A paltry 16% of North American b-to-b companies use marketing automation technology, according to new study by SiriusDecisions.
The study, released at the research firm's annual summit last week, shows that while marketing automation may be one of b-to-b marketing's hottest terms, the software's adoption lags behind its buzz.
"I always knew the adoption rate was low but I didn't think it was that low, to be quite frank," said SiriusDecisions technology practice director Jay Famico in an interview.
In some industries, such as finance and manufacturing, the rate of adoption is still in the low single digits. And the technology is virtually non-existent in health care, where only 2% of companies use it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, information technology companies -- who perhaps possess a greater technical aptitude -- were far ahead of the curve with 65% adoption.
Without the help of marketing automation software, functions regarded as the future of b-to-b marketing -- such as personalized messaging at scale -- are difficult to execute.
"How the hell are you going to do that without a marketing-automation platform?" said Mr. Famico. "It's virtually impossible."
The survey asked every significant marketing-automation company how many clients they have and matching those numbers against public disclosures. SiriusDecisions then crawled the top 1 million websites in North America for marketing automation code, and analyzed a 1,800 company sample, breaking those companies down by industry and into b-to-b vs. b-to-c categories.
Using the web crawling data, SiriusDecisions found marketing automation adoption is increasing at an annual clip of 22%.
On the upside, the study shows marketing-automation companies have a great deal of room to grow. Mr. Famico said on top of increased use for b-to-b lead generation, marketing automation growth should come from adoption by b-to-c companies and customer retention uses as well.
"There's tremendous opportunity there," he said.