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The benefits of marketing automation aren't automatic

The latest Benchmarking Report from B2B Marketing reveals that the vast majority of B2B marketers have either adopted an automation solution (43%) or plan to in the next 12 months (45%). If you’re about to take the plunge there are some valuable lessons to be taken from those who have gone before.

They’ll tell you to carefully manage your own and others’ expectations. Most adopted an automation system to achieve three goals:

  • To better manage leads
  • To deliver more relevant content/messaging
  • To increase revenue

Most of these benefits will emerge, but might take time. That’s especially true of revenue growth. 63% expected automation to increase revenue, but even amongst those whose system has been in place for more than two years, only 40% have seen revenue growth materialise.

They’ll tell you to choose your supplier carefully. Marketing automation is tough to implement. Six in ten (61%) of those who have implemented an automation system describe the experience as ‘difficult’. But help is at hand. The most commonly cited way to ease the implementation process is to choose a supplier who provides ongoing support (51% say this would have made things easier).

They’ll tell you that if you really want to make automation work in the long term, you’ll need to focus on three things:

  • Have a plan in place to integrate diverse technologies and data sources (51% describe data integration as a challenge and a further 36% struggle with technology integration) 
  • Think about resourcing early on – either invest in up-skilling your team or outsource the management of your automation system altogether (54% describe skills shortages as a challenge and a further 48% face resource shortages) 
  • Work out how you’re going to bring other departments on the journey (29% describe departmental alignment as a challenge) 

And finally, if this is all sounding like a lot of hard work, I suspect that automation pioneers will also tell you that it’s worth the effort. Three quarters have found automation to be very (17%) or quite beneficial (57%).

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Download the full report here: B2B Marketing Automation Report 2015