6 Cringeworthy Marketing Technology Failures

Marketing Technology FailToday’s marketing simply wouldn’t exist without marketing technology. From marketing automation to demand side platforms to content management systems, technology puts the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

Or at least that’s how it is supposed to happen.

You no longer create your marketing communications. You just create the rules. The system does the rest.

And sometimes, the system fails you.

1. Dynamic Copy… That Isn’t Dynamic

The system is supposed to put together the right copy, on the fly, every time. But what happens when the system fails? This happens:

"Contents of this ad will be generated dynamically at the time it's rendered"

2. Too Many Segments, Not Enough Content

A colleague of mine forwarded me the email below, I can only speculate how this could have happened.

Eloqua Email Content Failure: multiple blocks contain "click to edit"

Here is my best guess: Eloqua populates this content dynamically and they didn’t have enough content, or content that matched to the business rules, to populate the entire template for some individuals. When my colleague’s email was assembled by the system, it just pulled the default placeholder text.

Unfortunately, as systems become more complex, more marketers will make this mistake. When you can no longer actually review every single iteration that may be produced, you need to build checks and controls into your system, which just makes your system that much more complex!

3. How Much Does Half a Banner Cost?

Today banner advertising is increasingly purchased and placed by systems. Unfortunately, the system didn’t check that VerticalResponse’s banner would actually fit.

VerticalResponse banner being cut off

4. Nope, That’s Not Me

Using behavior to identify warm prospects is an increasingly common tactic. However, when emails with personalized links are shared, your new hot lead may actually reflect the behavior of multiple individuals

Marketo Mixing Profiles

On Facebook and across their site, Marketo believes I am actually Lauren, one of my colleagues. Now Lauren looks far more engaged with Marketo’s content than she actually is, breaking their lead scoring and causing them to recommend content to Lauren based on my content preferences.

5. Dear ,

When personalizing an email, handling contacts without a name in your database is one of the most basic steps. And when you are a marketing platform (one that includes email), announcing your purchase by one of the premier marketing technology stacks, you really should be able to handle the basics.

Neolane Email starts with "Dear ,"

6. The Auto-Responder

No list of marketing technology failures would be complete today without including Bank of America’s recent string of automated twitter responses. If you haven’t seen it yet, Eksith captured the original set of exchanges.

My Takeaway

No, the answer isn’t to run away from automation, but you will need a new approach to QA, one that doesn’t hinge on reviewing every output. As these examples show, almost all from companies that should know better, it is far easier for a problem to slip through when the technology is now creating the marketing your audience sees.

Your Turn

What is your favorite example of marketing technology failing? Share it in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake)!

Photo Credit: kosheahan via Flickr cc

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