Marketing is the lifeblood of any business, and tons of resources are dedicated to carrying out this function. Many of the tasks in marketing are repetitive and predictable regardless of the size of the business operations. These tasks may include basic functions such as scheduling email messages and social media posts, organizing the contacts directory and managing content. A feedback system and the ability to track customers’ activities as they move through the marketing funnel are some of the functions that have been automated to generate data that can be analyzed to measure the impact of marketing strategies.
Goals of Marketing Automation
Different types of marketing automation software have been proven effective in automating repetitive tasks for more efficient deployment of client-focused strategies. Aside from enhancing efficiency, marketing automation software is used to deliver information and personalized content based on pre-defined triggers. Leads are guided through the marketing funnel using various strategies. Analytic tools are used to gauge the effectiveness of the marketing strategy in addressing perceived issues.
The Rise of Marketing Automation
The problem with building marketing campaigns and maintaining online brands is that both require repetitive, systematic actions. Sending out emails, posting on social media and uploading blog content are all effective ways to drum up interest. They just need to be performed several times, for as many potential customers as possible.
In recent years, the popularity of marketing automation has soared, because it offers a way to systemize key processes. You can write blog posts and schedule them for automatic upload at optimum times. It becomes easy to send newsletters and emails to thousands of people and manage the responses.
With marketing automation, marketers can focus on the value and quality of their efforts, because the practical implementation is managed in a perpetual, unobtrusive manner. When you gain time, you also gain profit. Every second saved can be reinvested in sales, distribution, finance, inventory and recruitment processes.
Enterprise Marketing Automation Solutions
Successful marketers know that marketing is about more than direct advertising. Targeted ads are only a small part of the customer journey, and they can be very hit or miss, particularly online. Consumers are more wary of digital advertising than ever before, because they have an increased of knowledge of its inner workings and the way it piggybacks on their routines.
So you’ve got to build up trust in other ways. It’s important that customers be given a chance to interact with your brand through different channels. You can use enterprise marketing automation to gauge interest, pick up on preferences, forge strong relationships and increase brand loyalty.
Key Features of Enterprise Marketing Automation
Email is a valuable asset for marketing teams, but it must be used carefully. Emails should always be relevant, engaging and non-intrusive. Otherwise, you’ll alienate your followers. Automation software is a great way to stay in touch, without exposing customers to excessive email blasts. It also helps you keep a detailed record of both your communications and your subscribers’ behavior.
Marketing automation is recommended for social media because it takes much of the manual work out of posting. You can use it to build targeted advertisements, respond to customer inquiries and keep profiles active and fresh. You shouldn’t rely solely on automation when working with social communities, but it’s a handy way to stay available 24/7 and schedule posts in advance.
Automation software plays a major role in lead generation, as it helps businesses learn about their customers. Every point of contact is logged and turned into actionable data. So every time you interact with somebody, the system adds that to their personalized profile. It means your sales team always knows what a customer wants, prefers, dislikes and hopes to achieve.
How do you make your emails and landing pages convert the best? You personalize them. This is what dynamic content does for businesses, making it a powerful marketing automation tool. Dynamic content inserts specialized messages, names and discounts based on your subscribers’ preferences and behavior.
Bringing an element of science to marketing, A/B testing allows you to compare two different types of content to figure out which is best. This means that you can split your subscriber base — or a segment of it — in two, sending one piece of content to one group, and a tweaked version to the other group. Marketers use this ability to test the effectiveness of everything from marketing language, CTAs and layout in order to increase conversions.
To get the most out of your marketing dollars, you need to be following up on transactions. The customer journey doesn’t have to end with the most recent purchase. In fact, it’s much easier to secure the second, third or fourth buy than it is the first. So use marketing automation to stay in touch and maximize a brand interest that’s already present.
Reporting and Analytics
Finally, marketing automation platforms are great for building up a picture of productivity. As every contact, transaction and communication gets logged, there’s no part of the marketing journey that you can’t review. The data is highly useful when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns and budgeting for future ones.
Top Enterprise Marketing Automation Vendors
Pardot from Salesforce is mostly a B2B marketing automation platform, but there are several cases of B2C businesses using it successfully as well. As a Salesforce product, Pardot comes with built-in CRM integration (namely Salesforce, surprise surprise). Also available are ROI reporting, A/B testing, dynamic content and Google AdWords integration, so you can get a full picture of your digital marketing efforts. For more details, see our comparison of Pardot vs HubSpot.
Despite its popularity, Act-On doesn’t have the name recognition of Salesforce or Pardot, but it’s nonetheless one of the best enterprise marketing automation platforms on the market. Act-On is one of the best solutions for integration, offering a plethora of built-in BI and CRM integrations. Additional marketing features include lead scoring, A/B testing and account-based marketing.
HubSpot is one of the most-trusted voices in all things marketing, so you’d figure that their marketing automation software would reflect that standard. Luckily for all of its users, it does. One of HubSpot’s more unique features is its content creation tools, which allows you to manage all of your digital marketing in a single platform. Additional features include event-based segmentation, goal-based nurturing and predictive lead scoring.
Marketing Automation for Small Businesses
Marketing automation solutions have been used by big corporations for a while now. But for small business, it’s still a tool that’s just starting to gain popularity. In fact, a Leadpages and Infusionsoft Small Business Marketing Trends Report shows that as much as 47% of small businesses still try to handle their marketing efforts by themselves.
With today’s innovative marketing automation solutions, that may not be the case for long. As marketing automation becomes more available and tailored to small businesses, it’s only a matter of time before small business owners realize the benefits that come with having this tool at their disposal.
Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up the fastest-growing segment of marketing automation software users, and this trend is consistent in numerous industries.
Key Features of Marketing Automation for Small Businesses
Since marketing automation is marketing automation no matter if you’re a large enterprise or a small business, may of the features are the same. However, if you’re a small business, here are the features you should prioritize:
No matter what size your business is, email marketing is an effective strategy. It’s an especially powerful strategy for small businesses just trying to get their name out their. Just as useful is the fact that email automation saves precious time managing email campaigns that can be reallocated somewhere else.
Finding leads can be one of the most difficult challenges for small businesses trying to build a customer base. Luckily, marketing automation for small businesses provides lead generation functionality that reduces both the time and costs involved in the lead generation process.
Seamlessly moving your leads along the sales funnel has never been easier for small businesses. Marketing automation management software can help you greatly reduce the manual work required in the process, saving you valuable time. This enables you to passively move leads down the sales funnel, only requiring you to intervene when a lead is ready to convert.
Reporting isn’t just for big companies. Any sized business benefits from reporting, so they can gain insights into the effectiveness of their marketing. With the advanced reports available from some of the leading marketing automation software for small businesses, you can gain new insights into where your best customers are coming from, how to increase conversions and much more.
Customer retention is one of the key factors of business success, especially when you’re just trying to build a customer base. With the right marketing automation tool, you can personalize your relationship with each prospect, making them feel wanted and recognized.
Top Marketing Automation Solutions for Small Businesses
No, it’s not a mistake; HubSpot is one of the few marketing automation platforms that’s just as viable for small and mid-sized businesses as it is for enterprises. This is due in large part to the free version of the software that’s offered, which is especially useful for small businesses (after all, you can’t beat free). As you can imagine, the free version and Starter package, the two best packages for small businesses, offer fewer features than the enterprise-level packages. But some of the features still offered are many of those that satisfy small businesses, including contact management, a lead analytics dashboard and custom form fields.
Infusionsoft is one of the most popular marketing automation systems for small businesses, as it was developed with SMBs in mind. The main difference between Infusionsoft’s SMB solutions and its enterprise editions are the number of contacts provided. For small businesses, the 500, 1500 and 2500 contact packages are usually sufficient. All of these packages come with unlimited emails and ready-made templates for emails and landing pages, making content creation easy. In addition, Infusionsoft provides contact management functionality, which is essentially a built-in CRM tool.
ActiveCampaign is another marketing automation software that was built specifically for small businesses. The system offers a fully integrated marketing platform, including sales force automation and CRM. Some of the standout features of ActiveCampaign include a Gmail extension, lead scoring and split testing. More unique features include SMS (aka text messaging) marketing functionality and goal measuring, so you can track your progress towards customized goals. Additionally, ActiveCampaign provides dynamic content for email marketing, which is a feature usually reserved for enterprise systems.
Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Software
It’s important to consider platforms that are compatible with the size and nature of the business. Enterprise software would include features that SMBs may never need. Software costs vary, but expect enterprise software to be pricier than marketing automation software for SMBs. Conduct a needs assessment survey to identify the marketing automation issues that require a solution and from this survey, determine the tools needed to resolve the issues. Many marketing automation software providers offer a free trial period, which allows you to test the suitability of the actual product based on your company’s needs.