Content Marketing

The Marketing Automation Challenges of Marketers, Salespeople, and CEOs (Data + Advice)

Marketing Automation has been used by large corporations ever since it came to life. This phenomenon made its mark on marketing technology in a number of ways. Early solutions were (and mostly still are) robust, feature-rich, and consequently complex and expensive. All these made it hard for smaller companies to implement marketing automation. Even if a small business can afford marketing automation software they have a hard time getting true value out of it.

This trend bothered me because small businesses with limited resources can really benefit from using marketing automation. Leveraging automation can increase productivity and consequently revenue by a lot. Unfortunately, most current solutions are not really tailored for small businesses.

So, as a marketer at an email marketing automation SaaS company, I felt like it was my duty to find out the things marketers have a hard time with. I did just that by surveying more than 130 professionals working in marketing.

But I felt like that wasn’t enough. I wanted to share all this insight and data so I made a roundup article and wrote an epic 55-page report filled with data to share my findings with the world. This article highlights some key findings and data of the report. Plus, I’ve hand-picked the best marketing automation advice provided by experts during my research.

Download the Full Report

Marketing Automation Challenges Report Overview

Let’s talk a bit about the distribution of company sizes, the positions of the respondents and the industries they work in. This will put all the upcoming data into context.

  • Company Sizes – In my research, 90% of the respondents are from companies with 50 employees or less. This means that small and micro businesses are over-represented. Let’s break this down a bit. More than half of the respondents (57%) work at companies with 2-10 employees. A fifth (20%) of the answers came from companies with 11-50 employees. 17 submissions (13%) came from solopreneurs.
  • Positions – The most submissions (38%) came from professionals working in Growth positions like Marketing and Sales. 31% of the respondents in our survey are business owners. A quarter of the participants (25%) are CEOs. These three groups take up 94% of the submissions.
  • Industries – The distribution of industries among the respondents is leaning towards the Marketing, with 47%. This was intentional as we collected the data so that about half of the respondents would be from the marketing industry. The Software Development industry came in second in the survey, with 25% of the submissions coming from this industry.

All this juicy data is great, but you came here to read about marketing automation challenges, didn’t you? So let’s get to it!

Main Marketing Automation Challenges

Marketing Automation Challenges

In our survey, 85% of respondents use some kind of marketing automation.

  • The most common challenge people face with marketing automation is creating quality automations, with 16% of respondent mentioning it
  • Based on our data, integrations (14%) are another critical challenge users face with marketing automation technology.
  • Marketing automation requires lots of content. No wonder, that creating content came in third place, with 10%.
  • Engagement (8%) is another major challenge and is closely related to content. Automation requires top-notch quality content to drive engagement.
  • Segmentation, data management, and optimization are mentioned by 6% of the participants as a marketing automation challenge.
  • Finding tools (5%), personalization (5%), lead scoring (5%), analytics (4%), reporting (3%), and deliverability (1%) were all mentioned as a challenge by some of the surveyed professionals.

Coming up, we’re going to take a look at how these challenges differ between two position categories: Growth (Marketing & Sales) and CEOs.

The Marketing Automation Challenges of People in Growth Positions

Marketing Automation Challenges of People in Growth Positions
  • The most frequently mentioned challenge marketing and sales professionals have is creating automations (29%), by a high margin
  • Integrations are another major challenge professionals in growth positions face with marketing automation, with 21% of respondents pointing it out.
  • Creating content came in third place with 17% of growth professionals mentioning it.
  • Segmentation was brought up by 13% of respondents from growth positions.
  • Data management and lead scoring were pointed out as challenges by 10% of participants.
  • Other less frequently mentioned challenges include: personalization (6%), optimization (6%), engagement (4%), finding tools (4%), analytics (4%), and reporting (2%).

The Marketing Automation Challenges of CEOs

The Marketing Automation Challenges of CEOs
  • The complexity of marketing automation is the number one challenge for CEOs, with 21% of participants in this positions bringing it up
  • In micro and small companies, it’s often the CEO who decides what combination of software the company uses. So, it’s no wonder that integrations (17%) and finding tools (14%) are significant challenges for them.
  • Driving engagement on automated marketing messages was pointed out as a challenge by 14% of CEOs.
  • Creating automations (10%) was mentioned significantly less by CEOs than growth professionals and business owners. The reason for this is that most CEOs don’t deal with creating automations.
  • Data management and optimization were both brought up by 10% of respondents in CEO roles.
  • Some of the less frequently mentioned challenges of CEOs are creating content, personalization, segmentation, reporting, and analytics, each of these appeared in 7% of answers.

Marketing Automation Advice from Experts and Influencers

As I mentioned we also asked marketing automation users

“What would you say to a person who just got started with marketing automation? What should he or she pay attention to?”.

I selected some of the best answers, you can read all quotes in this roundup.

The SaaS guru and Founder of SaaS Mantra, Sampath S says when it comes to marketing automation beginners should focus on:

SaaS Mantra, Sampath S

Ryan Bonnici, the CMO of G2Crowd also shared some awesome tips marketers should pay attention to in the beginning:

Ryan Bonnici, the CMO of G2Crowd

The Founder of Ghacklabs, Luke Fitzpatrick highlights the importance of human touch in marketing automation:

Ghacklabs, Luke Fitzpatrick

Nix Eniego, Head of Marketing at Sprout Solutions advises marketing automation beginners to focus on the low hanging fruits and developing an overall framework before jumping into the nitty-gritty.

Nix Eniego, Head of Marketing at Sprout Solutions

Wrapping it up

Let’s recap the main challenges. When it comes to marketing automation users in growth positions their biggest challenges are:

  • Creating automations
  • Integrations
  • Creating content

On the other hand, CEOs working with marketing automation find it hard to:

  • Complexity
  • Integrations
  • Finding tools

Download the Full Report

Mór Mester

Mór Mester is the Head of Marketing at Automizy, an easy-to-use email marketing automation SaaS. His mission is to help small businesses and agencies implement marketing automation to increase productivity and consequently revenue.

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