Few businesses are maximizing marketing automation opportunities.
Marketing automation will only get bigger in the coming years as marketers grow more comfortable with the technology. The adoption and usage has a way to go. A December 2014 study by Ascend2, indicates 24% of marketing professionals worldwide reported using marketing automation extensively. 35% had a limited use of marketing automation and 34% who weren’t using it said they planned to in the future.
December 2014 polling by CallidusCloud found bleak results among sales and marketing professionals worldwide from business-to-business (B2B) firms—often considered more advanced at marketing automation than their business-to-consumer counterparts. Just under 13% of respondents said they had successfully automated 75% or more of their sales and marketing processes. Meanwhile, more than half said fewer than 50% of their processes had been automated, with the majority of that group automating less than 25%.
Marketers looking to accomplish a list of goals would be wise to jump into automation quickly. Among Ascend2 respondents, 86% said marketing automation was successful to some level at achieving important objectives. However, just 25% ranked this as “very” successful, suggesting room for improvement among users.
Increasing sales revenues and lead generation were the most important objectives of a marketing automation strategy, each cited by 47%, followed by improving lead nurturing (44%), customer engagement (37%) and marketing productivity (33%). Though personalization is hot, just 25% ranked improving campaign targeting as an important objective.
Despite the powerful effect of sharing data companywide and the ability for marketing automation technology to help with that, only one-fifth of respondents said improving marketing-sales alignment was a top priority for marketing automation. Technology solutions were fragmented across B2B sales and marketing departments. About three in 10 (31.4%) respondents said both departments had automation technology solutions, and among marketers only, just 28.6% said so.
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Nearly half of companies now have a formal content marketing strategy
Content marketing saw its importance balloon between 2012 and 2013. According to the digital marketing company that delivers branded newsletters and content for vertical markets IMN’s “2013 Content Marketing Survey Report,” the number of US companies with formal content marketing strategies in place jumped from 28% in 2012 to 49% in 2013, while those without a content strategy contracted from 26% to 18% during the same period.
And even if not all companies surveyed had a content marketing strategy in place at the time, another one-third said they were working on one, suggesting that by 2014, the percentage engaging in content marketing will only go up.
As more have focused their efforts on content, the purposes of the tactic are converting on one key goal: lead generation. Last year, increasing leads was the No. 4 goal among marketing professionals—cited by only 16%— behind engagement, awareness and loyalty. This year, generating more leads was the No. 1 goal, cited by 44% of respondents, far ahead of any other response.
This points to content marketing as primarily a first step in new customer acquisition, as opposed to a tactic used primarily for hooking current or already-identified customers. However, awareness and engagment were still cited by 19% of respondents each.
In keeping with lead generation as the primary goal of content marketing, social media’s role in content strategy also keeps growing, as social outreach helps companies reach new potential clients. Just over half of respondents said social media was the most effective content marketing tactic in 2013. That was followed by the company website (44%), newsletters (42%) and email blasts (42%).
Perhaps adding to content marketing’s appeal—the price is right. More than one-third said they devoted less than 10% of the marketing budget to content marketing in July 2013. But cheapness is not necessarily equivalent with ease of implementation. Content marketing is consistently cited as one of the most difficult tactics to pull off, even if it is one of the least expensive.-emarketer
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