Although it may seem a bit old school, email remains one of the most powerful marketing tools out there, with the average click rate being much higher than click rates on social channels.
Because email is such a powerful marketing tool, it’s imperative that companies stay on top of email organization, coordination, and targeting. Not only that, but they must be able to integrate it smoothly with their customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and coordinate them with a host of other tasks, including workflow management, analytics, content creation, and website management.
Trying to do all of this without automation tools (while still making a profit) would likely be impossible for most businesses. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for marketers involved in all sizes of businesses – especially small businesses and solo entrepreneurs – to not only be more on their game but to perform all marketing activities on a much broader scale than what was probably imagined.
Here’s a rundown of the perks of using automation tools, as well as a few examples of some of the best in the business.
These tools can do wonders in terms of targeting and segmentation – two things that are integral to digital marketing strategies today. They can help you streamline different types of activities and string them together in specific orders to improve workflow and organization.
Here’s an overview of the key benefits that even the simplest and most inexpensive marketing automation tools can offer.
Social media alone can cost hours on a weekly basis, but when you use a scheduler you can not only post more often, you can also monitor the success of these posts via scheduling tools. Then you can use tools to improve response times and follow up activities, segment lists, and identify warm traffic, just to name a few things. Most of them now also offer a smooth integration with CRM (customer relationship management) platforms.
While there are many free and incredibly useful options for tracking general analytics – for example Google Analytics and Facebook Insights – most of them only give you a basic level of knowledge of what’s going on. When you use the metrics that come with automation tools, they will help you gain better insights on the types of key performance indicators (KPIs) that are specifically related to your marketing campaigns.
The best part is that they are tracked contextually and in real time, and are stored all in one place.
Building a recognizable and trusted brand takes time and work, and the more people you can reach in a streamlined and consistent way, the more chance you will have of capturing leads and converting.
Not only that, but the more recognizable your brand is over the longer term, the more your customers will come to recognize and trust you, simply because they know that they can expect the extraordinary when they see something from you in their inbox or go through their Facebook feed.
By offering templates and design options, automation tools can help promote consistency and thus build loyalty and visibility through multiple channels. Not only that, but when your customers hear from you on a consistent basis, they’re much more likely to get comfortable and make purchases.
The important thing to remember when choosing the right automation tool is to pick one that fits not only your budget but your overall skill level. If you’re just starting out and you’re an independent entrepreneur with a small list and a fairly simple marketing strategy (think email and two basic social campaigns) you could easily get by on a combination of the more basic, free or low cost tools to stay organized.
Here are a few of the best digital marketing tools that can help you save time, improve your strategy, nurture leads, improve workflow processes, and essentially boost your return on investment (ROI).
HubSpot is consistently rated one of the most user-friendly automation platforms. An all-in-one tool, there are different versions available for those with different needs and budget levels, with the lowest price point being $50 per month and the top tier sitting at around $2,400 per month.
Hubspot can do a little bit of everything, and it has a strong focus on inbound marketing. It’s excellent for small businesses that are looking for a basepoint with which to not only develop a content marketing strategy, but to integrate this with pretty much any other related aspect of workflow and SEO that they need. For instance, Hubspot has features for content curation, search engine optimization, email automation, social media, attribution reporting, Salesforce integration, and analytics.
One of the best things about Hubspot – and something that differentiates it from similar tools – is Workflows. Workflows gives you the opportunity to set up individualized processes and add various actions along the way, such as follow up emails.
Get Response is a relatively new platform that used to be more focused on email marketing but now has a more robust and integrated automation setup. With it, you can organize workflows via a drag and drop menu that’s based on three parameters: conditions, actions, and filters. The workflows system responds to subscribers’ unique needs so segmentation is smooth and simple – you can even add filters to subscriber lists to help with segmenting.
It actually makes it very easy to use for people of most skill levels, and it’s scalable, so you can maintain the same systems even if your business experiences a boom (or bust). It’s compatible with e-commerce sales, and it also comes with a landing page builder and webinar tools.
It’s worth noting that Get Response not only has a very low base price point ($15 per month) but it offers the option of a free trial.
Customer.io gives you everything you need to customize, target, and test messages based on how people are interacting with your business. It’s a special triggered messaging system that connects emails together according to customer behavior and audience. Customer.io integrates smoothly with several mobile interfaces, offers data in real time, and gives you a high level of interactivity with audiences.
Packages start at $250 per month, and that level is ideal for small businesses.
MailChimp is one of the most well-known and affordable options out there, and it’s consistently one of the top-rated – especially for small businesses. Because MailChimp has perfected email strategy, this is really its core strength. So if you have extensive lists and not a lot of other automation processes – and you’re working on a tight budget – this is a great go-to.
That being said, they now have a full suite of automation tools that work smoothly and integrate well with other platforms. The free option includes newsletter templates, analytics, built-in signup forms and more. And the best part is that you can use it for free forever!
According to Ascend2, more than 80% of businesses are seeing benefits from marketing automation; and given today’s necessary focus on digital processes and digital marketing activities, it only makes sense to purchase a full-service platform that can not only organize a whole range of marketing activities at once, but also coordinate activities and synthesize data.
Marketing automation tools are no longer just about emails – this is all about having all of your content marketing needs in one place. But how extensively you need these features really depends on your marketing strategy and business goals. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to choose one with a trial offer and test it out to make sure it offers the right amount of features for your business.
The truth is that because there’s so much to do, you need a system to streamline your digital marketing; and when used strategically, all of these will help you save time and money, while increasing your ROI.
But it’s important to ensure that you have the person power and strategy in place first – just purchasing the thing and never using it will not work.
And the best thing about it? You can learn a ton about digital marketing by just trying them out!