3 signs that tell if your Marketing Automation is broken and how to fix it

The Marketing Automation and CRM space is becoming more and more complex. Despite the increase in solutions, connectors, BI tools, organizations are still struggling to provide tailored and targeted campaigns that can match the customer’s behavior and offer a value added to their communications. According to an article by Content4Demand, the lack of an effective strategy is the most challenging obstacle to marketing automation success.

I want to go deeper into what this lack of strategy might look like inside a company. When a company dives into a solution, without thinking about the business process in advance, the outcome will most end up in failure. There are similar characteristics among organizations that are not using its Salesforce instance or their marketing automation to its full potential, thus missing the opportunity to improve their targeting and nurturing of their customers.

Your business processes are more than a year old

What does it look like?

Your automation solution is running and you abandoned your weekly meetings to improve processes; the team that used to get together to discuss data quality disbanded and you are looking at more leads that are not Sales Qualified getting into your system.

Your scoring models are set and done, your user segmentation has not been modified in more than six months, and your Google Analytics views have been the same for the last year. You feel like your org is mostly running by its own, but the reality is that your campaigns are repetitive and static.

The good news

Your org is working (for now).

The bad news

No one is trying to push its limits, to improve the workflows, to modify and optimize the way you create and capture leads. Your Sales team is going to start complaining very soon about your Salesforce not providing useful information.

What to do about it?

  • Revise your business process and ask the hard questions.
  • The secret behind revamping your marketing workflows and getting back in the right track with your acquisition has to do with the way you conduct business.
  • If you go through a strategic planning session for the company, there is a big chance that the focus of your business changed from the time you implemented your campaigns and the way your Sales department is honing in on prospects.

You suck as a parent!

What does it look like?

Organizations deal with CRM’s and Marketing Automation platforms the same way parents deal with their children. They believe their offspring is perfect, and if it misbehaves it is because external or environmental causes, when the reality is that you suck as a parent!

The good news

There are some corrective measures you can implement to get your rascal kid back in line.

The bad news

The morale and trust on the system is so deteriorated that you have your Marketing & Sales managers to change the system and purchase one “that works”. You have a revolt in your hands.

What to do about it?

  • Revise your business process (but maybe you did this after you read my previous point).
  • In this case you are going to adopt the role of counselor and psychologist. You know that the system is not broken, but your users may not have enough training, it’s a good time to invest in quality end-user-training.
  • Make sure your Sales, Marketing and IT departments are using your CRM in a similar manner. A lot of the problems with marketing automation come from not having a common vocabulary and understanding of what the other department is doing and implementing.

Marketing is an art, not a science

What does it look like?

Your Marketing team has forgotten about establishing KPI’s, Goals, and tests when they set up campaigns. Your Sales department does not input require information for lead qualification, and they are using free text notes more and more. Your IT department has been relaxing the field policies because the Marketing department wants more freedom.

Maybe you have Salesforce and a Marketing Automation platform and they don’t talk to each other. The most likely scenario here is that Sales was no longer receiving enough leads from marketing so they went on a rampage, since then, your marketing department forgot about the Sales Qualified Lead model and bought into the idea of “Viral” as a strategy.

The good news

Your company is working, your team has managed to create campaigns and they are not slacking

The bad news

You are getting data into the system, but no one is doing anything about it. Your team may be creative, but you don’t know if they are being effective.

What to do about it?

  • I’m going to change speeds here on number one, because this is really really important: Fire anyone that uses the word “Viral”
  • Now revise your business process
  • Be sure to clarify Sales Qualified Leads and Marketing Qualified Leads.
  • Favor campaigns that have a positive ROI than those with a positive brand image – you can modify this later when the storm passes.
  • Measure with a strategy in mind

How I got featured in the Salesforce Admin Keynote

This Dreamforce was special for me, there was a video and some slides during the keynote that had me featured. Also, the VP Admin Marketing, Sarah Franklin told the story of how I started this #awesome Salesforce path. Before getting into  a brief career recap of how I made it to Dreamforce, here is the part of the Dreamforce Keynote with me on it (oh yes, I dance Salsa):

You can also check the complete video here.

My Salesforce Origins: An erratic and rocky beginning

I started working with Salesforce because I didn’t understand my former boss’s style of management was, for sake of argument – nonexistent.

His revenue tracking, division of work, project management and overall financial reporting was affecting every aspect of the company. I decided to take charge of the problem, facing several difficulties when trying to implement multiplicity of systems that could unify all the areas of the film-making facility. Long story short, I failed.

So many failed implementations!

Boss fail=business fail

During my research I began to understand the nuances of the different layers of business data. For me it became a need to solve a puzzle, in which all the pieces had different shapes and flavors (Note to Self: don’t eat puzzle pieces).

That rabbit hole led me to start my own company, implementing marketing automation tools, Google Analytics, and developing best practices to maintain data integrity and business processes aligned to different organizations. Yes, this was a plug for my company’s services.

At that time, I was very naïve; I believed that the tools and technology would be the panacea for all companies. After two failed implementations of Salesforce I began to discover how little the technology meant – but how important was to understand the logic & the particular business practices – that knowledge could be extrapolated to mostly any automation tool.


Robots won’t solve your problems

My feature during Dreamforce’s Admin Keynote meant that my, somehow empirical approach to business systems, paid off: no technology or system applies to all organizations – and that’s where Salesforce success resides, you can customize the business logic of the system to match your business practices.

As a free piece of advice for all of you thinking to convert to Salesforce:  YES, YOU NEED AN ADMIN!



Besides an #awesome team of Admin Marketing from Salesforce that believed in my story and the support of KQED – I have five key pointers that might have helped me when I was building my career as a Salesforce expert.

Help yourself out

Don’t be shy to be part of Success communities and User Groups, they are going to be your source of knowledge and you will find them extremely friendly and willing to help.

If you don’t know where to start, there are thousands of sites that can help you figure outSalesforce Two of my all-time favorites for when I was starting, and even now:

CourageSalesforce2. Set up your own Org

I would suggest than even before attempting your first Admin Cert, try your own org (for free) and give it a run. You’ll get a better understanding of all the literature you’ll read when going through the study guides.

With Salesforce, it is true that you don’t need a technical background to work with the system. The power of the Admin is that we can have so many different abilities that would make us successful. In my case it had to do with my willingness to consult on business processes and understand reporting capability.

Of course being a Digital Marketer, trying to measure every aspect of a company, and a strong focus on KPI’s and Entrepreneurial Marketing was a big incentive to look at Salesforce as the center of all the information processing needs for my endeavors. Try all the features your free org has to offer.



3. Get certified

Both the Admin and the Developer (now App Builder) certifications are both valuable and useful to advance and proof your career. I would advice 3 to 6 months of preparation before taking the actual test, but if you search Google you’ll find different opinions.

Stony Point helped me get certified, it is a good option.

4. Volunteer for a Non-Profit

There are a lot of Non-Profits that require help managing their orgs. It is a great way to get experience and also to give back!

I’ve volunteered through Volunteermatch, and besides having that rewarding feeling of accomplishment, I’ve learned a lot about business practices.

Salesforce Foundation will be an ally while working with non profits

Salesforce Foundation will be an ally while working with non profits


5. Listen to all your users

From managers to new users, listening to everyone and anyone will help you to map your organization’s unique customization of Salesforce.

Me during Dreamforce 2015

Me during Dreamforce 2015 (Thanks Kathy Tian!)

As a final note I would say that working as a Salesforce Administrator has increased my Data Analytics expertise, has made me a better marketer, and it has led me to a world in which you could measure mostly anything (I have developed Salesforce Apps to track my Job search, my client’s progress, my Marketing Campaigns, and even my workouts), all of that without needing to write code.

Full disclosure – I now do write Apex, because I enjoy it, not because I need it….and my Admin background has made it soooo much easier.

If you decide going the Salesforce road, I would like you to remember a very strong point made by the VP Admin Marketing, Sarah Franklin’s keynote presentation: every Salesforce admin is a Chief Information Officer (CIO) in training. You will be faced with data integrity problems, business process nightmares, financial black holes, and many hours of user training – but it’s totally worth it.

P.S. If you are starting your Salesforce roadmap check Trailhead – your badges will help you improve you skills.

Now-go and become and #awesomeadmin!

Now-go and become and #awesomeadmin!