Large companies are sometimes seen as slow-moving behemoths. Those listed on the Fortune 500 are some of the biggest around, so when I started to research their adoption of modern marketing tools I was expecting to see very low adoption rates. What I found was very different. Through my investigating I found that an alarmingly high number of companies had adopted some very advanced marketing tools including marketing automation technologies. However, the other findings in my research were more in line with my expectations.
My research started by looking at B2B companies* on the Fortune 500 list and evaluating them on the following criteria:
- Did they use web tracking tools? If so, which ones and how many?
- Did they use marketing automation tools?
- Did they use content marketing as a part of their strategy?
- Did they use forms to gate their content and collect email addresses?
- If they did use forms, did they optimize their forms for conversions?
After evaluating each item, I requested information on each site and waited to see how long it took to receive a follow-up.
Here are my findings:
Tracking and Automation
Ninety-seven percent of companies used some type of web tracking tools. Only 25 percent of the companies used marketing automation tools. Considering that Neolane reports 13 percent of B2B companies use marketing automation technology, 25 percent adoption shows these companies are adopting modern technologies at a higher rate than their peers.
Seventy-eight percent of the Fortune 500 companies I evaluated had some type of content on their sites to engage prospects, however, only 25 percent protected any of that content to collect email addresses.
Ninety-seven percent of the companies had a form that I could fill out to receive more information. Despite this high number, only 28 percent of the companies had less than 10 questions on any given form. Some companies were asking as many as 28 questions to receive any information. The Search Agents suggest as a rule of thumb to consider you will have a 30 percent lower submission rateby requiring more than three fields on your form.
Only 55 percent of the companies reached out via email within 48 hours of my form submission.
What can we learn as marketers from this research?
First off, it is good to see companies with large budgets adopting leading edge technologies at much higher rates than their peers. This still gives us some good reason to look to the largest players in the B2B space as leaders in adoption of tools. Despite their higher than average adoption rates, their large size seems to be affecting their ability to be nimble in adopting new techniques that go hand-in-hand with these tools.
*Fortune 500 companies surveyed were only those who are specifically B2B, and those who are likely to adopt modern marketing tools and technologies for B2B lead generation. Excluded from this research were: government contractors, businesses who sold very low volumes of very high-priced items (such as planes), companies who made a significant portion of their sales from B2C channels, B2C exclusive companies, financial service companies, and companies who sold or dealt with commodities. Those types of companies traditionally have very different sales and marketing models than other B2B companies. When these filters were applied there were only 38 companies who fit this profile on the Fortune 500 list.
Editor’s Note: As 2013 comes to a close, we’re pleased to share our top marketing automation columns of the year. This article was originally published February 15, 2013.