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9 Problems With Marketing Automation That Impact Business

7 out of every 10 of the most successful companies utilize marketing automation (HubSpot). Increasing numbers of businesses are implementing marketing automation strategies to boost profits and efficiency. However, there are obstacles to wider adoption. If not resolved, these problems with marketing automation can dampen your business growth.

Here’s a comprehensive rundown of the nine major problems with marketing automation that can impact your business and how to turn them in your favor. In addition, for each marketing automation challenge, we’ve also listed some tools that can help you overcome those problems.


  Problem Solution(s) Tools that can help
1 Difficulty in measuring ROI Comprehensive tracking, setting up metrics Google Analytics, HubSpot, Salesforce
2 Marketing and sales silos Improved communication, task tracking Slack, Asana, Trello
3 Lack of real-time interaction Use real-time chat, balance automation, and human touch Intercom, Drift, Zendesk
4 Low-quality leads Implement lead-scoring systems Marketo, Pardot, LeadSquared
5 Inconsistency in brand presence Use centralized content management systems Buffer, Canva, Hootsuite
6 Failure to effectively utilize automation Vendor support, training, and smooth implementation ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, Automate.io
7 Lack of engaging content Content planning, editorial calendars Grammarly, BuzzSumo, Ahrefs
8 Relying on subpar data Regular data audits, GDPR compliance Tableau, DataRobot, Talend
9 Automating tasks that shouldn’t be automated Identify tasks for human intervention, balance automation, and human touch RescueTime, Asana, Todoist

Difficulty in Measuring ROI

Automation tools often sell the dream of easy ROI tracking. It’s a big myth. You must do more than plug in the tool and expect magic numbers to appear. 

  • You’ve got to set up your marketing metrics, and that’s a task easier said than done.
  • You’ve got to manage different channels, different campaigns, and different customer behaviors to consider. 
  • You have to know what each metric means for your business, like the click-through rate, email open rates, customer retention rate, etc.

Solution & best practices

  • Step 1: Start by listing the specific outcomes you want from your marketing campaigns. Is it more website visits? Increased sales during a seasonal promotion? Once you’ve got that list, assign a monetary value to each outcome. This gives you a concrete way to measure ROI down to the dollar.
  • Step 2: Set up tracking codes for your campaigns. Most automation tools allow you to do this. These codes will track every click, sale, or other action taken, tying them back to your specific campaigns.
  • Step 3: Set aside time each week to review these metrics. If you need to hit your targets, adjust your campaigns. Maybe your email subject lines need tweaking, or perhaps your social media ads are targeting the wrong audience.

Tools that can help you with measuring ROI

Tool How it can help
HubSpot Customizable dashboards to track metrics that matter to you
Marketo Real-time ROI analytics and performance metrics
Pardot Advanced analytics to track and measure campaign effectiveness
ActiveCampaign User-friendly interface for tracking sales and customer actions
Mailchimp Detailed reports on email campaign performance, including ROI
SendinBlue Real-time tracking of email opens, clicks, and conversions

Read also: Making Sense Of The Types Of Marketing Automation

Marketing and Sales Silos

Sales and Marketing Silos

The disconnect between marketing and sales teams is frustrating and costly. When these teams operate in isolation, they create data silos that hinder effective decision-making. Marketing might collect valuable lead data, but sales must access or interpret this information to ensure opportunities are noticed. 

Automation tools, if not properly managed, can worsen this divide. For instance, your marketing automation software might collect data on which emails get the most opens, but this data is only useful to the sales team when shared or understood in the context of sales goals.

Solution & best practices

To bridge this gap, integrate your customer relationship management (CRM) system with your marketing automation platform. This allows both teams to view and interpret the same data sets. 

For example, if the marketing team identifies a high-value lead, this information should be immediately visible and actionable for the sales team.

Some best practices are as follows.

  • Choose compatible systems: When selecting a CRM or marketing automation tool, ensure they offer integration features. 
  • Assign a liaison and focus on sync-ups: Have a designated person responsible for managing this integration and ensuring data consistency. Additionally, hold brief, focused meetings where both teams can update each other on current projects and metrics.
  • Train both teams and have unified dashboards: Conduct joint training sessions so everyone knows how to use the integrated system effectively. Use a shared dashboard that displays key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to both marketing and sales.

Tools that can help you overcome marketing and sales silos

Tool How it can help
Slack Facilitates communication between teams
Asana Project management for marketing and sales
Trello Task tracking and collaboration
Microsoft Teams Integrated communication and file sharing
Smartsheet Workflow automation across departments

Read also: The Hidden Revenue Opportunity in Sales and Marketing Alignment

Lack of Real-Time Interaction

Customers expect quick, real-time interactions. They don’t want to wait hours for a response – they want it now. Automation can make these interactions feel cold and robotic. Imagine getting a “We value your business” message when you’re having a problem. 

It doesn’t feel genuine, does it?

Automation can send out messages at lightning speed, sure. However, these messages often lack the personal touch that real-time interactions offer. They can’t answer specific questions or solve unique problems on the spot.

So, while automation can handle the volume, it often needs to catch up on quality.

Solution & best practices

The trick is to use automation wisely. It’s great for initial contact or for answering frequently asked questions. But for more meaningful interactions, switch to real-time engagement. For example, use automated chatbots to handle basic queries and then switch to a live agent for more complex issues.

Use automation to identify when a customer might need real-time help. For example, if a customer clicks on the ‘Help’ button multiple times, that’s your cue to jump in.

Additionally, make sure your team knows when to take over from the automated system. They should be able to step in seamlessly and offer real help.

Tools that can help with real-time interactions

Tool How it can help
Intercom Real-time chat with automated options
Drift Conversational marketing platform
Zendesk Customer service with real-time support
Freshchat Live chat software
LivePerson AI-powered real-time messaging

Read also: Work Smart, Not Hard: Top Marketing Automation Ideas

Low-Quality Leads

lead conversion stats


A flood of leads sounds great until you realize most of them are never going to buy. Automation tools can cast a wide net, but they often reel in leads that aren’t ready to buy or are just plain uninterested. This clogs your sales pipeline and wastes your team’s time.

Automation tools can generate leads by the dozen, but they often lack the nuance to distinguish between a hot lead and a cold one. You might end up with a list of people who engaged with a single email but have no real interest in your product or service.

Solution & best practices

Use a lead scoring system within your automation tool. This isn’t just about assigning arbitrary points to leads. You need to set up a system that reflects your actual sales process.

  • Consult your teams: Get input from sales and marketing on what actions usually indicate a lead is ready to convert.
  • Customize scoring: Use this feedback to set up custom scoring rules in your automation tool. For instance, if a lead visits your pricing page and downloads a product guide, that’s a high score.
  • Automate alerts: Set up automatic notifications for when a lead reaches a certain score so that your sales team can jump in immediately.
  • Focus on high-quality leads: Don’t just aim to fill your pipeline – aim to fill it with leads that are actually likely to convert.
  • Review and tweak: After a month, review the leads that were passed to sales. How many converted? Use this data to tweak your scoring system. 

Tools that can help you here

Tool How it can help
Marketo Advanced lead scoring
Pardot B2B lead management and scoring
LeadSquared Lead capture and scoring
Zoho CRM CRM with lead-scoring features
SharpSpring Behavior-based lead scoring

Read also: 17 Cool Free Marketing Automation Platforms Reviewed

Inconsistency in Brand Presence

A jumbled brand voice confuses customers and weakens your brand. Automation tools, if not managed carefully, can send mixed signals. One minute, you’re casual on social media. The next, you’re formal in emails. It’s like meeting someone who changes their accent every sentence. Confusing, right?

Each automation tool has its own set of templates and presets. If you’re not careful, you could end up sending a serious-toned email through one platform and a playful tweet through another, all on the same day.

Solution & best practices

The fix is straightforward: centralize your content. 

Use a single content management system (CMS) that can feed into all your automation tools. This way, you’re pulling from the same source for all your messaging.

  • Select a CMS with API capabilities: This allows it to integrate with your various automation tools.
  • Input all brand guidelines into the CMS: Include tone, style, and approved phrases or taglines.
  • Assign a gatekeeper: Designate someone to approve all automated messages before they go out.
  • Consistency checks: Before launching any campaign, run a consistency check. Are the messages in line with your brand guidelines?
  • Automate approvals: Use your CMS to set up an automated approval process. No message goes out until the gatekeeper gives the green light.
  • Monthly reviews: Sit down once a month and review a sample of messages from each platform. Make adjustments as needed.

Tools that can help you build a consistent brand experience

Tool How it can help
Buffer Consistent social media posting
Canva Easy-to-use design templates
Hootsuite Social media management
Sprout Social Social media analytics and publishing
CoSchedule Content calendar and social scheduler

Read also: Marketing Automation For Startups, The Simple Way

Failure to Effectively Utilize Automation

Choosing the right automation tool is crucial, but the biggest problems with marketing automation show up in the implementation phase. A poor setup can lead to inefficiencies, wasted resources, and unmet goals.

Many automation tools come with complex features that require specialized knowledge. The absence of an effective onboarding process can lead to improper utilization, making the tool more of a burden than a benefit.

Solution & best practices

Before making a purchase, scrutinize the vendor’s support infrastructure. A vendor that offers comprehensive support can significantly ease the implementation process.

  • Pre-purchase inquiry: Contact the vendor’s customer service with specific questions. Gauge their responsiveness and the quality of their answers.
  • Request a product demo: Use the demo to assess the tool’s usability and to identify any features that may require specialized training.
  • Community and peer support: Check if the vendor has an active user community or forum. Real-world advice from current users can be invaluable.
  • Implementation team: Form a team comprising IT specialists and end-users from relevant departments. This ensures technical feasibility and user acceptability.
  • Define objectives: Clearly outline what you aim to achieve with the automation tool. Objectives could range from streamlining customer communication to automating repetitive marketing tasks.
  • Phased rollout: Implement the tool’s features in stages. Start with basic functionalities and gradually move to more complex ones. This allows for easier troubleshooting and adjustments.
  • User training: Conduct hands-on training sessions for all end-users. Make sure to include real-world scenarios specific to your business operations.

Tools that can help you

Tool How it can help
ActiveCampaign User-friendly marketing automation
Mailchimp Email marketing automation
Automate.io Connects different apps for automation
Ontraport Business automation and reporting
Infusionsoft Small business automation

Read also: Understanding Customer Journeys In Marketing Automation: A Guide

Lack of Engaging Content

One of the biggest challenges in marketing is generating content that not only attracts but also retains customer interest. While automation tools can help manage your content strategy, they can sometimes lead to generic, uninspiring messages that do little to engage your audience.

Automation tools often offer a range of preset templates and stock responses. These may be quick to deploy, but they often lack the personal touch that makes content truly engaging. The risk here is clear: automated but lifeless content can turn off potential customers, leading to lost engagement and, ultimately, lost sales opportunities.

Solution & best practices

The first step in avoiding bland content is planning. Keep a common editorial calendar across teams. It helps you align your content with business goals, seasonal trends, and customer interests.

  • Keyword research: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to find out what your target audience is searching for.
  • Audience persona: Develop a detailed audience persona. Know their pain points, what solutions they are looking for, and how they consume content.
  • Content bucketing: Divide your content into categories. For example, ‘How-to Guides,’ ‘Industry Insights,’ ‘Customer Testimonials,’ etc.
  • Resource allocation: Identify who will be responsible for what—writing, editing, graphics, and analytics. Make sure each team member knows their deadlines.

Tools that can help you create engaging content

Tool How it can help
Grammarly Content proofreading
BuzzSumo Content research and monitoring
Ahrefs SEO and content research
SEMrush Content and SEO analysis
Yoast SEO WordPress SEO plugin

Read also: Marketing Automation 101 For The Beginner [With Examples]

Relying on Subpar Data

Using outdated or irrelevant data can lead to ineffective marketing campaigns. For example, if your email list contains addresses that are no longer active, your bounce rate will increase, affecting your sender’s reputation. Poor data can also lead to wasted ad spend if you’re targeting demographics that are not aligned with your customer base.

Inaccurate data is also a legal issue. Regulations like GDPR require businesses to protect customer data. Failure to do so can result in fines that can go up to 4% of your annual global turnover or 20 million euros, whichever is higher. Moreover, data breaches can lead to lawsuits and a loss of customer trust, which can be devastating for a business.

Solution & best practices

Conducting regular data audits can help you identify outdated or incorrect information in your databases. During an audit, you’ll need to validate all data points, including customer names, email addresses, and purchase history.

Some best practices are as follows.

  • Data source verification: Confirm the reliability of your data sources. Whether it’s a third-party data provider or your CRM, the source needs to be reputable.
  • Data relevance: Evaluate the relevance of the data you’re collecting. Remove any data fields that are not directly contributing to your marketing goals.
  • Data accuracy: Check for errors like duplicate entries, misspellings, or outdated information and correct them.
  • Audit documentation: Keep a record of all changes made during the audit for accountability and future reference.

Being GDPR compliant protects your business from legal repercussions and helps you build trust with your customers. It’s crucial to make sure that all data collection methods are transparent and that you have explicit consent from individuals to collect their data. Collect only what you need and use encryption methods to protect stored data. Excessive data collection increases the risk of data breaches.

Implement clear and easily accessible consent forms on your website and other data collection points. Additionally, have a plan in place for how to handle data breaches, including notifying affected individuals and regulatory bodies.

Tools that can help you here

Tool How it can help
Tableau Data visualization and analytics
DataRobot Automated machine learning for data
Talend Data integration and quality
OneTrust GDPR and CCPA compliance
Snowflake Data warehousing solution

Read also: What is Pardot? An In-depth Guide for Beginners

Automating Tasks That Shouldn’t Be Automated

There are tasks that require the nuance and understanding that only a human can provide. For instance, automated social media posts can sometimes miss the mark, coming off as tone-deaf or insensitive during critical events. Similarly, automated customer service can frustrate customers who are looking for personalized assistance for complex issues.

There are plenty of examples where automation has failed in areas that needed a human touch. 

  • Automated social media posts have been known to publish inappropriate content for current events, causing public relations nightmares. 
  • In customer service, automated chatbots can often fail to resolve issues, leading to customer dissatisfaction and potential loss of business.

Solution & best practices

The first step in avoiding automation pitfalls is identifying which tasks should remain manual. Tasks that require emotional intelligence, such as customer complaint resolution or personalized marketing, are usually better handled by humans.

Steps for identifying no-automation tasks

  • Risk assessment: Evaluate the potential risks of automating a particular task. If the risks outweigh the benefits, it’s a task that should remain manual.
  • Customer feedback: Listen to your customers. If they are consistently dissatisfied with an automated service, it’s a strong indicator that a human touch is needed.
  • Complexity analysis: Some tasks are too complex to be effectively automated. These usually involve multiple variables that a machine can’t easily interpret.
  • Review and adjust: Regularly review automated tasks for effectiveness. If something isn’t working, be prepared to revert to manual processes.

Try to find a balance between automation and human intervention. Use automation for repetitive tasks that don’t require emotional intelligence, like data collection or initial lead sorting.

For tasks that require more nuance, such as customer engagement or crisis management, keep a human in the loop.

  • Task segmentation: Divide tasks into categories based on their suitability for automation.
  • Human oversight: Even for automated tasks, have a human supervisor to monitor and intervene if necessary.
  • Feedback loops: Implement mechanisms for real-time feedback on automated tasks. This can help in making quick adjustments.
  • Periodic review: Set up regular intervals for reviewing the performance of both automated and manual tasks. Make adjustments based on performance metrics and customer feedback.

Tools that can help you here

Tool How it can help
RescueTime Time management and productivity
Asana Task assignment and tracking
Todoist Personal task management
ClickUp Project management with manual controls
Workfront Work management platform

Read also: The Future Of Marketing Automation: 12 Trends For 2024


Understanding the challenges of marketing automation is just the starting point. What’s more important is how you adapt and evolve. The future of marketing automation is about troubleshooting and being proactive. Stay ahead of the curve by continuously updating your skills and knowledge.

Review your key performance indicators daily, weekly, or monthly, and be prepared to pivot your strategies based on real-world performance data. The goal is to build a marketing automation system that’s not just efficient but also adaptable and resilient, capable of meeting future challenges as they arise.

If you’re in the market for a customizable, super affordable marketing automation and CRM solution, try EngageBay free.

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