As a small business owner, we know you wear a lot of hats and there are a lot of little things for you to remember. Running marketing campaigns at the right times. Keeping track of text threads and sending replies. Making sure customers get thanked and review invites get sent. Appointments, confirmations, transactions, email marketing, social media posts…do you feel stressed yet? We do. Because regardless of the size of your team, all of these little tasks can add up, causing burnout and often wasting time and resources for your staff. 

But we have good news: you don’t have to experience all that stress. Because why do manually what you could automate? Automating mundane tasks can significantly decrease your workload while increasing your customer satisfaction. Read on to learn all about marketing automation for small businesses and how the right platform can significantly optimize your processes. 

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is when businesses use marketing software, or an automated marketing platform, to automate specific marketing tasks. Generally, these tasks are the more monotonous ones. Marketing automation can significantly increase your efficiency, saving you valuable time and resources that could instead be spent on cultivating customer relationships and improving your business operations. It takes care of the minutiae so you can focus on the vision. 

Why Small Businesses Need Marketing Automation

A big reason small businesses need marketing automation is so that they can fully utilize their data. In order to compete in a global marketplace, local businesses need to understand their customers inside and out—the more data you have, the more effectively you can do this. The problem is, many small businesses do collect customer data but don’t know how to use it. Manually tracking customer actions to understand behavior is nearly impossible—and even if you can figure out a way to do it, it’s certainly not a scalable tracking solution. Marketing automation software tracks data instantly, putting your data to work and giving you the information you need in a scalable way. 

Perhaps more importantly, marketing automation fills in the gaps for smaller teams. It’s like having an extra person on your staff whose only task is to take care of all the mundane stuff. Marketing automation really gives an advantage to local businesses, allowing them to compete with the efficiency and professionalism of bigger box chain stores. That’s why, when it comes to customer relationship management, an automated marketing strategy can make all the difference. 

How to Automate Your Business

Let’s get down to brass tacks. How do you actually automate your business, and which tools are the right marketing automation tools for you? To see real results, you need a well-oiled marketing automation strategy that utilizes multiple channels.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

→Tip 1: Automate your text messaging.

The first tip is to automate your messaging. Automated text messages allow local businesses to automatically text consumers, clients, patients, and patrons. With the right platform, these SMS messages can be sent based upon a triggered event so that customers get messages at the right time, every time.

Automated text messages have many purposes. They can be used to engage with customers after hours, send relevant promotions at just the right moment, and gather valuable feedback. With the right tools, they can be customized for appointment reminders, product delivery, lead conversion, or customer follow-up in order to win more business, keep more appointments, convert more leads, and keep customers coming back. 

→Tip 2: Install an SMS autoresponder on your website.

Many businesses successfully use automated messaging for after-hours communication. You might consider actively sending texts during business hours and using automated SMS messages when leads engage with you after-hours. An after-hours automated text might look something like this:

“Thank you for contacting Belview Tires. These messages are not regularly monitored on weekends & evenings. We will reply during business hours. We appreciate your business!”

With tools like Webchat, you can respond automatically to FAQs with automated messages. As the conversation continues, if the consumer asks a question that requires live assistance, the platform can trigger an alert to make sure an employee responds back. This can save you and your employees a huge amount of time. 

→Tip 3: Automate your review invites.

Reviews influence 88% of consumers in discovering a local business. They are 2x more likely to be an important factor in choosing a local business than loyalty and 7.4x more likely to be an important factor than traditional marketing. And the reality is that most consumers have read a review in the last week. With such high stakes, how do you manage your reputation? 

Many local businesses use automated review invites (texts with a link that customers can click to leave their review) to stay at the top of online search results. The optimum moment to ask for a review is different depending on your industry. However, it’s essential that invites arrive at the moment of highest satisfaction—whether that’s immediately after purchase, right after a fitting, or a little later down the road. 

With automated review invites, businesses ensure that every customer receives a review invite at the right time, which significantly improves the review collection rate. No customers fall through the cracks. 

Review Request Example

→Tip 4: Automate your payments.

It’s easy to assume that letting customers swipe credit cards or pay in cash will cover the bases. After all, these have been the de-facto options for decades. However, if those are the only two payment options you provide, you miss 31% of consumers’ top choices. 

Many local businesses are getting ahead of the game by using automations to collect payments. With SMS automations, you can text customers their invoices and allow them to pay directly from a text link, decreasing bill wait time significantly and increasing ease for consumers. This has significant benefits, especially in industries like healthcare where bill collection is typically difficult.

With Podium Payments, Adam’s Pest Control was able to stop using their collection agency and lower their collection APR consistently month over month. Also using Podium’s text-to-pay solution, Genesis Dental generated $130,000 dollars in revenue in 12 months and reported that sending and collecting payments now takes them a fourth of the time it used to take. 

Text to pay tracking

Examples of Great B2C Marketing Automation

Ready to see marketing automation in real life? Here are some of the best examples of marketing automation that we’ve seen. 

Payment Processed Update

It’s simple, but it’s effective. Xfinity uses automated messaging to send payment receipts and links to review transactions, making for easy, painless billing that is consistent and convenient. 

Xfinity automated text example

JetBlue Birthday Celebration

Of course, it’s not just about customer birthdays. Here, JetBlue celebrates their own birthday by sending an automated email campaign with celebratory discounts for flying, keeping their customer relationships top-of-mind.

jetblue marketing automation example

Eye 2 Eye Appointment Confirmation 

Eye 2 Eye in Star, Idaho uses automations to confirm appointments and send reminders, lightening the load for their staff and making sure patients are ready to come in. This saves time both onsite and off. 

Appointment reminder automated text example

Get Started With Marketing Automation

Not all marketing automation software is created equally, and you want the best tools to help you get to where you want to go. Remember, the right marketing automation tools will make your life easier, not harder. They’ll streamline your workflows, make texting your customers a breeze, keep all messages and data in the right place, route incoming messages to the right teams, connect to third-party applications, and be user-friendly—all without breaking a sweat. 

Podium’s automation software can empower your business to do what you do best, better. Check out this demo to learn how Podium can lighten your workload, improve your marketing processes, and help you send the right message at the right time, every time. 

Pat Johnson
Pat Johnson Product Marketing Manager

Pat Johnson is a product marketing professional at Podium, the leading communication system that connects local businesses with their customers. He is based in Denver, Colorado

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