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Marketing influencers say that they primarily use a marketing automation integration strategy in order to achieve objectives such as improved campaign effectiveness (57%) and alignment between sales and marketing (53%), per a survey [download page] from Ascend2. And on the whole this strategy is paying off, as 95% of respondents say their marketing automation integration strategy is either somewhat successful (55%) or very successful (40%) in achieving these set objectives.

Perhaps spurred on by this success, marketers are putting their dollars behind marketing automation – as is the case with marketing technology budgets generally. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the 277 professionals surveyed project a moderate increase in their total budget (which includes time, resources and expenses) to integrate marketing automation into their overall strategy, while close to one-quarter (23%) expect their budget to increase significantly.

That being said, what do marketers consider before investing in a marketing automation system to integrate? First and foremost, more than half (53%) look at the total cost or pricing model – showing that even as spend is likely to go up, it’s likely to be carefully considered.

Ease of use and the learning curve is another important factor that almost half (47%) of respondents consider, while 4 in 10 say that analytics and reporting are also important. Taking these two factors into consideration makes sense considering findings from a survey by Spear Marketing Group which found that, for B2B organizations, marketing analytics is one of the most difficult skill sets to hire for.

Marketing Automation Benefits Unlikely to be Immediately Realized

Prior research has found that marketing automation is successful in achieving KPIs such as improving sales and marketing collaboration, quicker lead routing, providing greater prospect intelligence, and faster lead conversion and sales cycles, as well as improved customer engagement.

However, according to Ascend2, that success will likely not be immediate. In fact, more than half (54%) of the respondents believe that a reasonable time-frame for seeing the benefits of marketing automation integration is 6 to 12 months. That being said, some respondents feel it should take less time, more than one-third (36%) saying that the benefits of integration should be realized in 6 months or less.

Three in 5 marketing influencers surveyed say they use revenue generated as a metric to measure the benefits of their marketing automation integration, while slightly more than half (52%) use customers acquired. Conversion rates are another important metric used by 44% of respondents.

Some lesser-used metrics include sales accepted leads (29%), MQLs (28%), cost-per-lead generated (14%) and open and click rates (6%).

Challenges to Success

A lack of alignment between marketing and sales is still an issue for many organizations despite it being something that most marketers and salespeople think can be remedied. Improving marketing and sales alignment is also a critical challenge to the success of a marketing automation integration strategy for about half (49%) of respondents.

The same percentage of respondents also say a critical challenge is improving quality lead generation, while 45% say they feel improving campaign effectiveness may be a challenge. Improving marketing-related metrics (31%), marketing attribution (23%), data governance/hygiene (17%) and data systems centralization (16%) are also seen possible obstacles to success.

To read more, the report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Ascend2 surveyed 277 marketing influencers and marketing research subscribers during the week of June 17, 2019.

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