RBA - Marketing AutomationAs a marketing strategist I’m always looking at reports and surveys to help me understand what marketing departments are up to, but recently one survey’s results surprised me a little. Software Advice released their Marketing Automation BuyerView and one stat that really jumped out is that out of the prospective Marketing Automation buyers, 21% currently had no dedicated solution to manage marketing campaigns, instead relying on spreadsheets, paper/pens, and one-off emails.

I understand that a lot of people have shied away from Marketing Automation out of fear that the solution is hard to use or implement, but relying on just a CRM solution or standalone email solution is leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.

But I was encouraged as I kept reading, it turns out marketers are starting to prioritize lead nurturing and conversion-based marketing. 81% of respondents reported that lead nurturing was a key priority in buying a Marketing Automation solution. With reporting and analytics coming right behind at 70%

Marketing departments have been looking for years at ways to better measure and report on their efforts and deliver better lead management processes targeted to the prospects. Now, they are turning to Marketing Automation solutions to help fill some of those gaps. 91% of the respondents were looking at a marketing automation solution for the first time, giving an indication that marketers are getting confident in their ability to put a marketing automation solution in place and take advantage of it.

When Software Advice was asked what they thought the struggles for first time buyers would be they said, “Probably the biggest struggle is understanding how to use the system to its fullest. Various reports have come out showing that while many companies know they need lead nurturing and lead scoring capabilities, they have difficulty making full use of the functionality because it is more complicated than it seems on the surface. For instance, email branching logic, as a concept, is not that difficult to grasp. But deciding what to do after a buyer opens a lead nurturing email (or doesn’t) and understanding what content to deliver to keep that buyer moving through the sales cycle is much more complicated. As a result, first-time marketing automation buyers can sometimes become overwhelmed once they get into their new system. To counteract this, I’d recommend thoroughly researching exactly what you need from a marketing automation system before you buy. Once you understand your needs, start preparing for how you’ll use the system well in advance of making a purchase.”

I have to say that I completely agree with this conclusion, but I would also add that bringing in a strong partner who has experience in marketing automation and also understands the bigger marketing department picture and operation will determine how successful you can be. Sure, from a technical standpoint many partners can install and implement a Marketing Automation solution for you, but that doesn’t mean they understand how a marketing department operates, or how to build campaigns that work. They won’t be able to help you identify your processes, creating campaigns that match your business objectives and take advantage of the marketing automation system at the same time.

So if you’re looking at marketing automation solutions, or just trying to figure out what the best route might be, start small and work fast. Get your plan and objectives on paper, hold a strategy session to brainstorm all the things you would like to happen, and engage a partner early so they can help provide support throughout the process.

About the report: The data presented in this research is based on an analysis of 896 interactions with marketing automation software buyers between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013

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