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Are You Ready for Marketing Automation?
  • 02 August 2017
  • Daniel Vahab

Are You Ready for Marketing Automation?

Is it time for you and your business to enter the world of marketing automation? Small businesses that are still in the early stages may not need to automate yet—after all, grassroots efforts, signage, and direct mail approaches add a personal touch that customers value. As your business grows, however, you may find you need additional systems in place to reach your target markets. Thankfully, there are many ways nowadays for you to jump in and automate your business operations, including marketing software. From analytics to e-mail outreach, the process saves time, effort, and revenue, and can even produce better results, depending on your current goals. Here are three ways to know if your small business is ready for marketing automation.

1. You need more time

Everyone could use more time, but enterprises just starting to expand are especially in need. In stages of growth, you are likely wearing several hats, juggling multiple projects and deadlines, and working 80 to 100 hours a week. With more time, you can simply get more done and focus on tasks that take more creativity and strategic thinking, as opposed to routine assignments—you may even be able to take a short but necessary vacation! Once you have your marketing strategies in place, these could become routine tasks that free up time for you.

Social media automation, for example, allows you to easily schedule posts in advance and receive automatic analytics reports with platforms like Hootsuite. Rather than individually posting them, you can post them in bulk, publishing to multiple platforms and for multiple locations simultaneously. In addition, you can set posts to publish at optimal times and respond to comments from one dashboard. Keeping that constant flow of messages helps you reach your target audience regularly, while you are freed up to perform other duties.

2. You want to better segment your analytics and reporting operations

As a small business owner, you have only so many resources to get so much done at any given time. But with marketing automation, you are able to accomplish a lot more at scale. For instance, tools such as Constant Contact allow you to upload and schedule countless messages to send at optimal times, and up to a year in advance. You can segment contacts for a particular email blast and customize them by name, title, and organization. What is more, an autoresponder can be set up with prewritten, targeted messages. Messages can even go out on milestones like birthdays and anniversaries, or you can use them to confirm a purchase or shipping order.

Another useful tool to help you segment analytics is through Facebook's A/B or split testing feature, which seamlessly compares several potential advertising campaigns, as AdWeek describes. You can compare audience or copy headline taglines, call-to-actions, bidding, and creative to determine what performs the best from a small sampling size. Your larger performance will be optimized for your existing campaign and future ones based on the data.

After you send messages through such tools, you will receive a report with a full suite of analytics on open rates, clicks, and engagement demographics, along with the devices used. You can even automatically compare the data against past campaigns. With this big data dissected, you can optimize your efforts.

3. Your market research doesn't catch everything

With analytics and marketing data optimized, you can also automate insights, which help you make faster and more informed decisions that will increase your competitive advantage.

To this end, you may want to consider subscribing to Google Alerts to keep tabs on breaking news articles that reference your company, brand, executive team, competitors, key customers, and prospects. You can dive even deeper into your market research by using news aggregators like Feedly to subscribe to RSS feeds and organize them by categories (e.g., by industry). Then, you can use new, positive press coverage on a prospect as an excuse to reach out. For instance, you could send a message to a potential client that says, "Hey, congrats on being featured in Forbes! Loved your quote on..." In this way, you can continue to nurture relationships and inspire consumer loyalty.

Automation is not just a buzzword. Instead, it is becoming a growing reality and a viable path to marketing. Small business can automate a variety of marketing efforts, from gathering intelligence to promoting a product or service. Used effectively, automation can make routine yet important tasks more convenient and effective for a growing business.

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