The beauty of online marketing is that it can level the playing field – when it comes to reaching a wider audience – regardless of whether your business is big, or small.

Small businesses face unique challenges, often relating to acquiring prospects, nurturing leads, and of course – closing sales. The main goal for a small business is to grow it’s customer base; hence growing the business overall. With online marketing, hand in hand with marketing automation, small businesses have access to the same attention-grabbing tools that marketers of large businesses do. That means that in 2019, due to smart AI and automation tools, small businesses can market themselves, and subsequently grow, in the same way bigger businesses do; all without having to increase overhead or acquire a huge amount of resources.

What is marketing automation, and how will it grow my small business?

Marketing automation refers to the automation of most marketing processes – specifically via digital marketing channels. Automating your marketing processes means that you can utilise smart automation tools to prep campaigns and strategic workflows ahead of time, and have them run on autopilot. You can use marketing automation to send the right email at the right time to the right person, for example, all without lifting much of a finger. Automating your marketing processes saves staff needs, resources, and time – as traditionally carrying out a complicated marketing strategy was overhead-intensive.

Traditionally, for example, you’d need multiple staff working on carrying out an email marketing strategy that would require the manual collection of subscribers, the manual creation of email campaigns, and the manual broadcast of said campaigns. Analysing reports, manually, would also have taken plenty of wo/man hours. All in all, traditional manual digital marketing is not only a headache, but often requires more time and staff than small businesses have access to. Small businesses in the past have therefore lost out on the wide-reaching capability of digital marketing channels such as email, and have therefore lagged behind competitors who were more established.

When it comes to automating marketing processes, this is usually done with the help of a Marketing Automation software. These come in all shapes, sizes, and costs – but the best Marketing Automation platforms are easy to use, and cover multiple marketing channels. For example, our Marketing Automation software at Swift Digital allows you to automate and manage marketing strategies across email, SMS, events, surveys, and more. This makes cross-channeling content and strategies all the more easier; saving small businesses even more time and overhead needs without compromising multi-channel reach.

It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. By automating your marketing strategy, and using a Marketing Automation platform that enables you to cross-channel content, and accurately measure and analyse results for invaluable insights, your small business will undoubtedly benefit and grow.

What are the best ways to use Marketing Automation to grow my small business?

Before we dive into how to use Marketing Automation to grow your small business, it’s well worth reiterating how important it is to take the plunge and purchase Marketing Automation software.

As we’ve already made clear, Marketing Automation software helps to level the playing field for small businesses who want to reap the benefits of big-business scaled marketing strategies and deployment. Marketing Automation platforms do come at a price, but small businesses will save money in the long run in these key ways:

  • Less staffing needs
  • Less need for multiple applications (consolidating all marketing processes in one place)
  • Less time needed
  • More time left over for you to focus on the bigger picture of your business’ bottom line
  • Increased reach (leading to better lead generation)
  • Consolidation of all your data, making strategising easier and lessening the need for ongoing staff training
  • Improved ROI due to the smart tools available

Ready to jump on the automation bandwagon, but not sure how to find the right Marketing Automation platform for you? We’ve written a Marketing Automation checklist, with the aim to help business owners find software that’s of premium quality, and will deliver on the needs unique to their brands.

Here are 3 ways to use Marketing Automation tools to improve your marketing strategy, and grow your small business:

Reap the benefits of segmentation and targeting

With the average office worker receiving, on average, 121 emails a day – it’s become increasingly important for marketers to deliver highly targeted, and relevant email campaigns.

Marketing Automation platforms give you access to segmentation and targeting tools; enabling you to target the right people, with the right content, at the right time.

If you want to stand out in the inbox, and therefore reap the benefits of higher engagement and click through rates, then segmentation and targeting has to be a core part of your overall email marketing strategy.

Try using the following Marketing Automation tools to leverage targeting and segmentation:

  • Preference Centers (to replace subscription forms)
    • Preference Centers enable subscribers to specify their preference for what type of content they wish to receive from you. This means that leads will self segment themselves, making segmentation that much more easier, and accurate.
  • Trigger based emails
    • You can set up emails (or entire email sequences) ahead of time, and have them ‘trigger’ to send when specific behavioural criteria is met. For example, send a follow up invite reminder to anyone who clicked to register to your event, but didn’t commit.
  • Engagement Scoring
    • Some Marketing Automation platforms (like ours at Swift Digital) have Engagement Scoring tools where you can measure the overall engagement of each of your contacts, automatically. You can then use engagement scores to further segment your database for better targeting. Highly engaged contacts, for example, may benefit from a specifically rewarding, conversion-oriented campaign, whilst disengaged contacts would require a different campaign altogether.

Build out automated lead nurturing journeys

Without the same amount of staff, resources, and time – small businesses often struggle with nurturing and warming up leads. It’s easy to let prospects and leads fall through the cracks when you’re manually managing your marketing and sales workflows – so this puts small businesses at a disadvantage when it comes to growing their customer base.

With Marketing Automation, prospect and lead nurturing can be put on autopilot. Your small business can nurture an ongoing relationship with its contacts, all without any staff member having to carry out the communications manually. This means that your brand can have a presence in the lives of your prospects and leads without you having to increase investment in overhead.

Automating your lead nurturing email campaigns means you can prep numerous emails ahead of time, and have them send out in a logical flow. Emails in the sequence can send on scheduled times and dates, or they can ‘trigger’ to send based on how contacts interacted with previous campaigns, or your website.

By automating your lead nurturing journey, using trigger based emails, and pre-scheduling, you can have new prospects and leads automatically on boarded onto the communication journey; meaning that you and your staff can sit back and relax whilst leads are nurtured, and are eventually self-qualified – ready for conversion.

Integrate your sales CRM with your MA platform to improve sales, whilst saving time

Managing multiple applications in a small business with limited staff and time can be an absolute headache. With Marketing Automation software, you may have the ability to integrate your Sales CRM and automation platform – meaning less manual data sharing and cross-checking across your applications.

At Swift Digital, we offer out-of-the-box integration between our Marketing Automation platform and Salesforce CRM. Data is synced between the two in real time, meaning that no valuable data about behaviour, or communications received, is lost in the (often) vast gap between your marketing and sales teams.

Small businesses often struggle with managing large amounts of data, especially if they require manual cross-checking between applications when you’ve only got a few people on staff in both your marketing and sales teams. Because of this dysfunction, small businesses often lose out on the sales insights offered by their marketing efforts, and vice versa.

The data collected by a Marketing Automation platform is invaluable. It sheds light on what makes your prospects and leads tick, what makes your contacts convert, and what they do – and don’t like about your brand and messaging. This data will help to inform your marketing and sales strategies for all time to come, and will help your small business keep a finger on the pulse of your audience as things undoubtedly rapidly change.

By using a Marketing Automation platform (that offers CRM integration) a small business can sync and manage data across marketing and sales processes; making closing deals that much easier.

Whilst small businesses have traditionally been at a disadvantage when it comes to audience reach, and marketing effectiveness, in this day and age of automation, they can play in the big leagues.

By automating marketing communications small businesses can reap the benefits of smart segmentation and targeting, better reporting and analysis, and putting cross-channel communications on autopilot, all whilst decreasing resource and staffing needs. Marketing automation means that small business owners can grow their customer base, without having to grow their inputs and expenses. Effectively, marketing automation is a game changer for small businesses that are ready to grow.