In the article on tech.co that I linked to below, author Holly Chavez hits the nail right on the head. COST is the first thing she calls out as a barrier to realizing the benefit of Marketing Automation (MA). She points out a few MA tools that have low monthly subscription fees, but then sidesteps the issue of what it takes to actually implement and operate any MA tool, no matter what the acquisition cost. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is the real issue. The acquisition cost plus the cost of your time to learn the product plus what you pay an employee for the daily care and feeding of the system (or more of your time to do it yourself) all contribute to the TCO.
The solution is to outsource the implementation and daily operation of a marketing automation implementation system. You may then see a substantial savings and improved ROI. You maintain control over strategy, messaging and creative. However, the marketing automation agency programs the system, keeps the engine running and reports actionable information back to you. By outsourcing, you can get an entire team of MA experts working for you for less than the cost of hiring one full-time MA person.
With the advent of AI technology, people have gotten lazy in their marketing efforts. And if you want to do the same, marketing automation is the way to go.