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For anyone working in B2B marketing, it's hard to ignore the rapid ascendance of marketing automation over the past few years. If you take the time to dig below the undulating praise, however, you'll see that the joys of marketing automation are not as clear-cut as you might first believe.

Only 2.8% of B2B enterprise marketers say marketing automation-powered campaigns achieve their demand generation goals, according to the Annuitas 2015 B2B Enterprise survey of 100+ B2B enterprise marketers from organizations with annual revenues exceeding $250 million.

B2B technology analyst David Raab says almost 70% of marketers are either unhappy or only marginally happy with their marketing automation software

And Bluewolf's most recent State of Salesforce study found that only 7% are seeing good, measurable ROI from their marketing automation investments.

Acknowledging the Limitations of Marketing Automation

It's important to understand what marketing automation does well—as well as what its limitations are.

Marketing automation works well when a well-defined process in place; it doesn't automate your marketing so much as streamline and scale your current processes. Fundamentally, marketing automation is a workflow tool, not an automation tool.

All marketing automation relies on preset logic ("If this X happens then do Y"; "if X does not happen, then do Z") and traditional purchase funnel theory to design the architecture of marketing campaigns and trigger communications.

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image of Andrew Davies

Andrew Davies is a co-founder and the CMO of Idio, a demand orchestration platform that learns from each buyer interaction to improve engagement and accelerate demand at large B2B enterprises.

LinkedIn: Andrew Davies

Twitter: @andjdavies