marketing_automation_softwareHow many marketing automation systems do you need?

According to a VentureBeat survey about marketing automation software, the answer most likely isn't what you think. 

If I had to guess, I'd say most people would answer just one or two (and also wonder if that was a trick question).

Luckily, I'm not a betting person (nor was I actually asked to bet on this answer), because I would be a sore, sore loser.

According to early results of the survey, almost 50% of companies use more than one marketing tool, with nearly 24% using two tools, 12% using three, and 7.5% using four. Here's the full breakdown of the question results:


Seems wild right? Then brace yourself for the next piece of data: Most people don't really care that they have multiple marketing automation solutions. According to the survey, 43% of respondents said keeping the number of marketing automation systems down was only somewhat important.

Granted, I don't know the demographics of the survey-takers, but these stats about people using three, four, five marketing automation systems -- even into the double-digits -- were pretty eye-opening. Why would people intentionally spend money on multiple marketing automation tools, not to mention invest in the time to research, purchase, implement, and train their team on how to use all those tools?

It's hard to say for sure, but after speaking with a couple of my colleagues and remembering my own experiences with automation solutions, I think this data could be explained by a few factors:

1) Companies hope buying marketing automation solutions will solve a business problem when it might not.

Thinking back to a previous startup that I worked at, I realized we had two marketing automation solutions for an eight-person company -- only two of whom did marketing. We were a fledgling startup that probably didn't need to be worried too much about marketing automation. We had to fill the top of our marketing funnel first through blogging, social media, and gated content, not through complex software. But we had two simply because we were focused on the wrong goals at the wrong time. Maybe if we had waited to grow our business a bit, we would've been smarter about our software purchase and had more specifics on what problems we were looking to solve with software. 

2) Companies buy a bunch of solutions because they get confused during the purchasing process. 

HubSpot's Senior Blog Editor, Corey Eridon, had a different experience with multiple marketing automation software purchases at a previous employer:

"I've seen some companies -- ones still in that scrappy-startup phase, but still with more sophisticated needs due to their growth -- actually try to build their own automation systems. It sounds totally crazy now, but I think it was just due to the fact that we'd tried so many different systems and none of them were really solving our problems (neither did trying to build a solution, by the way). It wasn't that the solutions themselves were bad. I think we were probably just not asking the right questions during the purchase process, so we ended up doing crazy stuff like building really specific point solutions in-house that the right software could have probably helped with had we been better at identifying our issues and asking the right questions." 

3) Companies are too large to coordinate marketing automation software efforts.  

HubSpot's Head of Enterprise Marketing, Jess Meher, made sense of this data through a different lense:

"It's not uncommon to see several instances of marketing software applications installed across an enterprise. Different divisions or product lines will adopt their own solutions, as many segments within a larger corporation operate independently. Benefits to the multiple-software approach include the ability to bypass often-complex, corporate-wide policies and enable smaller teams to get up and running with new technology more quickly. The downside, however, could negatively impact a company long-term, such as the lack of visibility into company-wide marketing performance, challenges when integrating disparate marketing solutions with other platforms (such as CRM, financial, and support software), and operational intricacies that can cause more expenses." 

Even if lots of companies are using more than one marketing automation software solution, there's really not one reason to explain it all. But some of us -- probably close to half -- might be spending way more money on multiple marketing automation solutions than we probably need to. 

Do you find this data to be accurate based on your experience with marketing automation? Share your thoughts with us in the comments, and feel free to take the survey yourself.

Image credit: VentureBeat

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Originally published Jan 22, 2014 6:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


Marketing Automation