B2B marketing automation is hot right now. In fact, a recent report valued the systems revenue in the U.S. market at $1.8 billion—a 50 percent year-over-year increase for the third year in a row. Let’s explore the trends behind the growth, what challenges are facing the industry, and what it all means for your business.
Marketing automation simply describes the use of web services or software to streamline a variety of marketing duties across a variety of channels. For example, marketing automation uses analytics to help track campaign performance, segment audiences, schedule posts, and more.
Marketing automation’s end game is to empower brands to generate and deliver personalized experiences to customers using the power of data, nurturing existing leads through the funnel, and generating new leads along the way. Oh, and the whole process makes marketing more efficient so teams can spend more time creating winning strategies and less time completing repeat tasks.
So, what’s good about marketing automation? As you can tell from that brief definition—plenty. Here are trends to watch for as the market continues to grow:
- Predictive analytics will come front and center. That highly coveted personalized consumer experience can be a result of marketing automation and predictive analytics, but not all organizations have opted-in. According to a report by Smart Insights, almost half of marketers aren’t harnessing the power of predictive analytics, although 85 percent of those lagging organizations would benefit from doing so. That’s a big deal. Marketing automation has strong roots in predictive analytics, especially those used for optimizing lead scoring processes on both individual and account levels. As the market grows, so will the importance of being on-board.
- Sales and marketing will be on the same team. There are plenty of reasons sales and marketing teams can butt heads, but marketing automation can provide some common ground because it benefits both departments. Thanks to the predictive analytics mentioned above, sales can enjoy more effective lead nurturing programs. Everybody wins.
- Ads will become even more powered by data. Some marketing automation providers are acquiring data management platforms (DMPs)—information powerhouses that store every type of data marketers need to effectively target their campaigns. This is a smart move for the industry, and one that will result in continued expansion.
Anytime a market experiences remarkable success, there are growing pains. I have just covered several reasons why marketing automation is such a powerful tool, but it is precisely that wide breadth of capabilities that can cause problems in terms of strategy alignment and overall scope. Integration, then, can be a challenge for many organizations.
Another pitfall is that marketing automation can seem complicated, and many users don’t feel confident in their management of the systems. For example, a Smart Insights report revealed that of current adoptees of the technology, only 14 percent thought they were ‘advanced’ at using the tool. I understand the validity of this statement, as I’ve found the top five platforms on the market could be a little more user-friendly. It also doesn’t help that some marketers are hesitant to step away from traditional tactics and embrace new solutions.
None of what plagues the marketing automation industry today is incurable. Rather, industry maturation, a focus on user-friendly and cost-effective design, and a push to educate and empower buyers on the capabilities of these tools will help move the needle forward.
As a marketer, you know you need to generate quality leads—sometimes even helping to qualify them for sales—but that’s another story—and build awareness around your brand. There are myriad tools available to help you along the way, as marketing technology continues to expand. That said, if you’re not using marketing automation solutions yet, they’re likely at least on your radar. If you haven’t pulled the trigger, what is holding you back? Is it budget or something else? If you’re already on the automation train, are you seeing measurable results? Tell me in the comments.
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