A full quarter of companies that adopt marketing automation boost revenue between 30 and 49 percent, according to a new study by RazorSocial’s Ian Cleary. Another 20 percent of companies see revenue jump between 15 and 29 percent.

But significant errors in system selection can lead to negative ROI — and dissatisfaction.

Respondents in the study

Above: Respondents in the study

Image Credit: Ian Cleary

“Picking the wrong tool, not assigning the right resources, and not managing the initial and ongoing implementation can lead to reduced or even non-existent ROI,” Cleary says. “Almost half of those who have implemented marketing automation are not sure, months or years later, whether the time, energy, and money to do marketing automation has been worth it.”

That’s a striking dichotomy: significant ROI on the one hand, and seemingly inexplicable unhappiness with results on the other hand. Other researchers have reported similar confusing results.

One cause is confounding variables, according to Cleary.

Cleary’s report is available on VB Intel:
How to dramatically increase revenue with marketing automation tools

The reason is that most companies implement a marketing automation system when they are either in a state of growth, expecting growth, or planning for growth. So your sales might be increasing anyway, making it harder to determine what actually caused the growth.

“Your automation tool may help you increase revenue more quickly, but all revenue increases may not be attributable to marketing automation exclusively,” Cleary says.

Correlation may not conclusively indicate causation, but the connection between marketing automation and growth is strong. The most common result, achieved by just over a third of firms, is that companies adopting marketing automation increased revenue modestly, between five to 10 percent. Over 10 percent saw a massive 50-74 percent increase, however, and almost 20 percent experienced greater than a 75 percent increase in revenue.

Almost 150 companies using marketing automation participated in the study.

As Cleary’s research shows, however, there’s a lot of room to grow. Companies that select the wrong system don’t see the results that they want, and about 60 percent of companies that adopt marketing automation are not sure if they’ve picked the right solution.

One key, Cleary says, is a step that many companies skimp on: investing in the implementation.

“Without a plan, with target dates to achieve each stage, the implementation will drag on, and this will cost you money,” he writes in the report.


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