The amount marketing automation users amongst the B2B organizations continues to climb rapidly. Along with them, the number of marketers who understand how a marketing automation platform can be used to drive demand creation. In the recently visited SiriusDecisions European Summit, they had noted 5 substantial changes: two involving marketing automation marketplace trends and three centering on marketing automation features, which we have listed below:-
Acquisition Growing Pains
Over the last 3 years, the marketing automation market has rapidly amalgamated (e.g. Oracle acquired Eloqua, Salesforce.com purchased ExactTarget/Pardot, Adobe bought Neolane, IBM acquired Silverpop, SalesFusion purchased LoopFuse). But, just acquiring a company does not immediately meld the organizations (and the products) together. Product portfolios need to be streamlined, user interfaces rationalized and messaging unified. This has not happened in marketing automation, so clients/prospects and many marketing automation platform sales representatives lack a clear understanding of the vendor’s future roadmap. Though the level of clarity is expected to improve in 2016, this ambiguity may well continue, especially for vendors new to the marketing automation marketplace.
Predictive Lead Scoring
Lead scoring is a fundamental capability of marketing automation platforms; but, the use of predictive lead scoring providers has grown speedily. Thus far, marketing automation vendors have opted to partner with predictive lead scoring vendors rather than securing predictive scoring capabilities by building or acquiring them. According to SiriusDecisions study, even this will shift in the coming year; marketing automation vendors will begin incorporating predictive capabilities into their core offerings, driven by customer demand and/or eroding wallet share.
Earlier, only technically sound marketers were capable of actively working in a marketing automation platform. User interfaces were full of pop-up windows, file structures were intricate, and creating a landing page or form required HTML programming expertise. Most vendors have made significant improvements to their user interface and user experience (UI/UX), so non-technical marketers can now safely design & execute demand creation programs using a marketing automation platform. Amazingly, not all vendors have focused on their UI/UX. Thus, their rate of acquiring & retaining clients has dropped. These vendors will continue to bleed market share until their senior management teams realize that product usability is not a nice-to-have but a must-have in today’s marketing automation marketplace.
B2B marketers are beginning to realize that they require better-targeted communication channels beyond email to relay their messages to the market. To expand reach and improve response rates, they are investing more and more in digital advertising. In response, the marketing automation vendors have started to integrate, and offer as add-on modules, access to demand management, advertising and lead management platforms that augment anonymous visitor data with first-party data. Opening up connectivity and linking these technologies gives B2B marketers a more defined audience that can more effectively be targeted with ads and expanded nurture tactics beyond traditional email. According to SiriusDecisions, advertising technology and marketing automation will continue to unite, giving marketers a complete data picture of their digital buyers.
Without the ability to measure, an organization cannot report on its results, let alone understand how close it is to reaching its goal. Over the last 2 years, marketing automation vendors have focused on funnel reporting, campaign and conversion analysis, as well as automated testing (e.g. A/B, multivariate testing). As the marketing automation market has matured, so too have MAP vendors’ analytic capabilities and offerings. Look-alike modeling, pattern matching and next-best-offer capabilities have emerged as feature sets in several marketing automation platforms, most notably in target enterprise-level organizations, making it easier to export data from the automation platform to feed other analytic environments. As per SiriusDecisons study, it is anticipated that marketing automation platform vendors will package these advanced capabilities in a way that makes them easier to use in demand creation programs.