Sunday, February 2, 2014

Why B2B Marketing Automation Software Isn't the Whole Solution

David Raab, a widely-respected marketing automation industry analyst, recently published three blog posts (available here, here, and here) that discuss the usage of, and satisfaction with, B2B marketing automation software. For these posts, David gathered research from several sources, and I recommend that you read David's posts to get the full flavor of his analysis.

For me, there are three major takeaways from David's posts.
  • The market for B2B marketing automation software continues to grow rapidly. According to David's estimates, revenues from B2B marketing automation software reached $750 million in 2013, and the market has been growing at about 50% per year for the past several years.
  • A majority (about 60%) of companies using B2B marketing automation report increases in lead quality and lead quantity, but 25% to 30% of companies are reporting no improvement in these key metrics. (2012 Lead Gen Marketing Effectiveness Study, Lenskold Group/Pedowitz Group)
  • About two-thirds of B2B marketing automation users say they are satisfied or extremely satisfied with their solution, but one-third of users are neutral or dissatisfied. (2013 Marketing Automation Study, Winsper)
  • Most importantly, research from several sources indicates that only a minority of companies that have implemented marketing automation software (probably in the range of 25% to 45%) are fully utilizing their solution. As a result, most companies aren't realizing the full potential value of marketing automation.
These findings shouldn't be all that surprising. While B2B marketing automation software has been available now for several years, much of the adoption has been relatively recent. Therefore, we should expect that many companies are still learning to maximize the capabilities of their solution.

I also contend, however, that some companies have underestimated what is required to maximize the value of B2B marketing automation. The reality is, getting the most from your marketing automation solution is as much about non-technological factors as it is about mastering the finer capabilities of a software application.

Marketing automation software has sometimes been portrayed as a disruptive force in B2B marketing, but this characterization is only partially accurate. What has actually disrupted B2B marketing has been the emergence of independent, self-directing buyers. The Internet has put a voluminous amount of information at the fingertips of business buyers, and many buyers now perceive that they can find whatever information they need, whenever they need it. To put in simply, buyers now have more options than ever, and the bar has been raised for B2B marketers.

The growing use and popularity of marketing automation software and marketing techniques such as content marketing, personalized/customized messaging, and lead nurturing are all reactions to the dramatic and profound shift in power from sellers to buyers.

Like all technology, B2B marketing automation software is an enabler. It enables marketers to use marketing techniques that would otherwise be impractical, if not completely impossible. But to create effective marketing programs and to maximize the benefits you obtain from your marketing automation solution, you also need compelling content and well-designed demand generation processes. As with many other business initiatives, success requires a combination of the right people, processes, and technology.


  1. Well said! I agree with your statements here.

  2. Buyers have become more savvy than ever thanks to the internet. You hit the nail on the head that for success to occur the right combination of people, processes & technology is a must. I think it's also important that the technology doesn't overwhelm the people and working with the right provider to train & help implement features is a big contributing factor to the success rates. Lead Liaison offers a great platform for lead management & marketing automation that includes incredible support & training to help sales/marketing achieve their initiatives.

  3. True, the processes are important. As marketing technology evolves and becomes a closed-loop solution, the requirements for full automation will be greater - for the entire marketing funnel.