Which Marketing Software Applications Matter to B2B Marketers?

Businessman working with laptopSuccessful B2B marketers understand that the right technology tools can deliver a significant competitive advantage. Software for email marketing, customer relationship management, and web analytics can improve overall results by reducing manual processes, improving productivity, and providing much-needed insight into what works – and what doesn’t.

But this proliferation of tools also means that marketers are continually dealing with more types of technology. Too many solutions – and a lack of integration – can increase complexity, putting more data into silos and reducing visibility across campaigns. And those issues create negative experiences for customers and prospects, translating into negative results to the bottom line.

According to the results of a recent survey from Software Advice, if you’re using multiple software applications to get through your marketing day, you’re not alone. In its annual B2B Demand Generation Benchmark report, Software Advice surveyed 200 B2B marketing professionals in order to understand which channels, offers, content types, and technologies are driving results for their demand generation programs. Here’s what they found out about the kinds of software marketers are using to develop leads, and why some solutions are more valuable than others.

Turning Up the Volume: These Go to Eleven

So, just how many pieces of software does it take to generate a lead? Software Advice provided a list of 11 types of technology solutions and asked marketers to identify which ones they used to support their demand generation efforts. A significant majority of marketers (79%) reported that they used all 11 of the software solutions listed. Clearly, B2B marketers are keeping busy!

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Which ones are used by the most marketers? Nearly all of the respondents (97%) use email marketing software, with customer relationship management (CRM) a very close second, and marketing automation solutions coming in third.

It’s not too surprising that so many marketers depend on email to generate leads. Software Advice found that 66% of those surveyed cited in-house email marketing as having a “somewhat low” or “very low” cost-per-lead. And according to a report from Circle Research, 88% of B2B marketers say that email is their most effective lead generation tactic.

Nor is it surprising to see CRM and marketing automation rounding out the top three. CRM and marketing automation work together to allow marketers to generate sales-ready leads and to give salespeople the kind of data that can help them close more business. The Annuitas Group found that businesses using marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. In turn, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

Ranking What Matters

What is surprising is what happened when marketers were asked to rate the importance of the software solutions they use. Email marketing came in fourth (after CRM, business intelligence, and web analytics). PPC was ranked next, with marketing automation following after that. In fact, just 17% of marketers described marketing automation software as “extremely important” and 24% said it was “very important.” What gives?

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Part of the disconnect could be a result of separating email marketing out in the list of options, since most marketing automation solutions include email functionality as part of an integrated platform.

According to Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, the results may also indicate that marketing automation technology “in broader adoption markets” is still at an early, immature stage. “Way too many companies are still just doing batch-and-send emails with little intelligence, segmentation, scoring etc.,” he says. The effective implementation of marketing automation software, he adds, could present a huge opportunity for businesses to achieve the same results, yet at a lower cost and with better leverage and scalability.

Spending is on the Rise

One thing is clear: B2B marketers understand that future results demand increased investment. When asked how they planned to adjust spending on demand generation programs next year, 41% said they would increase their spend and 43% said they’d spend the same amount. Just 17% of respondents said they’d cut back on spending.

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Marketing automation seems like a natural place for B2B marketers to spend those bigger budgets. When it comes to generating, managing, and nurturing leads, marketing automation makes it easier to turn casual browsers into loyal customers – and do it in a more cost-effective way. The right solution also solves the issue of complexity and lack of visibility by providing an integrated platform with dashboards and reporting that makes it easier to track and manage multiple campaigns.

When it comes to generating demand, the benefits of marketing automation are crystal clear:

  • Push and pull: Automation platforms help marketers communicate out to customers through email and social messaging while also pulling prospects in with capabilities such as landing pages, search engine optimization, and integration with pay-per-click systems such as Google AdWords.
  • Capture: Marketing automation offers many ways to capture the contact information of prospects who have responded to offers or messages, making it easier to move the contact into the funnel.
  • Scoring: Lead scoring allows marketers to qualify leads by assigning pre-determined values to their behaviors and profile characteristics. When a buyer-ready lead score threshold is passed, a notification is triggered, allowing marketers to quickly pass the lead to sales.
  • Nurturing: With automation, you can implement and manage nurturing programs that keep new leads in the funnel, and move them along the journey with content and offers that are personalized and customized to the lead’s specific interests.
  • Segmentation: Dynamically segment leads in the database as they arrive from social media campaigns, form-fills, email campaigns, or paid campaigns. By segmenting leads based on sources, marketers can use the appropriate medium of communication to send out relevant messages and craft effective campaigns.

Be sure to check out the full results of the Software Advice B2B Demand Generation Benchmark survey report to see additional predictions for demand generation strategy and spending in 2015.

business-case-for-marketing-automationRead The Business Case for Marketing Automation to learn about the benefits of marketing automation when it comes to lead generation, and find out how it can also help with vital marketing processes such as campaign optimization, sales enablement, data analysis, and much more.