Marketing automation has become an irresistible force for the majority of B2B companies in recent years. Recent statistics show that there are nearly 11 times as many B2B organisations using automation tools as there were in early 2011.
Adoption has been rapid, as the many benefits that automated solutions bring are recognised by companies dealing with an overwhelming volume of potential leads amid a dizzying, complex sales ecosystem.
In today’s age of 'big data' analytics and information-overload, automation has the potential to bring order to the chaos – offering cost-effective, intelligent ways of generating leads and targeting customers with relevant, value-adding content.
Any given marketing automation strategy will have a number of objectives. According to a recent Marketo & Ascend2 report, increasing sales revenue was the most important outcome (53%), with lead nurturing ranked second (43%) and customer engagement third (37%).
However, when it comes to specific features that companies look for from automation software, tools that support lead nurturing are considered the most valuable (57%). This is followed by those which support analytics and reporting (52%) and list segmentation capabilities (39%).
But marketing automation isn't always considered plain sailing. While companies may be adopting powerful automation tools in their droves, getting the most out of them is another matter.
A number of barriers prevent brands from fully embracing marketing automation. The same report indicates that the most challenging obstacles to success are:
Lack of quality content (40%)
Budget constraints (38%)
Lack of an effective marketing automation strategy (38%)
Compounding these findings is a recent article from B2C, which identifies a lack of general mastery of (and alignment with) content strategy as the primary pitfall of marketing automation. Author Lauren Littlefield, president of Field Public Relations, writes:
It’s not enough for the marketer to reach the right person at the right time. The marketer also has to say the right thing at the right time… offering the appropriate content based upon the prospect’s stage in their customer journey. Many marketers consider automation as an end in itself, when actually what marketing automation does is facilitate the marketer to do the right thing.
Littlefield makes an important observation. If you don't know how to use the software you have to best effect, it doesn’t matter how powerful it is. Purchasing a marketing automation solution does not compensate for the absence of a meaningful content strategy and investment in personalised marketing efforts.
Automation tools need to be matched with the right internal customer-centric culture, and investment in content that will genuinely resonate with audiences. Put your strategy into action with censhare: we offer a range of data, asset and channel management solutions that enable brands to centrally co-ordinate all communications and build efficiencies through automation. View our Solutions overview to find out more.