What Marketing Automation Suppliers Have Learned About Implementation Success, V1

Survey Results on the Skills, Processes, and Organizational Practices Needed for Success

April 21, 2011

Today's marketers need to use technology effectively in order for their companies to compete successfully. As a result, marketers often select and start to implement technologies, such as marketing automation systems, before addressing process and organizational issues. This leads to struggle and, for about a third of marketers, underutilization of the marketing automation system.

This report highlights information gathered from five suppliers of marketing automation systems, whose experience spans over 2,000 system implementations. From a group of 23 skills, processes, and organizational changes identified as important for successful implementation, these suppliers selected 7 as most important. The good news is that marketers can initiate these important changes before selecting a system, thereby smoothing the path to successful implementation.


Nobody wins when marketing automation system implementations don’t yield expected results. Yet it happens so frequently that some industry observers predict slow adoption of marketing automation in marketing departments because of implementation problems.

What do we mean by marketing automation? Marketing automation is a term commonly used to denote systems (often delivered as Software as a Service platforms) that do email marketing, automated lead nurturing, multi-dimensional lead scoring, dynamic campaign flows, dynamic messaging, web form and landing page building, progressive profiling, dynamic list segmentation, dynamic email content, web and email activity tracking, and campaign tracking and reporting of lead activity, results, and ROI.

In our recently published “ Marketing Automation Implementation Evaluation Framework 1 ,” we concluded that, for marketers to truly manage their own success in profiting from marketing automation, they need access to information that will allow them to prioritize the actions they need to take in implementing automated marketing.

The data presented here, drawing on the experience of five vendors in more than 2,000 implementations, clearly show that implementation issues need attention well before a marketing automation system is selected. The two highest priority steps toward success are:

1) Developing clear objectives, performance measures, and metrics

2) Establishing an agreed-upon lead management process

We encourage marketers to address both of these steps before initiating a marketing automation selection project.

Skills, processes, and practices important to all implementations
(Click image to enlarge.)

© 2011 Patricia Seybold Group and McKittrick Associates Inc

Illustration 1. Five suppliers identified the skills, processes, and organizational practices that they found important for a successful marketing automation implementation. This chart shows the number of suppliers that selected each item.


Current Situation

Suppliers, consultants, and marketers have amply documented the problems that limit the success of marketing automation implementations. They have also published a lot of “how to” guides. Despite these efforts, many customers haven’t grasped the extent of the organization, skill, and process changes required for a successful marketing automation implementation.

In our earlier review of this situation1, we concluded that suppliers don’t understand the customers’ operations well enough to identify their unstated assumptions. Customers, who know their own situations well, don’t have the base of experience upon which to assess the scope of the changes they will need to make in order to succeed.

With the “Marketing Automation Implementation Evaluation Framework,” we aimed to tap into suppliers’ expertise to understand the changes that customers need to make and to highlight the actions each supplier is taking to help their customers succeed.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

We asked the major suppliers of marketing automation platforms to larger B2B companies about...

1) " Marketing Automation Implementation Evaluation Framework: How Do Vendors Help Their Customers Succeed? ," by Susan McKittrick, January 29, 2011, .

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