In just five years, we’ve seen over $5.5 billion worth of acquisitions made in the marketing automation industry. Over the same timespan, vendor revenues have increased by over 1,000% as a result of tens of thousands of businesses flocking to adopt this software.
But where is marketing automation heading – and more importantly, what can you do to prepare for these changes?
1. No more guesswork in marketing & sales
One of the biggest emerging trends in marketing automation is the use of predictive analytics and machine learning. In essence, this simply means using clever statistical models to identify what a customer is likely to do next, and then automatically modifying your campaigns around those probable actions.
How long should you wait between sending two emails in a lead nurturing sequence? While you may think that seven days might seem reasonable, a statistical model will tell you precisely which duration will maximise the likelihood of a conversion. It could even use different durations for different leads, based on their behaviour.
As a result of this, marketing and sales will become less of a guessing game. While this has many broader implications, the most important one to consider is that it means everyone’s, including your competitor’s, campaigns will be both smarter and more effective.
2. From ‘one-size fits all’ to sector-specific
These tools offer a competitive advantage over the ‘one-size fits all’ vendors, in that they’re built around the specific pain points of a certain type of business. A tool designed for restaurants, for example, may come with built-in table booking software, and pre-built campaigns designed to drive repeat bookings, social check-ins at the restaurant, and seasonal / holiday campaigns.
In practice, this means that what may take six months to put together with a generic tool, could take a matter of hours with a sector-specific tool.
I predict that one of two things will happen here: one possibility is that the generic tool vendors will acquire these niche tools, and build them into their existing tools. The other possibility is that we will see an overwhelming number of spin-off tools for other niches.
In either case, marketing automation will become more sector-centric. With the possibility of a tool targeting your niche, it’s important to plan accordingly – what if all of your competitors began using such a tool? How would that affect your business?
3. Frictionless marketing automation implementation
Implementing marketing automation software is hard.
Getting to the point where you have enough campaigns up and running to provide a positive ROI can take anywhere from a few months to over a year.
On top of this, you typically need to hire a specialized marketing automation consultant or agency, go through intense onboarding training, and dedicate significant development resources to integrate the software into your business’ existing programs.
Over the next few years, we’ll see a major simplification of marketing automation software. From offering libraries of pre-built campaigns, to one-click integrations and simpler user interfaces, implementing marketing automation will become near-frictionless.
As marketing automation software becomes more accessible, adoption will increase.
4. The declining cost of marketing automation
Since 2006, the average monthly cost of marketing automation software has decreased from $1038/month to $757/month. As more and more vendors enter the marketplace, the cost of this software will continue to decrease to a point where the barrier to entry is accessible to the large majority of small businesses.
The most obvious consequence of this is that there will be one less reason for your competitors not to adopt this software. As such, it pays to get ahead of the game and start building your marketing automation campaigns early.
That way, by the time your competitors are building their first sequence, your business will have hundreds of fine-tuned campaigns working away on your leads.
All of these micro-trends are simply clues as to the macro-level direction that the marketing automation industry is heading in.
As far as we can tell from the data, marketing automation is becoming smarter, more tailored, and more accessible – both by cost and simplicity. The combination of these trends explain why the industry has grown so rapidly over the past five years, and why it does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
For business owners, the lesson here is simple; adapt now or pay the price later.