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Marketing automation is not a new concept to the marketing industry, but achieving success with it is still a struggle for many marketers.

The fact that the marketing technology landscape is growing as fast as it is, highlighted by ChiefMartec’s landscape, doesn’t help either. The 2017 version highlights 212 vendors in the automation space alone!

However, the 2017 Email Industry Census brings good news. Marketers have come to grips with the effort and benefits of automation and they’re focusing on making it work. So much so that automation is now the number one capability they look for in an email service provider! This makes it more important than cost, cross-channel capabilities, and even user-friendliness.

A proven record of delivering revenue

Marketers attribute 22 percent of sales directly to the email channel. With a general tendency to use last-touch attribution in the marketing industry, the revenue actually influenced by email is most likely much higher. What’s more, the gap between investment and revenue keeps widening, so a focus on improving automation represent strong opportunity available from investment in a channel that is already proven to deliver ROI.

2017 Census revenue v budget

Success is on the rise

The results of this year’s Census show a continued increase in the effectiveness of automated programs. The number of companies who describe themselves as ‘quite’ or ‘very’ successful has increased by 5 percentage points up to 67 percent, and agencies are up to 73 percent this year.

When asked what they want to focus on in 2017, both in-house and agency marketers chose a more creative use of behavioral triggers as the first choice (58 and 52 percent respectively), highlighting the importance of automation yet again. Using automation for one-to-one communication followed closely in the third spot with 45 and 42 respectively.

Agency innovate 2017

There seems to be a strong desire among marketers to make their messages more personalized, timely and targeted, driven by behavior and logic, and to break the shackles of pure batch-and-blast email marketing. This is what First-Person Marketing is all about! And as we’ve outlined before, automation is one of the four key components of First-Person Marketing, alongside personalisation – another major focus for marketers in 2017. Formulating a strategy that includes both traditional broadcast email and automated email, to deliver both long-term consistency and timely, action-based communications, is seen by many as key to success.

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