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Ascend2-Most-Important-Marketing-Automation-Objectives-July2014Marketing automation tools are being used with a number of important objectives in mind, and have been generally successful in achieving those objectives, according to a new report [download page] from Ascend2 and its Research Partners based on a survey of 291 marketing, sales and business professionals from around the world, three-quarters of whom are B2B-focused. The most commonly-cited objectives were improving marketing productivity (45%), increasing sales revenue (44%), increasing lead generation (42%) and improving lead nurturing (41%); only 7% rated marketing automation as not being successful in meeting their objectives.

Beyond productivity and lead-focused objectives, fewer respondents are looking at marketing automation to improve marketing-sales alignment. Indeed, recent research from Regalix suggests that while half see marketing-sales alignment as a benefit of marketing automation use, it’s a secondary benefit behind lead management and nurturing.

The Ascend2 survey respondents’ most useful metrics for measuring marketing automation performance largely reflect their objectives. A majority 57% of respondents cited lead conversion rate as a useful metric, with revenue generated (42%) and lead generation ROI (40%) also in the mix. Basic metrics such as open and click-through rates (21%) and website traffic (17%) take a backseat to lead-focused metrics such as cost-per-lead (32%) and leads generated (32%).

Meanwhile, the study finds that when choosing a marketing automation system, respondents consider analytics and reporting (41%) and ease of use (40%) to be the most important factors. The focus on analytics and reporting supports earlier research from Software Advice which found this to be buyers’ second-most requested marketing automation feature behind lead nurturing.

Other important factors when choosing a system, per the Ascend2 report, include an all-in-one solution (34%) and email and campaign management (33%), although respondents to the Regalix study cited above cited email marketing as their most important feature, with reporting tools further down the list.

As for respondents’ most challenging obstacles to marketing automation success? Familiar themes that aren’t specific to marketing automation top the list: lack of an effective strategy (45%); and budget limitations (44%). By comparison, few see lack of management buy-in (23%), ineffective metrics (16%) and not enough leads (14%) as being significant challenges.

About the Data: Ascend2 Research Surveys are conducted online from a panel of more than 50,000 US and international marketing and sales decision-makers and practitioners representing a range of contact roles, company types, sizes and geographic regions.

Roughly three-quarters of respondents to the survey are based in North America, and 52% are from companies with more than 50 employees, including one-quarter with more than 500 employees. A majority 77% of respondents are primarily B2B focused.

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