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As a small business owner, there are two things we are always short on: time and money. And we have to be as smart as possible when managing these two invaluable resources. Developing a marketing strategy, something I have written about multiple times, is an example of something that can help you save both time and money. 

There is another time- and money-saving tactic you can employ. Not many business owners think about it, but when implemented properly, it can save you in minutes and dollars and help you stand out from your competitors. 

That tactic is automation.

Marketing Automation Defined

In a nutshell, automation occurs when a process is completed with little to no human assistance. From a time-saving perspective, you can see how not having to directly be responsible for completing certain tasks, especially repetitive, menial ones, can be attractive. 

For marketing purposes, marketing automation occurs when you have one or more marketing-related processes completed with little to no human assistance. This is especially valuable to you as a small business owner because marketing is often the first thing that gets cut when looking to save a little time or money.

Let’s take a look at the different types of marketing automation that you may use with a couple of sample for each. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM is a type of software that helps you manage the interactions between your business and your customers, both current and potential. It is a central place for you to store and manage your customer and prospect information. You can use a CRM to give you a clear overview of your business and help increase revenue by identifying and categorizing leads and increasing referrals from existing customers. And because you have a better overview of what’s going on with customers and prospective customers, you will offer better support. 

Examples: Salesforce and Zoho*

Email and Text Message Marketing

Email and text message marketing can itself be a type of CRM or included in a CRM with a robust set of features. Messaging automation, through text or email, allows you to communicate your message to your customers and prospects. Let’s say you offer an ebook relating to your services or area of expertise. To download, a person must share their email address. These tools have the ability to send them a drip campaign that follows up on the interest they showed by downloading the ebook. Imagine doing this automatically for 10, 20, or even 100 potential customers. 

Examples: Mailchimp and Active Campaign*

Chatbots

A chatbot is a piece of software designed to conduct a conversation with your customers as if they are speaking to an actual person. Think about how you go into a department store and a customer service representative approaches you to ask if they can assist you. Chatbots do that but for your website, and they do not require a live person be attending the keyboard. The best thing is, they can handle multiple conversations at once. Chatbots are great because they can help qualify leads and get your potential customers to where they need to be to get the services, products, or information they want. 

Examples: Quiq and Drift*

Project Management Tools

Project management should be something that you consider using across your entire company. But they can be especially helpful when managing projects centered around marketing your business. Whether you are creating a singular piece of content such as an ebook or managing an ongoing marketing calendar, project management software can assist you in tracking who is responsible for what task and help your team communicate. The primary purpose of project management software is to ensure projects are being done in a timely and efficient manner. 

Examples: Smartsheet and Workzone*

Advertising Platforms

Two of the most popular advertising platforms, Facebook and Twitter, have features where you can automate ads for your business. If you have a defined audience, goals, and marketing budget, they can be helpful because the platform helps take the guesswork out of creating the ads and targeting the correct audience. 

Examples: Facebook and Twitter*

When it comes to saving time and money, nothing is as effective as automation. And with advancements in technology that offer tools and services at lower costs, there is no reason to not look into how automation can help you better manage your marketing efforts. Doing so can mean the difference between your business existing and succeeding. 

*examples of products/services do not represent an endorsement. If interested in learning more about any of the products or services listed above, I recommend following the link provided.

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