Predictions that 2015 is the year of marketing automation seem to be spot on.  The latest Benchmarking Report from B2B Marketing reveals that the vast majority of B2B marketers have either adopted an automation solution (43%) or plan to in the next 12 months (45%).  If you’re about to take the plunge there are some valuable lessons to be taken from those who have gone before.

They’ll tell you to carefully manage your own and others’ expectations.  Most adopted an automation system to achieve three goals: to better manage leads, to deliver more relevant content/messaging and to increase revenue.  Most of these benefits will emerge, but might take time.  That’s especially true of revenue growth.  63% expected automation to increase revenue, but even amongst those whose system has been in place for more than two years, only 40% have seen revenue growth materialise.

They’ll tell you to choose your supplier carefully.  Marketing automation is tough to implement.  Six in ten (61%) of those who have implemented an automation system describe the experience as ‘difficult’.   But help is at hand.  The most commonly cited way to ease the implementation process is to choose a supplier who provides ongoing support (51% say this would have made things easier).

And they’ll tell you that if you really want to make automation work in the long term, you’ll need to focus on three things:

  • Have a plan in place to integrate diverse technologies and data sources (51% describe data integration as a challenge and a further 36% struggle with technology integration)
  • Think about resourcing early on – either invest in up-skilling your team or outsource the management of your automation system altogether (54% describe skills shortages as a challenge and a further 48% face resource shortages)
  • Work out how you’re going to bring other departments on the journey (29% describe departmental alignment as a challenge)

And finally, if this is all sounding like a lot of hard work, I suspect that automation pioneers will also tell you that it’s worth the effort.  Three quarters have found automation to be very (17%) or quite beneficial (57%).

Download the full report here: B2B Marketing Automation Report 2015

Find out more about Circle Research’s B2B marcoms and advertising research services here.

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About Andrew

Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.

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