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Lead Management by Companies Not Sufficiently Automated

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly important in lead management. However, although many companies recognize the benefits and potential of AI and automation, few are using it. This is confirmed by the latest Marketing Automation & AI Report published by ZHAW.

The study by the Institute of Marketing Management at the ZHAW School of Management and Law examined the maturity level of lead management in a range of companies. Three hundred eighty-five companies from Switzerland and Germany were surveyed in the areas of lead research, lead generation, lead engagement, lead scoring, and lead automation.

AI and automation can be significantly expanded

The average Lead Automation Maturity Index (LAMI) – the maturity level of automation in lead management – is just 36 points on a scale of 0 to 100 for the companies surveyed. Individual sectors, such as technology and service providers, scored slightly better. Just five percent are already well into the scaling phase with AI, in that they have already implemented AI-based tools widely in their business processes. Almost half of the companies surveyed (44%) are still in the learning phase – they want to understand how AI can benefit their businesses and are exploring initial use cases. Another 44 percent are conducting smaller pilot projects for specific AI applications and are currently in the test phase. Seven percent do not have any confidence in AI and categorically reject it.

AI use cases in lead management

Automated personalization of emails is increasingly a job for AI, with the majority of respondents recognizing a sales lead’s willingness to buy through AI as a huge plus. Almost half consider it advantageous to improve the deliverability of emails and engagement in social media with the support of AI. The companies surveyed also consider it beneficial to adapt their website content dynamically based on user behavior (43%) or even tailor it individually (27%). “The survey showed that 56 percent of companies still evaluate their leads manually when lead scoring. There is considerable potential for increasing efficiency through automation and the use of AI,” says Darius Zumstein of the Institute of Marketing Management at the ZHAW School of Management and Law, who is responsible for the study.

LinkedIn – the most important channel for contact data

At 58 percent, LinkedIn is the most critical contact data source in lead research, followed by events and personal recommendations. “This underlines the importance of social networks and direct interactions in the B2B sector for data collection and sales,” observes Darius Zumstein. In lead engagement, 41 percent also prefer personal interaction with potential clients. Despite advancing digitalization and the availability of AI-supported tools, personal interactions and networks still play a central role in lead management.

Great potential for automation

Despite the importance of personal interactions, there is a clear need for further automation and increased efficiency to exploit the potential of modern technologies fully. The study authors also emphasize the high, transformative potential of AI and automation for marketing strategies and customer communication. “Companies that use AI technologies can significantly increase lead generation and qualification efficiency through more precise customer data analysis, improved predictions of customer behavior, and personalized marketing approaches,” confirms Darius Zumstein. So far, limited resources and a lack of skills are the biggest obstacles to introducing AI in marketing for 72 percent of respondents.

Taking part in the Marketing Automation & AI Report were research partners Cotide (Marc Gasser and Virginie Cantin), Mayoris (Urs Thüring), Atedo (Daniel Kölle), webalyse (Klaus Völk), and Advanis (Markus Vesely).


  • Dr. Darius Zumstein, ZHAW School of Management and Law,
    phone: +41 58 934 66 08, email: 
  • Valerie Hosp, Communications, ZHAW School of Management and Law,
    phone: +41 58 934 40 68, email: