Most B2B companies are drastically failing to follow the most basic lead generation and management best practices, even in areas that remain the primary business case for purchasing marketing automation technologies altogether.
In the last five years, the marketing technology landscape has exploded, turning marketing automation into the cornerstone of the martech stack, resulting in an unprecedented demand for marketing experts on digital platforms.
Hence, assuming that the marketing automation maturity – the sophistication level at which companies employ the technology – has enhanced over the years.
However, as per the recent UK survey, only 2% of B2B marketers actually use marketing automation to their optimum capacity. Equally striking, the number of respondents who reported their usage as “basic” – defined as not leveraging many of the available features – remained unchanged from a prior 2016 survey, at a basic 28%.
Businesses need to analyze why marketing automation is suffering due to gross under utilization. And the lack of experienced marketing operation practitioners is just escalating the issue.
The current marketing talent crunch is felt most keenly in marketing operations, where firms can spend months discovering or replacing even the most entry-level marketing automation users.
The average tenure of any admin, power user, or Marketing Operations Manager has also got shortened over time. Higher demand helps people to job hop for comparatively higher-paying positions.
Agencies, consultants, and other related service providers can help fill the void but don’t necessarily duplicate the institutional knowledge that an experienced MA user can build into a system.
Moreover, multiple consultants and firms are more adept at managing the marketing automation platform than recommending best practices, meaningful change, or lead management strategy.
This existing knowledge gap means that companies are either
- Implementing marketing automation technologies only in the most basic manner
- They are stalled indefinitely in their ever-lasting pursuit of a more sophisticated, robust use of the system
- Vendors focused on customer retention vs. new licenses
The top software players from the marketing automation space have witnessed enormous changes in the last few years. In the last decade, three of the leading four B2B solutions: Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot, have all undergone acquisition by larger giants.
Though each continues to thrive, the result of such a shift of ownership seems to be the priorities that are focused more on customer success vs. net new customers.
The one reason for most marketing automation users to “migrate downstream” – switching from more full-featured software to comparatively less expensive options – is their continuous failure to realize and extract the value equal to the cost of the more expensive solution.
In that sense, vendors are paying the real price for the lack of maturity of their customers. The answer lies in better training, a renewed investment in customer experience, and partners’ support to fill the existing talent and skill gap.
In a rush to deploy, customers miss out on noticing the absence of a strategic vision.
Businesses deploy the software very quickly by using only out-of-the-box templates, innovative lead scoring, and dynamicity of overall structure. The software frees up a backlog of campaigns that are lined-up for execution.
After so long, they are finding themselves never having actually escaped from the “campaign mode,” as they desperately seek assistance in achieving the desired level of business impact that sold the software.
In most cases, the problem is the lack of strategic planning for the business objectives, and absence of marketing automation tools. It is simple – to reach the destination, goal definition is critical to bring about the change.
Because the software companies, not unnaturally, remain focused on sales and deployments, lacking the type or number of experienced consultants to advise, most customers deploy marketing automation in the most tactical fashion. And then they struggle to justify the business value a year later.
All successful marketing automation deployments start with the questions regarding the sales cycle, value addition, investment justification, and customer retention. Focusing on goals vs. campaigns/strategies/ tactics allows a company – or even a qualified partner – to design a fail-proof strategy and put in place the best practices that can generate the desired results.