In today’s competitive global economy, digital promotion is a major contributing factor to a company’s growth and success. However, some small businesses are having a tough time adapting to the situation. Not only does digital marketing involve a host of repetitive, labor-intensive activities such as email communication, but it also compels you to get creative with your messaging if you want to stand a chance at cultivating a loyal customer base.
Enter marketing automation. Software-based marketing automation can improve process efficiency, increase revenue, and keep marketing costs down. Marketing and sales employees love automation because it reduces the need for repetitive manual labor, giving them more time to flex their creative muscles. According to researchers at MarketsAndMarkets, the marketing automation industry is expected to grow at a rate of about 8.55%, reaching $6.4 million in worth by 2024. Another study conducted by EmailMonday shows that an average of 51% of companies is already using marketing automation in some capacity. This shows that rather than being a simple tech trend, automation represents a fairly accurate picture of what the future of marketing will look like.
Marketing automation refers to a number of technologies used for running marketing campaigns across multiple channels. By opting to use them, small businesses can interact with customers through automated messages via email, websites, social media, instant messaging apps, and other forms of online communication.
To automate a marketing-related task, you have to define a set of actions that your automation software will perform once certain conditions are met. You can create these instructions from scratch, or you can modify existing templates.
The main goal of marketing automation is to help your small business grow and succeed. And the results have been promising so far.
According to a study by eMarketer, companies using automation for tasks such as running email marketing campaigns have seen their conversion rate jump to almost 50%. Nuclear Research also found that companies that leverage automation observed a 6.9% increase in marketing staff productivity, and a 4% sales staff productivity respectively.Want to Find the Optimal Way to Automate Your Marketing Efforts?
- Discover quality leads.
Thanks to its ability to monitor how users behave while interacting with your business online, marketing automation software plays a major role in helping your marketing department understand what the customers are interested in, and where they are in the conversion funnel. Follow-up interactions can then be customized around these insights.
- Personalize customer journeys.
Marketing automation software will make it easier to align your content strategy with the needs of your customers. Instead of trying to figure out what your customers want manually, you can rely on data-driven algorithms to do all the hard work.
- Make decisions based on data.
By providing a unified platform for data storage, management, and analytics and closed-loop reporting, marketing automation tools offer a complete solution for campaign management and audience analysis. This enables small businesses to make more rational, fact-based marketing decisions.
- Keep marketing and sales in alignment.
Efficient collaboration between sales and marketing teams is essential for building a sustainable conversion pipeline. Marketing automation will help you work towards this goal by ensuring both teams have access to the same kind of data.
- Obtain more detailed customer profiles.
The more you know about your existing, as well as potential customers, the better position you will be to sell to them. And since generating detailed user profiles is mandatory for running marketing automation, you will obtain more detailed customer profiles at no extra cost once you start using an automation tool.
If you wish to achieve even better marketing results, you can integrate marketing automation with CRM. There are already CRM tools on the market that offer automation functionality from the get-go, and there are others that have to be paired up with specialized automation tools. Either way, the gains of combining the two can be substantial.
Marketing automation software will generate a high volume of data in the course of its operation, so you will gather a hefty amount of customer info on the side at no extra cost. This data is primarily used to score and segment leads. The best of these leads can then be transferred to your CRM platform so that your sales reps can focus on converting leads with the highest potential.
CRM and marketing automation also enable you to create more intimate relationships between leads and salespeople. When a sales rep has access to detailed behavior profiles for every lead in your database, they can tailor their approach to suit each lead.
Another area where you stand to benefit from integrating marketing automation with CRM is content creation. The data you gather via marketing automation tools will enable you to craft targeted content for each stage of the conversion process.
Finally, by combining CRM and marketing automation, you will have an easier time identifying marketing campaigns that work from those that don’t, allowing you to create better ones in the future.
A selection of noteworthy marketing automation tools
In practical terms, marketing automation boils down to using a variety of software tools. Marketing automation tools are usually specialized for one particular type of automation (i.e., email automation), but exceptions do exist.
I’ll cover the marketing automation tools by dividing them into two main categories. First, let’s talk about CRMs with marketing automation functionality, and then we’re going to covert more specialized marketing automation software.
1. Salesforce Marketing Cloud
This is a cloud-based marketing automation platform with the most powerful automation tools on the market, provided you have the skills to use it.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud offers numerous features that can help businesses streamline their sales and marketing workflows. It is connecting sales, commerce, and customer communities. With intuitive AI and drag-and-drop features, you can easily respond to customer intent and create personalized content for your emails and social media platforms. That makes this platform perfect for B2C and B2B businesses. However, many users are overwhelmed with the numerous features and find them complex. After all, this is the latest technology.
As for the pricing, the Basic plan starts with $400 org/month for B2C companies and $1,250/month for up to 10,000 contracts for B2B companies.
2. Dynamics 365 Marketing
Dynamics 365 is a CRM platform that offers a number of useful marketing automation features. It is aimed at small businesses looking to raise demand for their products and services, enchant customers with user-friendly experiences, and give their overall promotional efforts a major boost.
With the Dynamics 365 Marketing app, you can create and nurture leads, align sales and marketing, make informed decisions and personalize and extend your app’s capabilities.
In case you’re interested in purchasing a license, you’ll need to pay from $750 if you already have the Customer Engagement Plan, or from $1,500 if it’s your first Dynamics 365 app.
If you’re not comfortable with using multiple tools for marketing automation, Hubspot has got you covered. Their feature-rich, all-in-one marketing automation platform is ideally suited for small businesses.
Use it to automate essential marketing tasks such as running email marketing campaigns, designing landing pages, creating and running A/B tests, creating lead acquisition pipelines, publishing blog posts, and more. One of the most attractive features of this tool is the dynamic campaign builder. Use its convenient drag-and-drop interface to create automated marketing campaigns from scratch in no time.
The price for HubSpot Marketing Automation depends on which plan with varying features and add-ons you choose. You can opt for Free, Starter ($50/month), Professional ($400-$800/month), and Enterprise ($1,200-$3,200/month).
4. Really Simple Systems CRM
If you’re looking for a simpler CRM solution with built-in automation features, Really Simple Systems CRM has everything a small business needs to be effective at digital marketing.
In addition to standard CRM features such as tools for customer management, campaign monitoring, and customer service, Really Simple Systems CRM also comes with a slew of automation features. You can automate things like form-based lead capture, email marketing, contact sync, and more.
What makes Really Simple Systems CRM stand out is its price. The basic subscription is completely free, and even the most expensive package will only set you back €41 per user/month.
This marketing automation platform helps organizations automate tasks and workflows and measure marketing engagement.
From nurturing qualified leads to discovering cross-selling and up-selling opportunities and executing personalized marketing campaigns across multiple digital channels, the job of every digital marketer gets much easier with Marketo.
Among the features that Marketo offers are bi-directional CRM synchronization, web activity tracking, lead management, email marketing automation, social media marketing automation, CRM data-based personalization, mobile marketing, and search engine optimization.
If you’re wondering about how much all of this costs, the first thing you should know is that the amount depends on the number of contacts. For up to 10,000 contacts, you’ll have to pay $895/month.
What makes GetResponse a highly suitable marketing automation platform for small businesses is the fact that it provides onboarding, quick setup and advice, post-purchase support and loyalty programs, all included in the cost. The tool itself has everything you need to create and run automatic marketing campaigns, including a simple drag-and-drop workflow editor, ecommerce support, data management, and analytics.
GetResponse’s pricing starts at $15/month for up to 1,000 subscribers (Email Plan). If this doesn’t satisfy your needs, you can always opt for a plan for 2,500 subscribers ($25 per month), or 10,000 ($65 per month).
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