Once you peel back the layer of buzzwords and rhetoric that seems to come with this territory, you actually do come to something very legitimate. Marketing automation (both the theory and the technical application) is nothing short of amazing. In a way, it is the heart of any effective integrated marketing communications campaign. Then why isn't everyone convinced? And, more importantly, why does it fail? Here are 4 observations:
It fails because it is not a light switch.
While I guess it's true that you can "turn it on and off" and sort of control your lead flow...my point is that you don't pull it out of the box, turn it on and wait by the faucet. So, essentially, it comes down to unrealistic expectations. Sure the tool is powerful. But only as powerful as the operator, the content, the strategy, the analysis and the output that comes from all of this combined.
It fails because there's often no owner.
Someone has to own it! Live it, breath it, sleep it...it needs to be someone's life. It can't be an "oh by the way", or "let's get Mike or Martha to put a couple of hours a week into it!" You can't dabble. If you can't make the financial and physical resource commitments that it takes then you're better off not going down this road right now.
It fails because most don't really understand what it is.
It's hard to be successful when you do know what the goal is and you do know you have the right tool, but you don't know what to do next. It's one of those scenarios where everyone is philosophically on board and tactically adept, but have no idea how to connect the two. And many time even a top direct marketing agency will have trouble filling this void.
It fails because of a lack of content.
It's all about content. You can never have enough. If you're selling yield programs to colleges and universities, you need everything from tips, trends and how to's, to case studies, white papers and press releases, to webinars, podcasts, videos and virtual events. Escalating levels of informational and educational content that has been crafted specifically for that prospect and where he or she is in the sales/nurture life cycle.