We all know that when marketing automation goes right, it can save you time and money whilst increasing revenues and personalizing the customer journey. But when it goes wrong, it can have the opposite effect, and worse still, even dent your brand's online reputation.

Thankfully, there are some simple checks you can do, to avoid the more obvious automation mistakes.


Top 5 marketing automation fails to avoid:

1. Getting the personalization & targeting wrong

Email automation fail from one of our competitors Email automation fail from one of our competitors

(Dear First Name, as Head of Lettuce...oops)

  • If you are looking to guest blog for a website, always check their guidelines and whether their audience is relevant to your business.
  • If you are integrating fields like 'First Name' and 'Company Name' in your messages (including email marketing), make sure your data is accurate. It's embarrassing when you send an automated email to 'Head of Lettuce' because your fields got mixed up.
  • Thoroughly test the journey your reader will go through - sign up for the trial, subscribe to the blog or register for the webinar and see what your customers receive and when. And how it makes you feel...walk in your customer's shoes!


2. Automated sharing of content

(We'd just like to tell you how great our competitors' article is…oops)

  • Content curation is an incredibly important aspect of any effective social media marketing strategy. So, always make sure the content you share is relevant to your business and reinforces your overall message. If you automate RSS feeds with keywords, make sure to add some exclusions, because 'coffee' and 'coffee paint' are just not the same.
  • Sometimes even seemingly innocuous terms can accompany unsavory stories or completely unrelated content. It leads to irrelevant, or worse still, embarrassing content automatically going out through your account. And this is nothing compared to some of the wildly inappropriate content we have found with the term “social media” in it.


3. Automatically sending the wrong tweets

(We are retweeting our customer's recent complaint...oops)

It's not just the automated sharing of content that can go wrong when not monitored properly. Take automated retweeting for example. It can get a bit awkward when you retweet a message that undermines you, criticizes your company, questions the quality of your product or is simply factually inaccurate.

  • Always remember that it happens to the best of us! To reduce the risk, just make that sure your automatic replies (if public) have solid keyword filters set up.
  • Private auto-replies (for example direct messages on Twitter) are a great time saver and way to greet new followers. But spelling errors and broken links reflect badly on your brand, so proof them carefully using a personal account.


4. Auto-following the wrong people

(Auto-followed the competitor's CEO...oops)

If your audience is large, or you want to connect with relevant leads the moment they follow you, make sure that your auto-follow parameters are spot on. And if your tool offers status updates of follower count changes on your newsfeed, it’s best practice to turn these off.

  • Remember, it’s quality over quantity. There's little benefit to following thousands of inactive users as they won't engage with your content.
  • Some Twitter users abuse auto-following tools, so they will add you and remove you in a matter of days (even if you added them).
  • Regularly check your Twitter lists to keep them clean by unfollowing inactive users in bulk. Using lists to segment your followers can help you to track of those who to unfollow and they are great for competitor research (make sure that list is private!)


5. The simplest pitfall to avoid - becoming lazy

(We sent what message, sorry I was asleep at the wheel...oops)

It’s really easy to lose control of your marketing automation. If you don't supervise your campaigns or re-test them regularly they tend to develop a life of their own.

  • Avoid an automation car crash by carving some time out on a daily or weekly basis to analyse the effectiveness of your automatic messages and whether they need improvement.
  • If your response rates start to drop, perhaps it's time to refresh those messages. And even if they don't, A/B tests are always worthwhile!



Marketing automation tools save you time and money, but it is vital that you maintain control to ensure they work for you, not against you. Remember, the best way to know how your messages will be received is to send them to yourself.

We have developed a number of helpful automation tools (including one for Instagram), to help deliver effective social media marketing campaigns. But the old adage still applies - a bad worker blames their [social media automation] tools!


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Veronika Baranovska

Veronika Baranovska

Resident marketer at Sendible. Into social media and blogging for more than six years and well-versed in all digital marketing channels. My biggest daily driver is creating useful content that helps others grow and saves their time, so if it does for you, let me know on Twitter or Linkedin!


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