There are no shortages of technologies to apply to marketing challenges but one key area that I see a rapid ROI on is the use of Marketing automation tools that truly move the needle on driving Leads down the funnel through quality nurturing programs that build a prospect relationship to the point of becoming a customer.
Marketing Automation For Leads Tops Buyers’ Needs
According to The Center For Media Research & Software Advice, 91% of buyers are evaluating marketing automation software for the first time, with lead nurturing topping the list of desired capabilities among buyers, ahead of marketing analytics and lead scoring.David Raab, publisher of the B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool, provides further analysis of the study, and says “… today… there is more data available for buyer segmentation… higher expectations among buyers and prospects… an increasing need for a marketing automation solution… to manage these challenges…”79% of the buyers were already using some type of software to manage marketing operations, however, only 9% of buyers had a marketing automation system in place. Other systems in use included:
21% of buyers used no software at all, instead relying on manual methods such as pen and paper, spreadsheets or one-off emails.
40% of buyers cited lead management as their company’s primary motivation to improve lead management nurturing buyers until they’re sales ready, and 30% of buyers cited the need to automate processes, such as sending triggered email messages based on customer behavior on their website.
Consulting companies voiced a need to improve the services they provide to customers, wanting the ability to manage their client’s email marketing campaigns as well as their lead scoring and nurturing strategy. Buyers were also seeking software to improve their ability to track which marketing campaigns and channels are most effective in order to demonstrate their ROI.
The top features buyers requested are consistent with their desire to improve lead management. 81% of buyers required lead management features, while 64% requested lead scoring.
Reporting and analytics was also a major focus, with 70% of buyers requesting these features in a marketing automation system. Buyers are seeking basic reporting features to track response rates across email campaigns and attribute revenue to a particular campaign, says the analysis. A small portion of buyers also evaluate these features to track campaign ROI, optimize spend and create fractional attribution models.
Email marketing was a highly desired feature, with 47% of buyers citing the need for this capability. On the other hand, although many marketing automation vendors now include social media marketing features within their platform, only 6% of buyers requested social media features.
High tech topped the industry respondents in the study, as the industry is known as an early adopter of marketing automation software, making up 23% of the buyers surveyed. Consulting and manufacturing were also among the top industries evaluating marketing automation, representing 11% and 8% of the sample.
85% of manufacturers in the sample cited the need to nurture leads due to relatively long sales cycles associated with their product. Several manufacturers also mentioned wanting to create a marketing branch within their organization in order to begin marketing their products online.
Company sizes in the sample varied, ranging from two to thousands of employees. 50% of buyers had fewer than 50 employees, but 15% had 500 or more. The prevalence of small companies in the sample is somewhat surprising, says the report, given that mid-size and large companies have more aggressively adopted marketing automation systems. However, many vendors are now focusing on selling to the small and mid-size business market.
The largest portion of buyers in the sample were small and mid-size companies. 76% generated under $50 million in annual revenue, while 18% generated $100 million or more. However, a greater percentage of large companies are replacing marketing automation software rather than buying for the first time. Considering only companies replacing the software, the portion of companies generating more than $100 million in annual revenues jumped to 30%, a 12% increase.
As the market continues to mature, Raab forecasts “… continued strong growth in marketing automation… over the next few years… as marketers become more familiar with how to use these systems… “