Marketing Automation for Small Business: Boost Your Sales Wisely

Marketing automation for small business is no longer an exclusive solution used only by the most advanced high-tech companies.
Now, it's an indispensable tool for any organization that values time and wants to achieve maximum performance with minimum task management and routine. Marketing automation is a modern approach automating the majority of manual operations while focusing on more complicated, strategic tasks.

Just imagine how many hours your marketing and sales employees spend on such banal daily routines as checking emails, answering every lead or entering client's data in a CRM system, or numerous sheets, making reports and so on. Instead of devoting 90 percent of work time to strategic planning and development of new efficient lead generation tactics, your team, callous as it may sound, is engaged in monkey labor.

The leading tendency of recent years is the automation of every possible aspect of your business. Analyze all of your processes and workflows and ask yourself: Can I automate this particular task? If yes, do it—the sooner the better.

In this article, you'll find some significant marketing automation explanations and tricks. I'll show you how to innovate your corporation and boost your sales wisely.
routine tasks
How Does Marketing Automation Work?
In case you still don't have a clear understanding of marketing automation, let's dig deeper. We've just discussed a common situation when workers manually process every new request at every stage of a marketing funnel. They compose and send personal letters, add users to the CRM system, set notifications to follow up a call with an email and so on. You're using a mailing service that automatically sends consecutive emails, and what's more, they're based on triggers. Or you can tell me that your customer relationship management system stores the history of all communications with clients, including calls, messages, project notes and further actions.

Unfortunately, chaotic emails, calls, SMS or chatbots don't relate to the topic of this article even if they're automated. It's a widespread misconception to consider the automated mailing (series of letters) and managing deals in CRM as marketing automation. Actually, this is simple automation of individual business processes.

To see the difference, let's return to our initial question: How does marketing automation work? First of all, unity and integrity are the foundation of marketing automation. You automate the routine processes with the help of a single software that analyzes the actions of your customers and makes personal proposals based on the data obtained. The key definition is single software. You need only one tool that combines all the features mentioned above in one place to ensure the complete marketing funnel automation.

Take a look at such solutions as HubSpot, Platform.ly, ActiveCampaign, Ontraport, SendinBlue, MailChimp, Pardot, AutoPilot and Drip, which automate and connect all marketing data and optimize customer journeys across all touch points.

The listed programs allow you to set mailing and lead customers through the pipeline in the built-in CRM, create reports and track various metrics with no need to switch between several different tools.
marketing automation features and tools
Keep in mind that they're not universal software providing a full set of required built-in features. Their merit is an integration property: you're able to integrate external systems into one interface, e.g. via Zapier.

For example, you can connect Stripe or PayPal to create invoices and store financial reports, or integrate MailChimp to carry out mailings and overview results right there.

The available scope of integrations depends on platform functionality. Carefully study supported integrations on the product website.

This means marketing automation is a custom technological solution that gives you a choice of what services to integrate into your core system to automate every link of your pipeline.
The Use of Marketing Automation in Practice
A service collects data about each visitor of your site: where he/she came from, whether he/she is a new or returning visitor, what pages he/she visited, what forms he/she filled in, what articles he/she read, his/her personal data (location, device), etc.

All this information is recorded in an individual card automatically created for each user.
How Does Marketing Automation Work?
That's how you can easily understand the interests of your visitors and develop individual customer journeys designed for different segments.

The collected info is a trigger and filter for running automatic scenarios: your next actions toward the user. This can be a welcome email, call, invitation, ad and so on depending on your strategy.

The complexity of such scenarios allows you to avoid all the bottlenecks (points where the user can leave) and bring as many people as possible to the stage of purchase (or other targeted action).

It also helps you manage multiple online marketing channels in real time more effectively while reducing the percent of uncertainty in your overall strategy. It determines what content your target audience responds to and what does not. As a result, your materials will get better, target coverage will be more focused and users will be more involved.
Benefits of Marketing Automation for Small Business
The possibilities of this approach are awe-inspiring, so more and more marketers are starting to use it. Integration of marketing automation into the company workflow is a real panacea for top managers and owners suffering from the following headaches:
  • You have a lot of customers.
  • You want to optimize the business processes in terms of price/time.
  • You don't see any reason to pay extra salaries for tasks that can be automated.
  • You're tired of the routine

According to the research conducted by Ascend2, marketing automation is a winning solution for achieving these objectives:
  1. Automating marketing and sales funnel.
  2. Increasing the number of potential customers (boosting lead generation).
  3. Improving the quality of potential customers (warming up leads).
  4. Increasing sales revenue.
  5. Increasing the efficiency of processes compared with manual work.
  6. Automating repetitive tasks.
  7. Launching new processes that would not be possible manually.
  8. Increasing customer involvement.
  9. Increasing marketing team productivity.
  10. Improving the ability to measure and analyze processes and results.
  11. Improving campaign targeting.
marketing automation statistics
A few exciting facts and numbers to show marketing automation really works:
  • Automation leads to a 14.5 percent increase in the productivity of your sales and a 12.2 percent reduction in operating marketing costs (Nucleus Research).
  • 80 percent of users indicate an increase in the number of leads and 77 percent report an increase in conversions (VentureBeat).
  • Warmed-up leads spend 47 percent more on purchases when compared with cold leads (Kapost).
Marketing Funnel Automation as the Main Goal
The manual processing of leads at every stage of a pipeline isn't for the faint-hearted. Thousands of conversations, calls and targeted ads couldn't be stored even in Einstein's mind. No matter what you do, sell yachts or provide IT outsourcing services, the marketing funnel automation is equally important for all types of business.

Generally, it includes the following:
  • Content creation and promotion (requires a tool for estimating engagement rates and traffic)
  • Advertising campaigns (require an analytics tool for evaluating CTR, CPC, CPO)
  • Emailing (requires a tool for setting automated and triggered email sequences)
learn more about efficient emailing in our previous article
Read
  • Lead conversion (requires a tool for creating opt-in forms, LPs, other templates)
  • Interaction with leads (requires email, SMS, calls, push, chatbot features)
  • Lead Management (requires a CRM, lead qualification feature, automated lead moving through different stages of the sales funnel)
  • Billing (requires a tool for receiving payments)
  • Analytics (requires a tool for calculating metrics from all channels mentioned above)
marketing funnel automation
As you can see, marketing automation combines a variety of touch points and channels, including opt-in forms, email marketing, content marketing, support, communication, lead scoring, etc. One of the critical tasks here is to prepare the lead for long-term relationships and make him/her an offer in time, not head-on.

This leads to the necessity of focusing on activities that go beyond direct sales. The overwhelming majority of users are not ready to make a purchase when they first visit the online store so that the wrong component of your marketing funnel at that moment can turn them away forever. Let's consider a couple of great examples of automated systems that attract and retain customers.
Examples of Automated Systems
Case 1 - A simple automation. Let's imagine that we deal with a local online store that sells brand clothing. Our goal is to come up with scenarios to collect visitors' emails for further communications and final purchase.

Tactics:
In the first iteration, we'll launch a pop-up with a proposal to get a promotional code for a 40 percent discount. It's better to prepare two versions of the pop-up for A/B testing to define which one generates a higher conversion. This can be a changed title or an added explanation of why the user needs to leave an email.

After a user leaves an email address, we'll automatically add it to our welcome mailing series. The user will not only receive a message with a discount but also will be getting our future newsletters.
pop-up discount
Case 2 - Complex automation. Now we'll consider a more scalable example of the automated systems when we work with several channels at once. Let's take the small business from the previous case. Our current goal is to get a user's email and make him/her buy three outfits in stock at once.

Tactics:

At first, we'll create an engaging lead magnet—an e-book describing the anti-trends in fashion this season. We'll upload the e-book on our website and launch a FB ad with a capture form. To download the e-book, a visitor must leave his/her email and other contact data, if necessary. The material will be automatically sent to this email, and the address will be stored in our client database. The trick is that we created a useful product that also increases the user's loyalty and trust to our brand since we're perceived as fashion experts.

Then, we launch a re-targeting ad on Facebook with our beneficial proposition. When seeing the name of our brand for the second time, a consumer is more likely to start thinking about making a triple purchase.

Finally, we'll send him/her a newsletter regarding our promotion. There is an 80 percent probability that we'll finally win this buyer at this stage.

Looking at these examples of automated systems, it's clear that you can start automating your marketing with literally a couple of letters or chains. Then, test, compare, and analyze results and make improvements. A flexible all-in-one marketing automation tool and smart strategy are all you need here.
Do Less, Get More
Marketing is the central artery connecting an organization with its client base. When a company begins to grow, it becomes impossible to establish personal contact with each user. There are hundreds of processes that are practically impossible to perform manually; otherwise, all this work turns into groundhog day.

Marketing automation for small business is a kind of a lifebuoy. Once you have prepared a solid ground, such as gathering information about users, creating email sequences and communicating with customers in automatic mode, you will immediately abandon Excel sheets, emails and daily reports.

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