Marketing Automation Software: Little Used But Oft Requested

Along with managing vast databases of customer data, marketing automation software is used to develop, execute and track marketing campaigns. Lead generation and management functionality helps ensure that a business’s sales department receives qualified leads, while campaign management helps marketers foster relationships with leads and contacts. Reporting and analytics tools measure the performance of campaign initiatives.



Together, these functions that help align marketing and sales teams and streamline their interactions can be particularly advantageous for small businesses, for whom driving revenue and profitability is often one of the biggest challenges

To learn more about what functionality is most important to prospective marketing automation software buyers, Software Advice analyzed a random sample of small businesses searching for the right marketing automation software for their needs.

98% of all buyers contacting SoftwareAdvice are looking for dedicated marketing automation software for the first time, and 47% are still using manual methods.

Considering which functionality prospective buyers cite as most important in a new system, contact management is the clear winner, at 74%. Interestingly, while nearly three-quarters of buyers request email marketing and/or drip campaign functionality in a new system (73%, combined), only 4% request social media marketing functionality.

Most Requested Marketing Automation Features

Automation Feature

% of Respondents

Contact management


Email marketing


Lead tracking


Drip marketing campaigns


Follow-up management




Lead nurturing


Sales pipeline management


Campaign management


Source: SoftwareAdvice/Gartner, June 2015

Only 2% of buyers in the study already had a marketing automation system in place, says the report. However, 61% of buyers used some type of software to manage marketing operations.

Though almost all of the prospective buyers in the sample (a combined 98%) are seeking a dedicated marketing automation system for the first time, a good chunk of these buyers currently use some type of software; either industry-specific (17%) or customer relationship management (CRM) (15%).

Nearly half of buyers (47%) still rely on manual marketing methods, such as pen and paper, spreadsheets and one-off emails. Meanwhile, a small percentage (9%) use nothing at all.

Prospective Buyers’ Current Methods of Managing Marketing


% of Respondents

Manual methods


Industry specific software


CRM online




Email marketing software


Proprietary software


Marketing automation


Source: SoftwareAdvice/Gartner, June 2015

Marketing automation software has historically seen slow adoption. In fact, many marketers seem to have a poor understanding of these systems: A 2015 survey by Autopilot, a marketing automation startup, found that 44% of marketing professionals in the U.S. who don’t use marketing automation software have no idea what it is.

Many buyers in the sample say they are overwhelmed with managing clients, contacts and leads, and are primarily seeking software to improve lead management (27%). Another 15% say dissatisfaction with their current system is the top reason for seeking new software.

For other buyers, a need for software with greater functional breadth and depth (13%) or pressing company growth (10%) is the main impetus driving the decision to invest.

Top Reasons for Evaluating New Software


% of Respondents

Improve lead management


Unhappy with current system


Need better/more features


Company growth


Need better integration


Need to automate process


Other/not specified


Source: SoftwareAdvice/Gartner, June 2015

Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of inbound marketing agency PR 20/20, explains that marketing automation is starting to get more attention from businesses, particularly as more vendors offer such solutions.

According to Roetzer, “… Marketers will become curators of information… the [software] will advise on the things that will give the greatest probability of a successful campaign, and then the marketer will provide that human layer of logic…”


For the complete report from SoftwareAdvice, please visit here.


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