A report on marketing automation buyer habits produced some surprising and not-so-surprising results.

But it depends on who you ask.

Ask the creator of the report, Software Advice, and you'll hear that it’s surprising small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) represented 50 percent of the buyers interested in marketing automation.

“I was most surprised to see so many small to mid-sized companies in our sample,” Software Advice marketing analyst Derek Singleton told CMSWire. The report  tracked 896 interactions with marketing automation buyers in 2013. He continued:

Historically, large and enterprise-level companies have been the ones to aggressively adopt marketing automation systems so I would have expected the buyer sample to be more weighted toward companies with significant employee counts and annual revenues. This might be an indication that marketing automation is moving downstream. Vendors are certainly starting to create more solutions that focus on serving the needs of small to mid-sized businesses.”

One of those vendors was not surprised to see growth with SMBs in marketing automation interest.

“We are seeing tremendous interest from SMB sector,” Atri Chatterjee, chief marketing officer of Act-On Software, told CMSWire. “This is where the most innovation occurs, and they know that modern marketing techniques will transcend their business and keep them competitive against the larger enterprises.”

More Surprises

Chatterjee said he was also surprised to see only 7 percent of those surveyed report using an email marketing system.

“Seems very low,” he told CMSWire. “We see 25 percent of our wins coming from companies currently using email marketing software and looking to bridge the gap from email to digital with marketing automation.”

The report did go on to say email marketing was a “highly desired” feature, with 47 percent of buyers citing the need for the capability. 

Chatterjee was also surprised to see that tracking and reporting didn’t top the list of requested features and that only a handful were seeking this feature.

“This is actually a key selling point for marketing automation,” Chatterjee said.

The top features buyers requested are consistent with their need to improve lead management, according to the report. The majority of buyers told Software Advice they required lead management features -- 81 percent requested lead nurturing, while 64 percent requested lead scoring.