Small businesses constantly face significant challenges that come with limited resources and a lower annual income. To remain competitive with larger enterprises, knowing how to allocate resources strategically is crucial. As a small business, you need to strive to do more with less.
Modern marketing enables small businesses to achieve more even with limited means. Technological tools such as automation platforms empower businesses to remain sustainable in an ever-growing, fast-changing market. Automation tools assist marketing departments with improving efficiency, productivity, performance, all whilst cutting costs and increasing revenue growth.
And with nearly 70 percent of market leaders already employing the services of marketing automation systems, small businesses must engage with automation tools to remain relevant and maintain their market share. The good news is that automation technology continues to become increasingly accessible and affordable, allowing even small businesses with severely limited resources to utilize the tools they need.
So just how can a small business employ marketing automation to generate leads, nurture customers, and drive overall growth?
Let’s go over some of the first steps necessary to start automating your business’s marketing processes.
1. Set clear goals
Automation technology cannot assist your business until you outline specific goals and identify key metrics you want to track. Ambiguous goals, like brand awareness or social engagement, will not let you fully utilize the power of marketing automation. Rather, focus on goals built on the premise of informed decisions.
- Identify specific key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure you employ marketing automation to its fullest extent. Zoom in on metrics important to the growth and success of your business. Establish specific goals (i.e. increase revenue within 12 weeks by getting 100 first-time buyers) to ensure action deployed by automation tools pushes your marketing efforts forward.
- Define the specific actions you want your automation systems to perform. It may seem rather granular, but this is necessary for the long-term success of your business. Indicate specific actions with measurable results for your automation tools to drive increased sales and growth, improve business efficiency and empower your teams to make agile business decisions.
2. Identify gaps in your marketing processes
One of the key roles of marketing automation is to eliminate bottlenecks in your marketing processes to improve performance, productivity, and creative output. The ability to streamline processes with automated workflows reduces the need for team members to perform menial and trivial tasks such as administrative or data entry. This will result in the lowering of administrative costs and reduction of error.
Achieving this starts with identifying the gaps in your processes by deploying a marketing automation platform that can seamlessly integrate with your existing systems.
- Know how to use marketing automation to highlight key gaps in your processes and to enable your marketing process to be an efficient workhorse. The aim is to focus on the most important tasks at hand: to engage with desired audiences to drive sales, increase revenue, and generate prospects who are ready to buy.
- Perform a marketing audit to highlight key areas of your processes that can be strengthened by automation tools. Perhaps your business needs to improve its nurturing program or create trigger alerts to encourage potential prospects through the purchase funnel.
3. Audit your existing customer base
Consumers today require sophisticated and tailored marketing solutions to be engaged and build an emotional connection with a brand. Your client base when your business first started out may have been manageable, but as your business continues to grow, so should your processes. This is where marketing automation becomes important.
- As a marketing tool, automation empowers your business to maintain a one-to-one relationship with its audience base without neglecting a persona or demographic. Use marketing automation to create rich customer profiles.
- Segment your business’s customer base to deliver the right content to the right individuals at the right time with the most relevant and engaging information. Through automation, efficiently identify and strategically filter segment audiences to create opportunities for your business to drive revenue.
- With the comprehensive targeting and audience segmentation provided by automation platforms, conduct thorough analytical examinations of your customer base. Combine data from various segments such as behavior, geography, attributes, and preferences.
- Ensure your marketing processes get to provide personalized campaign initiatives and reactions in real time, triggering opportunities for your business to engage with consumers throughout the complete customer journey.
4. Select appropriate automation tools
With the variety of automated integration systems available to assist a business with its marketing processes, the tricky part of deploying an automation system is knowing the right tools for your business. As automation can assist with everything from lead generation to conversion, it’s pivotal that businesses understand the appropriate tools to assist them in achieving their desired results.
- Deploy the right automation tools to significantly affect the implementation process, thereby reducing your substantial investment, time and effort into an imprudent expenditure.
- Gauge your business’s capabilities before selecting an automation system. Acknowledging levels of capabilities, business scalability and technical competencies of users encourage the seamless integration of automation processes. This will galvanize the adoption process, ensuring departments embrace and successfully interact with the new system.
5. Test, engage and promote
The success of any automation platform lies in the ongoing process of testing and promoting the system with internal and external stakeholders. The introduction of automation to marketing processes can be a drastic change for individual stakeholders. Some businesses may experience passive resistance from the drastic change automation brings so businesses must ensure every stakeholder is involved in the implementation process. Otherwise, the system may become ineffective due to a lack of adoption and support.
- Continuously monitor and test the results of your automation tools to continue to improve the efficiency of your marketing processes. Gauge the performance of your automation system periodically and make necessary amendments to ensure optimal efficiency.
- As your small business looks to grow, consider the many benefits automation will bring to your marketing processes. Its ability to overcome limitations characteristically seen in many small businesses while streamlining processes for optimal efficiency makes it an invaluable tool for you and your team.
Introducing automation to your marketing processes can appear to be a daunting task, but by acknowledging the steps highlighted above, you can prepare your business when the time comes to roll out its services.
Featured Image credits: Grisel D´An
Tomi Saikkonen is the Vice President of Liana Technologies, Middle East. Just like you, Tomi is fascinated by the possibilities of digital marketing and technology. He actively seeks out ways to help businesses and organizations across industries to improve their digital marketing ROI. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.