Marketing Automation in B2B in 2017

by Anthony Cocozza

Marketing automation helps marketers to be relevant for their clients on a level that wasn’t possible in the past. Being relevant at the right time, in the right spot seems ideal and something widely implemented. In reality, it’s far from it. We already wrote if Marketing Automation is right for your company. A little summary from the full report...


Act-On Software & Econsultancy conducted research to the state of Marketing Automation in North America & Europe in B2B. The reality of the situation? About half actually uses marketing automation, and only 27% thinks that it contributed to their marketing results.


Alarming results, so Rise + Shine agency had a deep dive into the meaning of these figures. You can find our most important findings in the research summary below.



In short, we see a painful difference between the reason why businesses implement Marketing Automation versus how marketers really use of the tool.


  • The ambition generally is to generate higher quality leads (not volume, but quality indeed!! :-) ) and doing so to increase revenue. OK, that's the good news.
  • However, Marketing Automation is mainly used for activation with most popular features Email, webforms, and landing pages. Day-to-day, we see that drip-, trigger- and nurturing strategies are less important suddenly...
  • Somewhat shocking to us is to see that "traffic to landing pages and forms" is the most popular KPI. How does this relate to the ambition of quality exactly?



Leaders vs. Mainstream Companies

The research checks two types of companies: 34% Leaders (companies where marketing made sure they’ve exceeded their top business goal) & 66% Mainstream companies (everyone else).







Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge for B2B is acquiring more leads. Brand awareness is for Leaders less of a challenge, for Mainstream its retention of the customer or install-base. The difference can be directed to the funnel: Leaders have less trouble with marketing actions at the top and more trouble in converting prospects, while Mainstream companies have trouble in getting new prospects and leads altogether.




Is it already implemented?

53% uses marketing automation. 37% doesn’t, but wants to in the near future. This means within the following year. Almost half is even planning on starting the process within the next 6 months. If we look back to the division, we have 62% of the Leaders using it versus 50% of the Mainstream companies.




Why implementing Marketing Automation?

The two most important goals for marketing automation for B2B companies are generating higher quality leads & increasing traffic. The first goal hopefully leads to the second goal. The third most picked reason might be an unexpected one: making sure that sales & marketing are better aligned for mutual success.





What do they use Marketing Automation for?

When asked specifically why they use (or plan to use) marketing automation for, Email is the top answer for 73% of the respondents, closely followed by Web Forms & Landing Pages. Usually, these three are what companies start with, in that order: first emails, followed by web forms and closely followed by creating landing pages. It’s important to notice that, while email is clearly part of the low-hanging fruit, marketing automation is more than just that.



Europe vs. North America


If we look at Europe vs. North America, we see that thelatter is way aheadon every possible use. This means an obvious advantage of North American companies in B2B over Europe’s.




How do they measure success?


When asked what KPI’s are checked to measure successes, most companies go for traffic to landing pages and forms, followed by new contacts and qualified & accepted leads




Statement check


If you look at the opinions of companies & the effect of MA on their company, you can see that in general, people are pretty positive. Note that only a thirduses marketing automation to their fullest capacity.





When would they achieve a pay-back on their investment?

It usually took between 3 months to 1 year as to when they noticed a good ROI




The main difficulties

As to the problems, they are mainly the correct people, the necessary experience & the difficulties surrounding datamanagement. Complexity & integration are closely followed. Basically, most companies miss the necessary people, knowledge & technology to make full & successful use of marketing automation.





Is it effective?

When checked if companies find their current marketing automation system effective, most answer ‘somewhat effective’. 1/5th of the Leaders do find it very effective, versus 7% of the Mainstream companies.





You might think marketing automation in B2B is well implemented, but that’s not really true. Especially in Europe.


The main target for most B2B-companies that have Marketing Automation set-up, is to have more & better leads, resulting in a higher revenue. Sadly, that's not what they use it for. As mentioned in the summary before, it's mainly used for activation for Email, webforms and landing pages. It's also measured incorrectly, as traffic to landing pages and forms aren't the right KPI's to measure how many high qualitative leads are gained due to implementation of Marketing Automation. Another conclusion is that most companies face huge challenges such as the complexity, no sufficient experience nor knowledge about the tools needed for it. This could explain why most Marketing Automation programs aren't used to their full potential.


Thinking about implementing Marketing Automation? As most companies that haven’t will start to implement in 6 months to a year from now, it might be useful to take the necessary steps.


Let us help you in selecting the correct platform and providing you our knowledge, people and expertise in Marketing Automation!


Interested in the full report? Download it via the Act-On Website



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