Why marketing automation is a waste of money (and how to make it work)

Author: Guy Makmel
  • Marketing

How is it possible that the most rapidly growing marketing trend can easily turn out to be just a big waste of money? The answer is simple–it fails if it does not know your patients.

Third-party marketing automation seems simple: an obvious choice without much thinking. It looks like a packed bundle of software goods that finds your patients and caters to their needs by providing them with the services they need. Simple, right?

Well, no. Most third-party marketing automation services identify general customer profiles and templates based on an enormous number of patients. The result of this is an average image of an average member of an average customer of an average trait group that these third-party marketing automation softwares recognize and act upon.

The issue becomes obvious–your patients are not average approximations of large groups of people.

Know your patients

Proper marketing automation processes need to know your patients. Only by targeting your existing patients and being fed actual, specific data about their needs, traits, and habits does it become profitable. Existing patients with their own unique characteristics serve as a powerful tool to capture new leads, which is the sole purpose of marketing automation.

EMR is the ideal database

All the necessary data to turn marketing automation into a profitable asset for your company lies in the form of electronic medical records. EMR is patient-specific and reliable, which are all the necessary qualities for successful automation input data. Your audience is represented by EMR, and marketing automation utilizes existing records to find and target “look-alikes”. If you know your patients, you can recognize your target group more easily. Precision is the key to a successful patient template.

Use the data you have

Third-party data fails to convey the buying habits of your patients. How do you cross-sell if you lack the specific information about what your patients received before? General assumptions can be dangerous to your profits, as too broadly marketed goods or services most likely completely miss their target. On the other hand, correctly informed cross-selling heavily increases your chances of making a sale. 


Third-party marketing automation data devises a projection of an average patient, but what your software needs to do is personalize. It is simply not enough to send a message; your message needs to resonate with the patient. Your patients’ behavior is based on their interests, gender, age, past treatments, risk groups, etc. If you target specific factors by personalizing your marketing pattern you increase your chances of reaching the patient. 

First-party data > Third-party data

The more first-party data you employ in your marketing automation process, less likely it is to “feel” automated. Patients seek personalized care and service, and by providing that you stand more likely to boost your sales.

There is no need to go lengths to acquire first-party data. As mentioned before, this is the information that you already have. EMR represents a treasure-trove of quality, specific information that third-party automation service data could never obtain. The trick is to include what you already have, which is first-party data, into the automation process. By providing real data to marketing automation, you make the projected audience more real, which in turn makes your sales and profit more real.

So, how to make it work?

In other words, investing in marketing automation is doomed to fail unless you provide it with first-party data. After all, your patients are your target audience, and aiming for a general, abstract patient certainly yields little result. With your data you have the home field advantage: actual patients with accurate data provide actual results in the automation process. With third-party data, you’ll be totally in the dark, all the while hoping that marketing automation is certain to bring in the results.

So yeah, marketing automation certainly can be a waste of money. Now when you know how, do prevent that and turn that failure into a profit.

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