The Coming Wave of Marketing Automation Adoption

Being in the marketing automation world for five-and-a-half years with Pardot, it’s easy to think that everyone knows about the technology and has adopted it. Not so. When I talk to non-tech CEOs and entrepreneurs, very few have heard of marketing automation, let alone begun using it. Technology companies are the main users of the technology and it’s starting to spread rapidly.

Think about all the companies that use a modern, web-based CRM, based on approximate customer count:

  • ~140,000
  • SugarCRM: ~10,000
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM: ~40,000
  • Netsuite: ~13,000
  • Total: ~200,000 companies

Now, look at the major marketing automation vendors based on approximate customer count:

  • Marketo: ~2,400
  • Pardot: ~1,900
  • Eloqua: ~1,500
  • HubSpot: ~1,800 (this is a guess as many of their customers use the blogging and SEO tools, with the marketing automation piece growing quickly)
  • Act On: ~1,400
  • Total: 9,000

Note: customer counts are all educated guesses based on published information and industry knowledge.

So, with roughly 200,000 companies using a modern, web-based CRM and only 9,000 using a B2B marketing automation system, there’s unbelievable room for growth. Marketing agencies and lead generation experts would do well to develop a marketing automation practice and get out ahead of the curve. Per adoption, we’re just about to cross the chasm into the early majority and the number of companies that use that software will explode.

What else? What are your thoughts on the coming wave of marketing automation adoption?

7 thoughts on “The Coming Wave of Marketing Automation Adoption

  1. How about a intro post for those of us who don’t really know what marketing automation is? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I don’t really understand what it is.

    1. Hi Bo!

      Great question. Marketing automation is simply a way of automating a lot of the “technical” and “mundane” tasks you do with respect to marketing your business online, so you can save time and be more effective.

      The term is used a lot more in the enterprise space, which is why you’ve probably never heard of it. Chances are you’re doing marketing automation, to some degree, without even realizing it! For example…

      – Do you blog? If so, and you have a plugin that publishes your post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc…, that’s marketing automation.

      – Do you use a tool (ex Hootsuite, Buffer) to schedule tweets? That’s considered marketing automation, as your tweets are being shared when you’re busy doing something else.

      – Even automated emails that get sent to your customers or potential customers is considered marketing automation.

      I’m sure you’ll want to read more, and while I don’t have a fav marketing automation post, Search Engine Land does a decent overview:

      Best of luck,

  2. marketing automation takes a dedicated human resource to optimize. how can the MA industry quickly emphasize the upfront investment will prove positive ROI?

    per your calculations, if all the CRM companies adopted MA, would that stimulate the economy by ~191,000 new jobs?

    1. Not all MA software is built equal. Larger systems like the big ones listed above do, but a newer wave of lighter-weight MA systems for smaller businesses are coming out that don’t require the same amount of time commitment. Check out Scribe Content and Spokal as examples.

  3. It’s exciting to think about the future growth of marketing software! We will definitely see new marketing software customers from the pool of CRM users. (Not to mention markets that *just* now entering the CRM space.)

    Regarding the customer count of the marketing software platforms, not sure about the others, but we at HubSpot are actually way beyond the 1,800 number. The approximate customer volume of the CRM companies is tremendous, though – so definitely helps to outline the scale of growth we are talking about.

  4. David, I agree there is a ton of growth remaining in the marketing automation market.

    But to do an apples-to-apples w/ Salesforce, shouldn’t we include the providers that serve micro- to mid-sized companies? such as:

    InfusionSoft – 25,000 customers in 2013
    DemandForce (Intuit) – 35,000 customers in 2012
    Vocus – 120,000 customers and 17,801 annual subscribers in Q2 2013
    ConstantContact – 500,000 customers in 2012

    Here’s why I say this:
    – the companies above sell themselves as “marketing platforms”. Most have made MA acquisitions to back it up
    – the companies above sell to B2Bs, too (although most are focused on B2C)
    – B2C and B2B marketing requirements are starting to overlap: B2Cs are looking at CRM-ish capabilities (Silverpop, et al), and B2Bs are adding social and email automation.
    – most of Salesforce’s 140,000 “accounts” are SMBs.
    – the majority of marketing automation installations today are in very small businesses.

    re. that last point:

    According to the marketing automation report cited above (,

    “Of the total 28,292 estimated U.S. marketing automation installations, 78% are in the micro and small business markets, according to Raab Associates. Micro businesses are defined as having less than $5 million in annual revenue”.

    Given Salesforce and Oracle acquisitions, my guess is we are going to see 2 things happen during the next 3-5 years:
    1. B2B and B2C functionalities will overlap even more. After all, every CMO will eventually need to master email, social, web, search, blogs and multichannel analytics.
    2. CRM, Marketing Automation and Social Media Marketing platforms will become much more tightly integrated. Same reason as point 1.

    On our company blog (, I recently published several detailed posts about what this tighter social-MA integration might look like (we are a social media customer prospecting platform).

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  5. Agreed, marketing automation is definitely the future. That said, I’m surprised (and encouraged) by those numbers. We recently began using marketing automation software for all of our clients – there has been dramatic increases in leads and conversions across the board. Working on our largest (by far) company right now, I’ll be sure to point them to this article to help our cause πŸ™‚


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