Business owners know how important it is to properly market their products and services to attract the leads that turn into customers. And for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMB), the ability to attract customers and clients is the difference between a potential client discovering a business or never hearing about them in the first place.
Consumer preference has long been a driving force behind why businesses fail or succeed. Even the most genius, cutting-edge products and services need good marketing behind them to break into the spotlight. Making the time to focus on creative campaigns through automating the many steps in the marketing-to-sales pipeline is what SMBs need to thrive.
To raise those odds which allow them to gain more clients, SMBs need marketing automation software solutions that make deploying their killer strategies easier.
With the integration of a rich feature set into Marketing Automation Software, unloading the manual processes that slow down the marketing-to-sales pipeline is possible. Rather than directing attention to the tedious aspects of marketing and sales, like sending multiple email follow-ups, software should grant businesses the time to center their attention on the creative aspects of marketing that draw in clients and customers.
When it comes to developing marketing automation software, here are 5 features that SMBs are looking for in the systems they use.
Website and CRM Integration
Highly functional software is often dependent on its ability to be integrated with other software systems. Since the ecosystem of technology that a business uses depends on the specific needs of the business, it’s important to provide systems that support integration with commonly used software tools—whatever they may be.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are most companies’ go-to for organizing their business relationships and potential clients. Nearly a third of all SMBs are currently using a CRM platform with the demand for them steadily rising. Making CRM-integrated marketing automation software solutions a smart and predictive business move.
CRM systems are what influence businesses marketing decisions. A robust marketing automation software system should easily integrate with a businesses’ CRM to conduct Application Interface Programming (API) enabled data transfers. Through the linking of databases, multiple tools are simultaneously updated to properly collect and store leads’ personal data, demographic information, and firmographic details that indicate where the lead is positioned in the sales funnel.
Email and SMS Distribution
Marketing through various digital channels has become the most popular way for the majority of modern companies to market themselves and their products or services. Much like fishing, the wider the net, the more fish you’re going to catch. And this fish, in this case, is qualified leads.
Marketing message distribution tools are an essential integration for Marketing Automation Software so businesses can manage their email and SMS campaigns.
Traditionally most major customer communication—starting with initial contact to product query sessions—is done through emails. Marketing Automation Software that offers end-to-end email campaign functionality both centralized and enables continuous communication.
To improve the customer interaction processes, SMBs also require features that allow them to not only deploy email campaigns but also to segment what content is sent to which clients.
The best marketing automation tools have features for segmentation and scheduling, but also to pull in new subscribers – for instance by optimizing your sign-up freebies, or lead magnets.
Notice how seemingly everyone is on their phone most of the time these days? Marketers are noticing that too. With open rates that are much higher than that of emails, SMBs are looking to SMS—aka text messages—to deliver higher lead conversion rates. SMS marketing solutions should be integrated into marketing automation systems to provide businesses with:
- High API uptime that ensures messages are delivered quickly.
- Conversational message bots that utilize keywords to provide accurate responses.
- Automated drip campaigns and scheduled text messages.
Additionally, tracking the conversion rates from highly effective SMS campaigns is crucial for systems to provide detailed analytics on engagement and Click-through Rates (CTR). After all, if businesses don’t know what works, how can they adjust their strategy in a meaningful way?
Social Media Marketing
It’s no secret that social media is a prolific global phenomenon. Almost everyone with a smartphone is “doing’ it for the ‘gram” nowadays. And businesses are not exempt from this global phenomenon. Social media marketing has become an integral part of most company’s marketing strategies, with over 70% of SMBs currently investing in social media marketing.
Marketing automation software should integrate with social media accounts to automatically manage social media campaigns. Software solutions that let businesses take advantage of how people discover products and services on social media should:
- Track the performance of social campaigns.
- Provide the ability to monitor various platforms from a single console.
- Schedule future posts and publish them automatically.
- Gather feedback and track mentions through social listening.
- Build targeted advertisements for potential leads.
Since most businesses use multiple platforms, integrating with each one is essential to offer distribution of personalized campaigns through robust data aggregation.
Analytics & Reporting Dashboards
The ability to comb through insights from rich datasets to help marketers make more informed decisions is one of the most essential features of good marketing automation software.
By implementing built-in analytics and reporting dashboards, marketing software provides invaluable data on which email campaigns, webpages, and social media posts are producing the most conversions. And which ones need to be scrapped or taken back to the drawing board.
Through performance metrics, Key Performance Indicators (KPI), and historical benchmarks, engagement can be properly measured to facilitate action that improves overall engagement.
Further integration with an SMB’s CRM, easily ties Return on Investment (ROI) data back to campaigns and other marketing activities through closed-loop reporting. The cost of individual campaigns and produced ROI is measured by running analytics on predetermined key metrics such as email opens, downloads, or lead volume.
The main goal of marketing is to convert as many leads as possible into long-term clients for a business. Any automation software made for marketing should possess a complete lead management process that utilizes lead information to nurture, score, and gain leads. After all, that’s the entire point of marketing in the first place.
Software that can scale personalized customer experiences and uncover hidden patterns in customer behaviors across all customer touchpoints will effectively:
- Identify prospective leads and capture them.
- Map the movement of leads through the sales funnel.
- Monitor and track potential customers and clients.
- Personalize content and sales outreach.
Marketing automation software for small businesses should effectively bridge the gap between sales and marketing to allow them to work together to increase the lead-to-customer ratio.
Leading SMBs into the Future with Your Software
To get the features that allow SMBs to automate the marketing processes that lead to scaling up, you’ll need software developers. But not every software developer out there can give your systems the functionality they need to automate marketing processes effectively. Developers need an acute understanding of the industry your systems are designed for whether that’s retail, real estate, private medical practices, or any other industry.
Qualifications don’t end at industry knowledge. Developers also need coding knowledge that is based on compliance standards such as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act or General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws to ensure your systems exercise legal adherence.
Offering software that is highly customized with industry-specific, standard-compliant, sales logic in mind is how your systems will stay at the forefront of the demands of any SMB looking for marketing automation software.
About the Author
Dave Wood is an industry expert within the supply chain and logistics technology landscape. He has worked at Chetu since 2013 and has since built a reputation as a thought-leader within the IT community. As the Director of Global Sales at Chetu, Dave plays a critical role in assisting companies with their supply chain, retail, marketing, and media related software projects.