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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

VideoPost - SMB Marketing Automation Purchase Intentions

Please click through for a quick snapshot of Current Adoption and Purchase Intentions for Marketing Automation within the US Small and Medium Business (SMB) Market:

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SMB Marketing Automation - Strong Mid-Market Adoption



As mentioned in a previous post on Marketing Automation, the adoption patterns and benefits of these applications and services differ by size of company.  In this post we will focus on the applications and functionality currently used and planned for purchase by Mid-Market companies, from 100-999 employees.

Marketing automation can be defined as a group of software applications designed to increase the efficiency of managing customer relationships by reducing repetitive tasks and automating processes that maximize customer revenue. This is done by identifying, prioritizing and converting sales leads, and systematically maintaining the customer relationship by being proactively in front of them with relevant offers for recurring business and an ongoing relationship.

 

 

What we found in a recent SMB survey of just over 1,200 respondents is that typically, the larger the company the more likely they are to be using Marketing Automation Apps/Functions within their existing software solutions. By the time SMBs reach the 500-999 employee level, certain applications such as outsourced email and campaign management are used in 70%+ of the accounts surveyed, expected to reach 90%+ by this time next year. Other fast growing areas include Personalization, CRM Integration and Web Analytics, all expected to reach a  penetration level of at least 80% by 2013 in the upper segments of the SMB market.


Research also shows that adoption has been spurred by the changing characteristics of the market today; there is much less risk involved in adopting SaaS and/or Cloud-based software applications than there used to be - when internal groups were responsible for rolling out complex solutions involving purchase and configuration of hardware, software licenses and provisioning of datacenter services. Ability to take advantage of this Enterprise-level functionality based on a monthly subscription and minimal impact on HR requirements is a no-brainer for most SMBs.

In the coming few weeks, we will provide additional analysis from our latest including Virtualization, Mobility and Managed Services as well as Cloud Computing.

Davis Blair
Techaisle

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SMB Cloud Computing Applications are Squeezing Channel Relationships

It is becoming quite well-known that traditional channel relationships, which developed over a thirty period based on PC, LAN, PC Server and Client Server architecture are changing rapidly based on the characteristics of Cloud Computing  products and services.  And now we have data to prove it based on Techaisle surveys of SMBs.

It is in some ways analogous to how the industries where value could be digitized were essentially transformed by the Internet because the value could move instantly around the globe. On a worldwide network, even a relatively slow one, bits gained an advantage over molecules in advertising, banking, music and entertainment, travel,  insurance, and many others.

With Cloud Computing, Remote Managed Services, Virtualization and other emerging cloud-based technology applications such as marketing automation, business intelligence and vertical applications exploding in the SMB marketplace, distribution channels face new challenges; these solutions can be efficiently delivered directly to the SMB customer, can be downloaded from the Internet, can be configured by savvy SMB customers or remotely, can be maintained, updated and upgraded online - in many cases the value can be delivered online. To further stack the deck, vendors who do not need help delivering complex solutions don't really have an incentive to work with a partner; to the contrary, they are able to sell much more efficiently by using the web channel and an inbound sales force. If you doubt it, sign up for a free SaaS trial and if they don't call within two hours, you are the exception.

SMB Channel Preference by Cloud Technology


The survey data shows a cross-tab of SMB decision makers,  and shows that for the majority of new cloud-based applications and services Vendor Direct and VAR are the preferred sources of purchase.



At this point it makes sense to discuss the channels and why some are more suited to certain types of employee size businesses than others. We categorize Cloud Services into Infrastructure, Communications, Business Applications and Vertical Market categories.  Provisioning of infrastructure services, like adding remote storage and back up services, has been simplified through web based interfaces and is well within the reach of IT staff. Similarly, horizontal SaaS applications can be up and running in minutes and customized by business users in a matter of hours or less - think GoDaddy, Constant Contact, Central Desktop, GotoMeeting, Sherweb - why pay a channel partner to implement these services?

Adding Value to Self Service Applications


Value Added Services become necessary in relation to the level of solution complexity; in business applications like robust CRM and ERP solutions from companies like Salesforce.com and Netsuite. Even if configuration can be accomplished with Internal IT staff, it may be better to let a VAR  or specialist do it to save time and money, as with configuring Enterprise Applications like Siebel and SAP. Cloud Data, Network and Application Integration Services are also in high demand and capable Service Providers have no shortage of potential partners.

As discussed in an earlier post, these relatively easy-to-deploy solutions have also given rise to an  important new source of advice, recommendations and services - the independent IT consultant - which will be the subject of one of our next posts.

Davis Blair
Techaisle

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Marketing Automation – SMBs See Impressive Results

Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) and their channel partners are benefiting from adoption of Marketing Automation tools and applications, according to one of our recent surveys. SMBs have embraced Cloud-based Services, including Marketing Automation, in large numbers to control costs and stay competitive. The ability to leverage robust offsite infrastructure, systems software, applications software licenses, upgrades and maintenance services as a monthly subscription bundle allows companies, and especially SMBs, to tackle much more complex competitive challenges than in the past.

What are SMBs doing with Marketing Automation?

With Marketing Automation point solutions and add-on modules, SMBs are able to add very powerful communications, filtering, data management and workflow components to the base CRM system; enabling more efficient sales process management. For many SMBs, especially at the lower end of the spectrum, sales lead management is done on spreadsheets with a move to a CRM system when the firm gets to the point where there are three or more staff working sales and marketing roles. Ultimately the core functions of lead generation, opportunity conversion and lifecycle customer relationship management remain at the center of marketing objectives and are the focus of automation. Substantial improvements of any of these areas can offer big dividends to companies in terms of ROMI.

Eighty Percent Satisfaction Level



Our survey revealed consistent praise from the ~80% of “satisfied and very satisfied” SMBs, who reported better demand generation, lead management, improved ROMI, better customer targeting and communication and several other benefits that help bring more structure and better capabilities to small organizations.

Benefits Differ by Company Size

As companies deployed Marketing Automation solutions, the benefits they realized were slightly different: all saw a broad variety of benefits but both small and medium businesses reported relatively more benefit in specific areas. For example, as seen in the chart below that Small Business reported “More Leads” by 18%, and “Shorter Sales Cycles” 12% respectively, compared to what medium companies stated. Small companies also reported relatively “Better Lead Quality”, “Lower Sales Costs”, and “Improved Personalization and Targeted Messaging”. Medium Businesses said they saw better productivity through identification of “Sales-Ready Leads”, “better understanding of prospect behavior”, “Better Campaign Reporting”, etc.



Generally it appears the results reported by the Small Business are more likely to cover basic issues involved in getting a sales process up and running, while the Medium Business results seem to revolve around improving an existing process, improving collaboration and process integration.

The important takeaways here are that 1) there is an increasingly high level of adoption of Cloud Services by SMBs, 2) the Cloud model is working for them, and 3) the benefits are tangible and supported by an ~80% level of satisfaction.

We will continue to share results from recent surveys covering several important topics for SMBs and Channel partners.

Davis Blair
Techaisle

 

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