With the Federal Reserve recently downgrading their economic growth projection for 2011 to 3% from 3.6%, many industries and companies will once again be challenged to return their revenue to an upward angle. This reality is expected to present a continued opportunity for the automation space, as more companies look to transform their sales and marketing strategies.
Despite more than 1,500 new companies deploying marketing automation in 2010, many analysts were disappointed with the growth curve for the category last year. As a broader range of industry verticals are seeing the benefits of automation technologies, industry insiders are projecting growth rates will continue to climb this year.
“Re-igniting growth is the business and economic imperative of 2011,” said Jon Miller, VP Marketing, Marketo. “For many companies, their current sales and marketing model is obsolete…at worst it’s totally dysfunctional. As a result, they will transform their operations with more efficient and effective strategies, systems and metrics that deliver higher quality sales leads and subsequently, drive higher revenue growth.”
Miller said marketers are increasingly employing tactics using Revenue Performance Management (RPM), for practices including:
Establishing an infrastructure where sales and marketing are fully integrated and equally responsible for revenue generation;
Measuring, analyzing and forecasting sales and marketing productivity across the entire revenue cycle;
Identifying and removing defects to increase sales and marketing effectiveness and efficiency; and
Implementing a systematic process of continuous improvement in ways that are repeatable and predictable.
Steve Woods, CTO for Eloqua, agreed that the focus on revenue growth is expected to be a driver for 2011. “The interest in the RPM space is extremely high,” said Woods. “Recent investments and M&A activity provide the proof here.”
Eloqua’s CEO Joe Payne recently pointed out on the company’s blog that the renewed focus on revenue growth is also spurring the recent uptick in M&A activity in the marketing automation space. “We are solving a very critical issue for organizations: how to grow revenue,” he said. “Many companies who sell CRM (Oracle, IBM, SAP) are seeing an opportunity to sell into a prospect’s marketing organization to optimize revenue performance.”
Based on the company’s own growth in 2010, Payne also painted an optimistic picture for the category in 2011. “We are growing organically at a remarkable rate. Our growth rate is actually increasing on a larger base. We have had exceptional results in 2010 – far exceeding our own aggressive plans.”
With the explosion of marketing technology innovation, along with the expanding number of communication channels, marketers will look for expert assistance and consulting as they build out their programs in 2011, according to Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey. “Experience in defining lead flow process, lead scoring methodologies, nurture-marketing best practices, and closed-loop reporting approaches will be in high demand as marketing automation becomes vital to success in the new digital marketplace.”
Nussey said BtoB marketers will continue to emphasize a buyer-centric approach by fostering and maintaining relevant one-to-one dialogue, and focus on ensuring deliverability via automated programs. “Social media incorporation will also continue to be a hot topic, with more BtoB marketers taking note of the success this medium has delivered to their consumer counterparts and either making the decision to get on board or step up their game,” he said. “Integrating social dialog into outbound communication programs will continue to gain traction.”
Pardot saw its strongest quarter for both revenue and added clients. The company signed up 75 clients in Q4. That caps off five quarters of adding 50+ clients, according to Co-Founder & COO Adam Blitzer. “We are also seeing strong growth in Europe and have just opened an office in London. 2011 should be a banner year for all marketing automation vendors.”