Successful business growth hinges on a strategy that aligns buyer needs and customer experience. The modern empowered buyer wants businesses that provide consistent engagement and a value-based experience.
Data is the fuel of the engagement engine. It’s important to have processes in place that can extract meaningful information from random data.
This is where marketing automation comes in.
Small businesses and marketers can leverage marketing automation tools to optimize and automate customer communications & outreach. Automation technology helps marketers understand consumer behavior and how that can influence their marketing campaigns.
In today’s blog post, we’ll take a look at marketing automation — what it is, what it involves, and how marketing automation software helps small businesses.
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation refers to the series of steps that enable software to streamline routine business processes. For example, a post-sales survey is a routine task.
Your team can automate this work by defining parameters and triggers, so that after every successful sale, the survey is sent automatically. This frees up a lot of time for your marketing and sales teams to focus on other necessary goals.
The video below illustrates the definition of marketing automation pretty clearly.
You can automate tasks such as:
- Email or website actions
- Scheduling social media posts.
- Generating reports on marketing results.
According to research, companies that use marketing automation software increase their sales pipeline by 10%.
It’s clear that marketing automation tools are the need of the hour, especially for small businesses.
How Does Marketing Automation Help Your Business?
Marketing automation, especially for small businesses, complements the areas of direct marketing and sales. Let’s take a look at a few specific benefits of marketing automation for small business:
- Helps you understand your customers
- Increases customer retention
- Eliminates silo mentality
- Helps you track & measure data from campaigns
Helps you understand your customers
As more and more customers migrate online, salespeople now have to rely on their online behavior to gauge the prospect’s interest in a product or service.
In marketing, it’s called digital body language.
By understanding a lead’s online behavior — web visits, online activity, social media mentions, etc., — you can pinpoint what your customers are looking for. Sales information is gathered from all customer interactions.
Marketing automation helps you simplify this process — you can segment prospects based on certain criteria and create personalized, targeted campaigns.
Not only does this help save time, it also gives you a better insight into your customers’ behavior and buying journey.
Increases customer retention
No customer appreciates feeling like a number. With marketing automation, you can create comprehensive, holistic profiles and execute a personalized campaign.
The marketing automation software is capable of updating information in real-time, so you can reach your customers at the right time through the right channel. Furthermore, you can automate customer retention strategies as well.
It’s more expensive to acquire a customer than to retain one.
Marketing automation offers options for advanced lifecycle campaigns to ensure that your customers never feel neglected. Additionally, it also helps increase re-engagement with your brand and improves trust.
Eliminates silo mentality
All teams need to be transparent and communicative to ensure consistency. Marketing automation can help with the communication process: by bringing marketing and sales teams on the same page, you get rid of duplicate and inconsistent work.
Marketing automation also offers a platform where marketing teams can track the success of previous campaigns, and sales teams can evaluate the quality of new leads.
Helps you track & measure data from campaigns
Good data is key to a successful marketing campaign. If you want to deliver relevant, timely messages, you have to ensure that your data is updated and accurate.
Marketing automation software eliminates the possibility of human error by automatically collecting and organizing data & information.
Furthermore, automation software also makes it easy to view reports and past trends of marketing campaigns. Marketing automation also improves campaign performance and conversion rates.
4 Essential Marketing Processes To Automate
Marketing automation software can help you automate several marketing processes. Here are the four main marketing workflows that you must automate to stay on top of your marketing goals.
- Email marketing (email automation)
- Dynamic content
- Lead nurturing
- Reporting & analytics
1. Email Automation
You can automate sending standalone emails — such as a welcome message, or an update — or set up a drip campaign if you want to send several emails to the same set of subscribers.
This feature allows your team to spend less time on repetitive tasks and focus on other goals.
You can set up a drip email campaign with predefined parameters. Once a potential lead is tagged with any of these conditions or actions, the attached drip campaign will be automatically triggered for them.
Email marketing, when used in conjunction with triggers, can help provide timely content to your customers when they’re most likely to be receptive to it.
Drip campaigns also have an 80% higher open rate, so you increase your chances of conversion.
2. Dynamic content
Create adaptive content that changes with the behavior of the recipients. A report by DemandGenReport revealed 47% of customers first read the online content before talking to a sales agent.
Automation software helps you automate the content that appears on your webpage or emails, depending on audience segments and previous behavior.
3. Lead nurturing
You can automate certain parts of the customer journey as well. Lead nurturing involves the use of different marketing & sales strategies to convert a lead into a paying customer.
Your potential customers’ interests generally evolve over time. If you want them to have a good recall of your brand, you have to adapt to those changes.
One such method is dynamic content, as we discussed before. Another is to identify the factors that influence buying decisions and refine your marketing campaigns.
An integrated marketing automation & CRM software can help you finetune your audience research and re-engage customers.
4. Reporting & analytics
Marketing campaign reports are incredibly important, but creating them can also be incredibly time-consuming. You can set up your marketing automation platform to generate reports at a predefined time using certain data.
Since the entire process is automated, you reduce the chances of errors and inconsistencies. Additionally, automation platforms streamline your sales processes; so you can analyze which marketing activities are driving the pipeline and accelerating revenue.
In addition to all that, you can also automate your social media outreach, keyword research, customer service tasks, referrals, and website audits.
What you choose to focus on depends on your business goals.
What is the ROI of Marketing Automation?
When you decide to automate your marketing processes, the next thing that comes to your mind is the budget and the ROI. To help you answer these questions, we will use empirical evidence.
A study was conducted to determine the connection between investment and business performance. 82% of the participants felt that the lack of automation is making them inefficient.
They said that the adoption of automation can deliver a higher ROI. It can even enhance the contribution of marketing to overall business growth.
A second study found that around 58% of respondents achieved desired results from the money spent on marketing automation. About 4 out of 5 users had increased lead generation and around 77% saw higher conversion rates.
How Do I Choose the Right Marketing Automation Tool?
There are several marketing automation tools that offer various capabilities and functionalities. Following are the essential features to look for before you sign up for a new marketing automation software.
Email & Campaign Builder
Every marketing automation platform comes with an inbuilt email service that can be used as your primary email provider. However, look for a tool that offers you a greater degree of customization. Most tools, like EngageBay, have drag-and-drop email builders that are customizable and mobile responsive.
You also want to look for a marketing automation software that has an intuitive interface and will enable you to build targeted marketing campaigns.
Landing Pages & Forms
The best marketing automation tools allow you to create forms that can capture customer data and can be easily embedded in your website. Basically, you create the form on the platform and copy-paste the code to wherever you want that form to appear on your website.
It can be on your landing page, blog post, whitepaper, etc. Some automation tools also offer advanced options such as dynamic forms, which are useful if you want to collect data from multiple streams.
Landing pages are another great way to win at lead capturing. Most marketing tools enable you to design landing pages as per your requirements from the forms you’ve already built.
Using these tools, you can also track the performance of all your landing pages.
No platform offers everything you need. Sometimes, you have to integrate other tools to complete your marketing stack. Hence, it’s important that the marketing automation tool you choose is compatible with other third-party apps and integrations.
A platform like EngageBay, for example, supports 100+ app integrations as well as API connectors.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Make sure that the software has a basic CRM built-in so you can keep track of marketing, sales, and customer service tasks all in one place.
An integrated CRM will help you monitor all activities relating to your business on a common dashboard. It also helps streamline the process of information gathering by making it available to all relevant parties.
A CRM system can also update contact information in real-time, so your teams never miss out on closing a lead.
The cost of the software is the deciding factor. There are very few platforms that offer a pay-and-own service. Typically, you’re spending money every month, so you have to ensure that you’re making the right investment.
Try not to choose a platform with hidden fees or a sliding scale model of prices, as that can get expensive very quickly.
p.s. EngageBay offers a free plan with all the features mentioned above at no extra cost. The free plan can be used forever.
Marketing Automation Tools for Small Businesses
Like we mentioned above, there are countless platforms that you can choose from and it can get overwhelming. To give you a starting point, here are the best marketing automation tools you can consider.
EngageBay is an all-in-one business solution that provides one of the best end-to-end marketing, sales, & customer support automation software.
The functionalities include major aspects of lead segmentation, email templates, email personalization, automated email sequences, video marketing, SMS marketing, Live Chat, and many other tools.
- Email marketing: Create, test, and send bulk emails for all your marketing needs. EngageBay allows you to send emails as a broadcast or as part of a drip campaign.
- Campaign tracking: EngageBay provides you with all the top email marketing metrics so you can replicate your successes and learn from your failures.
- Predesigned email templates: You don’t have to spend time coding email templates (though you can do that, as well). Simply select a template for the gallery, customize the content and tone, and send it across.
- Personalization options: EngageBay has personalization features that allow you to input a lead/customer’s first and last name and email address for tailored content.
- Audience segmentation: You can segment your contact or audience list through filters. Some of your options include tags, source, creation date, country, and many more demographics.
- Drag-and-drop email builder: EngageBay’s email templates are customizable from the ground up. You can build emails the way you like, with customized content blocks, social media buttons, fonts, images, videos, etc.
Since we’re discussing marketing automation, let’s take a look at the pricing plan for EngageBay’s Marketing Bay.
EngageBay’s Marketing Bay has four pricing plans. These are: the Free plan, the Basic plan, the Growth plan, and the Pro plan.
- Free Plan — $0 a month
The Free plan includes important features like landing pages, email broadcasts, sequences, autoresponder, live chat, lead grabbers, and video marketing.
- Basic Plan — $12.99 a month
The Basic plan has all the features from the free plan, plus a tag manager, lead scoring, SMS marketing, and 3rd party integrations.
- Growth Plan — $24.99 a month
This plan includes all features of the Basic plan plus A/B testing, marketing automation, custom domains, and site messages.
- Pro Plan — $49.99 a month
All features of the Growth plan plus web analytics, advanced customer support, dedicated account manager, and custom reporting.
HubSpot is a well-known player in the marketing automation space. The platform offers inbound marketing options and lead generation tools.
Let’s take a look at some of the features HubSpot offers.
- Email personalization: You can send bulk email broadcasts that are tailored to each customer using personalization tokens. You can also test these emails before scheduling a campaign.
- Drag-and-drop email builder: HubSpot offers a drag-and-drop email builder that allows you to customize templates without coding. You can add videos, content blocks, and social media buttons.
- Reporting & campaign tools: There are reporting tools available that allow you to track campaign metrics such as bounce rate, unsubscribes, click-through rate, etc.
- Workflow automation: HubSpot’s workflow automation can be used to build lead nurturing campaigns, lead re-engagement, internal notifications, and list segmentation.
HubSpot offers three pricing plans:
- Starter Plan — $50 a month for up to 1,000 marketing contacts. This includes features such as landing pages, forms, and email marketing.
- Professional Plan — $890 a month for up to 2,000 contacts. Includes features such as dynamic personalization, multi-language content, video hosting, contact scoring, and marketing automation.
- Enterprise Plan — $3,200 a month for up to 10,000 contacts. Includes all features of Professional plan plus advanced tools such as hierarchical teams, custom reporting, and adaptive testing.
HubSpot’s pricing plan is on a sliding scale. You can increase the number of contacts for each plan, and that adds anywhere between $50- -$100 to your final pricing.
Pardot is a B2B software platform designed to improve the efficiency of marketing & sales teams. However, it’s recommended that you use this tool only if you’re considering using Salesforce as your primary CRM. It’s also slightly more expensive than other platforms and has a steep learning curve.
- Lead management: Pardot offers tools for lead nurturing, engagement, and qualification. You can also automate several processes involved in those workflows based on predefined triggers and criteria.
- Email marketing: You can build and test email marketing campaigns, create personalized emails, and track campaign success.
- Sales alignment: Pardot offers solutions that benefit your sales teams. You can track the activity of qualified leads, develop customer journeys, provide real-time notifications, and create sales campaigns.
- Lead generation: Pardot offers social media management, landing pages, and forms for effective lead generation.
- Growth Plan — $1,250 per month
- Plus Plan — $2,500 per month
- Advanced Plan — $4,000 per month
- Premium Plan — $15,000 per month
The Premium plan comes with 75,000 contacts, and the rest offer 10,000. As you can see, Pardot is the most expensive tool of all and is not viable for small businesses.
Marketing automation can be a true game-changer for many small businesses. It offers greater efficiency, saves time, increases productivity, and boosts revenue growth.
Considering all the benefits, implementing a marketing automation tool is well worth the investment.
By getting rid of all the time-consuming tasks, you can focus on actually scaling your business.
If you want to just get started today, sign up for EngageBay. You can also read some of the product reviews before you decide.