Customer lifecycle management – why marketing automation platforms only provide part of the solution


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In today’s digital world – marketing teams are adopting the shiniest new technologies in expectation they will automatically create the best results. However, no matter how good the technology is – it won’t influence customers by itself.

The number one pain for 73% of marketing automation platform users is maintaining the right personnel to execute it effectively¹. When working with brands we often see the best-in-class platforms, however no-one knows or has the time to effectively use them, so most end up doing blast emails to all subscribers, mailchimp could do that…’s like buying a spaceship and using it as a lorry.

Jim Collins, author of the number 1 bestseller ‘Good to Great’² (a book which examines why some companies make the leap to superior results), claims that when technology is used correctly it can become an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. We fully agree, technology may be an accelerator, but technology alone won’t guarantee customer value – it’s what you put into it that will.

The value of marketing automation platforms

No-one can argue the value marketing automation platforms can potentially bring to an organisation. How they manage, schedule and personalise millions of customer communications really does take a lot of the pain away for marketers. There are countless available today – some of them extremely advanced.

But…….are these platforms really adding more value to your business, or are they an operational nightmare?

Whilst effective, they can be quite complex to set up, you need a very specialist skill set to implement them, not to mention the expense they bring – inclusive of the person(s) employed to manage it. All of this before you have even begun to consider how you want to use marketing automation in the first place.

Whist analysing the great companies for his book ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins discovered that more than 80% of the leading companies didn’t rank technology as one of the top five factors for making a company great.

So, how much of your marketing budget is dedicated to technology? More than your customer strategy? If so, perhaps it’s time for a budget review.

How to successfully utilise marketing automation platforms

Put the customer first
This is first and foremost. It’s easy to be distracted by investing in technology, rather than spending your time thinking about the original purpose. There is a real need to bring it back to the customer. How will the technology help you continue the original conversation with the customer? It’s important you think of this from the customer perspective, not from the business perspective – how can you add value to the customer to drive customer value?

Have a clear strategy
Why invest in something if you’ve got no idea how you are going to use it. According to a recent Marketing Automation Strategy Survey, marketers find ‘having a lack of strategy’ as the most challenging obstacle to marketing automation success³. Think back to your customer objectives, and how marketing automation can help you meet them.

Involve the right people
Not only will you need to have the right mix and level of expertise contributing to the strategy, but you’ll also need the best talent to successfully implement the platform and the scale to support the ongoing management of it i.e. data engineers, developers, specialist marketers, the IT department. The entire process can be quite complex, even to those qualified for the job – having the right level of support is imperative.

Be realistic
By this we mean be realistic in the capabilities you need the platform to deliver. Don’t get caught up in the need to have the latest, shiny new tool – more often than not, a better fit-to-purpose platform will likely provide the same output (at a fraction of the cost). As the saying goes, you don’t need a spaceship to go around the corner to buy a loaf of bread.


There are certainly many advantages of having a marketing automation platform to support your customer communications. However, to fully reap the benefits, you must have an effective strategy in place.

Think about how you are using your existing automation platform, do you have the right level of expertise contributing to the strategy and managing it? Or are you missing a particular skill set to enable the platform to deliver its full potential? Perhaps you need to simplify your marketing automation, and are wasting money and time trying to evolve something that’s seems set on remaining static, no matter how hard your efforts.

Customology are specialists in customer lifecycle management. Contact a Customologist today on 07 3902 7700 or [email protected] for more information on how we can support the design, execution and management of your marketing automation.

¹ Aberdeen Group

² Jim Collins, Good to Great

³ Marketing Automation Strategy Survey

Photo credit: Farzad Nazifi

Michael Barnard
Michael oversees a team of Customologists with combined talent across strategy, data science, and technology, who help brands understand and influence customer behaviours. Michael’s experience in human centred design is foundational in our principles of design thinking and starting with the customer, focusing on how brands engage, keep, and grow customers.


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