53 Percent of B2B Fortune 500 Companies Use Marketing Automation

I’ve spent the past 12 months compiling data on 126 of the most progressive B2B companies in the U.S. If you read my report last year on the State of Demand for 2013, you noticed that only 25 percent of the B2B Fortune 500 companies at that time were using marketing automation. The sands of change have shifted quickly, and this one key piece of information is very telling of the market overall — and what may be to come for marketing automation technologies.

In my State of Demand Generation study from 2013, I began following 126 B2B companies broken down into four verticals: Fortune 500, mid-market, SMB, and software as a service (SaaS). Each company was observed twice, 12 months apart. The data points observed included but were not limited to: the use of JavaScript for lead tracking, the number of fields used in a required form, use of marketing automation, use of content marketing, size of Twitter and Facebook audiences, and the delta between the 12 months of data.

The Fortune 500 vertical was made up of companies on the Fortune 500 list that were specifically B2B organizations. They had to be able to use demand generation techniques to significantly impact their bottom line, and could not rely on government contracts as their soul source of revenue. This grouping totaled 32 businesses.

The mid-market vertical consisted of companies with more than 1,000 employees but less than 10,000. Within this vertical, I studied 36 well-known B2B companies who can benefit from demand generation tactics. These companies ranged from software giants to food distribution companies. The third vertical was the SMB, which was made up of companies with between 10 and 1,000 employees, also fitting the same criteria as the other verticals. The SMB vertical consisted of 42 companies.

The fourth vertical observed consisted of companies who sell SaaS-based software. These companies have disrupted every industry, changed the face of modern business, are considered very progressive in their marketing, and heavily employ demand generation techniques. I looked at the 17 largest SaaS-based businesses in the U.S. Size was determined by annual revenue.

Of all the verticals I studied, none of the data from 2014 is more exciting than the 112 percent increase in marketing automation adoption by the Fortune 500 vertical. I find it very telling of what’s to come for a few big reasons: the amount of red tape they have in their organizations, the visibility they have in the markets, and the amount of available capital they control.

1) Lots of red tape: Money has never been the Fortune 500’s barrier to adopting new technologies; instead, it’s usually red tape. When you notice the companies with the most red tape adopting a technology at this fast of a rate, it makes you stop and think, “WHY”? The answer is easy — they have figured out how important it is to their bottom line, and are removing the red tape quickly to get these technologies into place.

2) They are visible: When your small companies adopt new technologies, it’s usually great to hear, but not as impactful to a market as when the biggest players adopt. This is the same with any other trend. There are usually very few people doing something, but when it hits mainstream, it spreads like wildfire. The visibility the Fortune 500 brings marketing automation into the mainstream.

3) They have money: This does not mean they will use their money to direct the future of marketing automation, but rather something quite different. The revenue these companies will contribute to marketing automation companies will allow those businesses to increase their investment in research and development. This means marketing automation could become a smarter, faster, and more progressive technology than we ever imagined.

So if you aren’t excited by the fact that the Fortune 500 had more than a 100 percent increase in adoption of marketing automation over the past 12 months, just consider the ancillary impacts this could potentially have on the market. It will easily bring more visibility to marketing automation and has already proved that marketing automation is crossing the chasm. We should also expect the leading marketing automation vendors to increase the speed of their innovation, and get ready for a new wave of innovation in the coming years.

If you’d like to read the rest of the research, I’ve released the preliminary findings in a webinar conducted with the American Marketing Association on March 27, which you can access here. I’ll also be releasing the remaining findings in a series of blog posts and infographics published by Pardot in the coming weeks.

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