It’s impossible to thrive in today’s business marketplace without making a healthy investment in digital marketing. Unfortunately, most startups simply don’t have the time or money to fully commit to an in-depth strategy. Thankfully there is an answer, and it comes in the form of automation. Are you willing to give it a shot?
Recognizing the Role of Automation in Marketing
Virtually every entrepreneur who takes the time to launch a startup has a good idea. It might not be the best idea the world has ever seen, but you aren’t going to find many people who will put everything on the line to launch a company without at least having a serviceable innovation that some collection of consumers finds intriguing, useful, or valuable.
Having said that, the friction startups encounter rarely has anything to do with ideation. Instead, issues are generally rooted in strategy, planning, visibility, resources, or execution.
As you’ve probably discovered at least once in your career, it takes resources to execute to the degree you desire. Just having a good idea isn’t enough. You need a good idea and the ability to execute on that idea. In the business world, execution happens when resources are readily available.
Most Startups Have Good Ideas -- But Not Resources
Herein lies the problem for startups. Most new ventures have good ideas, but they don’t have storehouses of resources readily available at their disposal. This creates some friction and prevents business leaders from being able to implement the strategic action they know they need to grow, monetize, and scale.
One of the biggest problems burgeoning startups have comes on the marketing front. You need marketing to increase exposure and generate revenue, but marketing takes a lot of time away from other core tasks, like product development, direct sales, customer service, etc.
So you’re forced to either dedicate a bunch of time and money to marketing (at the expense of these other core tasks), or you forget about marketing and suffer from a lack of exposure in the marketplace (something you desperately need at this stage of the game).
The Palpable Pain Point
This used to be a vicious cycle where only well-funded startups could pursue marketing to a satisfactory degree without compromising in other key areas – but that was before marketing automation emerged as a solution to this palpable pain point.
Marketing automation has been around, to some degree, for decades. However, it’s only just become affordable, practical, and scalable to startups in the past few years.
Automation Can Help This Vicious Cycle
Marketing automation lets you do more with less – less money, less time, and less human capital. To help you get a better grasp on what makes marketing automation so valuable, let’s take a closer look at the benefits startups enjoy when they become aligned with the right solutions:
- Lowers expenses. Let’s start with the obvious. Automation lowers the cost of marketing by maximizing value and ensuring resources are fully utilized. Nothing goes untapped, which generates a healthy and robust ROI.
- Saves time. Perhaps one of the more prevalent benefits of automation is the timesaving nature of these tools and platforms. By automating processes and tasks that typically require manual involvement, you’re saving time and getting output faster and more efficiently.
- Increases reach. With automation, you’re able to significantly increase your reach, exposure, and visibility. This is a natural byproduct of saving time. When you spend less time handling basic marketing tasks, you free up extra time to broaden your strategy and engage in other areas and environments.
- Improves data collection. We operate in a business world that’s very much fueled by data and analytics. When you utilize marketing automation platforms and solutions, you get the added benefit of improved data collection. This results in greater insights that can be leveraged for future gains.
There’s clear value in marketing automation, particularly for resource-strapped startups that are struggling to find the time and money it traditionally takes to build a brand in what’s become a noisy and overly saturated digital marketplace.
4 Tips for Making Marketing Automation Work
It’s easy to get duped into thinking that marketing automation will solve all of your problems from day one, but don’t be fooled. It’s less a magical elixir and more a promising solution that can accomplish very specific objectives when properly utilized within the context of your startup.
So…how do you ensure you’re getting the most out of marketing automation? There’s no singular game plan or prescription for success, but the following tips will help you orient your startup in the right direction.
Choose the Right Automation Tools
It all starts with identifying the appropriate solutions. If you want to be successful with automation, you have to use the correct marketing platforms for your startup. While you’ve certainly heard about some of the bigger tools, here are a few marketing automation solutions you might not know about:
- Socedo. Trusted by companies like Lenovo, Quantum Listing, and Kaseya, Socedo is a powerful resource that automates social media lead generation and ensures your startup is in the right place at the right time. The proprietary search engine finds people who fit your buyer profiles and automatically generates campaigns that reach these people and drive leads. It’s truly a game-changer.
- Autosend. Part of successful marketing is reaching people at the right moment – i.e. when they’re most receptive to what you have to say. Autosend is a trigger-based email, push, and SMS platform that sends messages based on specific behaviors. For example, you could instruct the platform to send an email to a customer who started a trial of your product exactly 47 minutes after purchase.
- Agorapulse. If you’re going to be successful with marketing automation, you need to get scheduling down to a science. Agorapulse lets you schedule posts months in advance, while also providing robust reporting and analytics that gives you direct insights into how well you’re reaching your audience.
Don’t Become Robotic
One of the biggest points of friction for startups using marketing automation software is to avoid becoming robotic and detached – which is surprisingly easy to do when you put things on autopilot.
“While anyone can push a button and fire off a thousand emails, the marketers who find the most success with marketing automation are those who understand their audience and who tailor messaging and content to meet the needs and expectations of specific audience segments,” digital marketer Erik Devaney writes.
Study the Data Religiously
At the heart of successful digital marketing automation is clean, accurate data that reveals specific and relevant details about your audience. If your team is suffering from poor data hygiene – data that’s inaccurate or compromised – you’ll find it nearly impossible to launch effective marketing campaigns that reach customers and drive revenue.
As you look for ways to make the most out of your marketing automation tools, make sure you’re studying the data and constantly collecting insights from a variety of sources (which makes it more difficult for data to be erroneously manipulated).
Get Everyone on Board
Startups that view marketing in a silo typically experience negative returns or stunted growth. While marketing responsibilities fall on the shoulders of those in the marketing department, it’s not something that can be handled in isolation.
Everyone from software engineers and product developers to customer service and sales reps needs to have an idea of what’s happening on the marketing front. This ensures proper alignment between marketing messaging and the internal operations of the organization. Thankfully, marketing automation with robust reporting features allow everyone to get on the same page. Be sure to utilize these features.
Let Automation Give You The Will To Push You Forward
When it’s all said and done, marketing automation levels the playing field and gives startups and small businesses a fair shake against established organizations and multinational corporations.
“New startups often feel like minnows trying to outswim and outsmart sharks in a game of survival,” entrepreneur Daniel Newman admits. “Reports reveal that nearly half of small-business owners manage marketing efforts on their own, all while carrying out other duties from human resources to sales. Marketing automation helps bring some balance by offering incredibly savvy and sophisticated tools that also are incredibly easy to use and set.”
While it’s easy to get mesmerized by these intuitive automation tools, make sure you understand what you’re doing and have a game plan for properly leveraging the resources you invest in. The tips highlighted in this article are merely a starting point. You’ll need to develop a customized plan of attack that accounts for your specific risks, advantages, and challenges.