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If you’ve been involved in the internet marketing sphere for some time, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term marketing automation. But if you’re like 90% of the other DIY marketers out there, you’re either not using it to its full advantage or you’re not using it at all.

In this post we’re going to first describe what automation is, what key benefits are derived from it for both you and your customer, and some options to get up and going.

So What Is Marketing Automation?

As an online marketer, you are always striving to nurture your leads so they move closer to converting into paying customers. Conversions and sales are what drive businesses and keeps them afloat.

When first starting out, businesses are often founded on 1:1 relationships with clients. Perhaps a prospect called your phone number after seeing your website or signed up for your email newsletter. In the beginning your business doesn’t have thousands of potential customers so 1:1 relationships can and should be built.

But what happens after your business starts growing? Eventually your marketing gets too big to manage manually. Some of the tasks need to be automated.

Marketing automation uses software to streamline and manage individual touch points with customers in the most responsive method possible without your constant direct input.

How Automation Benefits You and Your Business

As your business starts to grow beyond your daily capabilities, manual 1:1 client interaction is not a scalable solution. You need to be able to utilize technology to quickly and efficiently move prospects into more specific lists based on their actions and desires.

By using automation software, you can group leads by context and interest levels and categorize them into the most optimal workflows.

Besides offering very specific targeting, automation is also very goal oriented. When a lead enters a workflow, they proceed along it until they reach a certain point where the campaign stops. At this point, they can be moved to another campaign or be sent to the sales team.

Automation gives small businesses and other growing operations a chance to level the playing field. It allows you to setup funnels that interact with customers in a customized way that greatly enhance your company’s growth potential.

Why Marketing Automation Helps Your Customers

Nothing is more annoying than receiving emails and other marketing materials that have no relevancy to your life. With automation software and technology, you are able to recognize your prospects behaviors and categorize them into more specific groups that target their wants and needs.

  • By using data, such as targeting which links a prospect clicks on in an email, you can immediately move them to a more targeted list that sends them specific content tailored to them because you now understand more of what interests them.
  • Prospects and customers will appreciate that you send them content-specific marketing that appeals to their needs rather than a blanket e-blast that everyone on the list gets.

Automation Solutions. Which One Is Best for My Company?

Each automation platform is designed to service a particular type of business. With many options available to you, it’s important to try them out. Fortunately, many offer a free trial so you can experience their service before committing to it. Also we recommend having a sales representative give you a walkthrough of what their platform can do for you. Often through these sales calls you can learn a great deal about your needs and how they match up to the capabilities of each platform.

When deciding which solution is perfect for you, consider these two questions:

#1 Does the service offer the targeting features I need?

#2 Does it have the analytics capabilities to enhance my campaigns and improve processes?

With so many excellent solutions out there, it’s difficult to recommend one over another. They each have strengths and weaknesses and when it comes to automation, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

When shopping around and keeping your business needs and goals in mind, you’ll also want to consider such things as:

  • CRM integration
  • Customization
  • Data export/import features
  • Email Designing features
  • Social integration
  • Tracking metrics & statistics

While it’s important to do your own research and make sure the automation solution works with your unique business needs here are a few suggestions to get you started depending on the size of your business.

Some Suggestions for You

The following two companies offer affordable options for companies with smaller marketing budgets.

  • Act-On: Great for small businesses without a dedicated IT staff who need a cloud-based solution with flexible pricing.
  • Leadsius: With a $0 entry point, this Swedish company is geared toward small enterprises offering their strong website visitor tracking and analytics solutions.

With enhanced features and larger capabilities, these following solutions are great for growing companies and larger businesses.

  • MailChimp: With more than 7 million users, MailChimp offers detailed reports that help you improve your automation every day. MailChimp offers pricing plans and features that enable your business to grow, everything from free plans to a highly scalable pricing option. They have some of the best email design tools around.
  • HubSpot: With the power to substantially grow your sales pipeline, HubSpot offers a perfect solution for medium-sized businesses that seamlessly integrates your full marketing toolkit. They are the kings of automation and truly integrating all corners of your online marketing into one central hub. Their tool set is best for those looking to start with inbound marketing. We are a bit biased here as we are Hubspot Certified and a HubSpot Agency Partner. However, the system works and is well worth every penny! They also have an awesome sales team that can help walk you through the benefits of their platform as well as help you identify problems and opportunities within your current marketing setup.

These four automation software companies are only the tip of the iceberg. Please do your own research and discover which solution fits best for your business needs. If you would like to learn more about Inbound Marketing and Automation we would be happy to set up a free one-hour assessment call with you and your team to cover what is currently working for you, against you, and perhaps take a look at some of your competitors and what they are doing as well. Let’s talk and help you build a better online business.

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci is a Small Business Consultant and Strategic Branding Specialist. He calls Monterey, CA home and is a life-long musician who spends his free time writing, composing, and producing music. He has also co-authored two books, and is working on his own upcoming book titled, “Small Business Pricing Mastery – Creating effective pricing and defining value for today’s products and services.”

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