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Ease of implementation is the most common factor evaluated by marketers when selecting a marketing automation system, new research [download page] from Ascend2 has found. In its survey of 228 marketing professionals – mostly from medium-to-large companies – Ascend2 found more respondents considering implementation (54%) an important aspect than cost of ownership and pricing (43%).

That implementation concerns outweigh the actual functional capabilities of the system itself – such as analytics capabilities (cited by 40%) – or cross-platform integration (39%) might seem surprising. But separate study results suggest why implementation is top-of-mind.

Here’s why: the overwhelming majority (84%) of respondents feel that it’s either somewhat (59%) or extremely (26%) complicated to implement a marketing automation system. To put it another way, marketers (at least this sample) are twice as likely to call automation implementation extremely complicated as they are to see is as uncomplicated.

That complexity rears its head when estimating implementation time-frames, too. More than two-thirds feel that it’s unreasonably to expect completion of implementation of a marketing automation system in under 4 months. For almost one-quarter, at least 6 months is a viable time-frame.

Given all that effort, it’s maybe not too surprising that ease of implementation is a top concern. Marketers are working with an array of technologies, have shorter tenures in which to execute their visions, and are under considerable pressure to prove the value of their activities. Under these conditions, getting up and running as quickly as possible is paramount.

So what are the payoffs? For the most part, marketing automation strategies are about increasing marketing ROI, optimizing productivity and acquiring more customers, per the report. Of those, productivity seems the least challenging – which is logical given the very nature of automation. Increasing ROI is more challenging, but the most challenging objective is measuring performance.

Encouragingly, the vast majority (84%) believe that their marketing automation strategy is at least somewhat successful. So it appears that all that time taken to implement is probably worth it in the long run…

About the Data: The results are based on a survey fielded the week of April 2, 2017 among 228 marketing professionals around the world, 81% of whom work at companies with at least 50 employees. Respondents were fairly even split between B2B (41%), B2C (35%) companies, with the remaining 24% at companies targeting B2B and B2C equally.

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