Study Highlights How and Why Top B2B Marketers Use Marketing Automation

Published: February 29, 2012

More Leads or Better Leads?

According to the report, for example, 46% of top-performing companies implemented marketing automation to get higher-quality leads, while 41%did so in order to generate more leads. Among non-top performers, a much higher number — 58% – focused on lead quantity.

Top performers were also more likely than other respondents – by 41% to 24% – to cite customer retention as an important reason to implement marketing automation. On the other hand, top performers were far less likely than other companies to cite “ease of use” as a major factor when selecting a marketing automation solution.

One point that almost everybody agreed on was the link between marketing automation and revenue – nearly three quarters of all companies surveyed said that “increased revenue” was a major reason to adopt marketing automation.

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Top Performers Focus on Cost Analysis – Not Cost-Cutting
According to the study, cost-cutting is another area where top-performing companies take a very different approach then their competitors. While 58% of all respondents said that they adopted marketing automation to cut their marketing costs, just 9% of the top performers agreed with this position. “Few marketers would buy an automation system specifically so they can spend less,” the report states. “But many want a system that helps them to understand their spending.”

The report did find a strong consensus that marketing automation should enable closer cooperation between marketing and sales teams – 69% of all respondents identified this issue as a major value driver for them. At the same time, however, a majority of the companies surveyed said that agreeing on the right metrics to measure marketing performance continues to be a challenge.

“Companies are waking up to the fact that it’s not a hand-off from marketing to sales, it’s more of a team effort,” said Ian Michiels, Principal Analyst, Gleanster.. “What the top performers teach us is that marketing automation investments are driving much of that alignment and the ongoing use of the tool actually solidifies the alignment into the culture.”

In addition, nearly 80% of the companies surveyed cited data quality as a major challenge to their marketing automation efforts. “An early, thorough assessment of existing data is an important task in any implementation process,” said the report, identifying data-quality initiatives as a key best practice for any marketing automation effort.

Assessing the Vendor Landscape
The Gleanster report also offers a detailed breakdown of the current marketing automation vendor landscape. Currently, this breaks down across four general strategies for implementing the technology and dealing with potential obstacles to deployment.

“One approach focuses on training,” the report states, adding that Gleanster analysts see this as the preferable approach in spite of its tendency to impose higher up-front costs. A second strategy, focused on ease of use, requires less advance preparation and can be especially attractive for smaller companies.

A third approach, the report says, involves solutions that emphasize automating as many marketing processes as possible, while the final approach concentrates on providing full-service solutions that shifts the implementation burden onto the vendors themselves rather than users.

In the long run, Michiels said the marketing automation market is ripe for consolidation – and perhaps for a shakeout. “I think full-service and ease of use are prevailing right now, and that is killing margins for the smaller players,” he said. “New entrants are practically giving it away, because they don’t need to recoup the cost of R&D – they just mimic what worked and go from there.”

No matter which approach a company takes to marketing automation, it’s clear that the field is growing rapidly – according to the report, these vendors’ combined client base more than doubled in 2011. And as the results of this customer survey indicate, that growing user base is driving a growing body of best practices for adopting and implementing marketing automation technology.

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