Survey: Small Businesses Want Marketing-Automation Software

Improving Lead Management Is Top Reason for Evaluating Software

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Nearly all (98%) of small-business software buyers are shopping for marketing-automation software for the first time, according to a new report by research firm Software Advice, a division of Gartner.

The report, released today, was based on an analysis of 365 phone conversations between small-business software buyers and Software Advice consultants.

For the purpose of the survey, small businesses are defined as those with $50 million or less in revenue, and 67% of respondents have revenue of $1 million or less.

"Our data shows that almost all companies are evaluating marketing-automation software for the first time," said Luke Wallace, CRM market research associate at Software Advice and author of the report.

"Many still also rely on manual marketing methods, such as pen and paper, spreadsheets and one-off emails to manage their marketing activities."

The survey found that 47% of small-business buyers are still using manual methods to manage their marketing activities; 17% use industry-specific software; 15% use CRM software; 8% use email marketing software; and only 2% now use marketing automation software.

Software Advice survey
Software Advice survey

The top reasons cited for evaluating marketing-automation software are improving lead management (27%); not being satisfied with their current system (15%); need better or more features (13%); and company growth (10%).

The top features small businesses are looking for in marketing-automation software are contact management (74%), email marketing (55%), lead tracking (43%), "drip" marketing campaigns (39%) and follow-up management (38%).

"While most buyers still request traditional marketing functionality -- email marketing and/or drip-campaign capabilities, for example -- only 4% request social-media marketing functionality," Mr. Wallace said. "At first glance, this seems surprising. However, with so many social-media marketing fails circling the headlines, it's quite possible that many first-time marketing automation software buyers are wary of entering this space."

The top industries shopping for marketing automation software for the first time are real estate (37%), consulting (11%), manufacturing (5%), retail (4%), insurance (4%) and software/IT (3%), the survey found.

"Real estate is a people-oriented industry and many agents may be hesitant to replace that human element they deeply value," Mr. Wallace said. "Also, real-estate transactions involve many different people and lots of paperwork -- digitizing and automating all of this isn't simple. That said, many real-estate buyers we spoke with are looking to move away from industry-specific software that isn't fully meeting their needs."

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