[Research] The State of Marketing Automation – Adoption, Usage, Benefits, Challenges

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Recent research by CleverTouch Marketing, a marketing technology consultancy and service provider based in the UK, provides an interesting snapshot of the state of marketing automation adoption and usage.

Expectations vs. Reality:  The State of Marketing Automation Adoption and Usage is based on a survey of 200 CMOs, Marketing Directors, and Heads of Marketing at companies having more than 250 employees. Fifty of the survey respondents were based in the UK, 50 in the US, and 100 in EMEA.

Although this survey involved a fairly small sample, the findings provide several interesting insights about the attitudes and practices of marketing leaders relating to marketing automation. Here’s a description of some of the major survey findings.



Adoption – Eighty percent of the survey respondents said they already have a marketing automation solution in place, and those respondents indicated they were using at least one of these marketing automation solutions – HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, SharpSpring, or Act-On.

Reasons for Implementing – The survey found that marketers had a variety of reasons for implementing marketing automation, with no single reason being dominant. Among survey respondents who are using marketing automation (“user respondents”), the top three reasons identified were:

  • To drive new insights and intelligence (28%)
  • For content management and customer journey mapping (28%)
  • For change management and the re-invention of marketing (28%)

Twenty-seven percent of the user respondents said they implemented marketing automation for information management and intelligent routing, or for increased business efficiency.

Major Benefits – CleverTouch also asked user respondents what benefits they had realized by implementing marketing automation. The top five benefits identified were:

  • We can now prove the ROI of marketing (31%)
  • Marketing has generated more sales leads (31%)
  • Improved data quality and compliance (31%)
  • Marketing has generated better quality sales leads (29%)
  • Faster lead conversion and sales cycles (29%)

Primary Uses – According to user respondents, the top three current uses of marketing automation are:

  • For lead generation (44%)
  • For lead nurturing campaigns (42%)
  • For account-based marketing (41%)

Biggest Challenges – Nineteen percent of the user respondents in the CleverTouch survey said that lack of good quality content is their biggest challenge to marketing automation success. Seventeen percent of the user respondents cited the complexity of the marketing automation platform, and 16% said changing market dynamics.

Other Findings – Some of the other interesting findings in the CleverTouch survey are:



  • 48% of the user respondents said they are able to show campaign ROI as a result of their marketing automation investment.
  • When asked where they will be investing most of their marketing budget over the next 12 months, 33% of respondents said content marketing, 30% said predictive analytics, 28% said artificial intelligence, and 28% said marketing automation optimization.
  • 48% of the survey respondents said their investment in marketing technology services would likely increase somewhat over the next 12 months, and another 11% said their investment would likely increase significantly.

My Take – The CleverTouch survey results indicate that most large and mid-size companies have implemented a marketing automation solution as part of their marketing technology stack, although I suspect that the adoption rate is less than 80% if all companies are considered. The findings also indicate that many companies are deriving important benefits from their use of marketing automation. Lastly, the CleverTouch survey confirms what other studies have found – that investment in marketing technologies is continuing to grow.

Image Source:  Rick B via Flickr (Public Domain)

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