It’s a common misconception that marketing automation can only be used by enterprise companies. Like so many other types of business technology, an expanding market of users and an increase in the number of software vendors has driven the price of this software down and resulted in a more accessible standard for user experience.
In short, small businesses can use marketing automation, too. And in a number of cases, they should.
But that doesn’t mean SMBs will use the software in the same way as enterprises. Enterprises use marketing automation to organize vast quantities of customer data, better target the myriad of prospects in their database, and parse results to prove ROI.
Because resources are limited, there are often few marketing and sales personnel in small businesses, which puts productivity at a premium. Automating marketing tasks can significantly increase productivity without requiring a new job posting.
Marketing automation also helps align sales and marketing departments, which is a huge factor in creating a streamlined revenue model — something that SMBs are always working to improve.
So while enterprises may use marketing automation to retroactively clean up and organize their marketing, small businesses are in the advantageous position of being able to use marketing automation to develop scalable processes from the beginning.
Centralize Marketing Features
As your marketing capabilities mature, so will the strategies and tactics you use to engage leads and turn them into customers. With each new strategy — whether it’s A/B testing, email marketing, or landing pages — there comes a time to choose software to solve the challenges of each initiative.
All too often, a best of breed software is chosen for each individual tactic, and marketers end up with an amalgamation of platforms that work well for a few specific tasks, but don’t integrate with one another. This creates data silos throughout the marketing department and makes it difficult to gain a comprehensive view of your customers.
Digital marketing can be a labyrinthine undertaking, so it’s difficult to say that any one piece of software will include every feature you’ll ever need. But the best marketing automation systems do centralize a lot of the functionality that SMBS use most often — particularly the core functions of email marketing, landing pages, and lead nurturing.
Having all your major marketing features in one place can also help increase productivity, especially when you consider that a significant number of marketers still use manual processes for a number of tasks. Automating email campaigns, A/B tests, and lead follow up can save everyone on your team a tremendous amount of time.
Better Align Marketing and Sales
“Creating a lead to revenue model is an integrated sales and marketing effort. You have to break down the barriers between marketing and sales and start thinking about your revenue engine as an integrated model, from lead scoring and all the way through the funnel,” says Vidyard CMO Tyler Lessard.
For small businesses this is even more important. Enterprises may yearn for increased efficiency and better growth from the previous quarter, but small businesses have little choice but to make the most of their sales and marketing resources. And that means making them work together.
The disconnect between sales and marketing teams — in any sized business — is well documented. The problems begin with communication. Sales has typically relied on CRM platforms for their information, while marketing has employed any number of systems to perform certain channel-specific tasks.
Automation software links the data of these two departments and allows sales and marketing to collaborate on critical topics, such as standards for qualified leads, when leads need to be followed up with, and so on. This partnership goes a long way towards building a more streamlined, agile organization, and can significantly improve how organizations turn prospects into customers.
Even if the sales and marketing teams only encompass a few people, the speed of follow up time and the context of personalized marketing don’t allow for a conversation about every lead that comes through the system. Marketing automation creates a communication framework that works well on a microscale and as your company grows.
Provide a Better Customer Experience
In a recent survey, it was found that the top three sales priorities for small businesses were:
1: Acquiring new customers
2: Creating deeper customer relationships
3: Growing the value of existing customers
Similarly, customer satisfaction was the number one marketing metric. Creating a customer-centric brand is a smart move for any small business, but following through with the strategy in a holistic way requires centralized technology that links the customer journey together.
Sales will need the context of each lead’s website behavior to have a more personalized conversation and better target that lead’s pain points. Similarly, if a prospect is in a lead nurturing email campaign, the content will need to be targeted based on past behavior or on their persona.
Creating this type of consistent, personalized experience will certainly create better relationships with customers, and marketing automation platforms supply the means to automatically customize content based on behavior-based logic.
When it comes to acquiring new customers, marketing automation is excellent for generating new leads as well reducing the number of lost opportunities that would otherwise slip through the cracks because sales simply can’t reach everyone.
It would be disingenuous to say that marketing automation doesn’t take work, because it does. That’s why there’s such a large demand for digital marketers. However, small businesses can use automation software in a strategic fashion to eliminate inefficiencies, optimize the revenue generation process, and provide better customer experiences all without having to hire an entire team.