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Marketing automation is a marketer’s must-have in our fast-paced, omnichannel world.

But it’s not always as automatic as we’d like it to be. Is your marketing automation strategy achieving the ROI you want? Is it helping you meet your goals?

Our new report, State of Marketing Automation – Benchmarks for Success 2017, lets you benchmark your strategy and implementation against companies that rated themselves very successful or best-in-class, according to an Adestra survey conducted with research partner Ascend2. Those high achievers amounted to only 33 percent of the companies completing the survey.

We talked to a mix of companies in terms of number of employees and primary marketing channel, while 85 percent of respondents were manager-level or above, to understand where they’re finding value in this technology and where they struggle.

Juggling multiple objectives

Today’s marketers are tasked with delivering against multiple objectives, as you’ll see from the narrow spread among the goals for the marketing automation strategy. This is true even though the majority of them (62 percent) have a complex sales cycle. What’s the priority? It’s all a priority!

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Up and running

Implementing a marketing automation system is perceived to be a complicated initiative by 81 percent of best-in-class marketers, with 46 percent describing it as extremely complicated. Because of this complexity, 59 percent outsource implementation, allowing them to tap in to specialized skills and capabilities that may not be available in-house.

The speed of implementation is important, but 45 percent of top marketers realized it could take four to six months to get a marketing automation system up and running. Another 33 percent thought three months or less was reasonable.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that ease of implementation was the most important criterion for evaluating marketing automation technology, followed by technical support.

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These marketing stars have identified many barriers to success. Most critical are increasing marketing ROI and improving campaign management—the very things that marketing automation is supposed to achieve.

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Focus, focus

When we map the importance of an objective against how difficult it is to achieve, we can identify which of those many priorities marketers should focus on as they work through their marketing automation strategies.

We found that optimizing productivity is the best focus for a quick win: It was both the highest objective (identified by 43 percent) and less challenging to pull off than some of the others.

Marketing automation: essential and worth the effort

As our survey shows, if you find it challenging to implement and/or achieve ROI with marketing automation, you are certainly not alone. Follow the lead of those marketers who have found success:

  • Achieve early wins by focusing on the objectives that are most important and easiest to achieve
  • Diligently grill vendors on how difficult their products are to implement and how much support they offer

This will allow you to get that competitive edge that this technology can offer you, enabling you to take your place among the marketing stars.

To download a free copy of our State of Marketing Automation – Benchmarks for Success 2017 report, click on this link