Most Marketers Say They’re Not Getting the Most Out of Their Marketing Automation Tools. Why?

August 25, 2021

Ascend2 Biggest Barriers to Full Use of Marketing Automation Aug2021Although marketers recognize the benefits of marketing automation, it doesn’t always mean that they use it to its fullest capacity. In fact, per a new survey from Ascend2 and its Research Partners, only 1 in 5 marketers claim to be using marketing automation tools to their fullest potential.

Marketers have several reasons for implementing marketing automation – including streamlining marketing and sales efforts (35%), improving customer engagement (34%) and improving customer experience (34%). And, on a whole, it appears that marketers are enjoying success using marketing automation. More than 8 in 10 of the 300 B2B and B2C marketers surveyed report that they have been either very (17%) or somewhat (67%) successful at using marketing automation to achieve these priorities.

About half (52%) say that the success of their marketing automation tool is amplified by quality data, followed by strategic execution (46%) and alignment of sales and marketing (45%). While customer experience leaders sing the praises of customer journey mapping, only about one-quarter of respondents to Ascend2’s survey say that it has heightened the success of their marketing automation tool.

So, what’s standing in the way of marketers getting more out of their marketing automation?

The Barriers

Only a little more than one-fifth (22%) of respondents say that adequate staff training has helped with the success of marketing automation tools. Indeed, training and resources appear to be what is standing in the way of many marketers utilizing marketing automation tools to the fullest potential, with the most cited barriers being lack of training/resources/knowledgebase (39%) and lack of resources to manage the tools (32%). This gap in resources is likely one of the reasons survey respondents from a report by Altimeter listed marketing automation as one of their top 3 most desired skills they will be hiring for this year.

Another 3 in 10 (31%) say that lack of budget to maintain marketing automation has presented a challenge in using these tools to the fullest potential. One-quarter also find the setup of marketing automation tools to be too complicated.

Although a majority of marketers surveyed say their marketing automation solution is only somewhat integrated (39%) or not at all integrated (25%) with the rest of their technology stack, only 16% say that the inability to integrate with other tools is a barrier to them using marketing automation tools to their potential.

Use of Automation

Notwithstanding the challenges, marketing automation is used for a myriad of applications, but some more than others. Email marketing is the biggest beneficiary of marketing automation. Two-thirds (65%) of marketers report using marketing automation for this area, while about half (47%) currently use it for social media management. Landing pages (30%), paid ads (28%), campaign tracking (25%) and content management (23%) are somewhat less common uses of marketing automation.

In the year ahead, more marketers plan to implement marketing automation within these top areas. Some 4 in 10 respondents plan to add marketing automation to their email marketing (40%) and social media management (39%) efforts. One-third (32%) say they will add it to their paid ads, while about one-quarter (26%) will implement marketing automation on their landing pages.

About the Data: Findings are based on a June survey of 302 marketers from B2B and B2C channels, 64% of whom worked at companies with fewer than 50 employees.


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