In the quest to improve sales, marketing automation is a growing priority for many small businesses. These platforms improve your efficiency while growing revenue and personalizing your customer experience. To make the most of marketing automation, though, it’s important to know exactly how to use it.

Let’s review what automation is, the benefits it provides, and how to make the most of your investment.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Digital marketing automation improves your efficiency by executing and managing certain tasks, like social media management, reporting, lead generation and customer analysis. These automations help you focus on more important projects that can’t be automated.

There are several types of marketing automation, including the following:

Marketing Intelligence

Marketing intelligence automation utilizes technology to automatically track users’ online habits. This includes using website cookies, which tracks a user’s browsing history on a company’s website.

We experience this when we visit our favorite online retailer and see the “Products You’d Like” section. This is marketing intelligence at work—reminding you about the products you’ve browsed to try to increase your purchase frequency, order amount or both.

You can do the same thing for business, and your website developer can help you install the code you need to make it work.

Business Development

Even though business development requires human interaction, you can still automate parts of it. Educate potential customers and then encourage them to purchase by organizing each person based on interests or behaviors. Then, you can deliver content based on that information.

This is often done through email marketing and social media advertising. Yet, the insights from business development tools can also help improve search engine optimization (SEO). This helps ensure you’re creating the right blog posts to entice your leads to become customers.

Get started by establishing what determines a qualified lead for your business. It could be income level, age, interests, marital status or a combination of any of those factors. If you’re focused on business to business (B2B) sales, then consider company size, revenue and job titles.

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation includes tools such as social media scheduling and email management programs like Buffer and Hootsuite. These tasks are ideal for automation because they don’t need in-the-moment attention. You will still need to create the content, but you won’t have to interrupt your days to make sure the posts are published and the emails are sent.

3 Benefits of Marketing Automation

Now that we know what marketing automation is, it’s time to discover how it can benefit your company.

1. Increased Revenue

Companies with automated lead management see a 10% or higher increase in revenue within the first 6-9 months, according to a 2017 report from Strategic IC. The report went on to state that “businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at a cost 33% less than non-nurtured prospects.” Consider how this can improve your profit margins by reducing your overhead.

Marketing automation helps more than revenue, though. It also saves you time, and time is money.

Gross profit margin tells you how much profit is retained after the cost of goods sold.

2. Improved Efficiency

By automating certain marketing tasks, you can improve your team’s efficiency and your own. A common misconception is that automation will remove all marketing jobs. That’s not completely true; you still need a marketer to use these tools. However, they’ll be able to complete more tasks because they’ll be more efficient.

Instead of spending 2 hours a week manually publishing every post on social media, a marketer can take 1 hour or less to schedule the entire week’s worth of posts in one sitting. Then they’re free to work on other tasks while the posts publish at the desired time. Popular tools include Sprout Social, Hootsuite and Buffer.

This is an ideal situation for small businesses because of the limited manpower required. Automation may not double your marketing team, but it’s close. When used correctly, you could save more in labor than what the automation tools cost.

3. Better Personalization

One of the reasons companies see higher revenue is that they are better able to personalize the customer experience. The more personal the shopping experience, the more likely customers are to buy.

Personalization is particularly helpful if you have products that meet different needs. With automation, you can better categorize potential customers to more effectively share meaningful content with the people who care.

Personalization is typically seen in email marketing, where subscribers receive emails based on products they’ve viewed or purchased. Ad targeting also helps you personalize the experience, as users see an ad highlighting the service they researched on your website.

How to Use Marketing Automation

To use marketing automation for your business, you need to know your top “pain points,” or specific problems you face that keep you from achieving optimal performance. Otherwise, you won’t be able to leverage it. Think of it like an if/then statement.

If your top pain point is manually posting every day on social media, then you’ll want to use a social media scheduling tool.

If you want to send email newsletters regularly but can’t send them at the moment, then an email service provider can do it for you.

Steps to Follow

Here are a few steps you can follow to use marketing automation:

  1. First, make a list of what you want to automate.
  2. Then seek out the tools you want to test. It’s important that you take time to test these tools and optimize how to make them work for your business.
  3. Use free trials to see what tool works best for you.

Once you’ve chosen a platform, it’s time to start using it. Be prepared for a time investment in the first 30 days while your team learns the platform.

After 60 days of use, re-evaluate by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is it still helping?
  • Does the process need to improve?
  • Could you use the tool more?
  • Is it truly saving your team time?
  • If this tool doesn’t work, what could which one could we test next?

Repeat this evaluation process every 3-6 months to make sure these tools are still helpful.

Marketing Automation Can Help Your Company Grow

Marketing automation is more than a buzzword. As long as it’s done correctly, it can improve your company’s revenue, efficiency and personalization. As you consider the tools you want to use, make sure each one helps you reach your goal. Once you lay the foundation, you’ll be well prepared to hit your mark and continue to grow.


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