The number isn’t exactly proportional to the conversation. Roughly 3,500 companies worldwide have adopted marketing automation programs, according to Jeff Pedowitz, president-CEO of The Pedowitz Group, a demand gen agency, who said that such programs started to proliferate in the late 1990s. “It still hasn’t gotten mainstream attraction, especially compared to social media alone, which has catapulted into a multi-billion-dollar industry in less than three years,” he said. FTL spoke to Pedowitz about some macro trends in marketing automation.
Follow the Lead: What are the biggest obstacles plaguing the adoption rate of marketing automation?
Pedowitz: I go back to an interview I read with Marc Benioff (Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com) when he was asked what was the secret of Salesforce.com’s success and he said, ‘You have to find the unifying metaphor.’ In Salesforce’s case, it was ‘The End of Software’ and everyone understood that intrinsically. I don’t think anyone has found the unifying concept for marketing automation yet, although they’re trying e.g. Revenue Performance Management, but I don’t think that is going to grab hold. So the vendors have to make the concept simpler and find a metaphor that gets peoples’ attention.
FTL: How can b2b companies improve their marketing automation efforts, particularly if they are strapped for budget?
Pedowitz: Doing more user-based content. Marketers put a tremendous pressure on themselves to write all of these white papers when they can take advantage of social media to drive more user-generated content, and that content can be tracked and set into their nurturing programs. That’s one of the biggest stumbling blocks to lead nurturing. [Companies] need to adopt more of an open philosophy of generating that content; it doesn’t all have to come from in-house.
FTL: Do you think b2b companies are allergic to b2c markets despite the opportunities they present in terms of cracking vertically integrated markets?
Pedowitz: There are a couple of challenges to going after the b2c markets. The first one is transaction-volume; the Web-site tracking that any marketing automation vendor does is very advanced and when you start compiling all of that data – combined with the email volume that most b2c companies use – it’s beyond the capabilities of even some of the most advanced marketing automation vendors on the market today. The top b2b focused vendors really max out at around 10 million contacts in the database, which is child’s play for a b2c company. And that’s a bigger part of the problem; technology infrastructure and tracking the load online. But it’s often b2c companies that are three to five years ahead of b2b companies, and [they] provide real-world examples of how marketing automation can work once you move away from the ‘brand,’ because for b2b it’s about driving revenue.