Small businesses are utilizing marketing automation platforms to help grow their business more than ever before. When it comes to capturing leads and nurturing them into sales-ready prospects, marketing automation provides the tools to necessary to execute, manage and automate tasks that helps drive growth.

A study found on eMarketer showed marketing automation platforms improved lead management and lead nurturing by an overwhelming 86% among B2B marketers worldwide.

Needless to say, marketing automation is not going anywhere anytime soon. If you are a small business just getting started, here are a few marketing automation tips to help get you started.

1. Establish your goals for Marketing Automation

As a small business just starting out with marketing automation you should determine your objectives and establish a set of measurable goals that will ultimately shape how your campaigns will be designed.

When establishing these goals, you should consider what you are trying to accomplish with marketing automation. Most small businesses use marketing automation with the goal to increase e-commerce sales, lead generation, customer retention and repeat business. Marketing automation software can provide the tools necessary to accomplish these goals, however, it takes careful consideration and participation from Marketing and Sales teams to create campaigns that your audience will engage with.

2. Build your list from people interested in your products or services

There are several tactics that you can use grow your email database for your marketing automation campaigns.

Here are a few simple, yet effective ways to grow your email list with fresh leads:

Newsletter Opt-ins

Driving traffic to your website’s blog is a great way to acquire new prospective customers. By offering a email newsletter opt-in, you can capture leads interested in receiving updates on new posts directly to their inbox.

Create Content Gates for Lead Generation

Using a free eBook or Whitepaper download is a great way to capture emails from people who are in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. Bear in mind, anybody can throw together a quick PDF and make a content gate. Be sure you are offering something substantially valuable to your prospective customers that helps move further down the sales funnel.

Use Social Media to promote Lead Gen Offers

Promote offers using Facebook and Twitter campaigns to that require the user’s email address to download. Add a Call to Action on your Facebook Business Page that requires a user’s email address.

Host a Webinar

Hosting a webinar is a great way capture email address and directly in front of potential customers. Show off your expertise and help prospects by addressing their needs.

Promote an Online Contest

Free giveaways are a great way to capture email addresses from people interested in your product or services. Be sure to promote your contests on social media and make your website landing pages easily shareable.

Here’s an extensive list of tools that can help you grow your list using some of the strategies mentioned above.

3. Segment your lists based on interests and tailor your messaging

Segmentation is key to any successful marketing automation campaign. If your business offers a wide variety of products or services, you should ensure that your email content is tailored to the interests of each specific customer to move them further down the sales funnel. Small business Marketing automation platforms like Soffront provide tools to segment leads based on a variety of behavioral and demographic factors.

Here are some considerations when building out your segmentation:

How was the lead captured

Understanding how and where your leads are captured will help define their interests and which stage of the sales cycle they are in. This can help you determine the content you should need to create for your email campaigns.

Consider which stage in the buying lifecycle your leads are being generated from, segment your lists based on those entry points into your sales funnel and personalize your messaging.

What are your Buyer Personas

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all customer. When you build out segmented lists consider your buyer personas. This will help you build out a focused email content strategy and deliver messages that are the most relevant to each list.

Stages of the Buying Cycle

This is where lead scoring come into play. Lead Scoring is grading system used to prioritize leads based on interactions that indicate level of interest and help determine where leads are in the buying cycle. Using dynamic segmentation, leads can be moved into more focused campaign segments based on a behavioral interactions, lead score and and specific workflow rules. This can help move leads further down the sales funnel.

4. Make your Automated Emails appear as “Un-Automated” as possible

The beauty of marketing automation software is that it allows you to address the needs of your audience and the right time during the their journey, however, it is very easy to lose sight of the “human touch” that make campaigns most effective.

Start with a goal you want your audience to accomplish and map out all possible decisions and responses. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about how you would respond to your message. Once this is mapped out, you can begin to scale and test your messaging.

Remember: You can easily lose interest by prospects by making mistakes in personalization, or setting triggers to be too robotic.

5. Perform Split-Testing

Split Testing (also referred to as A/B testing) in email marketing is a method of conducting experiments using multiple variants of messaging to gather data on the best performing campaigns to make informative optimizations. Simply put, A/B campaigns can allow you to distribute two email messages to a list to test which email message has higher engagement metrics.

Split-Testing your campaigns is a proven way to make data-driven decisions regarding your campaign’s messaging, offering, design and much more. This powerful tool integrated in your marketing automation platform allows you to consistently improve the metrics that matter the most to your small business.

Related: Increase your email open rate with A/B Campaign

6. Start Small and Measure your Efforts

It takes time to develop a well-oiled, marketing automation machine capable of nurturing sales-ready leads. Small Businesses just getting started should understand the importance of testing campaign messaging and response to .

Here are some of the metrics you should be paying close attention at the very least:

  • Email Open & Click-Thru Rates
  • Unsubscribe Rates
  • List Growth
  • Website Engagement
  • Conversion Rate

Making decisions with little to no-data is one of the biggest mistakes small businesses do when optimizing campaigns. You should understand how your audience is engaging each step of the way. Having a clear vision of your unique sales funnel will help you identify areas that need improvement in your campaigns.

Recommended: Tracking your Marketing Automation Campaigns

Takeaways

Communication between the sales and marketing teams is key to fine-tune your campaign and lead generation efforts. There are several details that go into building effective marketing automation campaigns, and every organization handles these processes differently. Here’s a summarized a list of the tips provided above.

  • It is important that you identify your goals
  • Diversify your lead generation efforts to capture your target audiences
  • There is no one-size-fits-all customer, segment your audiences to deliver the right message at the right time
  • Understand that marketing automation can and will fail if you lose sight of the “human touch”
  • Like any marketing effort, start small, test and scale