There are five key ingredients for B2B marketing success (see the full blog post here):

  1. Have a clear strategic vision
  2. Carefully craft a detailed plan of attack
  3. Keep messaging clear and consistent, and support it with high-quality content
  4. Invest considerable time and effort into sales and marketing alignment
  5. Put the right human and physical infrastructure in place.

Central to that latter point is the adoption of marketing technology, especially automation. The case for marketing automation (MA) is persuasive, and the B2B Marketing Automation Sophistication Index produced by Circle Research and B2B Marketing reveals it has reached a tipping point. When we measured adoption in 2015, the minority (43%) of B2B marketers had put an MA system in place. In 2017 the majority (56%) of the 126 B2B marketers surveyed had taken the plunge.  Automation is now becoming the norm.

Automation has secured this position because, quite simply, it works. 81% of users say it has helped them reach their marketing goals and 63% report that it has increased marketing-generated revenue.

However, when developing an MA strategy, choose your platform carefully. Two fifths (42%) of those surveyed are dissatisfied with theirs, so spend time asking your peers about their experiences before you commit. And when reviewing options, ask yourself whether you really need all those bells and whistles – almost two-thirds (58%) only use a minority of their platform’s features.

Having chosen the right platform, the next challenge is to plan for its implementation. And steel yourself: when asked to reflect on the challenges faced when adopting MA, more than a quarter (29%) named data integration as the single biggest challenge, and a further 12% reported their CRM wasn’t sophisticated enough.

Finally, remember that successful MA isn’t just about putting the system in place, it’s about using it effectively. The single greatest challenge reported when the system is up and running is insufficient skills to realise the benefits.

So, take heed of you peers’ experiences. MA can be a highly valuable tool and this value can be multiplied if you choose your platform wisely, carefully plan for integration and develop the skills needed to unleash the platform’s power.

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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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