Uncontrollable growth in available marketing channels creates an ugly truth for most small businesses: marketing teams have more opportunities than they have time in the day.

One obvious implication is that small business marketers must prioritize their time spent on the most productive channels (duh). The less obvious implication is that small business marketers need to manufacture more time. How can you do that? Marketing automation.

Let’s be clear though: Marketing automation is not autopilot for a small business’s marketing strategy. Marketing automation amplifies existing efforts, leaving you with more time to focus on current processes and new opportunities.

The basic strategies listed below are designed to give you an idea about how marketing automation can help your team manufacture time. Your ultimate automation strategy will undoubtedly differ based on bottom-line impact and internal processes.

If you’re struggling to put your automation software to good use, we strongly suggest contacting experts (like us). Marketing automation strategy is never simple and experience is crucial.

Small Business Automation Strategy #1: Improve Lead Management

Smarter lead management depicted as a small business salesman targeting high quality leads with a bow and arrow.

One of the biggest trends in marketing is managing your leads post-acquisition. This goes double (or more) for marketing automation, as a well-implemented plan can make processes much more efficient (and require less manual work):

Prioritization
Your marketing automation solutions give you valuable insight into the quality of your lead. For example, you could prioritize sales follow-up for leads that viewed low funnel content (e.g. a case study) and submitted your contact form with “Financial” as their industry field.
Nurturing
Drip email campaigns are an effective way to continually engage with leads. What’s more, you can set up multiple drip campaigns that tailor their content based on how your leads entered your pipeline.
Information Sharing
Your sales team needs to be well-informed about the lead they’re selling to. Marketing automation tools can ensure that your sales team is well-equipped when they finally do speak with the lead. For example, knowing that the lead viewed more “Services” than the one he or she inquired about. (Note: This feature makes marketing automation one of the most effective account-based marketing tactics.)

Small Business Automation Strategy #2: Improve Customer Service

Excellent customer service symbolized as a coveted five star review.

Increasingly, customers are publicly voicing their concerns and complaints instead of bringing them directly to you. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can ignore these issues. Instead, you can use automation to intelligently respond as well as proactively prevent public condemnation.

Reactive Monitoring
Monitoring social networks (and other publicly visible marketing channels) for posts related to your brand requires a lot of time. You can combat this by setting up notification workflows in your marketing automation plan to help your social media managers quickly respond to the customer.
Proactive Mitigation
Additionally, you can set up automated drip marketing campaigns that allow you to remain in contact with those customers. This helps you proactively mitigate any concerns customers may have with their purchase while also giving you a chance to encourage repeat purchases.

Small Business Automation Strategy #3: Automated Business Processes

Giant computer with screens everywhere symbolizing a fully automated business.

Your marketing team should be focused on creating better marketing — not managing repetitive administrative processes. It may seem like it goes without saying, but marketing automation can take care of many of your marketing and sales team’s daily processes, like resume screening and email list management.

For example, creating lead lists can be a repetitive process. However, your automation solutions can not only create leads lists, but create smarter lists at the same time. By using the wealth of information you’ve gathered about a prospect, your tools can create a highly targeted list that precisely focuses on the right prospects for your product, service or even marketing campaign.

Small Business Automation Strategy #4: Marketing and Sales Feedback Coming Full Circle

The customer buying cycle depicted as a circular process for the small business

Your marketing team needs to know which leads your sales team is converting into customers. That way, they can get you even more of those types of leads.

The integration of marketing automation tools with CRM software like Salesforce.com or the new CRM offering from HubSpot means your marketers get easy access to bottom-line campaign effectiveness. That way, a small business’s marketing team can focus their time on channels and campaigns that are converting into customers.

Marketing automation requires cooperation from every area of your business. While the impact on your marketing team’s time will be most notable, the impact doesn’t stop there.

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