marketing automation

Marketing automation isn’t a thing of the future—it’s very much a part of the here and now for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) across the world. However, there are a variety of marketing automation tools that many are unaware of and have the ability to help SMBs reach customers in a timely and effective way. In order for SMBs to compete with larger firms when it comes to customer reach, they need to approach their marketing plan with a strategic mindset.

Marketing automation not only provides important opportunities for interaction with the customer, but it can also save time. It’s no secret that time is a valuable resource, and that’s especially true when running a small business. Time saved on marketing means being able to capture new business and have more time to commit to other vital tasks. Here are just a few of the many benefits marketing automation provides:

If you’re interested in taking advantage of these tools , but don’t know where to start, here are four marketing automation solutions that every SMB should have in 2020.

1. One-stop social media shop

A social media management tool can be indispensable to small businesses trying to make the most out of their online presence. Having effective and timely social content is imperative in 2020 as 77 percent of consumers said they are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media and 67 percent said they are more likely to increase spend with a brand they follow on social media. Securing a tool that will help them manage this important customer connection is an essential way to streamline your social media management. This type of tool prevents you from having to post at an exact time across multiple platforms, and instead lets you  schedule content in advance. That means businesses can plan their social media a week or month out, and not worry about interrupting their weekends, holidays and busy work days to post on socials. These programs can also provide SMBs the opportunity to create an organized posting strategy, analyze performance and respond to customers across multiple platforms from one easy-to-use interface.

2. CRM with email marketing

Capturing important customer information in one localized place can help you deliver an excellent customer experience and boost sales revenue. The right customer relationship management (CRM) software that is designed for SMBs will help you track all customer interactions and purchases. Some even offer predictive analytics technology that can help determine potential next steps and drive transactions.

You’ll also want a CRM that integrates email marketing automation, which will enhance the customer experience and increase the success rate of your email and follow up campaigns. Email is a fantastic way to reach customers because they require the reader to opt-in and allows for several layers of personalization. On average, marketers see a return of $32 for every $1 spent on email marketing, so having a CRM that facilitates this type of communication is imperative.

3. Would you like to take a survey?

Customer feedback is a vital way in which companies can improve. And small businesses can often achieve significant growth simply by soliciting (and heeding) the feedback of their customers. The challenge is that in-depth market research can be costly.

Enter the online survey! This tool will allow SMBs to gain valuable insights from customers without having to invest in lengthy market research programs. An online survey is convenient for the consumer and allows the data to be tracked and analyzed for insights. Do your customers like your most recent product upgrade? Is the packaging holding up during shipping? Do they feel the product was accurately represented online? How was their experience with your customer service associate? All of these questions and more can be answered through a short online survey. Small businesses can even create different surveys for different customer interactions, allowing for customized feedback to propel growth.

4. Let’s chat

Chat is another marketing automation tool that can strengthen the customer journey. Through the power of artificial intelligence (AI), a chatbot gives a personalized experience and can field a variety of frequently asked customer questions directly from your website. Chatbots can also gather customer data for future marketing efforts as well as help businesses reach their sales goals. A chatbot gives customers an instant response to their requests and has the ability to send links to purchase or transfer the customer to a live associate if needed.

The year of automation

2020 is here and it’s time to embrace the new decade with the tools that will set your business up for sustained success in the new decade. Small businesses that invest in, and take advantage of, these four marketing automation solutions will be more likely to see the sales results and ROI they want this year. Marketing automation offers a variety of benefits, including time savings, the ability to drive more meaningful customer interactions that lead to transactions and the opportunity to gain customer feedback and track behavior. These four automated tools will be part of any SMBs path to success in 2020 and beyond.

Chad Ruff serves as chief technology officer at Swiftpage, the provider of leading cloud-enabled CRM and marketing automation platform Act! (www.act.com). Chad is a graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in electrical engineering and a minor in computer engineering. Chad also has an MBA with a minor in Marketing from Georgia State University.

Marketing automation stock photo by Chinnapong/Shutterstock