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Marketing Automation: the secret weapon for small business
Big companies have big marketing departments and budgets. But small business owners have to wear multiple hats, and that often means running the business overshadows marketing your business. But with marketing automation, even the smallest of businesses can prosper - even when the owner is sleeping.
What is marketing automation?
Simply, marketing automation is software that analyzes interactions with your business to help qualify a prospect’s level of interest, while also automating follow-up communications based on “triggers” and “rules” set up in the system. It can be as simple as automatically prompting someone to follow you on Twitter or entail more complex drip campaigns that connect with a prospect over several days, weeks, or months - nurturing the lead until they become a customer. It also tracks visitors over time and provides ROI data on various campaigns (such as AdWords and email offers). Essentially, It nurtures leads, automates follow-up activities, and can continue to manage the relationship after a purchase has been made.
How is it the secret weapon for small business?
The immediate benefit of deploying a marketing automation solution is that part of the process of marketing your business becomes automated. Follow-up communications and sales activity happens without human involvement - freeing up a small business owner to concentrate on running their business. It runs night and day, doesn’t take sick days, and it can easily be taught new tricks. Essentially, it can make a one person shop as capable and mighty as a big chain store that has a big marketing staff.
A small investment can pay big dividends.
A distinct advantage small business owners have over large companies when configuring a marketing automation program is they’re more intimately familiar with their customers and their wants and needs. In large companies sales and marketing are often separated, as is management. They all have competing desires that can muddle the implementation of marketing software.
Small business owners generally better understand the motivations of their customers and can better make decisions on how to entice prospects to purchase. All that’s required is finding the time to initially setup the marketing automation solution and to set aside some time to monitor its effectiveness - and to make changes when necessary. Usually, it’s the initial setup that takes a while. But once it’s configured, having your marketing and sales operating for you 24/7 is a powerful thing. Not to mention, the information gathered on prospects and the effectiveness of money spent on advertising makes marketing automation almost essential in today’s world. By gauging levels of interest, quality leads can be given priority - leading to more sales. And by tracking the effectiveness of advertising, limited dollars can be spent more wisely.
When leadership, sales, and marketing work closely together - results are better
Marketing automation isn’t without its pitfalls. And you’ll hear lots of stories from businesses big and small on how investing in marketing automation didn’t pan out. However, when these failures are examined, the fault usually lies in the execution: Competing goals, varying levels of interest, and lackadaisical implementation. If all the players aren’t involved and working together, then the outcome is usually less than impressive. Which is again why we say small businesses are often better suited for marketing automation - the decision group is usually smaller and more tightly focused on ensuring a positive outcome.
The time is now
Marketing automation is really just hitting its stride, so early adopters will likely see the biggest returns. There’s probably a one to two year window until a large portion of businesses are investing in automating their marketing. And when it goes mainstream it means competition increases. The timing is also perfect for small businesses. Early marketing automation solution providers targeted large enterprise clients - and their pricing reflects this, with many costing tens of thousands per month.
Fortunately, lots of new providers are entering the marketing automation arena with many targeting mid and small sized businesses. These newcomers have competitive pricing that makes sense while still matching or surpassing the capabilities of the big boys. And the potential results for your business are the same, too.
Agencies are getting on board too
Even agencies are joining the marketing automation land grab. It complements the typical process of delivery results for clients through marketing and advertising. So agencies are offering it as a service. Meaning, if you can’t find the time to learn and set-up a marketing automation system yourself, you can hire an agency to do it for you - and then take over running it or work with the agency to keep it converting optimally.
Clearly, the timing is right. New providers are helping to bring the costs down and inline with most small business budgets; automation still has the potential for huge returns for early adopters; and agency partners are already primed to help you implement a marketing automation. So stop delaying, and start gaining customers and earning money while you work and while you sleep - before every business owner discovers the secret of marketing automation.
Sep 11, 2014
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