correctly it becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.

The value of marketing automation platforms

No-one can argue the value of these platforms. How they manage, schedule and personalise millions of customer communications can take a lot of pain away for marketers. There are countless available today.

But…do they really add value to your business, or are they an operational nightmare?

Whilst effective, they can be complex to set up, you need a very specialist skill set to implement them, not to mention the expense – inclusive of the person(s) employed to manage them.

Whist analysing the great companies for his book, Jim Collins discovered that more than 80% of the leading companies didn’t rank technology as a top five factor for making a company great.

How much of your budget is dedicated to technology? More than your customer strategy? If so, perhaps it’s time for a budget review.

How to successfully utilise marketing automation platforms

1. Put the customer first

It’s easy to be distracted by investing in technology, rather than spending your time thinking about the original purpose. There is a real need to bring it back to the customer. How will the technology help you continue the original conversation with the customer?

2. Have a clear strategy

Why invest in something if you’ve got no idea how you are going to use it. According to a recent Marketing Automation Strategy Survey, marketers find ‘having a lack of strategy’ as the most challenging obstacle to marketing automation success³. Think back to your customer objectives, and how marketing automation can help you meet them.

3. Involve the right people

Not only will you need to have the right mix of expertise contributing to the strategy, you’ll also need the best talent to successfully implement the platform and the scale to support the ongoing management of it i.e. data engineers, developers, specialist marketers, IT. The entire process can be complex, even to those qualified for the job.

4. Be realistic

Be realistic in the capabilities you need the platform to deliver. Don’t get caught up in the need to have the latest, shiny new tool – more often than not, a better fit-to-purpose platform will likely provide the same output (at a fraction of the cost).


There are certainly advantages of having a marketing automation platform to support your customer engagement. However, to fully reap the benefits, strategy must come first.

Think about how you are using your existing automation platform, are you missing a particular skill set to enable the platform to deliver its full potential? Perhaps you need to simplify your automation, or are you wasting valuable resources trying to evolve something that seems set on remaining static, no matter how hard your efforts.

About Customology

Customology are specialists in customer lifecycle management. Contact a Customologist today on 07 3902 7700 or to learn how we can support your marketing automation strategy and execution.

¹ Aberdeen Group
² Jim Collins, Good to Great
³ Marketing Automation Strategy Survey

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