While the B2B segment has grown phenomenally over the last decade, only a couple of years ago it was seen as a hit-and-miss exercise. Having practical tools to identify the target audience, then creating strategies on their requirements, customizing every offering, and aiming to hit the target- all of this has been made possible only by the martech stacks that are at play in every plan.
Today, the most significant chunk of this stack is for marketers needs to be business automation. A decade ago, CRM platforms like Salesforce were adequate, but not anymore. Even though the very concept of the CRM platform is evolving, one thing is sure. A plain CRM is no longer a workable solution or even a process support tool. Today, statistically, over 50 % of B2B brands have dedicated marketing automation platforms. This automation has to be more targeted on the dollars spent to manage the cost better and add more value to the internal and external customer experience. Infused with Artificial intelligence, it is a force to reckon with. An intelligent self-tracking mechanism is also the need of the hour to enable scalability and even more efficiency.
Automation has become such an intrinsic part of b2B planning processes that in 2019, over 29% of allcompanies spent on marketing technology. Here are some quick statistics from the HubSpot marketing statistics report- 92% of marketing agencies invest heavily in marketing automation integration. (MarketingProfs, 2019). Of these, 23% are automating their content delivery. (HubSpot, 2020), and 68% of businesses use automation in some way. (HubSpot, 2020). As ABM takes deeper roots, more than 90% of all B2B marketers now have an ABM program and 68% use automation. (Salesforce, 2020) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Despite these encouraging figures, I sense that not all B2B marketing organizations are using the full potential of automation technologies in their martech stack- either because they are not yet prepared for it or because they have not realized the power it has. In fact, till 2020, a survey done in the UK has reported that a mere 2% of adopters of marketing automation are using it to its full potential! Why is this happening?
In my view, and being in the industry with enough conversations that we hear every day, a lack of skills is a big reason for this unfortunate situation. There are plenty of consultants to guide the marketers but minimal resources to work it on the ground.
One more fundamental reason is that in many cases, the cost of a marketing automation tech stack often far exceeds the value in real terms that can be quantified- to justify the RoI. When its total usage has not been reached, the total value will not be derived from applications. This is another genuine issue why automation has not taken over the martech space as much as it could have or should have.
Another reason for this could also be the lack of a holistic strategy to leverage the full benefits that marketing automation provides. Using tools in silos, applying automation piecemeal, or not having the entire process validated by the strategy makers, can cause a lack of value addition on applications. This is something organizations need to understand and act upon.
For the B2B marketers of tomorrow, the way out is obvious. The CMO needs to identify a holistic strategy by first identifying clear goals and objectives, the metrics to measure value addition, and the clear focus on the target audience. With a focus on goals, the strategy falls in place, and the role of technology stacks- and automation- is clear after that.
This is the only way to utilize the power of automation in B2B marketing strategy and successfully generate the best possible benefits it can offer.