Marketing automation has moved from early adoption to mainstay among B2B marketing organizations. (A recent study found that as much as 10% of B2B revenue came through marketing automation solutions.) So as the tech goes mainstream, it’s interesting to see which features are most valued by customers.
That most valued feature is lead nurturing at 52%, according to a new survey of primarily B2B professionals conducted by Ascend2.
That really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Lead nurturing, when done right, is an effective and efficient way to build trust with prospects, engage them, inform them, and ultimately sell to them. Most companies without a real nurturing program in place need to jump from behind the 8-ball as quickly as possible.
But the popularity of lead nurturing comes with issues as well. Marketers struggle to produce the content needed to truly put a cohesive and compelling lead nurturing program in place. Often B2B marketers invest in marketing automation before understanding or planning for how they’ll create the content necessary to fuel it. (We think of it as analogous to buying a car without wheels or starting a lemonade stand without lemonade.)
The Sales Benchmark Index says the number 1 reason marketing automation implementations fail is because of a lack of content. (Ascend2’s own study found that 36% of respondents considered a lack of quality content their biggest marketing automation challenge.)
“Marketing automation platforms are killer email machines…they’re geared around email and trying to drive conversion…but content is siloed in nurture campaigns,” says Steve Barnard, senior marketing manager at Lenovo, a Kapost customer.
A key reason for this is that—while you may have plenty of content—all of it is disorganized, divorced from key themes, unaligned to buyer personas, and separated from the stage of the sales cycle it’s intended to reach. In other words, the equation lead nurturing requires to prove useful (topic + timeliness + persona = relevance) depends on marketing content not only being produced, but targeted. And the tools most marketers use for this today—spreadsheets, email, docs, etc.—simply don’t map to these capabilities.
Marketing automation is obviously valuable for implementing lead nurture programs that move buyers forward. Less obvious is its dependency on organized, targeted content—and just how few marketers are equipped to deliver that content.