How to Select a Marketing Automation Platform for Your Small Business

When you’re a small business owner, you have to juggle a lot of things on the daily.

And since you’re just a person with no more than 24 hours in a day, it becomes impossible to focus on everything that needs your attention. Unfortunately, this often leads to mistakes and less-than-ideal results. Especially where marketing is concerned.

However, there is a solution: small business marketing automation.

You don’t have to complete all the tedious tasks; your small business marketing software can take care of that.

But how do you find the right marketing automation platform for your small business?

Let’s find out!

Why Small Businesses Need Marketing Automation

If you’re not convinced yet, let’s look at the numbers:

  • 75% of all businesses that use a marketing automation solution see a positive ROI within the first year (Source)
  • 80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase (Source)
  • Use of marketing automation leads to a 15% increase in sales productivity and a 12% reduction in costs (Source)

And since marketing automation software is no longer as expensive as it used to be, there’s no reason not to find a great solution for your SMB needs!

How to Select a Marketing Automation Platform

While they are incredibly useful, not all marketing automation platforms are made alike. They have different features and help you achieve different goals.

1. Define Your Goals

Before you whip out your credit card, you should first define your goals:

  • What do you want to achieve with automation?
  • What types of tasks do you want the platform to cover?

For example, you could be looking for email automation that will help you convert more leads that visit your website. Maybe your goal is increasing your conversion rate by 50%.

Maybe you just want a structured platform to keep track of all your advertising campaigns, and ensure that you’re not spending your ad budget on channels that don’t work.

Or you could even need for a full-scale marketing solution.

In any case, it’s important to define why you need automation before you choose a solution.

2. Evaluate Your Marketing Funnel

The best marketing automation software will integrate seamlessly with your entire marketing funnel; top to bottom.

For example, if you generate leads through advertising, nurture them with content, and convert them with email, you want a tool that supports you every step of the way.

It’s a good idea to reevaluate your marketing funnel before you embark on the software selection journey:

  • Define key phases of your marketing funnel
  • Define key actions leads need to take in order to convert
  • Define key processes you use to convert your leads
  • List tools you currently use

By understanding the successful aspects of your current processes, you’ll know which areas the automation software needs to support.

3. Find Small Business Marketing Software that Fits Your SMB

While the pricing of the majority of automation tools is fairly reasonable these days, some are still best fit for mid-market businesses or enterprises, not SMBs.

A complex tool that you don’t need will do more harm than good, which is why it’s important to create a list of software that serves your needs and caters to businesses like yours.

You can use Google or Capterra to find the best software for your needs, business size, and skill levels.

Your selection criteria should include:

  • Features
  • Funnel alignment (top to bottom)
  • Business size
  • Integration with your existing tools
  • Analytics
  • Simplicity
  • Personalization
  • Cost

Your first priority should be features and funnel alignment.

However, if you’re already using certain tools for your marketing, you need to find software that is capable of integrating with them (or replacing them).

Additionally, your small business marketing software should help you make informed data-driven decisions. The reporting capabilities should help you eliminate the guesswork and grow your business at a rapid pace.
Finally, your automation tool should be easy to use.

However, if you have multiple employees who will be using it, make sure that they either have the necessary skills or receive proper training.

4. Evaluate Software Individually

After you’ve shortlisted the tools which serve the purpose, you should watch live demos, read customer reviews, and get as much practical information as possible to create your list of pros and cons.

Keep your key criteria in mind (features, ease of use, etc.) and remove the software which doesn’t satisfy your criteria. You’ll remove plenty of options. However, you’ll still be left with a few possible solutions.

In order to narrow down your list, test the tools against real scenarios.

Test every tool that’s remained on the list against real scenarios you’ve experienced. This will show you whether the software really meets the criteria, or fails at performing certain tasks.

For example, you may want software that has analytics showing you the highest converting phases of your marketing funnel.

However, if the software does not offer that feature (and it’s indispensable to you), it’s time to cross it off the list.

5. Select Your Small Business Marketing Software

Finally, it’s time to say choose the winner.

If you’re still left with a few options that have nearly identical features, take a look at criteria such as:

  • Cost
  • Customer support
  • Development

Customer support is especially important if other people are going to be using the software and they need training. If the company offers free training and a vast knowledge base, that’s always a significant pro on the list.

Additionally, marketing is ever-changing. You want a software partner that stays up to date with recent developments and integrates them into the tool so you can be among the first business owners to use it.

Finally, the cost is one of the most significant factors. Make sure you keep your budget in mind, as well as the potential ROI of the selected solution.

Have You Found Your SMB Marketing Partner?

And there you have it!

It took only five steps to find a solution that will make your life a lot easier.

After you’ve implemented it, it’s time to kick back and…relax? Well, a business owner can never relax. But treat yourself to a steaming hot cup of coffee anyway. 😉