Marketing automation (MA) systems are not just for big companies with even bigger budgets. Small to medium-sized businesses with around $5-500 million in revenue are the fastest growing marketing automation segment today. While these types of systems are now more accessible to all businesses, there are still some things you’ll want to know before choosing the best MA program for your business.
Marketers are still in the early stages of adopting marketing automation, so the time is now to get ahead of the game. Marketing automation experts expect the spending on automation technology to grow from $11.4 billion to $25.1 billion by the year 2023.
Read on to learn more about marketing automation and how it can benefit your business, and discover some tips on how marketing automation can streamline your business.
What is marketing automation and how can it help?
Marketing is the lifeblood of every brand-to-customer relationship and is integrated with sales. As your company starts to grow, your marketing strategy may become so complex that it’s almost impossible to manage everything on your own. One solution is hiring an expert team of marketing pros.
Of course, you’ll want to save time and money, especially on more menial tasks like emailing customers and setting up social media campaigns. And that’s where marketing automation comes in.
Marketing automation allows you to automate your marketing funnels so you can get the widest reach using minimal resources. Many marketing departments have tasks like emails, social media, and website management that can be automated to save time, money, and manpower.
Within a company, there are several different processes that can benefit from marketing automation—and many ways to streamline your business.
1. Web hosting and management
Websites are important to all businesses. It’s usually the first place a potential customer visits before making a purchase. This means your website should be able to handle maximum traffic and conversions without acting up.
A well-managed website needs a trusted web hosting service for your business. Managed hosting gives you speed and security, technical support, automatic updates, daily backups, and more.
2. Automated analytics
A lot of time is wasted logging in and out of multiple websites and social media platforms each day. Automated analytics allows you to aggregate all the most important data and metrics in one convenient place.
Sync your dashboard with all your websites, Google Analytics, and social media accounts. This gives you a complete breakdown of numbers on support, sales, social media, marketing, finance, and more. Whatever metric you need, it’s available right there on your dashboard. You can also create custom widgets, build custom data sources, customize reporting, and view real-time reports.
3. Email marketing automation
No marketing strategy has proven itself as much as email marketing. As a well-established marketing strategy used in many businesses, it continues to prove its worth year after year. Email marketing helps nurture customers, acquire new leads, and promote your products and services.
If you are a small business, email service providers will set you up with everything you need to automate your email marketing campaign. This includes sending automated RSS-to-Email campaigns and pushing trigger-based messages to your website visitors and more.
Source: Campaign Monitor
4. Social media automation
Like your emails, you should also be automating your social media strategy. While you can’t automate any real-time responses and engagement, the rest of your campaign can be automated to your preferences. You can schedule all your updates on platforms like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Facebook even has its own scheduling system built into its platform.
It’s virtually impossible to manually keep track of who follows or un-follows you, especially as your business starts to take off. With engagement tools, you can automatically identify and recognize followers who engage with your brand on social media platforms.
Source: Campaign Monitor
5. Customer support
Customer support can be the deciding factor between you and your competition. Automating your customer support can help you streamline the process by generating valuable content for the user. Various automated marketing solutions help automate this process, all designed to streamline, automate, and systemize your customer support processes.
What should you know before you start email marketing automation?
Marketing automation systems are an investment in your business’s sales and marketing strategy. Before you invest, make sure to consider the following:
What features do you need?
Before anything else, you should determine how you plan to use email marketing automaton before choosing a program for your business. Different MA programs have different or unique features. Others only offer certain features in higher priced plans. It pays to take the time to properly identify and understand what features you need, so you can make a more educated decision.
Source: Campaign Monitor
Your plan’s limitations
In addition to the plan’s features, do some research on any limitations within a specific package or plan. Many plans will have limitations based on what pricing option you choose, so you need to know what features you need and choose the best package for your objectives.
More importantly, if you aren’t clear on any of its features, then ask. Many websites feature a live chat that allows you to connect to an agent instantly. Make use of this feature as often as you like or check if there is an FAQ section with your question covered. Otherwise, a simple phone call or email should do the trick. Quality providers understand the value of customer support, so responses should be as efficient and helpful as possible.
MA programs can be complicated, especially to the untrained eye. Having access to the best support system and training resources is crucial. The last thing you want is to waste time waiting for a response to your query when other, more pressing issues need to be resolved. Phone support and live support is preferred, but email and ticket-based systems should guarantee a response within 48 hours.
Consider on-boarding assistance
Once you’ve picked your package, be sure to find out about onboarding assistance. In some cases, you’ll be required to purchase an additional onboarding package. While the best onboarding assistance comes from internal training, many MA programs will hire third-party contractors to facilitate onboarding.
Ask about free trials
Free trials let you test the product for a few days before signing up. While these are not common, some MA programs will give you a free trial account, which you can use to test the software before making a commitment.
If there is no trial offer, make sure to ask for one. Many email marketing automation systems can be complex, and taking a few days to find your way around the system before deciding if it’s the right choice for your business is in your best interest.
MA programs can reduce staff costs
As a small business owner, the thought of spending thousands of dollars each month on a marketing program might not sound feasible. But consider the money you would be saving on marketing and sales teams. If used correctly, a good marketing automation system can reduce the number of people needed to perform tasks manually. This is saving the company on salaries, benefits, turnover costs, and time off. Overall, investing in a good MA program is a totally cost-effective business solution.
Not all MA programs are created equal
Not all marketing automation systems are the same, with the biggest differences being the feature sets and the complexity of their offerings. Some marketing automation systems are geared towards content marketers, while others are designed to focus on the email nurturing tools preferred by email marketers and salespeople. Doing your due diligence is the best way to determine which program is the right choice for your business.
When it comes to automated marketing solutions for your business, there are many opportunities to improve efficiency and streamline processes. Marketing automation enables you to automate time-consuming, menial tasks and will save your business time, money, and resources. This leaves you and your workforce with the necessary resources to allocate focus toward other ways to grow your business.
- Marketing automation allows you to automate your marketing funnels for the widest reach with the least amount of time and effort.
- There are numerous processes within your company that can benefit from marketing automation systems, including web hosting and management, analytics, email marketing, social media, and customer support.
- Email marketing is a good starting point for companies considering marketing automation
- Consider things like features, plan limitations, onboarding assistance, free trials, and more before you start email marketing automation
- Determine the goals and objectives of your marketing strategy and see where marketing automation fits in.
Wondering where to start? Your email marketing campaign is the first logical step. Check out these tools that can help you easily create, send, customize, and measure the impact of your email marketing campaigns.