Kim Zimmermann is a career B2B journalist and the Managing Editor of Demand Gen Report, a publication exclusively focused on the technologies, strategies and tactics central to B2B marketing, including lead generation, content marketing, analytics and database strategies.

Q: A recent study by Forrester Consulting revealed that B2B buyers are making more purchases online, with more than half (52%) expected to make at least half of their purchases online in three years. Has this increase in online purchases by B2Bs led to the increase in marketing automation adoption or would you say it’s the other way around?

A: Mobile is definitely becoming more of a driver in B2B decisions. I’m not quite convinced that people will be buying multimillion dollar software installations from their iPads, but perhaps for small purchases, unique add-on applications and other technology for the marketing team, it makes sense. As important, if not more important, is that B2B organizations have to optimize their content for mobile. B2B decision makers are doing their research in airports, on planes, hotel rooms, in the evenings. Content has to be accessible to them wherever they are.

According to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 Content Preferences Survey, respondents who frequently use mobile phones to access content increased from 42.9% in 2013 to 55.8% in 2014, while frequent tablet users jumped from 31% to 42% during the same time period.

And as buyers get further along in their research before interacting with a sales rep, being optimized for mobile access can put you ahead of the competition as a B2B marketer.

Q: Focus Research has stated that 44% of companies using marketing automation see ROI within 6 months, and 75% within 12 months. What common pitfalls may prevent a quick ROI?

A: Trying to do too much too soon. The success stories that we’ve come across have a few things in common: They involve people who will actually be using the system in the decision-making process, while the needs of both marketing and sales are factored in early on. As they narrow down their choices, there’s typically a small pilot group that uses the system before they roll it out, and they start with some of the more basic functions and features and build from there.

Q: Is choosing a marketing automation solution that fully integrates with a business’s CRM a “Must Do”?

A: With marketing teams now responsible not only for generating leads but partnering with sales to drive those leads further down the funnel, integration with CRM is a must. Integrating CRM and marketing automation also helps with attribution. Marketers see how content is being used, which assets are performing well and driving sales throughout the buying cycle, and can focus their efforts on the most effective content strategies.

Q: What is one question every SMB should ask when choosing a MAP (marketing automation provider)?

A: B2B marketers want to know that other companies just like them have had success with the system. The marketers we talk to want to see how the system has worked for a company in a similar industry, that is a similar size, and with similar challenges they are trying to address.

Q: Nucleus Research says that marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity. In your experience, does deploying marketing automation in a business make sales agents spend more time selling? Why or why not?

If marketing and sales are truly aligned, marketing automation certainly has the potential to improve sales productivity. If the sales professional is presented with the content that they need, at the right time, tailored to the needs of the prospect, it enables a more meaningful conversation and helps move opportunities to closed deals.

Progressive marketers have been upping their game in terms of lead nurturing and lead scoring initiatives, which make the sales team more efficient as they can concentrate on the leads that are most likely to result in wins.

Thank you, Kim! Follow her @KimZim2764