Marketing is essential for all companies, but especially so for small businesses to compete with larger, household brands in today’s dynamic landscape. And marketing includes various online channels like email marketing, inbound marketing, and social media marketing, to reach those valuable potential customers.
That said, how do small businesses do it since tracking and optimizing campaigns across multiple channels is cumbersome? But not doing so can prevent you from achieving your end goals of increased revenue and resilient customer relationships.
That’s where marketing automation tools come into play. They do all the grunt work while you brainstorm ways to improve the performance of your marketing campaigns and strategy.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the key uses of marketing automation platforms and how they can improve your customer experience and grow your business. Let’s get started.
The purpose of marketing automation tools
Marketing automation software is an umbrella term for various tools that help automate routine marketing tasks. For instance, you can use an email marketing platform to send follow-up or drip campaigns to qualified leads automatically. Marketing automation also includes automated lead capture, scoring, a/b testing and is often optimized with customer relationship management (CRM) integration for holistic customer data tracking and lead management.
The primary goal of a marketing automation solution is to automate and streamline workflows and help you manage cross-channel campaigns. It eliminates the need to worry about routine, repetitive tasks like sending emails or SMS messages. This comes in handy as most small business owners have a lot on their plates and most do not have marketing teams. In fact, according to a recent survey of more than 1100 small business owners, conducted by Act!, 69% of small business owners handle all of their sales and marketing functions themselves, and that’s in addition to all of their other responsibilities! So it’s easy to see how valuable marketing automation can be as it frees up valuable time and improves the overall sales and marketing productivity of today’s small and midsize businesses.
Marketing automation platforms also help businesses improve their customer journey by delivering personalized, automated communications to prospects and customers and tracking their engagement, thereby increasing their loyalty. Data from marketing automation software enables business owners to better understand their potential customers and guide them through the sales funnel to drive conversions.
How to use marketing automation platforms
According to a recent report, marketing automation yields an average of $5.44 for every dollar spent for the first three years after implementation. That’s a staggering ROI of more than 500 percent for this marketing tool. And the payback period? Less than six months. That makes marketing automation an essential component of marketing strategies for today’s small businesses working to leverage multi-channel marketing.
But here’s the caveat — to reap these types of marketing automation benefits, you’ll need to know how to leverage and use marketing automation. Fortunately, most marketing automation platforms are highly intuitive and come with many digital resources to get you up and running in no time.
But, to help jumpstart your success, here are the four key marketing automation features that will pay off most when used properly.
Efficient lead capture
Most marketing automation tools, including Act!, enable you to create high-converting landing pages and web forms for lead generation. You can add these landing pages and forms to specific sections of your website without any technical expertise, so you won’t have to pay hefty fees to web designers for it.
Let’s say you’ve created a valuable e-book addressing your target customer’s pain points and questions. You can build a landing page to showcase the e-book as a lead magnet and encourage website visitors to download it in exchange for their contact details.
And, if you have a company blog, you can create a contact form that pops up near the end of an article and use it to prompt readers to sign up for your newsletter.
The best marketing automation software providers support integration with leading CRM platforms. That means new leads are automatically added to your CRM. CRM integration also lets you capture and easily monitor additional data, such as the lead’s source, location, and purchase history, which comes in handy when creating buyer personas for different audience segments.
Hassle-free lead scoring
Flooding your sales funnel with hundreds of leads doesn’t guarantee sales. Instead, you must identify the qualified leads who have the highest chances of converting. But manually scoring and qualifying leads is time-consuming, error-prone, and inefficient.
Marketing automation software can do the heavy lifting for you. These tools monitor how a lead engages with your email campaigns, website, and other marketing assets and uses these predictive insights to assign a score to each lead.
Let’s say a lead opens all your emails, downloads an e-book from your website, and visits your pricing page. Marketing automation tools can track all these activities and qualify that lead as active.
This helps you identify leads that are worth pursuing so you can maximize conversions and attain new customers. It also prevents you from investing time and resources to chase leads who aren’t interested in your services. And, it helps you save on time and budget that you’d have otherwise spent on hiring a sales representative for the same tasks.
Personalized lead nurturing
What do you do after a website visitor subscribes to your newsletter? You’ll likely lose their attention if you wait for them to receive your weekly email blast.
Instead, it’s wiser to nurture leads by immediately sending them a welcome email thanking them for signing up. You can even include links to relevant resources to nudge them forward in the buyer’s journey.
Of course, manually sending such emails to every subscriber is impractical. The good news is that marketing automation software can do that on your behalf. Simply use one of its professionally designed email templates to easily create beautiful transactional emails, newsletters, announcements, or promotions and set up the automation triggers. Every time a new contact signs up for your newsletter, it’ll automatically trigger a welcome email.
Marketing automation even lets you set up automated workflows to send personalized follow-up emails based on a user’s activity. Let’s say a lead opens an email, downloads a product comparison guide, and visits your website’s contact page. You can set up an autoresponder asking them to schedule a call with your sales team.
Alternatively, when a lead browses a specific product or service on your website or submits a customer support inquiry, you can send relevant educational resources to them. On the other hand, if a lead abandons their cart, you can entice them with free trials and discounts.
That level of personalization is only possible through marketing automation tools. They help you tailor every detail of a lead’s journey through your sales funnel and then you simply put it on autopilot. The personalized, well-timed communications improve their loyalty, engagement, and ultimately conversion rate.
Tracking and analytics
The best marketing automation tools provide you with detailed insights into your marketing campaigns which help you optimize your campaigns for better results. Act!, for instance, lets you monitor real-time metrics to identify top-performing campaigns and channels.
This way, you can monitor how leads respond to different communication channels, such as email, SMS, and push notifications. You can also conduct a/b testing by tracking different variations of email copy, subject lines, calls to action (CTAs), and more, and identifying which ones drive the most conversions.
Embrace marketing automation with Act!
Marketing automation tools are instrumental in boosting the ROI of your marketing campaigns. They’re useful at every stage of the sales funnel, from lead generation and scoring to nurturing. You can use them to build long-standing customer relationships.
If you’re looking for a feature-packed marketing automation platform to drive sales and revenue, Act! is an excellent choice. Its fully integrated CRM and marketing automation platform allows you to intuitively build outflows without navigating outside Act!. This also means that the data you receive from your marketing automation flows are easily accessed, making for a simple and efficient user experience.
Act! Marketing Automation, or AMA, comes packed with some major tools including a comprehensive campaign builder, landing page builder, website tracking, and an asset tracker. Let’s start with the campaign builder, the most utilized tool, and your main source of lead outreach and maintenance.
Easily build an email campaign in Act!
Whether you are a template design wizard and have the ability and time to create your own perfectly curated templates, or you would rather use a pre-built template designed by marketing professionals, AMA has you covered. The drag-and-drop template designer is simple to use with a breadth of editing options that will allow you to fine-tune your design and send it out to your leads in a surprisingly short window. Once your template is ready to go, you can add it to a campaign, and send it out to your leads with only a few clicks.
AMA’s campaign builder also boasts a full drip build-out ability that allows you to send additional emails based on a lead’s response to your initial email. Say you want to send a follow-up email to any lead who clicked the link to your product page, and provide them with more information about that product. Or, you may want to set up a series of recurring weekly emails that go out automatically, without the need to manually send a new email each week.
Each campaign also comes with an intuitive dashboard to view who has received your email, who has opened it, which links within the email were clicked, and even the ability to export the data to a downloadable Excel spreadsheet. AMA’s automated campaign builder will save you an immense amount of time, freeing you up to focus on other tasks.
Capture leads with a custom landing page
Before you can begin selling, you need leads. Act! Marketing Automation features an asset tool and landing page builder and both have the ability to capture new leads and automatically add them to your CRM with other helpful information like email address, location, source, product interests, etc. This detailed view of your leads will allow you to create tailored campaigns for your leads and group or segment them based on specific criteria within your CRM.
The landing page builder creates comprehensive forms that allow you to gather as much detailed information about your leads as needed. You can also create follow-up actions once a form is completed, like adding the leads to a specific group in your CRM or automatically sending them a follow-up email that could be part of a welcome packet or include more information about specific product lines and pricing. Easily track who has completed the form, how they answered each question, and even export the data for later use.
Alternatively, you can entice new leads into your CRM database by offering snippets of important assets like whitepapers or product videos. Set a page number-based or time-based pop-up asking for a lead’s information to be able to continue viewing the asset they are interested in. This opens the door to an avenue for quick and easy lead acquisition while also giving leads quality and helpful information that relates to your business and builds your credibility.
Improve SEO and audience engagement with website tracking
Insights into your website visits can show you what your leads are most interested in. AMA’s website tracking tool gives you visibility into your site’s most visited web pages, how much time on average is spent on each web page, traffic sources and attribution, and much more. If a lead is cookied, you can also gain insight into any web pages they visit, and this data will be visible in Act! in their detailed lead profile.
In addition to web page visits, all other AMA activity is also available in the lead profile, including details like which emails they have opened, email links they have clicked on, landing pages they have completed, and web pages visited. Having all of this data in one location lets you view a lead’s entire journey -even from the time they first showed interest in your business.
Simplify lead scoring
In addition to providing a single place to view and monitor your leads’ actions, Act! Marketing Automation summarizes all of the activity in a number value called a lead score. Act’s lead scoring module gives you full control to select the activities you want to include and how much weight you want to assign to each. This tool empowers you to score very specific actions including anyone who clicks a particular link within a given email in one of your campaigns. So, whether your scores are based on more broad actions, like a general email open, or very specific, drilled-down actions, your ability to control the selection of the actions and how they are scored means you’ll see scores tailored specifically to your business and workflows.
Gain a holistic view of your leads
Like all AMA digital marketing data, your leads’ scores will also be viewable in Act!. This means that while viewing your leads’ profiles, you will see a holistic view of all related activity for that lead including their marketing-specific metrics like their lead score. Additionally, Act! features a “Scored Leads” dashboard on your home page that you’ll see as soon as you log in, allowing you to view all of the leads that have earned a score, with your highest-scored leads prioritized at the top of the list. This powerful dashboard lets you easily identify your most valuable leads and get to work on reaching out to those who are most engaged with your business and marketing efforts.
Are you ready to see marketing automation in action? Try Act!, an all-in-one marketing automation and CRM solution for free, and see how easy it is to get started with marketing automation. Start your 14-day free trial today.