The marketing industry is abuzz with talk of automation.

In the United Kingdom, 72 percent of digital marketing managers feel their job has become more complex in the last year. One Gleanster survey claims that 84 percent of B2B top performers are looking to invest in marketing automation. And according to Google, “marketing automation” is trending at its highest in 10 years:

2005 – 2015 Google Search Trends for “marketing automation”

But marketers aren’t all talk — they’re walking the walk, too.

In just three years, the amount of B2B companies using marketing automation software has grown 10x over. And 91 percent of its most successful users agree that marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels.

Marketing Automation: Craze or Credible?

The tech industry is infamous for marketing buzzwords, and there’s now a whole industry of tech marketers marketing to other marketers. Which is all to say that it’s natural to wonder if this is all just another fad.

Most marketers already know the power of email, social, and content marketing. Marketing automation brings all you marketing tools to one central place. This technology helps unify the sales and marketing process, automate lead nurturing, and build quality relationships with prospects at scale.

Though marketing automation is gaining popularity, to write it off as just a trend is inaccurate. Let’s examine why.

Customers Want Personalization

Your customers want meaningful, informative emails. Your business exists to meet a need; customers will appreciate your marketing if it’s as relevant to their needs as possible.

In fact, when asked to make a choice about websites tracking their online behavior, an Accenture survey revealed 64 percent of total respondents said it’s most important that companies present them with relevant offers, while only 36 percent said companies should stop tracking their website activity.

Marketing automation helps companies deliver the personalized experience that consumers want. It can tailor the messages customers receive based on their digital behavior (such as which articles they read on your site, or what sections they visit) which equates to more successful campaigns and ultimately, more satisfied customers.

The Return on Investment is High

A technology investment must be driven by business needs. Although some companies are in dire need of better marketing, they feel insecure about the decision to implement new software.

This fear is understandable — no one wants to burn money. But when done properly, marketing automation can yield a hefty ROI.

Let’s look at Opsview as an example. The UK-based software company needed a way to differentiate between two types of website leads. To do this, Opsview turned to marketing automation software to survey, score, and qualify leads. Prospects with a high enough score were automatically sent to sales, while those in the middle of the funnel were put through nurturing campaigns until their score increased.

The results?

  • CRM opportunities increased 95 percent quarter-over-quarter (prior to implementing marketing automation, leads were generated by software download only and not scored in the CRM)
  • Pre-qualified leads increased 30 percent quarter-over-quarter
  • Volume of leads pursued by sales increased by 55 percent quarter-over-quarter
  • Revenue has increased by 178 percent since implementation

Inclusivity is Increasing

In addition to increased revenue, marketers cite the following as main benefits of marketing automation:

  • Automating repetitive tasks and allowing focus on new/more exciting projects
  • Better targeting of customers and prospects
  • Improving the customer experience
  • Better email marketing
  • Reduced human error in campaigns
  • Lead management and multichannel marketing

And these benefits aren’t just for large tech companies. Marketing automation has successfully been used by stationery specialists to sell wedding invitations, by artisan foodies to reach out to coffee lovers, and even by political candidates to help win a presidential campaign.

Not only do businesses of all kinds have a lot to gain from marketing automation, but any size business can now experience the above benefits. Niche vendors provide alternatives to the major, high-end players by offering lightweight digital marketing platforms and marketing automation for small businesses.

As marketing automation becomes increasingly inclusive and accessible, more and more businesses are realizing a return on their investment.

Leaders Want the Facts

Research indicates companies who have adopted a data-driven culture are the most successful. Seventy-six percent of executives from top-performing companies cite data collection as very important or essential, and data-driven companies are three times more likely to rate themselves as substantially ahead of their peers in financial performance.

As leaders and managers become increasingly data-driven, marketing has become just as much science as creativity. Marketing automation helps quench this thirst for quantitative results: in a 2014 Regalix survey, 73 percent of B2B marketers said that measurable results were a major benefit of using marketing automation software.

So is marketing automation doomed to follow QR codes into Tech Flop Land?

Given the data, it’s unlikely.

Marketing automation isn’t just a trendy new topic — it’s a set of technology and best practices set to revolutionize marketing as we know it.

jenna-puckett-thumbAbout the Author

Jenna Puckett is an associate technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. She covers topics related to project management, marketing automation, employee performance, and other emerging tech trends. Connect with her on LinkedIn.