How Marketing Automation Software Helps Small Businesses

Digital marketing has never been more vital to small businesses, but owners often struggle to keep up with subscriber lists, social media and digital ads. Here's how marketing automation can help.

Alison Martin
04/17/2017
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Marketing automation software such as Hubspot can help grow your business from start-up to empire.
Marketing automation software such as Hubspot can help grow your business from start-up to empire.

Small business owners wear many hats, but the one they often dread wearing is that of marketer. With all the other equally important things to do throughout the day, it's hard to find time to manage your website, post on social media and track SEO analytics. You know it's all important, even if you're not sure how, but the idea of sitting seemingly idle on the computer seems counterproductive, and hiring a part- or full-time marketing coordinator just isn't in the cards.

To make digital marketing easy, more and more small businesses are turning to marketing automation for their digital marketing needs. So what is this software and why is it worth the investment? Here's what you need to know.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a type of software that simplifies marketing tasks and helps the user schedule campaigns, monitor them and analyze the data. With this software, users can:

- Create, divide and regroup email subscriber lists by demographic to send more targeted messages to clients.

- Manage social media accounts from one location and schedule posts ahead of time.

- Create landing pages, digital ads and email campaigns that capture your brand.

- Launch drip campaigns and improve lead generation targeting trade professionals.

- Analyze the data to see how well your campaigns performed.

Using marketing automation, you can plan out marketing campaigns and better target them to hit customers more likely to come to your store, rather than reaching out blindly to anyone on the internet. You'll spend less time bouncing between social media accounts and email accounts and spend more time with customers.

A temporary employee

Not every business has the budget to bring on a full-time marketing person, but the benefits of marketing automation are too numerous to ignore. While you grow your business, marketing automation software can help you be your own marketing coordinator while you build the funds to pay a salary and health benefits for a marketing coordinator.

Though you may not have much (or any) digital marketing experience, most marketing automation software is user-friendly. The companies that build the software often have easy step-by-step videos and tutorials to help you set up your accounts and understand all of the tools and information at your fingertips. By the time you do hire a full-time marketing coordinator, he or she will already have a strong foundation to build.

Even if you already have a marketing intern or employee, marketing automation software can help them work more efficiently. They'll have an easier time doing their work, and they can brush up on their digital knowledge and improve their skills with the tutorials. You'll help streamline the marketing process so your marketing coordinator doesn't feel stretched in too many directions.

Personalization

Did you know that personalized emails (the difference between "Hello!" and "Hi John!") have a 26 percent higher open rate? In this digital age, you can't treat ads, posts and email campaigns like a TV ad, going to whoever happens to be watching. Furthermore, segmented campaigns (meaning ones with highly targeted messages sent to a small group of people) can lead to a 706 percent increase in email revenue.

As any professional will tell you, marketing to a tradesperson (a builder or interior designer) isn't quite the same as marketing to your average consumer. Consumers consider the design first and ask for specs second. While builders and designers want products that look stunning, they usually have more technical concerns. They also do more repeat business than most consumers, and they benefit from working with the same knowledgeable sales associate.

With marketing automation, you can build campaigns tailored to different demographics of clients. The software will help you build email sign-up forms that gather specific information about your clients' demographics, which will allow you to easily sort your list. From there, you can design highly targeted messaged aimed at specific groups of people. For example, if you're running a sale on recessed lighting fixtures, then you can create emails to promote the sale. Your software will add your client's name for you.

In the world of marketing automation, there are multiple software options to choose from, all with different features, strengths and weaknesses. In our upcoming May issue, we'll show you how to determine which type of marketing automation is right for you. For now, what are your questions about marketing automation? Share your thoughts with us!

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