Marketing automation tools make your digital marketing easier

6 minutes read

I’ve previously written about content marketing and how important it is in helping small businesses connect with customers.

An associated concept is marketing automation. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, but it remains nebulous for many business owners. What part is automated and how does it work? Well, the answer may be confusing to say the least.

At its most basic, marketing automation refers to software tools performing marketing tasks that small businesses might otherwise do manually.

This includes communicating with customers and potential customers via email or social media, as well as measuring and tracking information.

Lighten your workload

You can lighten your workload using automated content management for social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some tools allow you to schedule posts messages ahead of time on all of your social media pages from a user-friendly dashboard.

Another example would be sending an automatic thank-you email when someone submits a request using the Contact Us form on your website. It’s easy and respectful.
While very simple, these examples show how marketing automation tools and strategies can save you time in managing communications and marketing campaigns.

Generate more sales leads

Streamlining tasks is what marketing automation is all about, but it doesn’t stop there. Generating (or nurturing) leads is also key.

There are many tools that allow you to communicate with prospective customers when they’re making purchasing decisions. They help you deliver the right content to the right people at the right time.

Consider, for example, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that would allow you to identify all your customers in Vancouver who have purchased more than $1,000 in the last year and who among them follow you on Facebook. You could use that information to target those customers with a Facebook ad offering them 10% off their next purchase.

Deliver segmented email content

Another example would be a segmentation tool that allows you to send your subscribers customized content based on what you know about their preferences.

So let’s say a clothing retailer lists his or her email recipients by gender. The retailer can send gender-specific content like deals on skirts and blouses to women and pants and shirts to men. Those individuals will only see the things that interest them, increasing the chances that they will make a purchase.

This type of tool can help businesses collect better data and streamline their marketing process.

How sophisticated should your company’s marketing automation software be? That depends on how serious your digital marketing efforts are and what kind of resources you can devote to automation.

Use the right tools

Do you have a lot of social media followers and/or channels to manage? Do you have to create and publish a lot of content each week? Do you have a lot of communication touch points with your customers? Are you collecting information from your customers on a regular basis?

The answers to these questions, and other similar ones, will help you determine what automation tools you need.

Automation tools can provide awesome benefits to your business, but you still need to keep an eye on them. Keep reviewing your communications, customer feedback and online data as to continually improve your marketing efforts.

Don’t just set it and forget it

For example, you have to be careful about the context in which you automatically publish content.

You absolutely do not want an automated tweet to go out while the Twittersphere is exploding over a major disaster or a horrific terrorist attack. Leaving your marketing on autopilot, with no oversight, is a bad idea.

Does your small business use marketing automation tools? If so, which ones? Are you seeing results? We would love your comments.