Marketing Automation Mistakes to Avoid

young businesswoman clutching her head and making a horrified face
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring Photo
Contributing Writer
Fab Prose & Professional Writing

3 minutes

Automation can significantly increase marketing efficiency and reach, but don’t go on auto pilot when deciding when and how to implement this technology. Here are some common pitfalls:

Using Automation to Market Products Members Don’t Need

Michael Browning, CEO at Onovative, Louisville, Ky., explains his company’s Lens Approach: “It focuses on creating engaged relationships by determining the products your members need, not the ones you necessarily want them to have.” The key is to build trust in your member’s current lens—either transactional, savings or lending—before moving on; typically, your next best product offer will be in the same lens.

Many CUs, for example, encourage indirect auto loan members to use more services by promoting a checking account, says Browning. “They probably have a checking account and aren’t that interested in a new one. But if they’ve closed a loan with you, chances are much greater they need additional sources of credit. ... Why not try to cross-sell other financing opportunities to continue to build the relationship? Develop the relationship before you go after products in a different lens. Data can help you to drive these decisions and move a single-service household to a flourishing member.”

Not Using Automation to Market to Your Largest Captive Audience

Build a plan into your selling cycle to regularly communicate with existing members, Browning advises. Don’t be afraid of sending the right offer, on occasion, to the entire membership.

Trying to Do Too much

“Many marketing teams try to ‘boil the ocean’ with marketing automation tools at the onset,” says Michelle Spellerberg, VP/marketing and digital strategy for $10 billion Alliant Credit Union, Chicago. Instead, consider the number of interactions with an individual and prioritize content. For example, is an auto loan cross-sell communication currently more important than a debit card usage communication? Data from transactions, the customer journey and so much more can trigger communications, but marketing teams must narrow this list and decide where they will get the highest return on investment for their efforts.

Not Performing Quality Assurance

With multiple variables in digital messaging, Spellerberg stresses that quality assurance must be built into the day-to-day functions of marketing automation to ensure the right people are receiving the right message with appropriate rates, disclosures, etc.

Sam Kilmer, senior director for Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz., CUES’ strategic partner for technology and risk management, adds that you should always test at least a small sample of messages and ask if the combination of content and audience passes the “smell test”: “Don’t just sample check loan preapproval offer letters with an eye towards managing credit risk. Instead, sample check all kinds of messages with an eye towards managing reputational risk.”

Using Bad Data

Automation requires good data to start with, says Spellerberg, and the data should go beyond your customer relationship management and core banking systems to include data from such sources as web analytics, product application systems and advertising tools. If you are trying to acquire new members, you also need clean data about your prospects, not just current members.

Setting and Forgetting It

Just because you’ve automated a campaign or your marketing processes doesn’t mean you can forget about it, continues Spellerberg. You must also set up check-in processes to see if campaigns or communications are performing well or need tweaking.

Committing to a Long-Term Contract Before Seeing Results

Use the product first and see what results you get, says Browning; don’t sign a long-term (i.e. three- to five-year) contract without identifying results or outcomes. cues icon

Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three CUs before launching her business. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, she assists CUs, industry suppliers and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter@fabprose.

CUES Learning Portal