Skip to main content

Keep Up with the Latest Trends with Marketing Automation by Digital Marketing Experts

Marketing products and services in this era of globalization and Internet communications is challenging businesses in new and complex ways. However, marketing automation and customer relationship management tools provide firms in every industry with some vital assistance. Although certain truisms of marketing remain the same as they have since the beginning of commerce, such as – “people do business with those they know and trust,” “word of mouth is the best advertising,” and “80% of company profits are produced by 20% of its customers,” the way businesses attract, build customer relationships and retain them long term, has changed enormously over the last 15 years.

For example, consider social media’s difference from marketing today.

Facebook was born in 2004, and within a little over a decade, it has transformed how people connect, communicate, and get information on almost everything.  Since all of these activities are essential to marketing, it’s unsurprising that social media platforms have completely changed how we buy and sell things.

Here are some factoids that Smallbusinesstrends.com published recently in an article about social media. They demonstrate that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ are increasingly significant in marketing and brand development today.

  • 81 percent of respondents to a Forbes survey indicated posts from their friends and family directly influence their purchase decisions.
  • 38 percent of moms are likelier to buy products from brands other women Like on Facebook.
  • 78 percent of people say that a company’s social media posts impact their purchase decision.
  • 9 out of 10 users watch videos about the tech products they buy.
  • 50 percent of social media purchases occur within a week, and 80 percent of purchases occur within 3 weeks of users marking an item as a favorite.

Globalization and increased media channels make it harder for small businesses to compete.

Even if you don’t want to sell your products overseas, your customers can still buy from foreign companies over the Internet. Like it or not, your business is part of a global market.  So whatever you do, whatever industry you’re in, every marketing dollar you spend has to work harder today than ever. That’s true whether you’re spending those dollars on print ads or copy content, broadcast spots or email marketing, social media or billboards.  Because not only has your competition increased, but so have your media choices. You have to reach out to larger audiences and contact them more often to keep pace with, let alone overcome, other companies. Yet, to be most effective, your marketing must still connect with your target market in ways that specifically appeal to them. Are you beginning to feel overwhelmed? No wonder!

Fortunately, new electronic programs—marketing automation and customer relationship management, or CRM for short—can help you reduce these challenges to size.

What is Marketing Automation?

In a recent article published on CIO.com, David Taber gives an excellent description of what marketing automation and CRM systems do and how they differ. “Marketing automation is about low-cost, effective communication with prospects, email, and social media. Every marketing automation system starts with basic email blasting and adds features designed to facilitate beautiful, effective mail sequences on an industrial scale. To improve email effectiveness, the marketing automation system includes templates for the emails and campaign designers to provide a clear, consistent path for the customer as their level of interest and information evolves. The customer journey from awareness through interest to desire and finally to action is explicitly mapped, with content and calls to action tuned for each branch in that journey.” 

On the other hand, customer relationship management systems are founded on sales force automation (SFA).

As Taber explains, “While marketing automation and CRM systems operate on leads, contacts, and companies, they work in very different contexts.  The marketing automation is almost entirely focused on leads.  In contrast, the SFA user sees leads as important only in the short term. The successful sales reps using it will be working on deals (opportunities) and talking with contacts (leads that have been fully qualified and promoted or converted). So CRM systems must support the following sales business processes:

  • Lead qualification
  • Early sales cycle (including demos and call scheduling)
  • Forecasting and pipeline management
  • Quote generation and order configuration
  • Order confirmation and fulfillment
  • Contract establishment and termination
  • Ongoing account management
  • Renewals and repeat orders

Marketing automation and CRM perform functions that frequently overlap to some extent.

Between them, you’ll find it much easier and cost-efficient to accomplish three critical goals:

  • To keep your brand and products in front of your entire customer base frequently
  • To identify the prospects most likely to become customers
  • To convert contacts into sales-ready prospects

Yet, these tools are not always designed to serve the needs of smaller businesses.

As a rule, Marketing automation and CRM systems are built to deal with large universes of customers. However, these tools may have severe drawbacks if your business involves marketing to hundreds versus thousands. For one thing, they represent a considerable upfront investment of money, time, and effort.  In addition, they’re not designed to provide smaller companies with the information that would be most useful to them.

According to Rick Carlson, founder and President of SharpSpring, an innovative Marketing Automation system, while CRM systems, such as SalesForce and Google Analytics, can tell marketers a lot about the effectiveness of their inbound online marketing and account management activities, they are not as effective when it comes to tracking offline and outbound activities. And that’s where smaller businesses spend the more significant portion of their marketing dollars.

How solving a problem for one company led to a new system that can help many.

As managing director of various small to medium-sized businesses through the years, Carlson appreciated the challenges these companies face when competing against each other and large corporations. Carlson cites this firsthand experience as his inspiration for developing SharpSpring.  As Carlson explains, “…over the years of managing SMBs… we’d be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on outbound marketing activities to drive leads to the sales team, but we’d have zero visibility into what was working and, more importantly, what wasn’t.” To solve this dilemma Carlson “took another look at the analytics differently and developed a whole different approach to tracking results. The transformation,” he recalls, “was nothing short of stunning. Within a month, we cut our cost per lead in half, and sales were up 80% within three months. Plus, we could see exactly where we were getting the best return on our marketing dollars – and it wasn’t costing us a fortune to extract that information.”

Wanting to share the benefits of this new system with others, Carlson and his team developed SharpSpring as “a full-blown solution that could bring the same low-cost, high-value results to other businesses.”

Here are the three main benefits that Marketing Automation systems like SharpSpring offer small businesses.

Marketing Automation provides vital campaign data.

Having the right information about your audience, their reaction to your marketing efforts, and how quickly those efforts produce significant ROI can be the difference between making a profit or suffering a loss. Systems like SharpSpring provide this data consistently and constantly, enabling even start-ups on limited budgets to:

  • Track email performance
  • Measure the effectiveness of each marketing campaign
  • Monitor how leads are reacting to campaigns
  • Track the traffic on designated sites
  • Prove the ROI of specific marketing efforts

This means that even a company with a relatively small budget can track what works and what doesn’t so they can put their dollars where they’ll have the best effect on the bottom line.

Marketing Automation makes it easier to personalize your message.

Why is that important? For several reasons. Personalized messages are more likely to get opened, read, and acted upon. But don’t take our word for it. Check out the observations below from various data companies and information resources to prove this point, starting with this bar chart borrowed from Accenture below:

  • Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. – Aberdeen
  • 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement. – eConsultancy
  • Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. – Campaign Monitor
  • Personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates. – Experian
  • Segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue. – DMA
  • Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages. – Epsilon Email Institute

Last but not least, automation helps you attract new customers and retain current ones.

Anyone in sales and marketing knows that getting new customers isn’t nearly as profitable as selling to the ones you already have. According to smallbusinsesstrends.com, retaining 5% more of your customers can increase your profits by up to 95%! But how can you find the time, energy, and money to reach new customers while building customer loyalty with your current customer base and running your business?

Automated marketing was created for this purpose. For example, SharpSpring, the marketing automation system we use and recommend, nurtures customer relationships through cross-sells and upsells. It allows you to set up a schedule when personalized messages are sent out and then monitors customer behavior so you see which messages to continue with and which to change. This critical feedback allows you to constantly strengthen your sales pitch and brand.

In addition, SharpSpring has found that “triggered messaging is a perfect way to suggest testimonials, ask for product reviews, and send referral incentives.” Imagine being able to highlight a glowing customer review on your website or social media with a minimal amount of time and effort to attract new prospects. This is a genuinely cost-efficient way to acquire, nurture, and close the best leads.

Have we convinced you to consider Marketing Automation yet?

If so, please get in touch with us so we can tell you more about how this new tool might help you. And if not, maybe you should reread this blog – because we think you might be missing out on a way to grow your business – a lot!

Michele Allen

With over 30 years of design and marketing experience, I founded Crux in 2005, a 360° Creative and Marketing Agency, catering to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and non-profits. Specializing in experiential spaces, museums, brand development, and digital marketing, I excel in crafting memorable experiences while emphasizing the significance of authentic brand communication. I offer expertise in Brand Development, Trade Show Exhibits, Museums, Corporate Spaces, Interactives & VR/AR, and Digital Marketing, committed to tailored support and guidance.