In preparation for the new year, PerformanceIN continues its annual tradition of connecting with performance marketing experts to get their single biggest prediction for the industry in 2017.

In his piece, Lee Chadwick, CEO of CommuniGator, expects marketing automation and email marketing to flourish in 2017.

As many of us in the B2B world know, marketing automation has been on the lips of many marketers for years. In fact, 2016 has seen the highest number of businesses expand from email marketing to marketing automation. Yet, reports indicate that marketing automation is still not being used to its full potential. With this in mind, we expect a number of trends to occur in 2017.

Adoption of marketing automation will continue to grow

Despite the highest record number of businesses moving to marketing automation platforms, 18% of B2B marketers don’t use marketing automation at all. For those that do, the way in which they use the platform will have to evolve if they want to keep up with the mass personalisation and machine learning trends that are starting to emerge in the B2B market.

Email marketing is going to become more targeted

Think about it. The big companies such as Amazon and Facebook are already targeting all your material. It was only a matter of time before B2B was forced to catch up. We, as consumers, expect the marketing material we receive to be relevant and personalised to us, otherwise we won’t react to it.

We already know email marketing is far from dead. But in order to keep it alive and well, we’ll need to start using targeting techniques such as dynamic content and workflows that preempt buyer journeys via email.

Website personalisation tools will be adopted

Because most B2B marketers move from an email marketing platform to an automation suite when they take on more marketing channels (social, event etc.), web-based tools are often forgotten about. IP tracking is a prime example.

While marketers are already using some web tools, such as personalised landing pages, they are not taking advantage of tools they don’t immediately relate to the email marketing journey. However, being able to identify who is on your website is a prime channel that marketing should be taking advantage of as much as sales.

Marketing automation will become more user-friendly

We already know that B2B marketers have seen an improvement in their lead quality with marketing automation. However, that – it appears – is not enough to convince them that marketing automation adoption is worth it.

In fact, the single biggest barrier appears to be limited knowledge about how to use all the tools. Therefore, it seems obvious that the next step will be for marketing automation providers to make their platforms even easier to use.

The management of marketing automation

You would think it would be obvious that marketing automation sits with the responsibility of the marketing team. However, the most successful companies have actually shared responsibility between sales and marketing with the likes of CRM integration.

While getting sales and marketing to work together seems to be the biggest challenge that any B2B companies face, one cannot function without the other. Email marketing and automation is all designed to drive the end result – the conversion rate. That’s why it is this final trend that will be the most important moving into 2017.