Success in today’s marketplace hinges on innovation. Behemoth enterprises know that in order to stay competitive they need to constantly diversify and improve on their offerings. They need to harness the latest and greatest technologies – but these technologies can’t be made in these large companies’ labs.
The new technologies are being built in incubators and startups at lightning speeds. Currently, there are 940 vendors in the marketing technology space offering innovative, disruptive solutions, and a lot of consolidation has already taken place here. The giants are relying on the little guys to drive innovation, which is why these small and mid-sized businesses are so important.
Innovation is moving downstream, and with it, marketing automation. In its 2014 Marketing Automation BuyerView, technology guidance firm Software Advice found that 50% of all businesses interested in marketing automation were in the SMB space, and that 90% were considering the technology for the very first time. Similarly, Forrester Research’s most recent Wave report pointed to several vendors who had already taken notice of this windfall, and had developed platforms specific to the small to mid-market consumer.
The lesson to be learned in all this is a simple one: businesses today are looking to move beyond the monolithic, enterprise-level suites of old, toward smaller, smarter, more flexible marketing solutions. In other words, bigger really isn’t better, and the giants of past eras aren’t nearly as gigantic as they once seemed.
For proof of this point, we need only consider the following facts. The marketing automation industry has grown by 50% annually for a number of years now, but has managed only to penetrate a mere 3% of non-tech companies in the mid-market. This leaves open a segment opportunity worth up to $8bn, and yet it is often passed over.
The few businesses that have been savvy enough to tap into this space have reaped tremendous rewards as a result. Act-On, for instance, has garnered 2100 customers across verticals like finance, insurance, agriculture, and manufacturing. Better still, the deals they’ve won have largely been noncompetitive, and from companies that were familiar with marketing automation already but unsure as to what solutions to choose.
More importantly, a great deal of innovation has already taken place at the mid-market level for this one reason: the more modern their marketing techniques are, the better chance small businesses have of competing against larger peers.
As Forrester notes in its recent Wave report, the B2B space for marketing automation is tipped to explode in the coming year, and will likely be driven by small, tech startups; slightly more than 50% of companies in this space already use automated lead-to-revenue management platforms to fuel sales pipelines, improve process maturity, and improve collaboration between sales and marketing. And it won’t be long before others follow suit.
All signs tell us that the days of marketing giants have come and gone. The future of marketing automation will be shaped by the plucky, ever-agile small and mid-market players.
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