By Josh Baez, Engagement Manager at Heinz Marketing

Today’s marketing success relies heavily on deep analytics—analytics that allow marketers to act smarter, faster, and with more thoughtfulness than ever before—to not only gain the attention of today’s savvy B2B buyer, but to engage, nurture, and enable that buyer through the end of their decision-making process.

Marketers crave access to revenue-level insights so they can make better business decisions. And in order for today’s marketers to be successful full-funnel strategists, marketing automation platforms (MAPs) need to provide more. Yet while marketers have continued to move further and further away from vanity and campaign-level metrics, these once-cutting-edge solutions have failed to keep pace with marketing’s growing needs.

With the capabilities MAPs currently provide, marketers are falling short—unable to report on influenced revenue, new pipeline created, and sales velocity metrics. And, without these insights, the sophistication of today’s campaigns is jeopardized, along with the tight coordination needed between sales and marketing.

For marketers to instill confidence in their programs, gain buy-in from leadership and additional stakeholders, and earn trust with their cross-functional counterparts, marketers need the ability to deliver strategic insights and make data-driven decisions.

In 2018, our research identified a high level of dissatisfaction with many of the major marketing automation platforms. And over the past year, as the bar for marketing performance reporting continues to rise, expectations and satisfaction continue to fall.

In this new and expanded 2019 benchmark study, we revisit today’s marketing automation platforms and dig deeper into the quality of reporting, nature of the insights, and the impacts these platforms continue to have across the B2B community.

How are today’s marketers reporting marketing’s impact? How satisfied are they with the reporting tools at their disposal? What’s missing and what’s next?

Let’s dive in.

Methodology

To better understand B2B marketers’ satisfaction levels with their current marketing automation platforms, Heinz Marketing and InsightSquared conducted a survey in Q2 2019.

The responses came from 179 B2B marketing and sales professionals who currently use a marketing automation platform (MAP). Survey respondents represented multiple industries using a variety of different MAPs, with experience in their current MAP of less than one year to more than seven years and ranged in size from SMB organizations to large enterprises.

Looking Back: Key Findings from 2018

In 2018, InsightSquared and Heinz Marketing surveyed B2B marketing automation users to better understand what they felt was missing from their MAPs.

With this year’s (2019) survey, we wanted to see if perceptions have changed and, if they have, where the gaps remain for marketing automation platforms to address and advise.

The following shows our key findings from 2018’s research and whether or not things have changed in 2019.

  • In 2018, analytics and reporting capabilities are the most important feature considered when deciding on a MAP, yet these capabilities also rank the lowest in user satisfaction.
    • In 2019, this remains true.
  • In 2018, marketers were increasingly accountable for driving revenue, but MAPs are only focused on email performance, lead acquisition, and campaign impact—not post-hand-off metrics such as pipeline created and bookings influenced.
    • In 2019, this also remains true, and marketing accountability has only increased.
  • In 2018, it was found that effective database management and good-quality data were required to fuel effective marketing operations.
    • Of course, in 2019, this is still true, but now marketers are looking for even more from their technology as the industry’s level of sophistication continues to evolve.
  • In 2018, the more experienced a marketer is, the more likely they are to be dissatisfied with their marketing automation system’s reporting and attribution capabilities.
    • In 2019, this is still somewhat true—however, this year, those with 1-3 years of experience tend to be the most dissatisfied.

Key Findings of 2019

In this year’s study, we found:

  1. Expectations of MAPs aren’t being met.  Fewer than 1 in 4 respondents report that their marketing automation platform has met most or all of their expectations.
  2. Satisfaction with MAPs is waning.  Only 1 in 5 respondents are satisfied with the quality of their data today.
  3. The most important features are also the most disappointing.  Respondents’ most important features to have at the time of purchase have also been the most disappointing.
  4. These key features are also key challenges.  Key features are also the most challenging to use.
  5. Marketing’s impact isn’t being measured with confidence.  3 in 4 respondents report that measuring marketing’s impact is very important to them, but less than 19% of respondents report being confident that they’re able to do so accurately.
  6. The most important metrics are also the most challenging to track.  When looking at what’s most important alongside what’s most challenging, you see a disheartening trend for marketers: what’s most important to track is also typically the most challenging.

Where Does This Leave Today’s Marketers?

  • MAPs out-of-box aren’t designed to meet the growing needs of the modern marketer.
  • Marketing can’t track what they want to track or report on what they need to, which means they can’t justify their actions, strategies, or costs effectively.
  • While features from years ago may have been touted as cutting-edge, B2B marketing has moved beyond those capabilities and now require more—unfortunately, MAPs just haven’t kept up.

What Happens Next?

Since last year in 2018, B2B marketers have improved the way they think about data, analytics, and measures of success, but in doing so, have uncovered inherent gaps in their marketing automation platforms—creating barriers between the reporting they need and the reporting they can actually get.

In 2018, many marketers were focused on the quality of their data, and effective database and list management was a key priority. However, in the last year, as revenue responsibility becomes increasingly important, marketers are shifting their focus to meet these new standards.

While the need for high-quality data hasn’t gone away, today’s B2B marketers crave data that not only demonstrates the effectiveness of their campaigns, but to show, specifically, how those campaigns are influencing and driving revenue for the organization.

For marketers to find the most value in their marketing automation platforms, and to be able to work more effectively with what they have, there are a few key tactics that can be invaluable in driving the charge for better, data-driven results.

Next Steps for B2B Marketers

As organizational needs continue to drive the evolution of the industry, B2B marketers simply cannot wait for their legacy tools to catch-up. Here are three next steps for B2B marketers to help them make the best use of their tools and their data.

  1. Align marketing’s goals with sales and those of the overall business.  It’s become increasingly apparent that today’s marketing teams have become expected to deliver reporting that aligns closer to revenue than ever before. Metrics around revenue influence, sourced revenue, and opportunity creation are also those that organizational leadership cares most about. Therefore, for marketing organizations and their initiatives to be viewed as successful by leadership, it’s essential that reporting efforts not only align with the goals and expectations of the sales team, but also showcase the impact of marketing against the objectives of the overall business.
  2. Define your sales stages, and, at each stage, identify sales’ and marketing’s roles and the metrics that need to be tracked.  The sales stages are an important part to any predictable pipeline infrastructure as they help to define what your organization deems a lead, MQL, SQL, and opportunity. Therefore, it’s important to not just define what these stages are, but to also identify the role of sales and marketing and the metrics that need to be tracked at each stage. In this way, both sales and marketing teams know exactly what metrics they need to be working towards, tracking, and reporting on.
  3. Ensure that leads are being sourced and scored accurately.  Accurate lead source data and a robust lead scoring methodology are critical assets for a modern, data-driven organization. These enable your marketing team to clearly and quantifiably understand the value and effectiveness of their efforts as they relate to the sales process. By implementing a consistent process for entering and tracking lead sources, a methodology to score and weight leads, and a framework to ensure that all this is being done automatically and effectively, you can begin to more accurately measure the value of marketing efforts tied directly to revenue and ROI.

To Conclude

Tools and technologies are developed with good intentions. They are created to solve problems, to make things easier, to allow the user to do more, faster, and with more precision—unfortunately, as the needs of B2B marketers, and organizations in general, have evolved, the capabilities of these once-cutting-edge tools have begun to grow stale. As marketing’s needs grow, as organizations expand, as needs evolve, there’s hope—expectations—that technologies to support these processes will follow suit. But, as B2B marketing professionals have found, this process takes time.

As marketing’s revenue responsibility will only continue grow, marketing automation platforms need to be there to meet the needs of the new modern marketer. Until then, marketers are left to find other solutions to bridge the gaps.

Ultimately, for marketers to stay competitive, they require data-driven, actionable insights and key analytics to drive revenue-generating opportunities—opportunities that enable their organizations to scale, grow, and achieve success.

To learn more about the research and its findings, download the full research report here.