The Wall Street Journal describes how marketing is becoming increasingly automated as a result of new technologies. "It's not that the goals of marketing have changed, but the means to achieve them." A wide-variety of automation tools are available to enhance your small business's digital presence and marketing campaigns. These business automation tools can make your business reach a success by leveraging email, social media and web services.
1. Social media
- Hootsuite: Hootsuite is dedicated to enhancing and automating your social media engagement across more than 35 global networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Hootsuite identifies social influencers in your market and automates social marketing strategies. You can sign your business up for Hootsuite's free plan which supports up to three social profiles and two campaigns for single users.
- 99 Dollar Social: Finding great content, creating social media posts, inserting hashtags and eye-catching images -- it’s all very time-consuming. 99 Dollar Social does all that work for you by creating fresh, custom-tailored posts for your business and sharing them on your Facebook and Twitter profiles once a day, seven days a week. This essentially automates your social media posting and allows you to get back to running your business.
- HubSpot: Not only is HubSpot a robust sales and marketing solution, it's also an excellent educational resource for small-business owners. HubSpot leverages real-time marketing data to provide you with targeted information needed to cultivate leads and generate sales. You can create workflows to automate your marketing campaign and track your growth with pre-defined goals and lead segments.
- Infusionsoft: Infusionsoft is a popular all-in-one sales and marketing solution designed specifically for small businesses. You can automate lead scoring, capturing and segmentation with Infusionsoft's powerful customer relationship management (CRM) features. Infusionsoft offers a variety of automation tools, including email marketing, social marketing, sales and e-commerce. Infusionsoft integrates with hundreds of third-party business services through its expansive marketplace of apps.
- Yodle: Over the past ten years, Yodle has received countless awards for providing small business owners with a comprehensive marketing platform. Yodle offers a variety of business automation services known as marketing essentials. Local businesses can take advantage of Yodle's services designed to generate local business listings in more than 50 business directories such as Google and Facebook.
- MailChimp: Focused primarily on email marketing, MailChimp is one of the most affordable automation tools on this list. You can use its marketing automation features to target customers based on specific data, including behavior, preference and past sales. You can use application program interfaces (APIs) to create custom workflows with scheduling and segmentation tools. MailChimp integrates with a plethora of Web technologies -- including a few automation tools described in this article.
- Slack: Most business owners spend valuable time each day sorting through an overflowing email inbox. Slack offers a free platform for streamlining communication between team members. Conversations are threaded like a chat window and visible by other people in your organization. Slack is a powerful automation tool that many businesses are using as an alternative to traditional email.
4. Digital marketing
- Needls: Needls provides a service to “automatically create, target and optimize your digital advertising.” To get started, you upload images, videos and a basic message, and then Needls does the rest for you. Needls offers a variety of features, including landing page generation, social media reporting and comprehensive analytics to keep track of your company’s digital presence and outreach.
- Spokal: If your business uses WordPress, then Spokal's inbound marketing platform can enhance and distribute your content. Spokal provides advanced content management and SEO tools to ensure your WordPress site is receiving the attention it deserves. You can use Spokal's automated social sharing service to leverage your company’s digital presence across social networks. Spokal also integrates with Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign for email campaign and customer retention automation.
5. Sales and ecommerce
- Printful: If you’re looking to enhance the reach of your business, custom-printed merchandise and freebies are a great resource for attracting new business. Printful lets you print on a variety of products with affordable options. You can print your logo on many different products, including tote bags, coffee cups and posters. Printful integrates with a variety of ecommerce services and supports custom integration through its API.
- RegFox: Planning an event or conference for your business is quite simple when using RegFox’s event registration services. Unlike other event services, RegFox lets you keep 100 percent of the processing fees incurred during ticket sales. While RegFox charges you less than a dollar per attendee, it costs “50 percent less than the competition” making it an affordable resource for your businesses event planning needs.
- Salesforce.com: Salesforce.com is one of the world's leading companies for business automation and CRM. You can leverage Salesforce.com's powerful marketing and sales automation tools to enhance your digital presence and marketing campaigns. Salesforce.com integrates with hundreds of third-party business apps through its expansive market of APIs called AppExchange.
- SalesAutopilot: An all-in-one marketing, sales and CRM solution, SalesAutopilot offers a wide range of digital services for small business owners. SalesAutopilot's helpdesk module automates customer feedback and support ticket tracking for your business. Its marketing auto pilot module provides a robust automation solution for email marketing. If your business is looking for an affordable marketing automation service, then SalesAutopilot may be just what you need to get started.
6. Internet automation
- IFTTT: An acronym of sorts for "if this then that," IFTTT is one of the most streamlined automation tools available on the Web. You create recipes that perform specific actions based on predefined triggers. For example, you can a recipe that automatically adds contact information from email into an Excel spreadsheet. While the service is ideal for personal home automation, it is also a powerful business automation tool. Currently, there are over 240 third-party app connections -- known as channels -- to automate your business across the Web.
- Zapier: Zapier is similar to IFTTT in that it automates actions across third-party apps and services. However, Zapier’s focus is on business services rather than personal and home automation. You can configure Zapier to access multiple accounts on the same service such as Twitter or Microsoft Office 365, and create robust automated workflows known as zaps.
Automation technologies enable you to free up valuable time spent on redundant processes and help focus your attention on growing your business. What are some of your favorite automation tools that you use in your business?
By Adam Toren