Marketing Automation Mastery: Go for Easy, Not Simplistic

  |  March 17, 2014   |  Comments

Simplistic and easy are two terms that are far from interchangeable. As marketers, we want to develop easy (not simplistic) tools that are well-designed, repetition-minded, quick to learn, and all about mastery.

As a vendor that sells marketing automation software, I find that when I talk with potential customers, they are often confused about how to differentiate between simplistic and easy - two terms that are far from interchangeable.

Consider the remote control. A simplistic remote control would simply have a big fat red button to turn the TV on or off. But that doesn't do much. Today's television watchers expect to perform many functions with one device: change the channel, record a show, pause, mute, get bonus features, etc. The remote must do these things - and still be easy to use. And your marketing platform should be no different.



"A complex user interface comprising many elements, if designed well, can achieve our goals as well as, if not better than, a simplistic design." - Frank Guo, UX Matter

Simplistic vs. Easy

In your quest to avoid simplistic, you don't want to end up with something that is complicated or hard to use. We've all grappled with a remote control that's impossible to figure out. Or worse, struggled with three remote controls for one entertainment system. It's inefficient.

Say you're a marketing executive embarking on a 12-city road show. You have a sizeable target list for each city, and you have a messaging approach that will appeal to each particular city:

"Feeling that Arctic Chill, Chicago? We'll keep you warm at our product launch with artisan hot cocoa from Windy City Chocolatier."

"Out of things to wear on the red carpet, Los Angeles? There's no dress code at our upcoming product launch!"

Your marketing strategy includes a series of city-specific emails and landing pages customized to each location. With a simplistic marketing tool, you would have to prepare a unique program from scratch for each specific city. This might go smoothly the first time. But by the third time you have to re-make the invitations, re-create the landing pages, re-update the confirmations, it's tedious. By the ninth clone, it's a downright pain.

With the right marketing automation software, things are still easy, but not simplistic: You simply clone your first program, update the specific variables you need for each specific city, and voila, the system updates all the campaign assets. You can easily propagate your marketing outreach across all 12 cities - and still customize your messages. This not only makes your job easier, but more importantly, it makes your buyer's experience personal and relevant.

"There is a very big difference between simple and simplistic. Google has a single box on their home screen. Type something in it and you can access the world. Simple to use, but far from simplistic. Unfortunately, being that simple is far from easy. But then, any idiot can make something complicated." -

What Makes Easy, Easy?

So, what makes a marketing tool versatile, allowing you to perform complex, sophisticated functions easily? It must be:

  • Well-designed. It needs to have the right amount of buttons and features to perform to your precise needs - no more, no less. You should be able to do simple things quickly, and discover the ability to more sophisticated things when you need them.
  • Repetition-minded. It must streamline repetitive tasks, allowing for variables within each instance. 
  • Quick to learn. It must be intuitive and a cinch to figure out.
  • All about mastery. It's not just about the learning curve. A great marketing tool should make every day easier. It must be easy to do every time - not just the first time. 

The Easy Path to Marketing Mastery

The dynamic world of digital marketing constantly evolves. A tool that can be learned quickly is nice, but it also needs to enable you to be nimble in your ever-changing landscape. That's why well-designed marketing software makes getting to marketing mastery easy.

No one would ever say that marketing is simple; it's challenging and complicated. If you're living in the marketing world today, your needs are not simple. An overly simplified tool won't help you in the long run. Digital marketing's transformation is never going to stop, so you need tools that work for you in the face of accelerating change. You need a tool that is powerful enough for your needs today, and tomorrow, and yet also easy.

Images via Shutterstock.


Jon Miller

Jon leads strategy and execution for Marketo. Before co-founding Marketo, Jon was Vice President, Product Marketing at Epiphany and held positions at Exchange Partners and Gemini Consulting. He is executive editor of the popular Marketo blog, Modern B2B Marketing, and author of the comprehensive handbook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Analytics. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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