Marketing automation has become an increasingly popular product category in recent years. Marketing is often difficult to quantify, and effective management of key marketing tasks can reduce sales cycles, lower customer acquisition costs, increase efficiency and -- ultimately -- increase revenue. It’s no wonder that so many marketers have embraced marketing automation as the answer to their most vexing challenges.

Most Marketing Automation Falls Short 

Unfortunately, marketing automation tools are dependent on the team that implements them, and if not done correctly, can do more harm than good. Prospects and customers can feel bombarded by emails that fail to address their current reality. Such emails typically end up in the trash and can devalue your brand.

shutterstock_82246927.jpgPerhaps the biggest limitation of marketing automation is the fact that most systems were developed at a time when email communication dominated the online marketing mix. The growth of social media and the fragmentation of the Web across a wide range of devices, networks and applications has relegated email to a far less central role and given consumers more options for interacting with brands.

Most vendors have attempted to address this by integrating with legacy communications channels, such as phone, SMS and direct mail -- as well as optimizing them for social media and mobile delivery. But despite these efforts, the majority of features provided by marketing automation systems are structured around email communications.

As a result, most marketing automation vendors have failed to effectively address one of the most significant touchpoints in the customer journey -- the connection with Web Content Management (WCM) platforms.

Most marketing automation vendors provide the ability to build and deploy targeted landing pages. Yet, these landing page tools are based on rigid, page-based Web authoring approaches and are poorly integrated with the rest of a company’s Web content. The online experience does not begin and end with a landing page, and most Web publishers seek to deploy information-based, dynamic publishing techniques across their entire Web property.

But perhaps the biggest limitation of marketing automation is the tendency to treat prospects as a passive audience for a company’s marketing messages rather than being active in a complex, multimodal conversation.