You may have heard the term ‘marketing automation’ quite often.

Be it a small business or a large-scale enterprise, marketing automation is a top priority of marketers in 2019. For small businesses, it is one of the most powerful marketing methods because it automates the mundane tasks and streamlines the processes.

Marketing automation tools can be any software that helps in doing small, repetitive tasks on an autopilot mode. These tasks would have otherwise been done manually.

Nowadays, consumers expect businesses to offer them highly personalized and contextual experiences at the right time. Brands that focus on providing exceptional customer experience are the ones that connect with customers, and get more leads and sales. Marketing automation makes providing exceptional customer experiences possible.

So much consumer data is being captured by businesses across multiple channels and devices. Marketing automation for small businesses can create user engagement experiences from this data, resulting in improving the bottom line for businesses.

Best Marketing Automation Software for Small Business in 2019

Some of the most popular marketing automation software solutions that small businesses use are ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, SendinBlue and Ontraport. Larger enterprises use more robust automation tools like Pardot and ActiveCampaign Enterprise.

You may want to consider the following points before making your decision to go with a particular automation software.

  • Pricing
  • Usability
  • Integrations with your existing software.

It pays to do your research because you will be considering a long-term perspective, say three to five years.

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of marketing automation tools.

 

Pros of Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

Small businesses have lots to benefit from when it comes to marketing automation, both in the B2B and B2C sphere.

  1. Ability to gather user data and increase marketing efficiency.

Marketers who use active personalization in their messaging with their consumers will be at a distinct advantage. It will get them more engagement, leads and sales.

This kind of personalization is only possible if you are able to gather user data across multiple touchpoints, segment the customers, and create targeted campaigns that are contextual and personalized.

You can create an integrated marketing functionality through collecting data, conducting analysis, executing digital campaigns and managing the workflow of leads. Marketing automation does all this and more.

  1. Enhanced ability to generate better qualified leads and improved sales capabilities.

Marketing automation for small businesses allows you to segment your users, tag them and enable lead scoring. This is helpful for lead generation and nurturing.

All types of digital marketing campaigns, such as email campaigns, paid advertising campaigns, and setup of lead generation, sales and conversion funnels, are successfully powered by marketing automation tools. In fact, these tools can help small businesses to enhance their ability to generate high-quality leads that convert well.

  1. Email management capabilities

Email marketing is one of the most used areas in digital marketing that takes advantage of marketing automation to the fullest. You can do so much with email marketing automation software.

If used properly, it can build your email list really fast and help you further in building a relationship with your email subscribers. When you keep nurturing them through a welcome email series or relevant and contextual emails, you gradually build trust with your subscribers. Then, selling them your products and services becomes very easy.

Email marketing capabilities involve doing A/B testing, setting up drip campaigns and sequences, and personalizing emails and triggering mails based on user behaviour.

  1. Social media automation

As a small business or startup owner, you have to manage accounts across many social media platforms where your business prospects are. It requires your active involvement on these platforms to build brand recall and gain engaged followers, shares of posts, comments and a higher level of engagement.

Managing social media can be a very time-consuming affair but the marketing automation software can really make your work easier. Some of these software solutions are Hootsuite, Buffer, SocialOomph, Sprout Social and HubSpot.

Each platform has its own unique features and pricing. They allow you to schedule your social posts in advance and monitor accounts for brand mentions, comments and shares. Their social listening feature is truly amazing.

In addition, some social automation tools like Hootsuite scan social media for engaging content and discover suggested content that you can share with your followers.

  1. Enable conversational experiences powered by chatbots

Customer experiences have gone a notch higher with more businesses creating conversational experiences powered by chatbots. These mimic human behaviour by interacting with website visitors through a series of automated questions that give answers to the most common concerns.

Chatbots can help in areas such as growing your email list, lead prospecting, bookings and addressing FAQs.

  1. Enable prediction-based marketing

Prediction-based marketing is being used a lot nowadays by ecommerce brands like Amazon to suggest products and services based upon their users’ browsing history. Complex machine learning algorithms continuously collect online users’ data to create data-backed user profiles.

For example, Amazon suggests products and services that the users are likely to buy, based upon their past purchases, browsing history and the products they are likely to be interested in buying. This creates very high engagement levels.

 

Cons of Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

Some challenges that you will face when introducing automation in your startup’s marketing processes are:

  1. It is a complicated and time-consuming process. Resistance to change in the status quo among sales and marketing staff may lead to onboarding hassles. Some marketing automation processes may not integrate with the CRM or other software currently being used. This can impede platform adoption and efficiency.
  2. If you are using automation for creating content, then it will be produced faster but the human touch in the writing will sadly be missing. Your content may even run the risk of sounding robotic and may not resonate with your target audience.
  3. Sometimes, not all the platform features are used, which may result in the software being used only for email marketing. Too much email automation can result in many triggered emails being sent. This can annoy the customers because not all emails will be relevant.
  4. 4. Some people may be annoyed when they know that all their online activities are being tracked. They may even abandon you if it becomes a regular feature for the sake of automation.

That’s why you should put a lot of thought in finding out how marketing automation for your small business can actually benefit you. Take a step-by-step approach to automation because it can backfire if applied haphazardly.

 

Conclusion

Marketing automation will play an important role in increasing user engagement. Customers are becoming more demanding and expect businesses to be responsive. Your competitors are adopting it and if you don’t take proactive action in 2019, then it will be too late. Make the transition now and be at the top of customers’ minds. They will happily engage with your brand and you will reap the rewards.

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