Why Marketing Automation Customers are Migrating Downstream

Over at the Modern Marketing Blog, Steve Earl offers his theory as to why enterprise marketers choose to switch to a different marketing platform.  He says (in summary):

“It’s because their needs outgrow system capabilities.”

marketing automation customersNow, Steve happens to work in product marketing for Oracle Marketing Cloud, home of Eloqua, typically regarded as the most feature-rich (some would say: complex) marketing automation solution on the market.  So, it may just be that Steve’s data is biased in favor of those companies who need a more full-featured solution.  Not that it makes his experience any less legitimate or accurate.

In the broader market, however, our agency’s experience tells a different story.  We work with both enterprise and mid-market companies, and at the lower end of that spectrum, we find the main factors driving clients’ decision to switch to a different marketing automation platform are:

1) cost, combined with
2) an inability to show sufficient ROI from their original investment.

And whereas Steve’s customers are migrating upstream, that is – to what they perceive as a more scalable, robust, enterprise-ready solution, we’re seeing many marketers do the opposite, namely moving to a less expensive, less feature-rich, easier to use platform.  We hear comments like:

“Our renewal date came up, and we decided we just weren’t seeing the value for that cost, so we switched to something less expensive.”

You’ll even hear marketers openly acknowledge that they know they’re moving to a lesser solution, but that they’re willing to sacrifice functionality in favor of a platform whose cost better aligns with the perceived value.

These comments align with industry studies (most recently: Forrester) bemoaning the inability of B2B marketers to leverage marketing automation to its full capability, most specifically in areas like lead nurturing and customer marketing.  (Our agency conducted a survey back in 2015 that scored marketing automation users a “C” in overall maturity, and little has apparently changed since.)

In fairness, you could also argue that downstream migration is just as much about the emergence of a new breed of less expensive, more user-friendly marketing automation tools, and that customers are waking up to the fact that there are other, lower-cost options out there.  But even then, the trend speaks to a failure of the big marketing automation players to cement their place in the tech stack.

What can be improved?  Plenty.  Here are just a few thoughts:

* Vendors need to focus as much on customer success as they do on new business. It’s not enough to simply train a client how to use the technology

* Marketing ops needs an expanded portfolio and greater investment. Too many very smart marketing ops people know which buttons to press, but can’t drive strategy or creative.

* Both customers and vendors need to leverage experienced, tech-savvy consultants, agencies and other service providers, not to manage systems, but to design and build the programs that truly drive ROI.

* Customers need a plan. Most marketing automation failures come about from a lack of strategy.  The result is invariably a very tactical implementation that never reaches its true potential.

Photo by Laura Lefurgey-Smith on Unsplash

One thought on “Why Marketing Automation Customers are Migrating Downstream

  1. Brian Fleming

    Great article Howard!

    I completely agree with your conclusions. Time to market, integration costs, rising costs due to growing databases and increased complexity of the top of the line full featured systems are factors I hear that trigger companies to move downstream.

    What are a few of the solutions you hear that mid-market firms turning to in the 20,000-500,000 contact db size?


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