Are you still afraid of and intimidated by marketing automation? There’s really no reason any more. Modern marketing automation software (MAS) no longer suffers the stigma of being too complicated for anyone but a large enterprise technology company to adopt. The modern MAS has already made the same jump roll-your-own blogging made to WordPress and the command-line Unix server made into the sleek and elegant Mac OS X.

There are more options so pricing has become much more competitive. And, they’re faster, better and smarter with much more sophisticated testing scenarios. You oftentimes no longer need to reinvent the wheel as there are automated campaign sequences (with extensive rules) that you can adopt, adapt and then customize along with increased WYSIWYG rich text tools. The modern MAS offers universally easier to use tools; and, if you still aren’t motivated to do it yourself, there’s an economy developing of service bureaus — agencies — which will make it possible to outsource aspects of getting your marketing automation campaigns off the ground if you just don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to it.

Marketing automation software has the soup to nuts tools you need, allowing you to manage your email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing and even your inbound marketing campaigns in one place. At the end of the day, reporting and ROI are king, and modern marketing automation platforms offer the real accountability that only data can provide.

There are four reasons why people are afraid of marketing automation software before they use it:

  1. 44% of marketers, have not heard of lead nurturing or marketing automation — they just know about email marketing and a little bit about segmentation and A/B testing. People don’t realize how advanced the state of the art solutions have become.
  2. When people learn about what marketing automation can do, they can be intimidated. They may be familiar with MailChimp and ConstantContact but they never put aside enough time to front load the sort of prepared content and “choose your own adventure” flow of contextual responses needed for nurture campaigns.
  3. The price! While it takes money to make money, people have been afraid they will will never actually get to the starting line with so much preparation needed to get it up and running.
  4. Many lack the confidence in their own ability to take advantage of this technology. On one hand, just think about all the work if it is successful and delivers on the promises such as a 451% increase in qualified leads, 47% larger purchases, a 20% increase in sales opportunities, and a 10% increase in my sales pipeline. On the other hand, what if you write that monthly $500 check and then nothing at all happens? What’s the opportunity cost of onboarding marketing automation software?

You aren’t alone in these concerns. Half of companies consider IT roadblocks and legacy tech to be major barriers to adopting marketing automation software. It’s not surprising that marketing automation software only has a 3% adoption in non-tech companies. Nearly one in four users of early marketing automation systems consider them too complex to be used effectively.

Like me, 86% of marketers think ease of use is the most important criterion for their marketing automation platform. And, many of the current platforms aren’t remotely easy to use. Only 26% of marketing automation users have fully adopted their MAS system, only 38% use advanced tactics like progressive profiling, and only 8% use marketing automation to nurture existing customers. It’s intimidating when folks are just starting to collect their email lists for simple MailChimp lists or are just dipping their toes into social media, contextual, display, Twitter and Facebook ads. While 53% of B2B Fortune 500 companies use marketing automation, only about 4% of businesses in the U.S. with 20 or more employees do and, overall, only 22% of companies do.

54% of marketers who have not yet implemented marketing automation cite cost of ownership as a major obstacle.

As the prices come down and ease-of-use goes through the roof, it’s time for small businesses to put marketing automation into line item budgets because midsize and large enterprises shouldn’t be the only ones benefiting. Until now, they have had the resources, the staff and the discretionary budget to make marketing automation work for them.

Actually, we should be adopting marketing automation immediately if it’s still true that only 4% of all businesses with 20+ employees are currently using it. And, with prices coming down that ~$500-$800 per month should be considered part of the cost of doing business. It creates the same sort of seductive atmosphere that a well set-up retail store does. From your landing page to sophisticated and responsive direct marketing campaigns along with contact info collection and everything you might need to cover in the day-to-day life of doing business. It might seem expensive, but a marketing automation platform could very well replace other tools you are using: website visitor tracking, social media management and listening, advertising, SEO analysis, email marketing, action-based automated trigger campaigns, landing page-building, event management, lead management, reporting and ROI analysis, web analytics and much more.

And while most of us don’t yet compete with the Fortune 500, adopting a MAS now might be the competitive advantage you need over all the people in your space to completely dominate your particular vertical and offer you the opportunity to really expand your business well past your personal ability. Marketing automation is built to do most of your heavy lifting by engaging new visitors and prospects in a meaningful way automatically, even while you’re sleeping or on holiday. Nurturing, engaging, educating, informing and entertaining your list with all the amazing content you can create once and then reuse smartly again and again. Today, the 5 industries with the highest marketing automation adoption rates are software & Internet, telecommunications, computer & electronics, health & pharma and business services. But that’s only because they’ve been way more Internet native and tech savvy than more traditional businesses. If you adopt a MAS and do it right, it’ll be like taking candy from a baby!

Adopting a platform shouldn’t be too hard anymore. Among marketers who use marketing automation, 67% listed the technology as “very effective,” which should be enough incentive to commit to putting your time and resources behind to get your first campaign off the ground. Why? because 78% of successful marketers say that marketing automation is most responsible for improving their revenue. And, you better get started now because by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human. You really need to get in front of this.

If you still feel overwhelmed, check out this short video that explains what marketing automation is and how to know if you need it.