Editor’s note: This article is a re-run as part of our countdown of top stories from the past year.
Marketing automation isn’t a thing of the future—it’s very much a part of the here and now for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) worldwide.
However, many pros are unaware of an array of marketing automation tools that can help SMBs reach customers in a timely, effective way. For SMBs to compete with larger firms when it comes to customer reach, they must approach their marketing plan with a strategic mindset.
Marketing automation provides important opportunities for interaction with customers, but it can also save time. Time is valuable, especially true if you’re running a small business. Time saved on marketing means being able to capture new business and having more hours to commit to other vital tasks. Here are just a few benefits:
- Marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity.
- It can help guide sales and marketing teams to work together for a common goal.
- It boosts ROI as many automation tools do the work of a large marketing staff.
- Automation can compile a complete view of customer behavior.
- Three-quarters (77%) of users see an increase in conversions.
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.
- Social media updates
A social media management tool can be indispensable to small-business owners trying to make the most of their online presence. Having timely online content is imperative in 2020, given that 77% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media and 67% say they are more likely to increase spending with a brand they follow on social media.
Securing a tool to handle this important customer connection is an essential way to streamline your social media management. It spares 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 social media posts a week or month out and not worry about interrupting their weekends, holidays and busy workdays to post. 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.
- CRM with email marketing
Capturing important customer information in one 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.
- Online surveys
Customer feedback is a vital way in which companies can improve. 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 those questions and more can be answered through a short online survey. Small-business owners can even create different surveys for different customer interactions, allowing for customized feedback to propel growth.
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 helping businesses reach their sales goals. A chatbot gives customers an instant response to their requests and can send links to purchase or transfer the customer to a live associate if needed.
Chad Ruff is chief technology officer at Swiftpage.