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Half of companies looking to purchase marketing automation systems are worried they don’t have the in-house skills to make it work or the budget required to make it happen, according to early results from a new survey by marketing expert Dan Freeman and VentureBeat.

And, they’re worried that marketing automation won’t deliver on its many promises.

Marketing automation promises to jump-start inbound marketing, nurture prospective clients, and boost quality leads, which is why it’s one of the hottest-growing software-as-a-service categories, projected to grow by 60 percent in 2014. But it’s still something that is very, very new, something that only a tiny fraction of non-tech companies have adopted … and something that companies have significant fears about.

Freeman and VentureBeat are still looking for more survey respondents.
Help us out, and we’ll share the data with you.

The number one concern? Whether existing marketing staff have the right skill set.

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More than 55 percent of companies are concerned “whether we have the in-house skills to effectively implement” marketing automation, according to the survey. That makes sense given a recent Adobe survey that suggests most traditional marketers don’t have the skills needed in today’s tech-dominated marketing world — and don’t know how to get them.

Perhaps just as concerning to marketing automation vendors, however, would be a concurrent worry that marketing automation won’t deliver on its promises. 54 percent of respondents said they weren’t sure that investing in marketing automation would produce real results. It’s likely that there’s a correlation between the two concerns, since while most companies that adopt marketing automation technology improve their ability to generate leads, at least a third of them say the results are underwhelming.

ss-marketo-buys-crowd-factory-socialCost is a third major concern.

Even though a significant number of very inexpensive marketing automation systems exist, if you’re going to hit the top of the market with enterprise solutions like Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, or Eloqua, you’re going to spend thousands if not tens of thousands pretty quickly. Mid-market solutions will run in the high hundreds and low thousands monthly, and that doesn’t include any additional personnel costs or software/data integration costs.

In fact, 53 percent of our respondents said they were not sure they could afford marketing automation — a perception that industry vendors are going to have to overcome if they want to keep marketing automation’s growth red hot.

Freeman’s marketing automation survey is still running and collecting responses. Current results are based on just over 200 responses from marketing executives and managers.

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