Do’s and Don’ts of marketing automation for your small business

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Small business marketing automation sounds intimidating for many business owners. You might ask yourself something like “If we automate our marketing, doesn’t that take away the personal touch between us and our customers?”

We definitely understand these concerns and want to reassure you that if done right, marketing automation services can help to increase the personal connection between your brand and your customers.

For those not experienced in the space, marketing automation involves leveraging software and tools to automate different components of your marketing strategy. Often these are time and labor-intensive tasks that can automate through technology. These tools can also help you better manage your digital campaigns across email, social media, your website, etc.

There are several factors to consider with marketing automation. This post details common do’s and don’ts to make your marketing automation strategy effective and successful.

For those pressed on time, watch our video summary below:

Don’t: Depend on marketing automation to generate leads

Marketing automation doesn’t just generate leads for you – that’s still your responsibility. The tool will not find new clients for you to reach out to online, send them automated emails, and close deals on your behalf.

To start with marketing automation services continue generating leads through your existing marketing strategy. You want to have a steady stream of preexisting leads as you begin the automation process.

You’ll be able to use marketing automation services to take advantage of your leads and steer them in the right direction. From there, you can enter them into whatever automation tool you’re working with and let it work its magic based on parameters you should have set beforehand.

Don’t think of marketing automation as a set-it-and-forget-it system. Yes, these tools can do a lot for you in the background, but you still need to be active and keep working on a marketing strategy that helps generate inbound/outbound leads.

Do: Use marketing automation to nurture your leads

While this technology doesn’t just bring new leads to your doorstep, it is ideal for nurturing leads and targeting your specific audience.

A good example of this in practice in motion is in email marketing campaigns. You can use automated software to ensure that you’re sending out personalized emails to different leads and customers at different times based on several factors.

You can configure these emails with auto-follow-up features that will automatically send another unique email if there’s been no reply after a week. They can also include calls-to-action that trigger a response and sends them to the next stage in the sales funnel.

This helps to create effective lines of communication between your business and its leads and customers. You make each lead feel individually important, which of course they all are.

But imagine how long it would take to reach out to 100 new leads. Without using an automation tool to track the open rate, you’re left manually guessing on who to follow up with and when – and keeping track of all that information is a whole other dilemma.

Marketing automation services take both the legwork and guesswork out of the process, allowing you to get out there and generate more new leads while the small business marketing automation system works its magic.

Don’t: Assume that marketing automation creates content for you

A common misconception about marketing automation services is that they actually generate the content for you. Unfortunately, this is not the case – you still need to have written content in place, it merely helps deliver it to your leads in a more efficient manner.

For example, say you’re running an email marketing campaign. You need to have a handful of pre-written emails ready to go so that after your initial email send, a specific email would go to those who opened it, and a separate email would go to those who didn’t.

Don’t overlook having a thorough content marketing strategy in place and only rely on automation tools to do the work for you. We also would not recommend going all in on a particular platform until you know how it can best complement the assets you already have and continue to progress them in the right direction.

Do: Ensure your sales and marketing teams work together

Marketing automation tools are excellent at aligning your sales and marketing teams.

In order for your business to be successful, your marketing team should generate plenty of leads that get nurtured through marketing automation. This results in your sales team receiving higher quality leads with a greater chance at conversion.

The above is an ideal scenario that is contingent on your sales and marketing teams working hand in hand with one another and providing input on the marketing automation process. These two departments should meet regularly to go over any issues or best practices. Open communication from both divisions is the best way to ensure small business marketing automation is effective.

For example, a common issue among sales teams is that they don’t receive enough targeted leads. As a result, the people they’re trying to sell to aren’t interested in the product or service. If your sales team is communicating this dilemma, they can work together to develop a strategy using marketing automation tools to nurture higher-value leads and send them down the sales funnel to your sales team.

Don’t: Forget to measure your efforts

One of the worst things your small business can do is invest in marketing automation services and just sit back to let them do all the work with no monitoring and maintenance. By taking this approach you’re not getting as much as you can out of these tools you’ve invested in.

Scheduling emails and social posts are great, as is auto responding to chats on your site, but data analysis is really where these tools help you stand out from your competitors. This is where you really learn about what your business is doing.

Some data to consider is the percentage of users interacting with the desired content, how many leads are clicking buttons, what they are doing on your site, and so on. It’s important to review these statistics so you can update and improve your marketing automation strategy.

When you test new ideas and tactics, look into their performance on your platform. Note red flags such as low open rates and tweak your approach as needed. While all this data is great to have, it’s important to be a critical thinker and analyze information strategically.

Do: Use stage-based marketing

Stage-based marketing refers to the journey a consumer takes when they buy something from a business. It’s split into various stages:

  • Awareness: This is where a buyer recognizes that they have a problem or issue. They might research into the problem to figure out what steps to take next.
  • Consideration: The consideration stage is when a buyer now knows of their problem and is attempting to solve it.
  • Decision: A buyer now knows of the solution they need, and they’re making a list of possible businesses who can provide it. All that’s left is to make the final decision and purchase what they need.

You can apply this stage-based buyer’s journey to any individual. For example, let’s say someone is looking to buy a new pair of running shoes.

They arrive at the awareness stage when they notice that their feet hurt. In the consideration stage, they realize they need a better pair of shoes to relieve the pain. The decision comes when they research different brands and find the perfect pair at a price they can afford.

The marketing automation stage-based model that targets customers at all three stages in the cycle. You create content tailored to fit each step of the buyer’s journey, and the automation tool will start it for you.

Don’t: Invest in marketing automation tools unless you plan to use them

It’s pointless to spend money on one unless you plan on fully embracing it. These programs can be costly and eat into a decent portion of your marketing budget. If you’re not properly using the features of this software to generate a significant increase in profits, then it will end up hurting your business more than it helps.

We’re don’t want to scare you away from marketing automation, but be careful before you invest. Also, don’t assume that the most expensive software is the best. We suggest experimenting with different platforms (many will allow a free trial) and see which workflow best lines up with your business goals.

Do: Set clear and realistic goals

As always, be sure to set clear and realistic goals. This will give you something to achieve and use your new marketing automation tool to do so.

Make sure you can measure the goals with the help of marketing automation, such as improving the quality of your leads, boosting conversion rates and increasing profits. As you achieve certain goals or realize ones you came up with are out of reach, be sure to alter your approach as needed.

Conclusion: Don’t depend on marketing automation to do everything for you.

Small business marketing automation is not a set-it-and-forget-it system! You should never depend on this software automate everything for you while you kick back and relax or divert all of your attention elsewhere.

Marketing tools can benefit small businesses and enhance your overall marketing campaign, but it still requires a human element, which is your marketing and sales teams.

Think of it as an addition to your entire digital strategy, and ensure that it’s configured to your businesses standards and used appropriately. More often than not, this means to nurture and improve the quality of leads.

Still not sure if your small business should use marketing automation services? Speak with one of our consultants today to weigh your options and see how marketing automation can be beneficial.