Best Marketing Automation Tools For Small Business

Technology is available today to assist businesses in every industry to bring all or part of their operations to the cloud. Now is the time to bring your marketing to the cloud.

“Global enterprises have been investing in automation for decades,” says marketing expert Clare Price. “That investment really showed its value during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Because of automation employees were able to quickly transition to remote work during the early lockdowns.”

Price is CEO of Octain Growth Systems, a global strategic planning consulting firm that works with companies to improve profitability, productivity and operating efficiency. She notes that large companies were better positioned for the hybrid work environment that includes both at-the-office and remote workers because they had the automated tools in place.

According to Price, small enterprises and solopreneurs weren’t so lucky. They had to scramble to recover momentum when the lockdowns occurred. The result? “Small business owners now have more appreciation for the power of automation to drive operating efficiencies in their organizations,” says Price.

Technology is available today to assist business owners and marketers in every industry to bring all or part of their operations to the cloud. Price recommends you automate the following five marketing functions:

Appointment Booking. “Bringing your appointment scheduling online frees you from the mundane. It gives customers flexibility and protects your time when you need it. These are worth a look. Calendaring software like Calendly and Calendarwiz are great options for booking individual client appointments. For a more robust appointment-setting solution, virtual administrative support for class scheduling and training, try TimeTap. TimeTap includes features for multiple locations, class scheduling, customized booking forms and automatic payments. Simplybook.me is an online booking system for professional services companies that offers online booking, notifications, payments and marketing incentives like coupons, gift cards, memberships and product sales. In addition, SimplyBook.me offers listing in their professional services directory.”

Proposal Software. “If your company submits proposals for jobs manually, especially in professional services, I strongly recommend investing in proposal software. Not only does proposal software drastically cut the nonbillable time you spend developing your proposal, it monitors the prospects’ response by tracking when, what and how they view what you sent them. Imagine knowing when your prospect read your proposal instead of wondering and sending blind follow ups. Now imagine knowing what pages caught their attention. Was it benefits? Features? Pricing? Knowing this better equips you to send a follow-up designed to appropriately respond to their specific interests. That’s exactly what proposal software like PandaDoc, Proposify and BidSketch can do for you. Most offer a limited free version or trial.

Email Marketing Systems. “If your primary marketing efforts are built around email marketing, you can find many effective and inexpensive solutions on the market today. Marketing automation software automates many baseline marketing functions that enable your team to excel at demand and lead generation. Options run from email marketing systems to sophisticated demand and lead generation and prospecting platforms. Marketing Automation is a critical success component of digital and social media marketing. My top six choices for marketing automation are: ActiveCampaign, Autopilot, Keap (formerly Infusionsoft), Hubspot, SharpSpring and Ontraport.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM). “A robust CRM tool is one cloud sales enablement tool no business should be without. CRM software solutions are all about building customer relationships. They enable your sales team to connect with prospects and track their activity with your business from first connect to close of sale. CRM systems include contact management, lead management, opportunity management, sales forecasting. Some integrate with marketing automation systems—theirs and others. My top five picks for CRM are: Salesforce Sales Cloud, Nutshell, Copper, Pipedrive and Zoho CRM.”

Customer Service. “To make remote work, you need to keep clients happy by delivering a seamless customer experience (CX) to every client. They expect support through a range of channels and devices as quickly as possible. Clients now demand an Amazon-like experience from every supplier. Phone and email support alone just don’t cut it anymore given today’s challenging times. Any small business owner can radically change their customer service experience with two online CX investments. Another technology to invest in for customer service is live chat. Live chat changes your website from a static information site to a live customer resource center. It allows you to reduce response times from hours to seconds. Most importantly, it helps you increase sales. The American Marketing Association found that B2B companies who used live chat saw, on average, a 20% increase in conversions. The three live chat software solutions I’d recommend checking out are: Live Chat, ZenDesk and Olark.”

Bottom line: Put simply, automation has top-line and bottom-line benefits that drive profits, productivity and efficiencies for your team, no matter how small.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/henrydevries/2022/02/08/best-marketing-automation-tools-for-small-business/

Erlando F Rasatro

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