In a recent VB Insight report, analyst Andrew Jones discovered a mere 5 percent of businesses are currently using marketing automation, yet those that do are scoring increased leads, conversions, and revenue across the board. Then why isn’t everyone getting on board, and getting there fast?

It turns out it’s a lot harder getting started than you’d expect. According to Jones, “There are up to 200 vendors in the marketing automation universe, and probably only 40 that really matter. The single greatest challenge users face when evaluating vendors is understanding the differences in functionality between them.”

The promise of marketing automation

Fundamentally, marketing automation refers to software designed for marketing departments to automate repetitive tasks. However, today it is just as much about coordinating and delivering relevant messages and experiences, regardless of channel.

More than two-fifths (43 percent) of marketers say that marketing automation enables them to touch at least half of the customer journey. Nearly a third (30 percent) of respondents say it is over 70 percent.

That’s huge.


VB’s Marketing automation: how to make the right buying decision (the first time) is available for $299 on VB Insight, or free with your martech subscription


In fact, we defined 28 clear use cases for marketing automation platforms (MAPs). The reality is, as marketing’s reach and importance has grown, the traditional roles of sales, marketing and service are all turned on their heads. Consumers are in charge now, increasingly informing and supporting themselves in the buying process. Enter marketing automation and its increased potential to organizations as a hub for customer data, and for cross-channel marketing activity for every marketing channel. And we do mean every channel.

It’s precisely why Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, and IBM have each bought MAPs and embedded them within their marketing clouds. Whether a company builds its own marketing technology stack or relies heavily on a single vendor’s marketing cloud, marketing automation is quickly becoming the core marketing technology.

 

Email is leading use case for marketing automation

Above: Email is leading use case for marketing automation

Marketing tech meets ad tech

The top use cases for marketing automation in the graphic above (email marketing, lead scoring/lead gen, landing page generators) are often thought of as lead generation and conversion tactics. But there’s a convergence happening with marketing tech and ad tech that’s completely revolutionizing the ways in which users are targeted and sold products. Martech, meet ad tech.

Salesforce just unveiled key updates to its marketing cloud that make a strong statement in the area of delivering messages and experiences in the right time and place. They’re calling it “Active Audiences,” which essentially ties advertising campaigns to live CRM data. In practice, this means the emails and mobile messages (yes, their technology supports push notifications too) customers engage with, as well as their purchase history and customer service records, are taken into account when determining which ads they’ll be shown. This likely means activity and ad spend on networks rich with personal data, like Facebook, will become increasingly important.