The State of B2B Marketing Automation

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Adoption of marketing automation in B2B varies widely by industry—as does the perception of its value.

The question isn't whether you need marketing automation; it's when. The answer: It depends. According to Sirius Decisions, the overall penetration of B2B marketing automation is about 16%, but it varies by industry. In IT there's 65% adoption, but there's only 8% adoption in manufacturing and 4% in financial services. The growth rate of marketing automation adoption is about 22% per year. At that rate, if you're not in the race you might wind up watching competitors pass you from the sidelines in the not too distant future.

On the plus side, according to Sirius Decisions' Jay Famico, practice director, and Jen Horton, research director, marketers have more choice than ever before. The marketing-tech stack is growing as big vendors gobble up small ones, they said during a presentation at the Sirius Decisions 2014 Summit. Additionally, the market continues to expand, and some new vendors are extending marketing automation further into the customer life cycle.

Even with this growth, all is not rosy. One third of B2B organizations feel they're not getting value from marketing automation, Famico and Horton said. Perhaps that's in part because more than 40% of marketing automation users have less than two years of experience in marketing, thus less of an understanding of both the industry and the technology. Consider: 32% of those with more than six years of experience in marketing have SVP and CXO titles, and 57% of those with more than four year of experience are directors and above.

Another issue with marketing automation: Only 68% of B2B marketers surveyed score leads. Worse, only 40% of salespeople agree or strongly agree that lead scoring is effective.

Famico and Horton shared a few recommendations for improving the marketing automation experience:

  • Understand the market-tech ecosystems, and then prioritize use cases before integrating technologies.
  • Harness the tools to create dynamic websites. Audit and map site content, then align it with buyer personas and stages in purchase cycle.
  • Build in the time to test marketing initiatives and campaigns, and then use the results to optimize them. “No more excuses,” Horton said. 
  • Improve workflow and resources management by auditing process performance and making any necessary enhancements.

“Marketing automation is good when processes are good,” Famico said. “Automating poor processes will make you sink.”

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