Why Marketers Don't Understand Marketing Automation

Not only are marketing professionals not investing in marketing automation technology, nearly half of them don’t even know what it is, according to a recent survey.

confused marketing guy
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Marketers are placing their bets on website, search engine optimization, branding and social media technologies -- not so much on paid advertising or, more importantly, marketing automation -- according to a survey from Autopilot, a marketing automation vendor.

In the age of digital marketing, marketers want to invest in online channels that enable them to have a direct conversation with the customer, yet there's clearly room for improvement. Autopilot surveyed 327 U.S. marketing professionals and found that 65 percent felt their marketing department could do a better job staying in touch with customers.

You'd think marketing automation would help close this gap. After all, the technology promises to help marketing departments communicate with customer databases over multiple channels, mostly email but also social media and websites, and automate repetitive tasks.

Marketing Auto What?

But this wasn't the case: Only 13 percent of respondents said marketing automation was an investment priority. The simple truth is that marketers are undergoing a crash course in emerging marketing technology that is upending their profession, and their education is lagging.

"Forty-four percent of the people who weren't using marketing automation didn't even know what it was," says Autopilot CEO Mike Sharkey.

Autopilot claims companies that communicate with customers every two to four weeks, largely through marketing automation, generate twice the amount of leads. Yet almost half of respondents said they send at most two to three communications each year.

It's a costly time for marketers who can't separate sky-high promises from the nitty-gritty realities of new-fangled technology -- just ask any CIO about life on technology's bleeding edge. When technology under delivers, marketers are quick to point the finger at technology rather than their use of it. Last year, VentureBeat Research found that 38 percent of marketing automation users were considering swapping out systems this year.

Marketers, Heal Thyself

All of this sounds eerily similar to a Forrester report in January that found a high rate of failings with social listening platforms, another core marketing technology. Forrester says many organizations switch platforms year after year, in hopes of finding the right tool. Never mind that the fault often lies in their lack of realistic expectations and understanding about the emerging marketing technology ecosystem.

The Autopilot report concludes that marketers aren't feeling satisfied; maybe they have only themselves to blame.

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