Aliya Zaidi
Aliya Zaidi 20 May 2019

5 Findings from the State of Marketing Automation Report 2019

A new report published by London Research and Act-On highlights that marketers are embracing marketing automation, but many are still in the early stages of maturity. This article looks at the challenges faced by marketers and, crucially, how they are using marketing automation to achieve their business goals.

1. Marketing automation has hit the mainstream

Marketing automation technology has seen rapid, widespread adoption by marketers in recent years. The new State of Marketing Automation Report, published in partnership with Act-On, highlights that more than half of companies (55%) are now utilising marketing automation technology, either exclusively or in addition to an email platform.

For many companies, email is the first step along the road to marketing automation success. Rather than one-off email campaigns or regular newsletters, marketing automation technology allows companies to target their customers according to activity on the website or clearly defined triggers.

The research also shows that the success of marketing automation is likely to keep marching forward, with 28% of respondents planning to invest in marketing software this year.

2. Marketers are prioritising the bottom of the funnel

Marketing automation is an essential tool in the arsenal that enables companies to achieve their marketing goals. Companies must align the technology with their overall marketing strategy to achieve long-term success.  To gauge a deeper understanding of how marketing automation is being employed, it’s important to recognise where marketers’ priorities lie in 2019.

While marketers are prioritising a range of different initiatives for 2019, most companies are leading with a customer acquisition strategy, with over half (54%) reporting that a focus on acquisition is critical.

With a focus on acquiring new customers, it is of paramount importance that leads are qualified and primed, ready for conversion. Consequently, 44% of marketers report that higher-quality leads are a critical priority.

This is an area in which a marketing automation solution can really sing. Integrating the lead management process with a marketing automation solution allows the marketing team to evaluate, score and qualify leads, which they can then directly pass on to the sales team.

3. Most marketers are still in the early stages of marketing automation maturity

Despite widespread adoption of marketing automation technology, most companies are still learning to walk when it comes to marketing automation maturity. While many organisations are now deploying the technology, marketing automation strategies are still in their infancy.

More than half of companies surveyed feel they need to improve across all identifiable areas. Analytics is the area where companies feel they are most competent, but yet only 9% report their marketing automation aptitude in this area is outstanding.

Similarly, across the areas of strategy, campaign optimisation, execution and systems integration, marketers are still very much in the early stages of maturity.

4. Inability to measure ROI and disconnected technology systems are the main challenges

An inability to measure ROI is holding back almost half (49%) companies from improving their digital marketing efforts.

Technology integration is an issue for 39% of companies surveyed. Disconnected technology is thought to be one of the main challenges, and a higher proportion of larger companies report this to be an issue, according to this report’s findings.

Looking at organisations with revenues of over $50m in isolation, 44% reported that disconnected technology is one of the main challenges, compared to 36% of smaller companies.

Larger companies may have a tendency to acquire and purchase a greater number of technology platforms, but it’s crucial to understand that technology alone isn’t a panacea for improving the company’s digital marketing efforts.

Rather, it is about aligning the technology with the overall organisational strategy. Companies with the power to acquire new technology also need to ensure that their technology platforms are able to integrate with each other and are in line with stated marketing goals and objectives.

5. Vendors need to plug the gap between customer needs and actual experience delivered

One of the most striking findings of the research is that there is a significant gap between what companies want from marketing automation vendors and their experience of what these vendors are actually delivering.

For example, analytics is deemed to be one of the most important areas for selecting a vendor, yet when asked to rate their vendor’s capability, only 14% of companies rated their vendor as “excellent”.

For vendors, this means they need to demonstrate good performance across a range of capabilities. Vendors also need to tailor their offering in accordance to what companies look for when selecting an appropriate technology provider.

To sum up this latest research, the findings show that while marketing automation technology can certainly streamline a company’s digital marketing efforts, it must be utilised with an eye on the bigger picture. Certainly, while technology is important, companies can only get the most from the platform once they integrate the technology with a customer-focused strategic framework.    

For more information about how marketing automation is being used to create long-term business success, download The State of Marketing Automation Report 2019, published by London Research, in association with Act-On.

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