Challenges with Marketing Automation Trigger Slow Adaptation Rate

Some $1.8 billion was spent on marketing automation systems last year, marking the third consecutive year of 50 percent year-over-year increases. Nevertheless, only about a third of U.S. marketing and sales professionals surveyed this year by IT/data management firm Openprise are using such platforms, and most define their usage as only basic to moderate. Further, only half use the functions allowing for personalization or lead nurturing, and many say they lack the skills for data cleaning and other advanced capabilities.

“The average marketer is pretty tech savvy,” notes John Donlon of SiriusDecisions on Martechtoday.com. “But the data management piece is a whole other process.”

A 2016 Salesforce Pardot/Marketo report on marketing automation summarizes some of the challenges that have arisen.

“Many B2B marketers with traditional marketing backgrounds still struggle to move beyond core tactics — search, website and email marketing tasks — to more advanced marketing practices such as audience segmentation or personalization,” it states.

Specific issues cited in the Openprise report:

  • Marketers struggle to incorporate data from multiple forms of social communication and other channels.

  • Half the survey respondents point to maintenance of clean data as their top obstacle; complaints revolve around inaccurate, incomplete or outdated info that takes time and effort to remediate.

  • The No. 1 reason cited for not pursuing advanced practices on marketing automation platforms is lack of time.

  • Twenty-four percent of the respondents owning platforms cite lack of data as the reason they’re not pursuing more advanced functions. Eighty percent score leads through such systems, but only half qualify leads.

Possible solutions cited in the Salesforce report:

  • Some organizations have added marketing technologists to their staff to address tasks that combine marketing and technology. Others are utilizing the professional and managed services increasingly offered by B2B marketing automation vendors.

  • Some marketing automation vendors are acquiring or partnering with data management platforms (DMPs) that can house large customer databases. The goal is centralizing functions and reducing data silos and disconnects between display ad customer data and marketing automation.

  • Some vendors have expanded their in-house options by offering automated setup, prebuilt programs and templates, self-serve training, user forums and knowledge bases. Others have partnered with marketing agencies to allow for more robust platform management, creative development and campaign execution services.

  • Vendors are facilitating integration with more “out-of-the-box” or “plug-and-play” access offered to partner ecosystems.

  • Predictive analytics tools are expanding the accuracy of lead-scoring data points by sourcing and analyzing websites, social networks and internal systems to calculate lead scores.

  • Vendors continue to add advanced features, allowing users to build, track and manage campaigns across digital and traditional channels and/or devices, and to monitor leads as they move from marketing to sales.

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