The cold weather in New England is giving me the skiing itch . . . and making me think that if I get some new high-performance skis, I might finally get beyond the "advanced-intermediate" level I've been stuck at for 20 years. But the realist in me knows that the skis alone won't make me a better skier, I need to spend more time on the slopes working on my technique.

The same goes for how B2B marketers use automation. Investing in marketing automation doesn't automatically make your company better at marketing. In the research for my recent report on B2B marketing automation, I found that too many companies have invested in marketing automation platforms, only to use them as expensive email blasters. Despite the best intentions, B2B marketers fall into several traps along the way:

  • The process trap. They don't get buy-in and support from the sales organization, so they generate more leads without changes to how sales works those leads.
  • The content trap. They don't anticipate that effective, targeted lead nurturing greatly increases the content requirements.
  • The skills trap. They don't have people with the skill sets to define their customer buying cycles and information needs at each stage.

Like skiing, you don't become a "double-black" user of marketing automation on day one. Because it takes time, patience, and persistence, Forrester has developed a marketing automation maturity model that describes four levels companies can go through. In our November 18th teleconference, I'll be talking about how companies can avoid the traps and advance along the maturity curve.

If you're a B2B marketer using marketing automation, how would you assess your usage? Have you fallen into any of these traps?