Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Over the last few years, marketing automation has quickly become a critical tool within organizations’ tech stacks — including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) — to grow sales pipelines, enhance customer support and increase revenue. In fact, in a 2022 Act! customer relationship management study, SMB owners stated that implementing marketing software and other innovative tech, like CRM, led to increased sales and business productivity, customer satisfaction and retention, marketing outreach and company growth and revenue. With marketing automation applications unlocking untapped markets and growth for businesses worldwide, it is no surprise that the global marketing automation market has reached new highs in 2022 ($5.2 billion), according to Markets and Markets.
The ability to simplify and streamline numerous marketing efforts, including email marketing, content marketing and SEO, enabled SMB owners to remain competitive amid the unprecedented challenges of years prior due to global shutdowns, depleted employee markets and ongoing inflation. With that, 2023 is the year for SMB owners to further embrace marketing automation, learning to better optimize their technology and business processes to not only remain competitive but to stand out and outpace the competition.
Here are four marketing automation trends for SMBs to implement to make a splash in 2023.
1. Delivering funnel-optimized content
Today’s customers don’t just want a personalized experience, they expect it. A recent McKinsey study found that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. Personalized customer experiences have long been an area of opportunity for SMBs, and the explosion of digital channels and the migration of consumers online shouldn’t change that. In 2023, it simply will not be enough to add a customer’s name to an email subject line or trigger discount emails on their birthday. But, with the right marketing automation tools, marketers can gain the knowledge and tools to adequately cater to the right audiences.
By tracking customers’ website and email engagement — as well as other content assets — with marketing automation, SMBs can determine different customers’ pain points and needs. This helps marketers understand what content engages what audiences, and enables them to adjust copy, images or frequency of different marketing channels to improve engagement metrics. And, employees can use sales and customer support engagement data to gain an even deeper understanding of customer needs.
With this knowledge, SMBs can better segment different audiences and scale different automated email workflows with relevant content and formats that is proven to engage that specific audience. Then, with the right marketing automation software, teams can create triggered responses that automatically send additional funnel-optimized content based on how the prospect interacts with that email. Through automation, SMBs can quickly funnel relevant content in the form of on-demand webinars, whitepapers, video content or schedule follow-up phone calls and meetings. This enables small, resource-constrained marketing teams to guide prospects through an entire sales journey in a fraction of the time.
2. Enabling strategic decision making
The appeal of marketing automation software for SMBs began because of the tech’s ability to improve marketing reach. However, SMBs must now look to better understand and utilize the wealth of information gathered from their marketing software. With the reach finding that data-driven organizations are three times more likely to improve in strategic decision-making, the ability to capture and capitalize on valuable data will be top of mind for SMB owners in 2023.
Through marketing automation, SMBs can easily track the activity on different communications channels. This enables teams to not only gather intel on customer behaviors but monitor how different marketing campaigns and messages are performing with audiences. And, powerful marketing automation platforms come with testing tools, like a/b testing, that allow marketers to adjust and fine-tune email and web messaging and campaign designs. With marketing automation’s data tracking and testing, SMBs can simplify data analysis and improve decision-making through knowledge-based findings.
3. Enhancing lead generation and nurturing
Effective lead generation and nurturing are critical aspects of sales and business growth. Lead nurturing — once a labor-intensive endeavor — has become a simplified and streamlined process thanks to marketing automation.
With automated tools, SMBs can continue to eliminate repetitive, time-consuming manual tasks on all fronts — especially within the sales funnel. With intuitive marketing automation platforms, even a novice designer can easily create engaging, high-converting and on-brand landing pages equipped with lead capture forms to collect customer email addresses and phone numbers.
SMBs looking to take lead capturing to the next level can integrate their marketing automation with their customer relationship management (CRM) software. In so doing, teams can further eliminate manual work and improve customer interactions by automatically transmitting and segregating prioritized lead information and automating lead profiling and scoring based on prospect behavior.
4. Creating cohesive omnichannel marketing
Integrating marketing automation with CRM will not only help SMBs with lead generation and nurturing in 2023 but will provide the functionality needed to successfully implement omnichannel marketing.
Omnichannel campaigns often fail because they lack consistency among different channels and audiences. By integrating marketing automation and CRM, SMBs create a seamless flow of information in all business departments. The combination of data unification and automation will pave the way for SMBs to drive sales from each of their marketing channels while maintaining a cohesive user experience.
In order to improve on 2022’s successes, SMBs must take the next step in their digital journey — starting with marketing automation. By following the marketing automation trends of 2023 and enhancing their knowledge of marketing automation capabilities, SMBs will position themselves to expand outreach, increase sales and drive business growth.