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B2B marketing automation is becoming more and more necessary for many in the B2B world, but is it right for your business?

This article examines the B2B marketing automation industry in 2015 and what decisions businesses should make around their own automation solutions.

B2B Marketing Automation in 2015

There are several reasons marketing automation is becoming more necessary for B2B businesses:

  • Customer lifecycles are becoming more complex
  • There are more digital marketing channels with each passing year
  • Customer and prospect data is increasing at an overwhelming rate

Forrester reports that B2B marketers who implement marketing automation experience increase their sales-pipeline contributions of 10%. Aberdeen also claims that “best-in-class” companies are 67% more likely to be using marketing automation.

Due to the unprecedented need for marketing automation software and tools, the B2B marketing automation industry revenue grew dramatically between 2009 and 2014, from $100 million to $1.2 billion.

This growth is largely due to adoption by verticals outside the tech industry, including telecom, consumer packaged goods, and financial service providers, which compose as much as 75% of the customer base for certain vendors.

Despite this growth, the B2B marketing automation industry has only reached a fraction of its potential. According to Raab Associates, less than 10% of large firms use marketing automation, and an even smaller amount of micro-businesses use them.

Part of the difficulty with the adoption rate is the learning curve and the price tag. Aberdeen reported that 1 out of 5 of the marketers it surveyed were in the process of switching automation providers, which suggests room for improvement.

Key Trends in the B2B Marketing Automation Industry

There are several key trends that B2B marketers should be aware of:

1. Marketing automation will continue to expand.

The proliferation of digital marketing channels has introduced an overwhelming burden onto marketers, who must manage, administrate, and track campaigns across a multitude of outlets.

Current marketing automation systems incorporate a variety of digital marketing functions, including:

  • Digital campaign management
  • Social media marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Web publishing
  • PPC and SEO management
  • CRM software
  • Event registration
  • Data management and intelligence
  • Accounting applications
  • And more

2. Predictive analytics are migrating to B2B.

Currently, predictive analytics tools are widely used in the B2C marketing world. These same techniques and tools are making their way to the B2B marketing world to use machine learning in order to identify, qualify, and close leads.

Traditionally, lead scoring was based on demographics and buying behavior. Predictive analytics, however, can use 200 or more data points.

3. Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS) is becoming standard for some automation companies.

The steep learning curve involved with digital marketing and online marketing automation tools has proven to be a hindrance to many marketers. Due to the highly technical nature of many marketing tools, some vendors have included MaaS within their service packages.

Marketing Automation Capabilities and Benefits

What Marketing Automation Tools Do for Businesses

Marketing automation software originally began as email automation tools. These tools allowed marketers to automate email campaign development, landing page development, website visitor tracking, lead capturing, lead scoring, lead nurturing, data analysis, reporting, and more.

A variety of other tools grew out from these core functions, including dynamic website content integration, multichannel campaign management, mobile optimization, and more.

Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform

One of the central functions of marketing automation is reaching the right customers at the right time with the right message. As prospects use the internet to handle most of their own product research, automation tools are necessary in order to reach customers during their complex journey towards purchase.

There are several major benefits that automation tools offer both B2B and B2C marketers:

Efficiency – Online marketing takes vast amounts of resources. Automation tools reduce administrative overhead on tasks such as content creation, content management, content personalization, campaign scheduling and execution, communication with sales, lead nurturing, and more.

Lead Qualification – As mentioned, automation tools are able to use both demographic and behavioral data, as well as lead scoring systems and predictive analytics, in order to better identify leads.

Multi-Channel Perspectives – Today’s consumer is a multi-channel shopper, and business prospects are no different. Automation tools incorporate data from multiple channels in order to provide a big picture view of the customer, which allows for more in-depth, comprehensive profiles.

Improved Conversion and ROI – The spectrum of benefits offered by automation, from predictive analytics to improved campaign management and lead qualification, improves conversion rates and the return on marketing spend and investment.

Discovering Your Automation Needs

There are a few essential questions to ask when investigating the potential need for marketing automation tools:

Have you outgrown your existing marketing system?

Does your current marketing system adequately meet your most critical marketing needs?

What goals would you expect to achieve with a marketing automation system?

What will the learning curve be and is the current staff capable of using an automation platform?

Investigating these questions in-depth is critical for any marketer who is considering a marketing automation platform.

 

Due to the complexity of the digital marketing world, marketing automation platforms offer marketers a much-needed toolset to reach their customers at the right time and place. However, these platforms themselves are complex and require a heavy investment of time, money, and resources. To maximize the ROI of such an investment, a thorough examination of vendors is warranted.