Corporate Eye

Marketing Automation Challenges and Opportunities

growth marketing automationFor brand marketers, automating processes does more than save time. It also increases lead generation and conversions. That means an investment in marketing automation can increase sales revenues.

A new study by Ascend2, the Marketing Automation Benchmark Summary Report, found that of marketers who are already using marketing automation, only 7% believe that it has not be successful in helping them to achieve important objectives. More than one in three marketers (69%) who responded to the Ascend2 survey indicated that marketing automation has been somewhat successful for them, while nearly one in four (24%) believe it has been very successful for them.

Brand marketers are using marketing automation in a variety of ways and few have the skills needed to fully leverage the opportunities it presents. Nearly one in two marketers who responded to this survey have to outsource some (41%) or all (7%) of their automated marketing campaigns.

However, even with great marketing automation tools and external expertise assisting them, brand marketers are still faced with many challenges when it comes to actually making marketing automation work for them. Most marketers struggle with developing an effective strategy (45%), limited budgets (44%), and a lack of skilled staff (40%). Furthermore, more than one in three marketers (34%) identify insufficient data quality as the most challenging obstacle to marketing automation success. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the top two factors that marketers consider when choosing a marketing automation tool are analytics and reporting (41%) and ease of use (40%).

As with all marketing tools and marketing campaigns, metrics matter. Marketers involved in this study believe that the most useful metrics for measuring marketing automation performance are:

  • Lead conversion rate = 57%
  • Revenue generated = 42%
  • Lead generation ROI = 40%
  • Cost per lead = 32%
  • Leads generated = 32%
  • Pipeline value generated = 29%
  • Open/click-through rate = 21%
  • Website traffic = 17%

There is no doubt that marketing automation tools can help you execute more efficient and more successful marketing programs, but without the right skills to use those tools and accurately analyze the data provided by the tools, your success with them will be limited. I believe that employee training on using marketing automation tools (among others) is an investment that would pay off for almost any company. Would you agree?

How have you effectively integrated marketing automation at your company. Leave a comment and share your success story.

Image: Carl Dwyer

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.