How B2B Marketers are using Marketing Automation to tackle top challenges in 2023

January 6, 2023 Chuck Leddy

This blog post summarizes key findings from Adobe’s “State of Marketing Automation” report

Adobe recently collected actionable insights and best practices from more than 600 B2B organizations, all of them using a variety of marketing automation platforms (MAPs). The purpose? To learn exactly how today's high-performing B2B marketing teams are leveraging technology to separate themselves from the competition in 2023 and beyond.

B2B marketing teams face limited resources and economic pressure as they drive strategic priorities around ROI/return on investment, growth, and optimizing customer experience. Adobe found that the top-rated marketing objectives for 2023, all rated as “very important” or “extremely important” by at least 90% of respondents, were the following: 

  • Improve marketing ROI: 98% 
  • Grow pipeline and revenue: 97% 
  • Provide great buyer/ customer experiences: 97% 
  • Keep pace with marketing tools and techniques: 93%

Adobe’s report The State of Marketing Automation (free download) describes in detail how the best B2B organizations are tackling these challenging priorities in 2023. This blog post summarizes the report’s key findings.

Accelerating adoption of MAPs and AI

Marketing automation is widely viewed by B2B marketers as an essential ingredient for success. Adobe finds that “98% of B2B marketers say that marketing automation is very important or extremely important to their success.”

Leveraging a MAP is simply the best way to orchestrate personalized buyer and customer engagement at scale and support efficient growth.

B2B marketers are using their MAPs to drive both lead-first and account-first (ABM) approaches for engaging their target customers.

The use of AI/artificial intelligence is also growing, according to Adobe, whether the AI is embedded in a MAP or otherwise. The Adobe report finds that “91% of leading companies are very or extremely satisfied with the embedded AI marketing automation features they are using today.”

More personalization across channels

The top-rated B2B organizations surveyed by Adobe are adopting more personalization across channels to drive ROI, leveraging their MAPs and other technology tools to do so. The report finds that “99% of leading companies are using a medium or high level of personalization across their marketing channels.”

These high-performing B2B organizations know that big-ticket purchases often involve large buying groups and long buying cycles that can involve hundreds of touch points. That level of targeted, consistent, and highly-personalized account engagement can only be achieved with automation and AI. The great news for B2B marketers is that this “personalization at scale” technology is now proven and readily available, with more and more B2B companies putting it to good use.

“To achieve success,” says the Adobe report, “[B2B] leaders are addressing all aspects of great personalization, including centralized customer data, content creation, omnichannel customer journeys, and measurement.” The complexities of personalization at the account-level (via ABM) are many and B2B organizations are leveraging technology to resolve challenges that include understanding buying groups and the associations within them, as well as the size of account-level opportunities and target accounts. 

More channels are being accessed by B2B buyers, making orchestrating engagement across these channels more complicated. While email has always been an important B2B channel, other channels (such as SMS) are growing. For example, Adobe finds that “90% of B2B marketers plan to implement or improve website chat” in 2023.

“Using an increasing number of channels creates an increasing need for orchestration between them,” explains the report. “As with personalization, leaders are making use of automation and AI to deliver results. Whether they are using lead-based marketing, account-based marketing, or both, many of the same capabilities are needed for great orchestration. Scoring, stage tracking, routing, and audience and activity triggers help [B2B marketers] listen, adapt, and respond.”

Measuring what matters

In one of the Adobe report’s most powerful findings, “100% of leading companies plan to work to improve attribution” in 2023. Yes, all of them. B2B organizations are focusing more energy and investment on attribution for one simple reason: it helps them prove and improve marketing impact. They’re seeking to measure the pipeline, revenue, and ROI performance of every campaign, channel, content asset, and touchpoint so they know what tactics are working at each demand stage and where to invest more resources, says the report.

More than 7 of 10 of those surveyed (71%) have moved from single touch to multi-touch attribution approaches.

B2B attribution can be tough to get right. According to Gartner, a typical buying group for a B2B solution involves 11 members. And with each member of a buying group engaging with B2B sellers through online and offline channels over the course of a multi-week or multi-month buying cycle, the number of touchpoints can easily grow beyond 100 for just one deal. So, the Adobe report notes, “it takes multiple campaigns, multiple channels, and multiple content assets—a lot of marketing investment—to get every B2B deal done.” 

The ability to tie marketing actions to pipeline, revenue, and ROI changes everything marketing does.

When done right, “attribution provides visibility to the revenue impact of every trackable touchpoint—and, thus, every campaign, channel, and content asset,” notes Adobe. When this information is combined with cost data, ROI is revealed. Attribution truly becomes the enabler of data-driven marketing optimization.

Leveraging better data for better experiences

Adobe finds that data management effectiveness underpins the success of high-performing B2B marketing organizations. After all, notes the report, “it’s data that informs effective targeting, personalized engagement, and accurate measurement. Marketing automation platforms . . . provide a powerful marketing data environment.”

Customer data fuels great planning, engagement, and measurement. When marketing automation was first created nearly two decades ago, it gave marketers a much more actionable environment for marketing data than the CRM systems they’d been working with.

“Marketers with complex customer data requirements are learning how to enhance the power of marketing automation and their overall martech stack through the addition of a dedicated customer data platform (CDP) that’s designed for B2B data structures,” says the report.

The idea is to improve the quality of data, maintain its quality, and then enable its activation (often through automation) for customer engagement that’s timely and personalized. In 2023, the available technology is enabling more of that “data-fueled” engagement than ever.


For more information about, or help with, implementing any of the B2B marketing best practices and technologies listed above, reach out to us today.

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