The pitfalls and potential of B2B Marketing Automation

I know…half of my advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half… Lord Leverhulme

Marketing automation has existed since the turn of the century, but it’s only in the last five years that it’s really started to make waves.

As of 2015; a quarter[1] of all enterprises are invested in Marketing Automation Technology (MAT) and this figure rises to over two thirds[2] for B2B technology businesses – a massive growth for a product still in its infancy. While these numbers are impressive, some 85% of businesses using MAT believe that they aren’t using it to its full potential.  So what is the appeal and why do so many marketers feel they aren’t using it correctly?

To answer the first point we can refer to Lord Leverhulme’s famous quandary; “…half of my advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half…” This passing remark has become an adage trotted out by marketers for decades, to encapsulate that most interminable of problems.

If I don’t know where my marketing is failing, how do I fix it?

It is precisely this problem that MAT promises to remedy. By refining customer intelligence to a level where communications can be tailored by segment, customer, and even contact; no email, display ad or video fails in its task to engage and influence. But given that so many marketers feel they aren’t using MAT properly, is it the goose that laid the golden egg or just amplifying wasted marketing expense?

The answer isn’t that simple. Purists argue that an email or advert cannot simply be pieced together by a computer from segments designed to appeal to different segments of an audience. They contest that the only thing capable of engaging with a human in a meaningful and persuasive way is another human. Whether it be Sales punching the numbers on the sales floor or the ad-agency copywriter crafting the perfect headline. The right brained marketer will tell you that any collateral must be carefully crafted to tell a story that engages and influences in equal measure.

While the left brained amongst us will argue that creating equally targeted collateral ‘by hand’ would carry a prohibitively high acquisition cost. As an agency that is as creative as it is strategic, we understand both points of view. When approaching a MAT campaign we understand the benefits as well as the parameters we need to work within. Likewise when we approach a ‘regular’ email campaign we do so with the creative freedom and flexibility it affords.

But what of the 85% of MAT adopters who feel they aren’t using it properly?

MAT isn’t for every business and marketer. The investment and cost of deployment can be high, and this money is often better spent on conventional marketing activities. If you’re using MAT to send email campaigns and build landing pages, we recommend you save yourself a few hundred thousand pounds and speak to your agency. If you’re using it to send highly targeted communications to nurture leads and accelerate pipeline then kudos – you’re in the 15%.

 

 

[1] http://adage.com/article/btob/16-b2b-companies-marketing-automation-study/293410/

[2] http://www.mintigo.com/state-of-the-marketing-technology-industry-january-2014/

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