14 Marketing Automation Tools That Can Save You Precious TimeBy Ron Sela on July 7, 2014
Reading Time: 9 minutes
New businesses are often faced with a near-Herculean task when it comes to advertising and gaining market presence in an already saturated online environment. The question becomes, how to effectively market a new business with the limited resources of a startup company.
Market Automation Tools provide an Effective Solution
Marketing automation is a very broad term that can refer collectively or separately to a number of behaviors and actions. In general, marketing automation tools refer to the online software and tools that provide business owners with the opportunity to effectively market their products online and to automate repetitive tasks.
What those actions and tasks are differs depending on the specific business.
Marketing automation tools include basic tasks like advertising and promotion, and also includes marketing tasks completed over the Internet, via email, SMS (text messaging) and social media. More complicated marketing automation includes the tracking and categorizing of customer data, lead generation, monitoring customer behaviors and choosing appropriate responses to help earn maximum profit.
The benefits of market automation tools for small businesses are widespread. Time, money and effort can all be saved with the right marketing automation tools. Large corporations are able to employ enormous marketing departments and are consequently able to wield a large market presence. The average small business many have, at most, one or two employees dedicated to marketing.
Marketing automation tools level the playing field between the corporate giant and the “little guy,” giving small businesses a chance to complete for a bigger piece of the market.
When choosing a market automation tool for a small business, there are several factors to consider. First, determine available budget, needed services and number of customers. Use these three factors to weed out tools that are too expensive, provide unnecessary services, or cannot handle the size of the customer base. Then consider the type of business the marketing automation tools typically service.
Choosing a tool that caters to large online businesses may not be a good choice for a small brick-and-mortar store, and vice-versa. Consider the reputation of the marketing automation tools and the length of time they have been in business. Companies that are new to the market may not always be a good choice. Finally, give some serious thought to level of expertise required to use the tool’s software. Marketing automation tools that are simple and easy to use are going to save the most time and energy.
Marketing Automation Tools for Businesses
GetSpokal offers editing software meant to streamline the WordPress software and make publishing blogs faster and easier. Getspokal also allows users to integrate blog posts with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Posts can also be scheduled ahead of time and SEO (search engine optimization) advice is available. GetSpokal offers a free trial period and has three different pricing levels, each without a long-term contract.
Bridg provides marketing automation tools that include contact management, email campaigns, and social marketing. Two noteworthy services are reputation management, which helps business owners monitor and manage online customer reviews, and ROI (Return On Investment) Analytics, which helps businesses see which strategies resulted in actual revenue. Although there is no trial period, Bridg will launch a demo for businesses to sample. Pricing depends on business size and has different levels for email marketing only, and full marketing automation services.
Optimove bills itself as a “Customer Retention Automation Software” and helps customers to find and retain online customers. Optimove will help small businesses to contact target customers, and then draw in and maintain that business. By analyzing customer actions and data, Optimove makes recommendations to business owners on how to best market to specific customers. Specific pricing plans are not mentioned, but cost does depend on the number of customer networks and the number of customers in each network.
Customer.io helps businesses to improve the messages sent to customers. The tool offers help in designing emails, creating different customer lists, and analyzing campaign effectiveness. Customer.io also offers help with segmentation – analyzing customers based on data and behaviors – and helps business owners to make better decisions based on this data. Pricing depends on the number of customers and the number of emails sent per month. A discount is offered for yearly subscriptions.
Autosend.io offers assistance with messaging. In addition to options provided by other marketing automation tools, messages can be organized over email and text (SMS), and via push notifications. Autosend.io also provides “autoresponder” services, meaning that it allows business owners categorize responses based on customer activity. For example, business owners can schedule emails to be sent out to customers who signed up for a free trial reminding them to sign up for a subscription before the trial runs out. The cost for Autosend.io’s services is not published on their website (Private Beta).
SocialOomph provides tools to help small businesses boost their social media productivity. The tool is integrated with popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as others. Basic features include the ability to write and schedule posts ahead of time. Premium features include copying social media posts and tweeting via email. Unlike other marketing automation tools, SocialOomph also integrates with blog publishing websites like WordPress and Tumblr.
Uplanme provides marketing automation tools designed to help online businesses increase their customer base. Unique features of Uplanme include the ability to plan and manage business events, and maintaining public event calendars for businesses. Separately, Uplanme also offers Uplanme consulting, which helps local small businesses like bars and restaurants create and maintain a profitable online presence via social media, email campaigns, websites and event calendars.
Alicanto provides marketing automation tools in the areas of email marketing and social media promotion via Twitter and Facebook, but is unique in offering direct mail advertising options. Alicanto also helps small businesses organize marketing campaigns and promotions around holidays and customer birthdays. Another feature unique to Alicanto is their “Alliances” which allow businesses to join together to increase sales.
ActiveCampaign provides marketing automation tools in the area of marketing campaigns, sales management, and customer data management. Tools for creating attractive emails and advertisements are available. Some of the features are available for free (free email marketing & marketing automation for up to 2,500 contacts), but the larger audiences require a subscription. Multiple plans are available, and discounts are given for purchasing yearly plans. ActiveCampaign also offers a 20% discount for non-profit companies.
Is a business-to-business (B2B) marketing automation tool, meant for companies that make products for businesses rather than indivduals. Bizo touts such well-known companies as Microsoft, American Express, AT&T and Porcehe, as its customers. Bizo describes their business strategy as the “Full Funnel Approach” and works to identify new customers, nurture customers until they make a purchase, and retain customers for future business.
Ambassador’s business strategy is to turn customers into promotional tools for small businesses. Referring to customers as “ambassadors,” Ambassador helps small businesses track and manage customer referrals. Ambassador offers tools to help create successful incentive campaigns to drive referrals and can integrate with other third party apps to streamline activities. Ambassador offers a free trial, and has multiple price levels, though some lower tiered subscriptions only offer email-based support. Ambassador also features a mobile app for business owners.
Cloudwork is a “Software as a Service” (SaaS) tool. This refers to the way Cloudwork is available to customers, as software that users access over the Internet. Cloudwork works by integrating all of the different apps that business owners use to manage their businesses. This approach works by reducing costs and saving time spent on repetitive tasks. Many popular apps such as Gmail and Google Drive can be integrated through Cloudwork.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a marketing automation tool that uses integration to simplify processes for business owners. IFTTT offers integration with some very popular apps, such as Craiglists, eBay, BuzzFeed, Facebook, and Google Drive, among others. IFTTT does not list pricing information on its website, but does offer many examples of how the service works.
Zapier is a marketing automation tool that integrates processes between existing web apps. If two separate companies do not offer integration between their services, Zapier can make that integration happen in a third-party platform. Actions are called “zaps” and can be as simple as notifying business owners of emails. Other possible actions include creating customer contact information from entries made by customers on websites. Market automation tools like Zapier make it easier for business owners to integrate without having to learn code.
In today’s marketplace, a small business has very little chance of succeeding against a large corporation with a near-limitless marketing budget, unless that business makes use of available marketing automation tools. Whether a small business serves 50 customers or 50,000 customers, there are plenty of marketing automation tools available online to help grow and maintain a successful business.