Top MarTech Blog: What Are the Key Challenges for Marketing Automation Experts?

Marketing Automation has been used by large corporations ever since its existence. This trend made its mark on the marketing technology in a number of ways. Early solutions were (and most still are) robust, feature-rich and consequently complex and expensive. All these made it hard for smaller companies to implement marketing automation. Even if a small business can afford marketing automation software, they have a hard time getting the true value out of it.

This phenomenon bothered me because small businesses with limited resources can really benefit from using marketing automation. Leveraging automation can increase productivity and consequently revenue by a lot. Unfortunately, most current solutions are not really tailored for small business.

So, as a marketer at an email marketing automation SaaS company, I felt like it was my duty to find out the things marketers have a hard time with. I did just that by surveying more than 130 professionals working in marketing.

But I felt like that wasn’t enough.I like to share my findings with the world. This article highlights the key findings and data of the report. Plus, I’ve hand-picked the best marketing automation advice provided by experts during my research. Let’s get to it!


Company Sizes

  • In my research, 90% of the respondents are from companies with 50 employees or less. This means that small and micro businesses are over-represented. Let’s break this down a bit.
  • More than half of the respondents (57%) work at companies with 2-10 employees.
  • A fifth (20%) of the answers came from companies with 11-50 employees.
  • 17 submissions (13%) came from solopreneurs.


  • The most submissions (38%) came from professionals working in Growth positions like Marketing and Sales.
  • 31% of the respondents in our survey are business owners.
  • A quarter of the participants (25%) are CEOs.

These three groups take up 94% of the submissions.

Also Read: Marketing Automation Platform AdStage Raises $3 Million to Help Marketers Prove Return on Ad Spend


The distribution of industries among the respondents is leaning towards the Marketing, with 47%. This was intentional as we collected the data so that about half of the respondents would be from the marketing industry.

The Software Development industry came in second in the survey, with 25% of the submissions coming from this industry.

All this juicy data is great, but you came here to read about marketing automation challenges, didn’t you? So let’s get to it!

Main Marketing Automation Challenges

Main Marketing Automation Challenges

In our survey, 85% of respondents use some kind of marketing automation.

The most common challenge people face with marketing automation is creating quality automation, with 16% of respondent mentioning it.

Based on our data, integrations (14%) are another critical challenge users face with marketing automation technology.

Marketing automation requires lots of content. No wonder, that creating content came in third place, with 10%.

Engagement (8%) is another major challenge and is closely related to content. Automation requires top-notch quality content to drive engagement.

Segmentation, data management, and optimization are mentioned by 6% of the participants as a marketing automation challenge.

Finding tools (5%), personalization (5%), lead scoring (5%), analytics (4%), reporting (3%), and deliverability (1%) were all mentioned as a challenge by some of the surveyed professionals.

Coming up, we’re going to take a look at how these challenges differ between two industries: Marketing & Advertising and Software Development companies.

Also Read: Do Brands Use Email and Marketing Automation Effectively?

The Marketing Automation Challenges of Marketing & Advertising Companies

The Marketing Automation Challenges of Marketing & Advertising Companies

The main challenge of the marketing & advertising industry are integrations (25%), with a quarter of the participants mentioning it. Even with all the integrations provided by marketing automation vendors and solutions like Zapier, it’s still challenging to set up integrations between different platforms and tools.

Creating automation (21%) came in second place, which depending on the platform can be a real challenge for lots of marketers.

Engagement and creating content (15%) are tied as the third most significant challenges companies in the marketing & advertising industry face with marketing automation.

Personalization and optimization (9%) are also neck and neck for the fourth place in the marketing & advertising industry challenges.

Finding tools (8%) is mentioned significantly less by companies in the marketing & advertising.

Segmentation and data management are similar in this regard. Both of them are mentioned in 8% of answers by professionals in the marketing & advertising industries.

Analytics and lead scoring (6%) seems to be a challenge for some companies in this industry.

Reporting (4%) and deliverability (2%) was mentioned by only a handful of companies in the industry as a challenge.

The Marketing Automation Challenges of Software Development Companies

The Marketing Automation Challenges of Software Development Companies

For Software Development companies the most significant challenge, by far is creating automation, with 27% of respondents mentioning it. Generally, these companies require more sophisticated automation for client acquisition, user onboarding, and retention.

Creating content (18%) came in second place, which is considerably higher than in the other industry mentioned before. The reason behind this is that smaller companies in this field first focus on hiring developers rather than marketers or copywriters. This causes some resource issues for the marketing department.

Integrations and complexity are both major challenges that companies in the software development industry face, with 15% of respondents mentioning them.

Engagement, data management, segmentation, and optimization were all mentioned by 9% of respondents working at software development companies.

Lead scoring (6%) and analytics (3%) were only mentioned by a couple of companies in the industry.

So these are the marketing automation challenges of marketing & software development companies.

Also Read: Impartner Named a Strong Performer in Through-Channel Marketing Automation Report

Some of the respondents in the survey were kind enough to provide some advice for people starting out in the world of marketing automation. Let’s hear them!

Marketing Automation Challenges of Professionals

Along with the stats above, I collected some quotes from major players in the marketing and martech landscape.

Douglas Karr, the CEO of DK New Media, Founder of said his number 1 challenge with marketing automation is:

Douglas Karr

The CMO of Paubox, Rick Kuwahara has a hard time with:

Ryan Bonnici, the CMO of G2Crowd highlights the importance of integrations in marketing technology:

Ryan Bonnici

The Head of Marketing at Sprout Solutions, Nix Eniego says his number one challenge is synergy between marketing automation and the sales pipeline:

Deanna Aaron, the Marketing Automation Specialist of Vonazon put the emphasis on building an effective strategy:

Deanna Aaron

The Founder of PodcastMotor, Craig Hewitt says his number one challenge with marketing automation is tracking the ROI of different channels in a workflow:

Craig Hewitt

Will Laurenson, the CEO of UTMLY has similar marketing automation challenges:

Will Laurenson

These are some of the challenges advanced marketing automation users face.

Wrapping it up

Let’s recap the main challenges of both industries. When it comes to marketing automation professionals in the marketing and advertising industry have a hard time with:

  1. Integrations
  2. Creating automations
  3. Creating content
  4. Engagement

On the other hand, people working with marketing automation in software development companies find it hard to:

  1. Create automation
  2. Create content
  3. Set up integrations
  4. And handle the complexity of the software they use.

If some of these challenges ring true to you feel free to reach out to me and I’m sure we’ll find a way to ease your pain.

Recommended Read: Independent Research Firm Ranks SproutLoud a Leader in Through-Channel Marketing Automation

(This article was first published in July 2018)

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