The Marketing Automation India story is still in its early stages. Most estimates globally still suggest that there is less than 10% adoption of marketing software platforms even when you add up the customer share of all major providers like Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua etc.

Globally the marketing automation software market will be worth $7.63 Billion by 2025 as per estimates by Grand View Research. The market is expected to grow at 13.5% CAGR annually in the Asia Pacific region between 2016 to 2025 with India and China witnessing the highest growth in customer base. As per estimates, the size of India market alone is over USD 500 million.

Marketing Automation India Story

Marketing Automation as a label sounds slightly amorphous for an entire industry. The marketing automation market in India like elsewhere also started with lead generation and nurturing technologies gradually providing a wide array of analytics and social media management capabilities.

By the time the marketing automation wave hit the country, entrepreneurs in India had realized that they can’t follow the HubSpot’s approach of building an “all you ever need” package for marketers. For instance, CleverTap was born out of the need to fix the challenges marketers had with mobile user engagement. Today the company has evolved into a mobile marketing suite with over 4000 customers.

The marketing automation story in India wouldn’t be complete without mentioning serial-entrepreneurs like Rajesh Jain who threw the hat into the game early on. Netcore which took seed as a Linux-based messaging software platform is now a cross-channel marketing automation platform. Marketers have also embraced automation to simplify their tasks.

Marketing Automation has been one of the best things to happen within the realms of digital marketing supply chain. It helps quite a lot in automating some of the mundane tasks thus helping you generate better conversions. Few of the integrated marketing automation tools help quite a lot with their CRM and email integrations thus taking out guesswork from the related activities. Brands should leverage marketing automation albeit with a little intelligence.

– Malhar Barai, Group Manager – Tech Mahindra

Today the Indian players in the space to mention a few include CleverTap, Netcore, Leadsquared, Betaout, Webengage etc. International players like Hubspot, Marketo, Adobe (Marketing Cloud) and Oracle (Eloqua) also have a growing presence in the country. While the players are labelled under ‘Marketing Automation’ category each solution solves a different paint point for the customer which explains why there is enough market for every player to grow.

Marketing Automation India – Challenges

BUDGET constraints & roi paradox

Most marketers attribute low marketing budgets as one of the reasons for non-adoption of marketing automation solutions. For few who take the leap of faith to adopt a marketing automation solution but only evaluate it in terms of Return on Investment (ROI) fail to see the value.

Another paradox that marketers could encounter could be to see the return on investment (ROI) going up, but sales decline. This could be a result of some simple cause and effects. As media inflation increase across channels, the reach has declined for almost every channel and publisher. Rising costs combined with declining reach drives up Cost-Per-Point (CPP), which means your creative needs to be exponentially more effective to deliver the same results (and that’s before attenuation of media attention is factored in). In most cases, even the best creative cannot offset the decline in efficiency. It’s just math.

Before the tyranny of ROI, marketers understood the need to evaluate campaign payback alongside other metrics—brand health, penetration and switching analyses, elasticity, etc.—to get a sense of their overall brand performance.

Content strategy first

Scott Bringer’s latest martech report suggests that amount of marketing tools vying a marketer’s attention grew by 40% in 2017 from the previous year. With so many marketing tools out there, the decision to choose a marketing automation solution is usually driven by FOMO (fear-of-missing-out).

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

– Bill Gates, Co-Founder, Microsoft

Without a clearly defined content strategy, the automation solution only ends up exposing the inefficiencies in the marketing department. Content lies at the heart of any marketing automation solution hence it is critical to ensure you have a documented content strategy in place before you design your marketing technology stack.

Automation detox

The industry as a whole needs some sort of detoxification for positioning stand-alone applications as marketing automation suites. The problem lies somewhere in the mindset that marketing automation is meant to automate repetitive tasks which kills the very essence of what marketers do.

“Marketing automation is an abused space. In the last decade or so, companies have been sold all sorts of things in the name of automation. There is no coherence in how brands engage with their customers across multiple touch points. Engagement channels like web, email, mobile are managed by marketers in silos. For the small and mid-sized businesses, we want to change that forever.”

Avlesh Singh, Co-Founder and CEO, WebEngage

Avlesh Singh, Co-founder of Webengage mentions in a blog post that companies in marketing automation space in the past have sold all sorts of things to marketers in the name of automation. For marketers, who have burned their fingers trying such solution would generally be sceptical about anything new in the market.

Marketing Automation India – Future

Hubspot has about 23,000 customers globally, but 1/6th of those are agencies if one has to extrapolate not more than couple hundred thousand companies are using mainstream marketing automation platforms. Even for companies with a unique value proposition, it becomes difficult to differentiate their product hence it is important to identify customers and segments where you can get the attention of the prospect at a price point that makes sense.

Industry stalwarts like Hubspot argue that ‘Marketing Automation’ might not be the apt name label for this category of software. The company has resisted the term, preferring ‘Inbound Marketing’ the category of marketing activities that it christened. It turns out; there’s is broad interest in ‘Inbound Marketing’ than there is to ‘Marketing Automation’ going by the Google Trends Chart. This could also be attributed to the fact that the brand has refrained the way in which marketers think about marketing.

It’s essential to sell marketing automation as a feature and not as a platform. As Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder of Hubspot rightly says “Software platforms are bought, transformations are sold.” Marketing Automation India Story is still quite young and is being actively shaped. Marketing automation in India is surely going to see a glorious future.

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