Marketing automation growth is unprecedented, yet B2B marketers agree it is time-consuming

Marketing automation is experiencing unprecedented growth with data this month indicating that more than half of B2B companies (55 per cent) are adopting the requisite technology. To date, there are nearly 11 times more companies with marketing automation today than there were in early 2011. However, a gulf is growing between high-performing companies who are 67 per cent more likely to use a marketing automation platform — compared to many businesses with 20 or more employees who have only about 4 per cent using marketing automation software.

Marketing automation includes email marketing, social media marketing, marketing analytics, content/data management and more. A recent report entitled the State of Digital Marketing 2016 notes a relatively high usage of email marketing (82 per cent), followed by social media marketing (67 per cent) and content management (52 per cent).

The report also indicates that 50 per cent see social media and SEO as the most difficult digital marketing tactics to execute because they are time-intensive and require skilled resources that are not always available in-house. Email and websites are not only the most effective tactics used, according to the survey, they are also two of the least difficult to execute with 61 per cent of those surveyed favoring email marketing compared to 41 per cent who find social media easy and effective. Finally, 62 per cent of the marketers surveyed said they combine in-house and outsourced strategies for social media.

The main benefits of marketing automation have evolved over the years. Initially, marketers felt that it took repetitive tasks out of marketers’ hands and offered a better targeting of customers and prospects. Today, nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed see benefits of their marketing automation system within six months of implementation. Marketers still agree that automation saves time overall (74 per cent). It also creates increased customer engagement (68 per cent), more time on communications (58 per cent) and increased opportunity for up-selling (58 per cent).

The most important strategic goals of a marketing automation strategy remain increasing lead generation (61 per cent), lead nurturing (57 per cent) and sales revenue (47 per cent). According to the report, the most useful measure of marketing automation is conversion rate (70 per cent), lead generation (48 per cent) and cost per lead (41 per cent).

For 52 per cent of marketers the most significant barrier to marketing automation success is the lack of an effective strategy, with 42 per cent saying the complexity of the system is a factor. The ongoing challenges and obstacles to success mean that 50 per cent of companies find that integrating marketing technology is an uphill battle, while nearly 22 per cent have not integrated their technology.

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Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

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