For small business owners, marketing technology is a constant source of both excitement and pain. First it was Facebook. Then Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and every other social media platform came into the fray. And then there’s the email marketing mix of Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and many others. And don’t forget about CRM – the Insightly, Zoho, and HubSpots of the world.
Now, everyone is abuzz about marketing automation. And we are, too. Each platform offers the promise of better brand awareness and customer engagement. But for the non-technical, non-content-oriented small business owner, these “opportunities” can deliver as much headache as possibility. For many small business owners, the ability to streamline processes and automate communications can be anything but simple or systematic. That’s why we’re going to break down the new horizon of small business marketing technology in a series of blog posts, starting today.
We’ll kick this series off with the vocabulary… in small business owner terms, not technology speak.
CRM: A system to keep track of your contacts. All of them. Customers (both current and former), prospects, referral partners, and contractors. Essentially anyone your business touches (or wants to!) in one way or another. You can even use your CRM for press lists if you’re on the DIY PR train.
Marketing Automation: Applications that allow you to systematize the way you capture leads, communicate with prospects and customers, and track responses to campaigns. Marketing automation allows you to take your monthly email newsletter and website contact us page or free download form and really make them sing.
Sales Automation: A close friend of marketing automation, these applications empower you to streamline your business development – putting processes around every step of your sales follow-up, including tasks, appointments, emails, and more.
Analytics: Data and reports that help you understand the impact of your digital marketing – including all the details around your web traffic and email campaigns. These tools help you to make sense of the information so you can make decisions about which communications, messages, campaigns, and all other aspects of your digital marketing might need tweaking and where instead of guessing as to what’s working vs. not.
The bottom line of all marketing technology? These systems can empower you to automate tasks and communications in ways that save you time, deepen customer relationships and move things from the to do list to actually done. Marketing technology can also provide your business with actionable information, which is a fancy way of saying data that you can actually use. The result? More leads that convert to sales, greater insight into those opportunities that don’t come through, and consistent customer follow-up.
Of course this customer engagement nirvana doesn’t come without an investment of both time and money. And it is easy to get excited about the promise of martech only to then find yourself paying a monthly bill without seeing a whole lot of benefit. In our next post, we’ll tackle how to choose the applications that are right for your business… there are seemingly new options every day.