Marketing Automation For Small Business In 5 Easy Steps

July 20, 2015

Marketing Automation Has Huge Benefits For A Small Business

Having grown up in a family full of small business owners, run several myself, and worked with many others I know there is one truth between them all:

“Your business always has way more shtuff to do than you have time to get done, or people to accomplish… Heck, half the shtuff you probably don’t even know exists!”

And generally this shtuff falls under the realm of your marketing and promotion. You’ve likely heard from you techy brothers cousins nephew, your small business owner friends, and every other goddamn email you get that you need a website. (Yes, I get this spam mail too!) But what I’m about to cover is way more important than any of that because:

  • Having your brothers cousins computer whiz nephew build you a website
  • Sending your hard earned dollars to an esteemed Southeast Asian firm to do your SEO
  • And “getting your business on social media” (please email me before you light your cash on fire via social media!!!)

Are all next to worthless if you don’t have a plan.

You need to have a plan

Taking A Small Business From $800,000 / year to $11 Million

Having handled the marketing for a small family business that grew from under a million dollars to over $11 million and was on the 2014 Inc 5,000 list I can confidently say this:

“The key to success for your business’s marketing is identifying what works, and doing it over and over and over and… (you get the point)”

It’s not rocket science, it’s not glamorous, and I think that’s the problem. We always think there is some super smart secret switch we can flip to make our marketing work, when the secret is consistency. Success is the compounded results of the right thing done over and over for a long period of time. In a nutshell marketing automation for small business does just that, bottle your best, and repeat it over and over for every new prospect you have.

Ready to learn more? I’ve boiled it down to five easy steps. I’ll save the deep dives on email marketing, best practices, and the like for another article (I know you’re busy).

1. Choose A Marketing Automation Platform

First you need to choose a platform or program to handle your automation. This will take in email addresses and data from your website, imports from an old system, and manually entered contacts, and in turn do stuff (usually sending emails). Like a restaurant has their cooks follow a recipe over and over, this does the same thing with marketing actions. (the little wins that equal big results over time)

My recommendation for small businesses is Active Campaign. I’ll dive into a detailed review in another post but to sum it up you get the most features for a very small price (starts at $9 / month) and handles your automation, email marketing, includes a CRM, and keeps nice stats you can review to make improvements. More than everything you need, the value here is mindblowing.

2. You Need To Start Collecting Emails… Yesterday!

Prospects emails are money in the bank for your small business

Email addresses are the life blood of marketing automation and you need to be collecting them whenever possible. Ever wonder why every store including Home Depot ask you for your email address? Because this stuff works!

Here are three places you need to start collecting email addresses:

  1. Subscribe buttons on your website
  2. Lead Magnet on your website
  3. Ask all of your customers when they purchase

Subscribe Buttons On Your Website

I’ll give it to you straight here… People don’t typically subscribe on a small business website because they want to read the eloquently written emails you send out about lawn care (or whatever you do). It’s usually something more like, “That looks interesting and I don’t want to forget about this company. If I give them my email they’ll email me something and remind me later. Maybe it will be a coupon!”

A LeadMagnet On Your Website

A LeadMagnet is a report or other free piece of info people can download in exchange for their email address. Typically it’s something like:

  • Free Guide: 5 Steps To Winterize Your Lawn (Lawn Care)
  • Free Guide: 10 Easy Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Roof (Roofing Company)
  • Free Guide: The 5 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions For Families (CPA)

A potential customer would happily give you their email for this information. You on the other hand would happily send them this PDF in exchange for new prospects day after day from your website.

Note: To easily set up Subscription opt ins and lead magnets I use LeadPages. Huge time saver.

Ask All Of Your Customers For Their Email Address

This one is so easy and 90% of small businesses just don’t do it. In fact I hate to even ask because it makes me cringe. Getting the emails of your current customers is money in the bank for four reasons:

  1. They trust you (they just paid you money right?)
  2. They have friends they can refer to you
  3. They can take surveys and boost your reputation on places like Yelp, your Google Business Page, etc
  4. They will likely need your service or product again in the future

3. Set Up Automated Onboarding Email Sequences (Specific To The Opt In)

The next step in reaping the rewards of small business marketing automation goodness is setting up your onboarding email sequences. These sequences will be a bit different for each entry point you have but the content can be pretty similar. They need to be different because when you personalize them around what the prospect or customer did last your results will be much better.

These sequences are on off, meaning you only get them once when you opt in for a specific offer on your website. They typically contain three to four emails and first thank them for their download, inquiry, etc and move on to give more value on that subject.

“What happens in your onboarding sequence sets the tone for the rest of their relationship with your brand.”

Here are four things you want to do in your onboarding sequence:

  • Passively Ask For the Order.
  • Introduce them to your company and values / benefits
  • Tell them what’s next
  • Bonus: Ask them a question and to reply to you email

4. Set Up Nurturing Sequences (For Everyone)

The next step is to set up a nurturing sequence. This is an automated email series that will be sent to everyone who opts in. (You can certainly get more granular with these and have as many as you want to segment contacts. This gets pretty advanced and for the purpose of this article I’ll keep it simple with one). There is really one objective to this sequence and that is making more sales. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when setting up your long term nurture campaign:

  • These emails are less frequence (Maybe one per week to one per month)
  • Offer tips and advice to build your authority
  • Send out list emails offering inspiration “our 10 favorite patio designs, landscaping products, haircuts, etc”
  • Follow at least a 3:1 ratio of advice and value to hard sale or pitch

5. Monitor And Improve

The final key to successfully implementing a marketing automation for your small business is monitoring and improving. Whether it is set up by a seasoned automation guru, or yourself the first draft will never be as good as the second, and so on. Effective marketing is constantly evolving based on data, feedback, and results.

Marketing Automation for Small Business Should Grow Results Over Time

Your goal should be steady growth over time…

With that said you need to set up some “vitals” for your campaign and monitor them either in app if possible or in a dashboard set up in a google spreadsheet. Here are some things I suggest you watch:

  • Track the open rates of your campaign emails (This tells you the quality of your subject lines)
  • Track the click rates of your campaign emails (This is a measure of your CTA and email text overall)
  • Have a specific goal for each campaign and track that. (ie you welcome email you want them to view your about page).

Tracking like this is relatively simple, most of it is built in. Given that, most people don’t bother to do it, and knowing those numbers is the only way to swap out your emails and improve.

A final note is to “kick the bums out”. While it might be easier said than done with certain politicians, you are the king of the castle when it comes to your email nurturing lists. If someone isn’t opening or clicking your emails you need to take action. I feel a full article on this, but they will hurt your deliverability over time and need to be removed. I suggest setting up a low frequency re-engagement campaign to see if these people have a pulse. This would include your best stuff, if they don’t click…

Don't keep emailing your dead contacts, let them go.

Let your dead contacts go, don’t keep emailing them.

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Marketing Automation for Small Business Should Grow Results Over Time

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