7 ways to better use your marketing automation platform

With fewer than one in three B2B marketing leaders feeling they’ve successfully adopted marketing automation, it’s clear there’s a big gap around how to use these platforms more effectively.

During a presentation at the recent Gartner Marketing Symposium Xpo in the US, Gartner senior analyst, Jeff Goldberg, detailed practical advice on better harnessing marketing automation platforms through a combination of technology, environment and team action.

According to Gartner’s research across 400 B2B marketing leaders, only 29 per cent characterize their marketing automation platform usage as ‘high’. This is despite one-quarter of respondents expanding martech investments in response to Covid-19. Gartner figures in 2021 showed a hefty 26.6 per cent of marketing budgets were going into marketing technology investments.

So how do you get to great use? First, it’s important to review the many reasons your martech stack isn’t being used well enough. According to Gartner, three key levers drive usage: Technology, environment and team.

In the technology bucket, key inhibitors include dysfunctional systems due to a lack of integration across the stack, difficulty functionality to use, and a lack of proper documentation. From an environment perspective, challenges include lacking a sufficient risk appetite and culture that doesn’t embrace risks. On the teams front, inhibitors include a lack of dedicated resources for developing use cases from available technology, as well as insufficient skills development and training.

In asking what steps teams are taking to improve utilization, 56 per cent said they are building new processes or new team capabilities; 43 percent are investing in workshops and vendor training. The low result on training is a key reason why there is such low utilization, Goldberg said.

“Martech vendor are often updating not only existing features but also providing completely net new functionality,” he commented. “These changes might range from something as small as the layout on the screen to addition of important features or integration. It’s only by carving out time for investment into training will you resolve the perennial martech literacy issue.”

Gartner’s survey of 400 B2B marketing leaders found the top four impediments to martech use are lack of cross-functional collaboration (25 per cent), a lot of solutions with unused features (23 per cent), lack of a strong customer data foundation (23 per cent) and complexity of the current martech ecosystem (21 per cent).

1. Cross-functional dialogue

When it comes to tackling cross-functional collaboration, Goldberg advised collaborating on a design of success criteria and engaging in targeted cross-functional dialogue.

“Your leadership team can leverage cross-functional input to develop a comprehensive, future-focused and business-centric criteria that enables marketing to select the right business outcomes, the vehicles for achieving those outcomes, and the KPIs for measuring success along the way. By teaming with others, you can arrive at a single perspective you and colleagues can coalesce around,” he said.

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