A business’s success depends entirely on its ability to manage time, resources, and budget. These 3 elements combine to either make or break the customer’s experience with the brand. The ultimate goal is to bring value to the customer without putting the business at risk of failure.
This is easier said than done for small businesses with lower budgets, less workforce, and not nearly as many resources as the bigger names in their industry.
That’s where marketing automation for small businesses comes in handy. With over 32 million small businesses and 61 million small business employees in the United States alone, it’s important that each one knows what works for them, and finds the tools they need.
For a small business, marketing automation means automated email marketing campaigns, chatbots, scheduled social media posts for better engagement, and much more.
Businesses big and small leverage marketing automation tools and strategies to help them automate as much as possible, giving them more time to focus on projects that require their full attention.
Take a look at this graph to visualize better how most small businesses have distributed their efforts in recent years.
If you’re new to the small business marketing automation game, or you’re just looking for new ideas, then this article will be a good place to start. Let’s kick things off with a brief definition so that we’re all on the same page.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation usually refers to software designed specifically for marketing purposes to effectively manage business strategy and market across one or more online channels, eliminating the need to give too much attention to repetitive tasks.
Marketing automation is fairly standard in businesses nowadays. However, while some businesses may need to utilize a particular tool in order to automate a certain aspect of their business, other companies may not. It all depends on the needs of the company and the demands of the customers.
A small business may take advantage of marketing automation the same way industry giants do, but it will be on a much smaller scale.
For example, consider how many emails Amazon has to send out each day. Order confirmations, shipping details, return information, Black Friday deals, and much more. The numbers could literally be in the millions per day.
Now consider a small business. Sure, they won’t send a million emails per year, much less per day. But, automating their email marketing campaigns could end up saving them a lot of time regardless, resulting in a lot more customers helped and potentially increasing ROI.
Why small businesses need marketing automation?
Marketing automation, if applied correctly, could end up saving the company a lot more than time. Marketing automation is all about improving — getting to the customer faster and with better information, ultimately serving the customer better so that they will be more likely to convert and stay loyal.
Here’s how it’s done.
Email marketing automation
Businesses around the globe have used email automation for a while now. Anytime there’s a big announcement, coupons to hand out, or really anything that needs to be sent via email, it’s all automated. The content is drafted, and companies use tools like Encharge to get it out to their customers.
It doesn’t end there, though. Sure, sending out mass emails to all your subscribers is a great time-saver, but email marketing tools are a lot more sophisticated now.
Let’s consider the coupon example above once more. How would a company know when to send said coupon? Why are they receiving it? What’s it for? Typically, rewards such as these are sent based on an action. An action that can set off a trigger to send a behavior email.
So imagine this scenario. You have a customer that’s signed up for your newsletter, and they were promised a digital coupon when they did so. Instead of going through the list of people that signed up, you can simply set up a behavior email campaign and include your coupon. You can imagine how much time, effort, and even money this can save. For a small business, this could be huge.
Automation comes in many shapes and forms, but one thing that can make you money with little to no effort is sales automation. Sales automation tools empower sales teams to better service and direct the customer as their needs arise.
For someone on the sales team, it might mean having a tool to help them determine pre-qualified leads so that they don’t waste so much time on users that have a low chance of converting. Or, maybe it’s a tool to help them hit targeted audiences with the right deal at the right time. It’s all a matter of closing the deal as quickly as possible.
To top it all off, research has proven that sales automation can improve sales productivity by up to 14.5% and decrease overhead by 12.5%. Those might seem like small numbers, but when we’re talking about sales and small businesses specifically, every little percentage counts.
Learn more: 4-step Sales Productivity Guide to Implement in 2023
You can connect a marketing automation tool like Encharge to your CRM (for example, HubSpot) and automate repetitive sales tasks like changing a deal stage to Closed (Won) when someone buys from you.
If you are producing a lot of content, content automation could very well be worth it. Like every other tool in marketing automation, content automation aims to streamline and automate the content marketing process. This means more than a simple word-generating platform. Content automation tools are designed to automate every stage of the content lifecycle, keeping content fresh and relevant across all channels.
This means that every tool that any content marketer uses is considered automation. Keyword researching tools like Google Search Console, SEMrush, and Ahrefs are considered content automation. Instead of you going through and manually searching for relevant topics and keywords, these tools do it for you.
Then you also have content generating tools. Although these aren’t usually the most reliable, and a good content writer can easily outperform one quality-wise, they can be helpful for a small business that doesn’t have a dedicated content writer. Or at least provide enough ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Then you have tools like Grammarly that automate the proofreading process. Tools like this have such powerful AI that they can instantly detect grammar mistakes that someone might overlook or maybe not even be aware they made.
Although there will still be some work involved from the writer, content marketing automation tools have really paved the way for everyone’s voice to be heard on any given subject. This is perfect for small businesses looking to make their way onto the scene.
One of the most prominent examples of onsite automation out there is a little company called WordPress. Sure, there are other names in this industry, but this one has come to be known as the go-to.
What is onsite automation, exactly? Well, think about what tools like WordPress does. It allows you to connect content to the main website quickly and fairly seamlessly. It’s onsite because it automates the process of maintaining and editing anything and everything online.
With tools like WordPress, there are also a lot of plugins to help further automate the process. For example, you can have an SEO plugin to help you identify and correct potential holes in your SEO strategy. You can quickly add a table of contents with the click of a button. Or, you can embed videos directly into your articles with a single click, copy, and paste.
Without onsite automation, you would need development resources and coding experience to do anything on your website. Want to change the color of a CTA? Well, you’ll need to dive into the code. How about inserting a link to drive more traffic to a landing page? Yep. Need to code. Onsite automation has paved the way for the average Joe and the adept marketing guru alike for years now. So much so that it’s an industry standard.
Social media automation
Social media — can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and much more are invaluable in the marketing world today. They’ve proven to be an incredible tool for brands such as Apple, Amazon, and Tesla, but also for smaller brands to break their way into their given industry.
Why is that? Well, it’s free for the most part. Sure, you can spend just about as much as you want on Facebook Ads, but it doesn’t cost anything to create an account and start engaging. Here’s how small businesses have used their social media in recent years.
Social media automation for small businesses is an important asset. Think about it. Yeah, you’ll probably want to engage one on one with customers and comments, but scheduling and posting said content is another story.
Think about brands based in Asia but have a large customer base in North America. In a lot of cases, they’d have to stay up late just to post new content at the right time for the customer on the other side of the world to see it. Unless, of course, they invest in social media automation.
Best marketing automation tools for small businesses
We’ve named a few marketing automation tools for small businesses above, but that’s not nearly the end of it. Again, depending on your needs, there could be several ways you can take advantage of automation and a number of tools for each.
So what are the best marketing automation tools for small businesses? Check it out below.
Encharge is a marketing automation tool that is perfect for small businesses. Some of the features that make it so great for small businesses are:
- Flow Builder – The Flow Builder allows you to visualize the user journey as it’s spread out across the funnel. This will enable you to pinpoint exactly what email to send the lead and at what time.
- User profiles – Each lead has a User Profile built into the tool. This will allow you to quickly and easily understand the lead, where they came from, and their basic information so that you can reach out to them with the perfect offer.
- Real-time Website Tracking – Real-time Website Tracking allows you to track the page visits and submission forms on your website in real-time. Turn anonymous page views into complete user profiles without lifting a finger.
- Behavior emails – Behavior emails are tied to a trigger. Once a lead or prospect takes a pre-determined action, that trigger is pulled, an email is sent, or another action is executed. No more manually sending irrelevant email blasts. This can also be tied to a lack of action. Say, for example, a lead hasn’t been seen on your website in a few weeks — you can send them a nudge email to get back.
- Integrations – 50+ integrations with payment providers, CRMs, form tools, and others.
Encharge has a lot to offer small businesses. Way too much to list here. If you’re looking to automate your email marketing campaigns, then definitely check it out for yourself. You can even try it for free for 14 days.
ChatBot’s AI has come a long way in recent years. For the average customer, a quick and timely chat bot message could mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce.
ChatBot is an industry leader in customer service automation, and it’s only getting better from here. What this AI allows you to do is to interact and engage with every website visitor automatically.
Think about the last time you visited, let’s say, a SaaS website. Within a few seconds or minutes of being there, there’s usually a popup message that greets you and offers some help. If you click on this message, believe it or not, it’s an AI that’s answering your questions.
ChatBot has a unique algorithm that creates conversations. It’s not just some automated message that’s sent to everyone. It’s genuine, and it keeps the users engaged until a real person needs to intervene. A lot of the time, that never even has to happen.
To top all of that off, ChatBot can be integrated into a lot of other helpful tools and platforms for small business marketing automation. If you don’t have an official website set up yet, or a CRM to help manage customers, ChatBot can be integrated into Facebook Messenger.
As soon as you visit Hootsuite’s main website, you’re greeted with a big, bold message stating that they are the most used social media marketing platform on the planet. They are not wrong.
Small businesses that want to automate their social media campaigns can benefit from a wide array of features and tools built into the Hootsuite platform. The bulk of it is:
- All your social media platforms under one account – Instead of logging in and out all day, posting and reposting across multiple channels, users have the benefit of logging in with one password and managing all their accounts.
- Post engagement tracking – Hootsuite helps users track engagement with their posts across all their platforms. Track engagement, follower counts, and post performance all in one dashboard.
- Plan and schedule posts – One of the major reasons Hootsuite has over 18 million users is that it allows you to plan your posts and schedule them to be posted. As discussed above, this is extremely helpful for global teams looking to target a market in another country.
All-in-all, Hootsuite is a great choice for marketing automation for small businesses. It’s easy to use and free to try.
IFTTT stands for “If this, then that.” Essentially, IFTTT is a platform that connects all your other platforms. It is marketing automation for small businesses at its finest.
The concept might sound complex, and no doubt the code is very complex, but for the average user, it’s as easy as it gets. The name itself lets you know everything you need to know about the app. If this, then that. For example, if a new picture is uploaded to Instagram, then download it in DropBox.
To be completely honest with you, this application goes so much farther than marketing. You can even get a notification when the International Space Station passes over your house. In actuality, IFTTT is a tool that allows businesses big and small to capitalize on the world and trends around them. Whatever is going on in your bubble, it can connect it.
OptinMonster is one of the most used and well-known tools for conversion optimization and lead generation. The core of the tool uses what’s called Exit-Intent tech that helps turn visitors that would otherwise abandon your website into valuable customers.
As the name suggests, OptinMonster helps users build opt-in campaigns, even adjusting them in real-time. That traffic that comes and goes? Well, OptinMonster allows you to implement actions to turn them into conversions, subscribers, and customers. A few of the helpful features and benefits are:
- Total control over marketing campaigns
- Automated user messaging
- Easy integrations with some of your other marketing tools
- Real-time behavior automation
- A/B testing capabilities
As a small business, you’re always looking to grow your customer base in any and every way you can. OptinMonster allows you to make the most of the traffic that you already have across your various web pages and helps drive actionable results with conversions.
WPForms is an easy-to-use drag-and-drop WordPress form builder perfect for small business marketing automation. It allows you to quickly create:
- Contact forms
- Payment forms
- Survey forms
- Newsletter forms
- Registration forms
There are over 300 templates that you can use and integrate right into your WordPress theme. For a small business that has any sort of form that they need to create and integrate, this is a powerful and simple tool that will help you get that done.
Not all marketing automation tools out there are the right fit for everyone. There are huge brands out there like Salesforce and Pardot, but those aren’t necessarily small business-friendly, as they require a big budget and boast quite the learning curve.
Marketing automation for small businesses — final thoughts
As time goes on, more and more of these small businesses will evolve, which means the need for bigger and more powerful tools will evolve, too. That’s why this list is made to scale with each business. Every single tool listed above is great for small business marketing automation, but bigger businesses can just as easily use them, too.
With a tool like Encharge leading the way for email marketing automation, any business can dive right in and take advantage of all the many benefits and features that it has built-in. And don’t forget, you can sign up for free today and put your small business marketing automation on the fast track to success.
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- When Do You (Exactly) Need Marketing Automation?