In the ever-evolving realm of marketing, automation is the cornerstone of efficiency, accuracy, and achievement. For small and medium-sized businesses, automation can unlock possibilities previously deemed exclusive to their larger counterparts. It's the trump card, the magic ingredient, the game-changer. But how can you harness marketing automation to its maximum potential? This guide delves into 10 Top Marketing Automation Techniques for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses to set you on the path to success.
Understanding Marketing Automation: What and Why?
The Fundamentals of Marketing Automation
Marketing Automation is the technological sorcery that automates repetitive marketing tasks, thereby streamlining your marketing endeavours and increasing efficiency. Whether you're initiating email marketing campaigns, social media posts, or customer segmentation, automation tools can manage these tasks with ease and consistency.
The aim of automation is not to replace human marketers. Rather, it's to liberate them from the redundancy of everyday tasks so they can concentrate on strategy, creativity, and growth. Isn't it about time you received more value for your marketing investment?
The Advantages of Automation for SMEs
If you're still unsure whether automation is for you, consider this: it's akin to having a crew of marketing superheroes at your beck and call 24/7. For SMEs, this translates into less time spent on tasks and more time strategising for growth.
Automation can also provide you with invaluable data. Who are your customers? What are their interests? How can you target them most effectively? With automation, these questions no longer need to be a shot in the dark.
10 Top Marketing Automation Techniques for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
1. Multichannel Marketing Automation
You wished your marketing could meet wherever your customers are, correct? Implementing multichannel marketing automation enables you to synchronise your marketing efforts across several channels – email, social media, SMS, etc. – to create a unified customer experience.
Remember, it's not merely about being omnipresent; it's about creating a consistent, captivating presence.
Consider Netflix, for instance. You'll observe how they maintain a consistent tone and style across their emails, app notifications, and social media channels. This cohesive marketing approach assists in creating a seamless customer experience, regardless of where you interact with the brand.
2. Employ Chatbots for Enhanced Customer Engagement
In this digital era, customers anticipate immediate responses. Chatbots can offer timely, automated replies to customer queries, saving time whilst boosting customer engagement. A well-deployed chatbot can make your customers feel acknowledged and catered to 24/7.
Domino's Pizza uses a chatbot named "Dom" on its website and app, allowing customers to place orders via simple dialogues. This enhances customer engagement but also makes the ordering process enjoyable and interactive.
3. Monitor and Adapt to Behaviour-based Triggers
Behaviour-based triggers are a formidable tool for personalisation. By tracking customer behaviours like page visits, form submissions, and email opens, you can trigger targeted communication to engage your customers further. Consider it as a personal nudge at the perfect moment.
Amazon is a prime example. If you've browsed for a product but didn't finalise a purchase, you'll likely receive an email reminding you about the product, sometimes even with a discount offer. Haven't we all seen those emails go back to their website? It's a great way to re-engage customers based on their behaviour.
4. Implement A Lead Scoring System
Not all leads are created equal. Lead scoring involves assigning values to each of your leads based on their actions and engagement with your brand. It'll help you identify which ones are most likely to convert, allowing you to target your efforts where they'll have the most impact.
Let me illustrate with an instance of a Lead Score system we developed and implemented for a client. When a person requests to download a piece of content you need to opt-in for, it doesn't necessarily mean they're ready to buy your offering.
That's where the Lead Score system comes in handy; you can automatically identify whether a person's level of interest is significant enough to classify them as a potential business opportunity based on their actions taken independently.
5. Optimise for Mobile
With the majority of emails now opened on mobile devices, mobile optimisation is a must. Ensure your emails, landing pages, and forms are mobile-friendly to avoid annoying customers and missing potential conversions. It's that crucial.
Have you ever opened an email from Apple on your mobile? You'll notice how it perfectly fits your screen, with clear text and easy-to-tap buttons. It is one of the most pleasing examples of mobile optimisation in action
6. Utilise A/B Testing
Unsure which email subject line will generate more opens? Or which CTA will get more clicks? Employ A/B testing to remove the guesswork from your marketing. By testing different variables, you can perpetually refine your efforts.
BuzzFeed famously employs A/B testing for their headlines. They often test multiple headlines for a single article and use the one that performs best. It's part of why their content tends to have such high engagement rates.
7. Nurture Your Leads
Lead nurturing involves fostering relationships with potential customers throughout the buying process. By providing valuable content and engaging communication, you can keep your brand top-of-mind and gently guide leads towards conversion. Regardless of where they're coming from, there's one tool that will help you bring it all together.
Zapier is an automation tool that seamlessly connects various apps and services to automate tasks and workflows. Here's an example of bringing leads from a Meta campaign to our email marketing tool ActiveCampaign, where they'll be nurtured with a dedicated email marketing journey.
8. Use Data Analytics for Insights
Data is your ally. By analysing your marketing data, you can glean insights into what's working and what's not, enabling you to make informed decisions and continuously enhance your strategy.
Spotify uses data analytics to recommend songs and create year-end "Wrapped" playlists for each user, highlighting their most played songs and artists. It shows how data can be used to personalise marketing and engage customers. And we've all seen those visuals throughout social media at the end of each year.
9. Harness the Power of AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can substantially augment your marketing automation efforts, from predicting customer behaviour to personalising communication. It's time to embrace the future of marketing!
Google Ads employs AI to optimise ad performance. It analyses various factors like keywords, bidding, and timing to maximise click-through rates and conversions. It's a prime example of AI enhancing marketing efforts.
10. Don’t Neglect the Human Touch
Whilst automation can manage much of your marketing, it's critical not to lose the human element. Use automation to take care of repetitive tasks, but ensure that human creativity and personal touch continue to shine through.
Despite being an automation tool, MailChimp shines in customer service with its personal touch. Whether it's their friendly email communications or supportive customer service, MailChimp proves that the human touch is crucial even in automation.
Marketing Automation in Practice: An In-depth Examination
Marketing automation, whilst a commonly used term, can often appear abstract or daunting. Let us show what it means in practice, how it can be implemented, and what benefits you and your team can gain from it. We suggest you take the time to complete these crucial elements. Our Marketing Automation Guide will help you create your own strategy in 4 steps before getting into the knocks and crannies of the actual setups.
- Strategic Decisions:
- Define Your Goals: Prior to embarking on marketing automation, identify your business goals. Are you aiming for lead generation, customer retention, increased engagement, or something else? This will guide your entire automation strategy, e.g. only sending newsletters or creating personalised automated email journeys to move your prospects through the funnel.
- Identify Tasks to Automate: Not all tasks are ideal for automation. Identify repetitive, time-consuming tasks that don't require a human touch. 1. Here are some examples of what you can automate:
- Communications: Emails, Notifications
- Lead Management: Lead scoring, Assigning leads to sales reps etc
- Data: Report processing, creation, segmentation etc
- Select the Right Tools: Based on your goals, choose an automation tool that suits your needs. There's a broad array of tools out there, from email marketing platforms that all meet particular needs:
- More resources and examples in our guide: Create your own marketing automation strategy in 4 steps.
- Automation in action:
- Segment Your Audience: You can segment your audience based on various parameters like age, location, behaviour, and more. Segmenting your contact database is crucial as it's an essential part of the successes and failures of your marketing projects.
- Set Up Tagging Infrastructure: What do you want to track precisely? Here are some examples, but there will be endless tagging possibilities since you will define them. What we recommend is first defining a wording structure that you can categorise as shown below so they're understandable by everyone you work with today and in the future.
- Set Up Triggers: Triggers are actions that initiate an automated response. Here's one instance where your tags will come in handy. For instance, a user signing up for a newsletter (trigger) can automatically send a welcome email (response). When that person signs up, a tag can be automatically added so you know the content they've signed up for.
- Create Your Content: What do you want to tell those different segments? Is an onboarding email sequence relevant to your product? Whether you're automating an inbound or outbound strategy, identify the key messages relevant to each essential event in your customers' journey.
- Ongoing missions:
- Monitor and Optimise: Keep an eye on your campaign performance with analytics. It can help you identify what's working and what's not, allowing you to optimise your strategy accordingly.
- A/B Testing: Always test your campaigns. It could be testing two different email subject lines or two different landing page designs. Use the results to improve future campaigns.
- Review and Refine: Automation isn't a set-it-and-forget-it process. Regularly review your results, gain insights, and refine your strategy to keep up with changing customer behaviour and market trends.
Remember that marketing automation aims not to replace human marketers but to make their roles more manageable, strategic, and data-driven.
To encapsulate it all, marketing automation is an incredibly powerful tool for small and medium-sized businesses. Streamlining routine tasks frees up valuable time for you and your teams to concentrate on strategic planning and creative work. It allows for a level of personalisation and engagement that would be nearly impossible to achieve manually. From email campaigns to social media posts, lead management to customer segmentation, marketing automation covers a broad spectrum of marketing activities.
Moreover, marketing automation provides rich data and analytics to make informed decisions and continuously optimise marketing efforts. It assists in creating a seamless, integrated marketing approach that maintains a consistent brand voice across multiple channels.
As we step further into the digital age, marketing automation will continue to evolve, providing businesses with exciting new ways to connect with their customers. The future of marketing is automated, and the companies that adapt will gain a remarkable advantage.