CommuniGator survey finds B2B firms aren’t sinking their teeth into marketing automation

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One in eight B2B firms are not using marketing automation and 28 per cent are not using many of the technology’s key features, a stat that hasn’t changed in three years according to research published by CommuniGator.

The U.K.-based firm — which offers its own line of marketing automation software to assist with lead generation and other activities —  released the data it had worked on in partnership with Smart Insights, which conducted the same research in 2016. Although the more recent report includes a slightly smaller sample, there is little sign of progress in terms of marketing automation adoption.

In fact, some of the findings fly in the phase of best practices that are almost taken for granted among those keynoting major B2B marketing conferences. This includes the use of marketing automation to target specific customers, which was cited by only 29 per cent of those who took part in CommuniGator’s research. Other approaches typically cited as sophisticated by experts have actually declined.

“Nurturing emails were now the second most popular technique in 2019, whereas this was the up-sell in 2016,” the report’s authors noted. “It still shows many businesses not using the advanced techniques email marketing can offer which may fall in line with the fact that progressive profiling has actually dropped from 23% to 18% use.”

Other surprising missed opportunities include the use of marketing automation to cross-check the profiles of showing signs of engagement with a brand’s ideal customer profile. This has actually gone down from 32 per cent in 2016 to 19 per cent this year, the CommuniGator report said. The biggest lead-scoring techniques, in contrast, where more basic metrics like visits to content assets or clicking on links in an e-mail message.

On the plus side, traditional barriers to marketing automation adoption such as limited staff knowledge and defining a strategy has also dropped significantly since 2016. Today, data integration was the most-cited obstacle, followed by lack of resources.

B2B marketers may still be struggling to identify where marketing automation ends and direct outreach to customers begins. This was a point raised in a recent post on Entrepreneur magazine by Connecticut-based Strategic Sales & Marketing vice-president Greg Swartz.

“Marketing-automation tools can be really helpful at organizing your contacts, keeping track of notes and managing relationships over time at a high level, but your prospects often need authentic contact with a human being to help break through the clutter and noise of everyday life,” he wrote. “You might be surprised at how happy your prospects are to hear from you, compared to all the impersonal, text-based communication. I’ve even had prospects tell me, ‘Wow, a phone call. That’s kind of a breath of fresh air.'”

On a related note, the CommuniGator report showed little uptake of marketing automation platforms that have woven in features based on artificial intelligence, which it suggested was still in its infancy.

 

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Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.