Have Marketing Application Platforms (MAP) Prepared Marketers for a Seat at the Big Table?

Marketing drives revenue. Everyone knows that intrinsically. Just try going without it. The question from the c-suite has always been “how much?” quickly followed by “prove it.” That’s what MAPS promised to provide. Marketers bought them in, implemented the software, and sold their capabilities upstairs. They got the ear of the executives, if not a seat at the table, so to speak. Now it’s time to deliver, and unfortunately, the results are not as clear as everyone expected.

Brian Hansford of Heinz Marketing and Joe Chernov of InsightSquared presented a joint survey and report that the two companies did together. They polled marketing and sales professionals using five of the most common marketing automation platforms, and found an interesting divide based on the experience of the marketer and three key takeaways we found especially interesting.

1. Analytics was the most important consideration in making their choice–and it’s the area of least satisfaction.

This is a great lesson in software evaluation and selection. The very reason that marketers selected the platform, the number one “most important feature,” was where they were most unsatisfied. Part of that is likely due to the fact that we “don’t know what we don’t know” until it’s implemented. But another interesting point was a split between two types of marketers—those relatively experienced and those with less experience—that began to emerge. Hansford and Chernov termed them “first- and second-generation marketers.” The first generation, still focused on top of the funnel and marketing-controlled metrics, were more satisfied. The second generation, more experienced, and likely higher up the food chain were less satisfied. Second-generation marketers realize that they need insights beyond the marketing metrics, after the hand-off, and across the entire relationship. They need deeper attribution to report on ROI. They’re not finding that information in their MAP and are looking elsewhere. Additionally, many higher-level marketers aren’t actually logging into and working within the system, which affects their view on the value of the MAP investment.

2. MAPs are focused on marketing-controlled metrics, not post-hand-off metrics, i.e., pipeline created, bookings influenced.

While MAP vendors have been quick to build and offer a range of features related to marketing metrics (clicks, downloads, opens, etc.), marketers want and need deeper multi-touch attribution. They, especially the more experienced marketers, want more robust analytics and they’re not getting it. It goes beyond just not being satisfied; the majority of those where the solution failed to meet expectations say they are likely to replace the system. That’s huge, but it also begs the question, “Where are they going to go?” The disillusionment runs fairly consistently across the lineup of the MAP providers.

Another interesting, if not surprising, finding was how company size impacted satisfaction. The smaller organizations, especially those with 51 – 200 employees, were very dissatisfied. This likely stems from the fact that their ratio of human resources relative to the size of investment for the company, was vastly different than larger companies. They need the automation to simplify their days and they don’t have the resources to make full use of the solutions.

3. More experienced—and disillusioned.

Once you get past what today is basic marketing and marketing-controlled metrics as responsibilities, the next career step is to be accountable for ROI and revenue portions. These senior marketers are being asked to answer tough questions about attribution, ROI, and revenue. And the short answer is that their MAP isn’t delivering here. Unfortunately, it’s not cynicism resulting from age, it’s an actual shortcoming of the solution.

Tough Road for Marketers

Not only are marketers struggling to find technology that aligns with their brand personality—as 90% say—but their MAPs are currently letting them down. MAPs are valuable and necessary for marketing today. They’re not going away, but they aren’t delivering up to their promises or the needs of the marketers, and marketers are starting to look at alternatives. As marketers look to implement new technology, they would be wise to develop strategic roadmaps to ensure that they are getting the solution they need to achieve all of their branding, communication, and analytic needs.

You can hear more of our take on this topic here: Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) Satisfaction

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