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6 Reasons Marketing Automation Managers Get Burned Out & How to Overcome Them

6 Reasons Marketing Automation Managers Get Burned Out & How to Overcome Them

min. reading

Sara McNamara and I were chatting about this question the other day:

Why is there so much turnover in marketing automation roles?

An optimist might conclude marketing automation managers are in crazy high demand and are recruited away to greener pastures. But the real answer is probably a little less rosy.  

My hypothesis: marketing automation managers leave because their jobs are sometimes exhausting and it’s really easy to get burned out.

Here are 6 of many reasons why:

1. We have to be the voice of change

B2B marketing has changed, and continues to change every day.  Our buyers are more educated than ever before and their expectations about the purchasing experience have skyrocketed.

This means our marketing and sales teams need to adapt.  I’ll step off my soapbox now because if you’re reading this blog, I know you don’t need to be convinced of that.  But many internal stakeholders in our organizations still need that convincing.  

It can be fun and inspiring to be that change agent – but it’s also really hard work.  Especially when it comes to being the change agent for seemingly minor things like logging into Salesforce, paying attention to Pardot notifications, or adding contacts to your mailable list.

Tip to Overcome This:

Keep the inspiration flowing. Find blogs, conferences, books and things that motivate you and will help give you the tools to paint this vision for your organization.

2. It’s emotionally exhausting to arm wrestle sales every day, especially with limited power

When I worked client side, it took every ounce of strength in my being not to respond to “these leads suck” by screaming “NO YOU SUCK!”

Just kidding. But seriously — picture a 23-year old, fresh-out-of-college digital marketer standing in front of a room of 25 seasoned B2B sales reps trying to hold them accountable to following up on inbound leads.  About 90% of said reps were men 20+ years older than me, and 100% of said reps made 5-10X my annual salary.

The process of leading my organization through this change and having to use persuasion – not power – to get people to change their behavior was a fantastic learning experience.  But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few tears shed in office bathrooms along the road to success.

Does this sound familiar?

Tip to Overcome This:

Find someone to help champion this change with you. Align yourself with your VP of Sales, and pilot new initiatives with the “friendlies” so they can be evangelists when you roll out new programs and processes to the broader organization.

3. Our jobs look easy to people who know nothing about it

Phrases like “make it pretty,” “automagically,” and “press the button” are like nails on a chalkboard when coming from someone who doesn’t know the brains, heart, and energy that go into building a successful marketing campaign.

Most marketing automation managers I know have mastered the art of smiling and nodding politely while shooting karmic lightning bolts out of their eyes.

Tip to Overcome This:

Don’t make it look so effortless, because you know it’s not!  Explain the steps that go into building a campaign and push for reasonable deadlines – while educating people that “automated” does not mean untouched by human hands.

4. There’s an epidemic of misaligned expectations

A few little-known facts:

  • We can’t automate a process that doesn’t exist
  • We can’t segment or target on data that doesn’t exist
  • We can’t sell to leads no one follows up on
  • We can’t nurture with content that’s still a theoretical twinkle in someone’s eye
  • We can’t attribute revenue from opportunities that are written on a Post-it and never entered in Salesforce

Trying to get a marketing automation program off the ground is a heavy lift. Going from zero to Amazon/Netflix/Pinterest-level automation is just… not going to happen.

If an organization is early in this journey or maybe not quite ready for automation, it’s important that everyone is on the same page about what outcomes to expect and what constitutes a reasonable timeline for success. This is so much easier said than done, but critically important.

Tip to Overcome This:

Negotiate a shared vision of success. Talk to your marketing and sales leadership and ask them what they would like to see, and what they expect to see from your marketing campaigns. In some cases, you may need to advise them to remove a few unicorns and rainbows from those expectations (or at least save them until next quarter).

Whatever definition of success you arrive at, be sure to capture this in writing and point back to it often when you’re discussing performance.

5. We’re the intersection of a lot of competing priorities

If you’re trying to get fun and interesting things done with marketing technology, it’s rarely up to just you to make decisions — you rely on sales, IT, agency partners, finance, legal, customers, and others for almost anything you want to do.

The good news: if you play your cards right, you can influence a lot of things in your organization. The bad news: working with all of these stakeholders takes time and emotional energy.

Tip to Overcome This:

Flex those empathy muscles. When someone is blocking something you want to accomplish, try to understand why. If you unpack their worldview, most of the time tormenting you isn’t at the top of their priority list. How can you position what you want as a win-win? How can you make them fall in love with the version of the future you’re after too?

6. We don’t have access to a support network of people who understand our day-to-day

Marketing automation is usually either one of many hats worn by a digital marketing team member, or ONE role on a team. I haven’t come across many companies with multiple full-time marketing automation managers. It can get lonely not having a comrade-in-arms to bounce ideas off of, or at the very least to have a drink with when items #1-4 get particularly frustrating.

Tip to Overcome This:

Connect with the Ohana! Join your local user group, get active on the Trailblazer Community, hit people up on social.  Having a buddy that gets what you’re going through goes a LONG way!

Fighting burnout & keeping our organizations on track

I’m dying to hear what other people think of this one.  Why might turnover be so high among marketing automation professionals?  Do you have any tips to stave off the burnout and stay frosty?

Let fellow readers know in the comments!

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  • Andrea Tarrell is the CEO & Founder of Sercante, as well as a 12X certified Salesforce MVP and Marketing Champion. Andrea caught the Salesforce bug at Dreamforce 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. She’s worked for consultancies, agencies, and client-side marketing teams over her career and is passionate about making marketing and sales teams successful with their tech stacks. Andrea lives in Atlanta with her husband Buck and her daughter, Arla. When she’s not working, she’s most likely playing with her German Shepherd Murphy, starting a new hobby that she will engage in exactly one time, or making homemade gin.

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