It is an understatement to say Marketing Automation is a hot topic amongst B2B marketers. Marketing Automation leaders like Aprimo, Eloqua, Marketo and Silverpop are still rapidly growing their customer base, while smaller players like Act-On and Pardot have come on very strong recently. According to Raab Associates, the B2B marketing automation industry was projected to hit $325 million in 2011, representing 50% year-over-year growth. Yet the market saturation is still fairly low (Raab estimates the market penetration at 10-30%). Many organizations are still in the education or consideration phase, and have not yet made the decision to purchase an implement a MA platform. If their peers are clearly finding a lot of value in Marketing Automation, what is keeping the majority of the market from diving in?
The Marketing Leadership Roundtable surveyed 161 marketing organizations and of those that had not yet purchased an MA solution, “resource constraints” was the number one reason they were not investing. These constraints encompass both the expertise to use it effectively and the budget for purchase. Clearly, organizations are not yet convinced that the return on their marketing automation investment is there. If you are in one of the organizations not using MA, but are personally convinced that the technology can be a strategic asset, it is worth reading Kim Roman’s article on MASG about persuading your boss to buy marketing automation. Besides some of the usual tips on presenting a business case and leaving emotions out of it, she offers a great point on how you can incorporate MA into your goals and KPIs.
If you are considering solutions, it is important to keep in mind that the monetary investment in the technology must be paralleled in your investment in people. In the aforementioned survey by the Marketing Leadership Roundtable, the number one challenge of Marketing Automation is “People: training, encouraging adoption, gaining buy-in, Sales & Marketing alignment.”
Marketers want their tools to be easy to use but complexity is an issue. Complexity leads to the need for experts (which are hard to come by, as discussed in this marketing skills gap post). If your organization decides to move forward, it is crucial that those responsible for implementation understand that a significant investment will to be made in either an external support model or in bringing in/upskilling talent to manage the unique projects that marketing automation leads to (lead scoring/nurturing, etc). And of course technology will not solve your other problems like lack of compelling content, poor marketing & sales alignment, and bad marketing processes (if anything, it will make these issues more painful).
In choosing and implementing a Marketing Automation platform, significant challenges remain. The vendor market is still relatively immature, and many organizations have struggled to successfully use MA and see the great ROI touted by the industry. Yet others have seen a tremendous ROI (10x + as estimated by Jeff Pedowitz) thanks to their successful MA deployments. As long as your organization is aware of some of the potential pit-falls and is prepared to make the investment required, you may be able to realize similar returns.