Many large and small businesses successfully adopt marketing automation and accelerate their growth.

But I've also seen many businesses don't get the results they are after.

Many small businesses make some common marketing automation mistakes that prevent them from utilizing marketing automation for business growth.

Mistake #1. Want to Automate Everything.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners tend to be ambitious. And in the vast majority of situations, this is a positive characteristic.

But when it comes to adopting marketing automation, what happens is that ambition can lead us to create grand, lofty plans.

I've seen small businesses get swept up in the excitement and draft plans for automating nearly every aspect of their business—which might be where you want to end up, but when you have plans that are that bold, it can take a while to get there.

And when the finish line is that far away, there are more opportunities for obstacles to emerge, and it's easier to lose momentum.

So my advice is to keep your initial plans more manageable.

If you start with smaller, more viable projects, you'll build momentum and start experiencing an ROI from your automation efforts earlier than you otherwise might have.

Mistake #2. Miss the Opportunity to Redesign a Process.

Time and time again, I see business owners fall victim to this trap.

Generally, we are proud of our processes. So when we try to automate a process that they've been managing for years, our instinct is to take the steps we were doing manually and use automation to perform the same steps.

But when we take this approach, we miss a critical opportunity to improve our existing systems and fall into another marketing automation pitfall.

When you do something manually, you are bound by a set of natural constraints. Humans can only work so quickly, and we can only manage many things simultaneously. And we only have so many hours in the day.

But when you are using automation to accomplish the same thing, the constraints change.

And this presents us, the automation architect, with the opportunity to reimagine this process using the new set of rules.

So when you're adopting automation, make sure to carve out time to challenge the existing ways you've been doing things and see if there's an easier way to get the same result.

Mistake #3. Automate only the ideal client journey.

When most businesses layer automation into the journey designed for their leads, prospects, and clients, it tends to be built in a series of “if they do this, then this thing happens” logic statements.

If they fill out this form, we add them to our blog subscriber list.

If they click this link, we get a task to call them.

If they buy this course, then they get access over here.

And there's nothing wrong with this. It's smart to plan out the actions you want your audience to take and to automate the reaction you want to have as a result.

But the risk and marketing automation mistake I've seen people make is that if you stop there, you wind up creating gaps and miss the opportunity to design a contingency plan.

Some people will take the actions we want them to take. They'll take the survey we send them. They'll download the ebook they requested. And they'll show up for the appointment they booked.

But despite their best intentions, some people also won't.

And automation's job is to limit the number of cracks that people can slip between. We do that by asking ourselves, “what happens if they don't do the thing” and then designing the failsafe.

Automation shouldn't slow down your most motivated clients, but for the customers who need just a bit more time, it should help them feel supported and prevent them from losing momentum.

Conclusion: Marketing Automation Mistakes Small Businesses Make

The summary version of the advice is to:

  • Be strategic about the priorities you start with so that you can build momentum early
  • Take the time to redesign the process you're automating
  • Use automation to design contingency plans, rather than just the ideal customer experience