Marketers look to their marketing automation platforms (MAPs) not only to execute many of their demand generation activities, but also to understand the effectiveness of their marketing programs. However marketers are largely dissatisfied with the reporting their MAPs offer. This is what the findings were in a study done by Heinz Marketing and InsightSquared titled, Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) Satisfaction Survey 2018: Are Marketing Automation Vendors Still Meeting the Needs of Today’s Marketer?

I’ve worked with marketers and MarTech tools for most of my career. Most recently I was head of product management at a MAP startup in Boston. Like my competitors, I too struggled with building effective reporting for marketers. Here’s why:

  1. It’s complex and hard to get right. Proving that a particular activity caused the buyer to make a decision to purchase is hard to do. Capabilities such as multi-touch attribution and metrics such as marketing-influenced revenue are what marketers are looking for to measure the effectiveness of their activities along the buying cycle. The data to enable these calculations often lives in multiple systems and the metrics are complicated to calculate… and, as figure 1 indicates, these are the metrics marketers are looking to their MAP vendor to provide.

Figure 1

  1. The MAP is not always the system of record. For most companies, the CRM system is where the operational data is created, updated, and worked on – this includes data such as opportunity information, which is necessary to measure the effectiveness of marketing activities. For data that is not created in the CRM, a technology ecosystem of APIs and connectors exists to bring data into the CRM. MAPs, on the other hand, are considered transactional systems – they are rarely the central source for the company’s data. The integration ecosystem to bring data in is less robust. Reporting and analytics can only be as good as the underlying data – if the data does not exist, the reports cannot be effective.
  2. Marketers’ needs are becoming more sophisticated. In this age of information and technology, the expectation of the marketer is that they are both creative as well as data driven. Marketers have begun asking more sophisticated questions because they know the data exists, they just don’t know why it’s not being surfaced in their MAP. In fact, as figure 2 indicates, the more experienced they are, the higher their dissatisfaction with the reporting offered by their MAP.

Figure 2

  1. Shiny features sell. In a crowded market, sometimes the only way to differentiate yourself is to build a net new capability that your competitors do not offer. For the MAP industry, capabilities such as AI, ABM, location-based messaging, AR/VR are more likely to create excitement and encourage customers to pick one platform over another. In order to win more customers, these shiny features become the focus of the product roadmap vs. more basic needs such as reporting and analytics.
  2. Reporting is not a core competence. The key purpose of a MAP is to deliver personalized messaging and MAP vendors are excellent at this. While they may offer reporting and analytics as part of their platform, this is not a core capability. As figure 3 indicates, across all major MAP vendors, actionable reporting and analytics is considered the most deficient feature. Since all MAPs are deficient in this feature, this is currently not a capability that will impact acquiring a new customer or retaining an existing one.

Figure 3

Marketers are asking for better reporting and analytics. But, MAP vendors continue to lag in their delivery of this much needed feature for a number of reasons. While this is not a new problem, it has become significantly harder to solve – and marketers need a solution in order to be successful in today’s digital world. I am excited to watch how the marketing industry solves this and who jumps at the opportunity to answer the million dollar question for marketers: Which marketing activities are generating new customers and revenue for the company? To read the full report click here.

To better understand what marketing automation users feel their platforms are missing, in partnership with Heinz Marketing, we conducted a survey over 11 days in October 2017. The responses came from 410 marketing and sales professionals who use Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Pardot, HubSpot, or Act-On. Survey respondents represented multiple industries and ranged in size from SMB organizations to large enterprises. Read the full report here. 

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