Marketing Automation: Aligning Technology and Skills

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Marketing Automation: Aligning Technology and Skills
Marketing Automation: Aligning Technology and Skills

"Sometimes we just get lost in the technology. If you don't know what you don't know, it's hard to ask."

Michelle Huff's words resonated me today, as I heard over lunch how a marketing tech executive had finally rejected a very well-known solution as just to much hassle, a found a less sophisticated, but more user-friendly replacement.

Huff is CMO with B2B marketing automation platform Act-On, which has exerted itself recently both in understanding the travails of MA users, and providing what may be a constructive solution for some of them. This week, a report by eConsultancy in association with Act-On revealed that while just over half the B2B businesses surveyed were using MA, only 27% firmly believed it had improved outcomes. Also, Act-On University is now open— free and unlimited Act-On customers — to teach MA at basic, intermediate, and advanced levels.

Another striking statistic from the report: Only 37% of respondents are nurturing their leads (for "Leaders" — high performing marketing departments, it's a more comforting 48%). I asked Huff what the problems were. "Sometimes it's just sales and marketing alignment," she said. "Sometimes it's the reporting; they don't have it all hooked up. Marketing automation is still relatively new. It may just be part of adopting it." 

And sometimes, it's about changing the marketing mind-set, and realizing that it now has a real role in revenue-generation, or at least the process that leads to that. But in a glass half full spirit, Huff draws some positive conclusions for the marketing space. If more than half the respondents are using MA, it's gaining real traction; plus, there's still a large market to be penetrated. What's more, among Leaders — the marketing departments displaying excellence — use of marketing technology rises from just over 50% to 62%.

Matt Zelen, Act-On's Chief Customer Officer, described the contribution the University might make to help people drive results from their systems. For one thing, it will uniquely tailor learning paths for specific marketing roles. It will give users access to experts, not just while onboarding, but on an ongoing basis. Importantly, as many vendors offers certification in use of their own solutions, Zelen says Act-On University is not just about expertise in the technology. Among the skills it will teach are "foundational ones: Not just how to use the platform, but methodologies and strategies beyond that." It seeks to answer user questions like "How do we make it richer? How do we make it live?"

Zelen believes it will be of interest to senior marketers, who will be able to manage the learning paths of team members. It's too early to evaluate uptake, but Zelen reports positive feedback from soft launch users.

If you're inside the Act-On system, you can across the University by clicking on an academic cap icon. For more learning on B2B marketing (including input from Act-On), you can join DMN tomorrow, August 17, for a virtual event, "The Changing Face of B2B Marketing." It's not too late to register.

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