If the words marketing automation (MA) make you feel intimidated, you’re not alone. We see so many of our clients initially avoid using automation tools simply because they think it’s too complicated or beyond their capabilities. There are also so many software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers out there that it becomes daunting to choose the one suited for you. Consider this, there are around 2000 SaaS companies in the UK alone and 15 000 in the USA. Talk about being spoiled for choice.
If you own a small and medium-sized business (SME) and are looking to join the billions of businesses already using marketing automation, don’t let the numbers freak you out! The best way to choose a service provider is to figure out your business goals and needs, and select the option that best fits your business DNA. But we know this is easier said than done. That’s why we made the process less daunting by shortlisting some of our favourite service providers that we use for our own clients. But first, let’s unpack what MA is and why your business needs it.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing Automation uses technology, software and apps to do certain day-to-day tasks for your marketing management. It is usually triggered when a customer takes action, for example, by subscribing to your blog, filling out a form or making a purchase. Ever received an automatic order confirmation email after buying online or a welcome email after you sign up for a newsletter? That’s MA at work.
Why does my small business need marketing automation?
The most obvious benefit is improved productivity and efficiency. Since you and your team are freed up from doing certain repetitive tasks, you can focus on other aspects of your business that need attention. Automating tasks also means there’s less chance of human error.
What can I automate?
Marketing automation enables you to accurately automate almost all repetitive tasks such as:
- Email marketing
- Social media posting
- Ad campaigns (setup, implement and track)
- Content marketing
- Tracking and reporting
- Customer interaction management
But here’s the kicker that makes marketing automation a multi-billion pound industry today. If used correctly, it can scale your business through personalised lead nurturing. This one simple sentence can truly unlock a world of possibilities for you, so let’s dive deeper.
The relationship between lead nurturing, marketing automation and personalisation
A lead is a potential client who shows interest in your goods or services by taking some form of action such as signing up for your newsletter or submitting personal information for a trial or special offer. It’s important to note that communication is initiated by the lead because they believe you have something of value to offer that is tailored to their requirements. Once a lead has submitted their information, this is where marketing automation and lead nurturing come into play.
Lead nurturing involves guiding your potential clients along the buyer journey or marketing funnel until they make a purchase or subscribe to your services. To achieve this, it relies on MA to spark and hold their interest by building a meaningful and personalised connection. In other words, your communication efforts need to provide solutions to their unique problems or answers to their questions.
Marketing automation software allows you to do this efficiently by maintaining active contact with leads, engaging with them and creating ongoing communication to build trust. And the best part is, you can nurture your leads on a mass scale while still personalising each lead’s experience. In this way, it takes minimal effort for your leads to move down the marketing funnel once you add value in their lives.
Tying it all together with data
So how is this all possible? One word, data! With marketing automation, your business has access to behavioural data of every client who interacted with you on various channels and platforms. The more they interact with you, the more data you will have. However, It’s important to always be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (the GDPR). This gives consumers control of their own data and they can decide how it is collected and used. If you go against this, you will be penalised for data breaches and data privacy violations.
MA systems present this data in a manner that’s easy to understand, allowing you to extract valuable information to help you group or segment your clients according to specific traits. You can then create personalised messages for each group, which in turn, gives each client within the group a unique path to follow towards a purchase or service. The most appealing part of a data-rich segmented list is that once you set up an automated campaign, you can send personalised marketing messages each day on autopilot. But remember to keep it GDPR compliant.
Finding your ideal provider
So what should you look for when choosing marketing automation software for your business? Of course, every business manages tasks differently and has different marketing goals, that’s why you need a SaaS provider that works for your unique requirements. The best way to shortlist the providers is to have the following in order before you start researching:
Know what your business needs: It’s easy to get confused in the process, but the best way to overcome this is to have a clear idea on the MA features you need to achieve your marketing goals. This helps you avoid getting side-tracked by buzzwords or flashy features that services providers use to entice you.
Cheap isn’t efficient: Don’t choose the cheapest provider simply because they cost less. Instead, carefully monitor the time it takes to complete your marketing tasks and compare this to the time you can save automating. If you can save a large chunk of time thanks to certain automation tools, then investing in the service is a good option for you. In the end, efficiency will pay off even if it means spending a little extra.
Easy usage to adapt: If the system you choose is too complicated for your small business, chances are you may revert to your old ways of marketing. Always choose convenience over power as this makes it easier to adapt to marketing automation and adopt new ways of managing tasks.
Suss out the service providers: Once you start researching, you may notice that service providers offer similar features. To distinguish each one, don’t rely on reading the feature pages. Instead, sift through their social media and blog posts to identify the services or topics they focus on. This will reveal their priorities and what makes them different. In this way, you can see if they will be a good fit for your business or not.
Customer service reveals plenty: You want to partner with a provider that has good customer service. It shows they are reliable and puts their client needs first. You can do this by looking at their client reviews online, and sending over some questions to judge their responses and turn around time. A great place to start is a service provider’s Facebook group as this allows you to see how other people are using the software and any problems they might have experienced.
All the pieces need to fit: The MA solution you choose needs to play well with the other tools you use such as your content management system (CMS).This ensures a fluid experience and prevents choppy integration.
A few of our favourite automation tools
As mentioned, there are literally thousands of automation tools to choose from but we have selected a handful of our favourites that are also popular with our clients. We hope this will guide you in the right direction and make the process easier.
All in one – CRM Systems
- Go high level is a robust platform built for marketing agencies to customise to their client’s needs; it includes a whole range of different services all wrapped into one.
- ActiveCampaign gives you the email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM tools you need to create incredible customer experiences.
- With HubSpot, whether you want to increase leads, accelerate sales, simplify your processes, or build a powerful website, HubSpot has a solution to help you grow better. Plus, the HubSpot Academy is a great learning resource!
- Monday.com is an open platform where anyone can create the tools they need to run every aspect of their work. ONCREE has tried so many different project management software systems, but Monday.com works great for us!
- Trello utilises boards and cards, making them your portal to more organised work—where every single part of your task can be managed, tracked, and shared with teammates.
- ClickUp is a new project management tool that integrates all your work in one place and helps you organise your business projects and tasks in a way that suits you with an interface that is fully customisable.
Call and appointment booking
- Calendly is your go-to hub for scheduling meetings professionally and efficiently, eliminating the hassle of back-and-forth emails so you can get back to work.
- ScheduleOnce is a cloud-based scheduling solution that helps businesses of various sizes to schedule and manage online interactions with their customers and team.
- Mailchimp is an all-in-one space to bring your audience data, marketing channels, and insights together so you can reach your goals faster.It is a great platform for startups as it offers a free plan with access to basic email marketing.
- GetResponse is a powerful but simple tool for email marketing, where you can send emails, create pages, and automate your marketing.
- Mailgun is an email service provider that enables you to send and track your transactional and marketing messages with minimal effort.
- Stripe is a simple way to accept payments online. Stripe has no setup fees, no monthly fees, and no hidden costs.
How ONCRÉE can help
At ONCRÉE, we are a full-service agency that helps you with all your marketing goals, from lead generation to campaign and content management. But more than this, we also help you find the best tools to manage your data and make your daily interactions with prospects and clients more efficient. If you’re ready to see your small business grow, we’re ready to plant the seeds. Contact us today to find out more!
Hear what our clients are saying
Emma, Manager at The Business Centre:
“ONCREE has helped us grow our business through successful marketing campaigns that focus on lead generation. They’ve also guided us through the next steps by structuring effective follow-up processes using clever marketing automation tools.”