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Marketing Automation and Customer Relationship Management for Small Businesses

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Marketing Automation and Customer Relationship Management for Small Businesses

Small businesses have particular difficulties at their very start. This is because they have fewer resources and fewer employees. However, they can level the playing field and compete successfully with certain technology.

These technologies include marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) for small businesses. Combined, they have mutually beneficial connections for your start-up. That’s why we are here to explain the right tools and techniques that will help you organize your business processes, successfully manage your finances, and create enduring relationships with your clients. Let’s dive in.

The Role of Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

Time is a precious resource for every business, big or small. Once used up, this resource is lost forever. That’s where the marketing automation software comes in to alleviate manual workload. Entrepreneurs who use marketing automation are freed from the time-consuming tasks that slow them down.

By automating procedures like email marketing, lead nurturing, and even customer segmentation, small business owners can devote their valuable time to more important things. This usually includes strategic planning, product development, and business expansion.

Let’s see how this works in practice. Imagine you have an e-commerce store that manually emails customers about abandoned carts. Sounds interesting? Well, not really. Luckily, with marketing automation, this process can be fully automated. Emails are sent automatically, which will help recover potentially lost sales without manual effort.

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Now that you have had a glimpse of what marketing automation can do for you, let’s dive a bit deeper and check more advantages of using automation.

1. Create Consistency

Customers can become confused and lose trust when branding is inconsistent. That’s why consistency is crucial for a small business to establish and strengthen its brand identity. Here’s where marketing automation comes to save the day again. Thanks to marketing automation, your messaging will be unified throughout every customer contact.

Here’s an example: you have a small brand that uses marketing automation for its social media posts and email marketing. Automation ensures its messaging and branding are consistent across all platforms, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or email newsletters. This consistency not only builds brand recognition but also helps in creating a sense of reliability among customers.

2. Build Personalization

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Another aspect is personalization. Personalization is the key to successful marketing. However, this can be challenging for small businesses that have limited resources. Marketing automation makes personalization at scale achievable. Small businesses can deliver highly targeted content and offers by segmenting leads based on their behavior and interests.

Platforms for marketing automation include sizable analytics and reporting options that give helpful information about the effectiveness of campaigns. Thus, small business owners can continuously improve their marketing efforts thanks to this data-driven strategy.

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Analyze open, click-through, and conversion rates. This will help you identify which email subject lines, content, or CTAs resonate most with your audience. Based on this data, you can make informed adjustments to future campaigns, optimizing marketing efforts and maximizing return on investment (ROI).

When you feel uninspired, you can rely on email subject line generator to brainstorm ideas for your next outreach campaign. Online software solutions are becoming more sophisticated every day, don’t be afraid to take advantage of free online tools to kick-start your marketing campaign!

3. Have a Perfect Social Media Presence

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Social media is a crucial element of marketing and customer engagement. There’s almost no brand, big nor small, that isn’t present on some kind of social media, whether it’s TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook.

As you grow your business, the best thing to do is to automate those online posts. While in the beginning, it might look okay to do it manually, as you have more tasks and priorities, you will discover how much automation can help you with publishing posts and stories.

In this situation, social media automation can help your businesses streamline social media efforts, maintain a consistent online presence, and engage with your audience effectively. Also, automation ensures that social media posts are published optimally, replies to customer inquiries are prompt, and content is consistently shared across all your platforms.

The Role of CRM for Small Businesses

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Now that we explained the role of marketing automation, let’s check four main advantages of why you should use CRM for your small business.

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1. Customer Data Centralization

Customer data integration is one of the most important components of CRM. Emails, phone conversations, social media, and in-person meetings are just a few of the different touchpoints that small businesses use to communicate with their clients. CRM systems combine these interactions into one comprehensive overview.

Many businesses have both physical and online presence; if you are one of those, then CRM is your savior. CRM systems will help you integrate data from in-store purchases, online orders, customer inquiries, and social media interactions into a unified customer profile. This lets the business understand customer preferences, purchase history, and behavior.

Long story short, it creates your buyer persona. This will serve you as a perfect reference when you tailor your personalized marketing efforts to improve customer experience.

2. Customer Communication & Relationship

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Good communication is always needed. No matter what industry you work in, no matter if you sell a product or offer a service, your end goal is to sell. The only way you can gain customers and retain them is by maintaining effective communication.

Communication with customers is important at every sales stage, from marketing and promotion to invoicing and delivery.

However, managing customer relationships across channels is difficult with disparate systems, especially for small businesses with limited resources. Small businesses can create and maintain strong customer relationships thanks to CRM tools. They will facilitate email marketing campaigns, SMS notifications, and personalized messages, ensuring businesses stay engaged with their customers.

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After successful project completion, you can schedule follow-up emails, send appointment reminders, and even trigger personalized thank-you messages.

Managing customer relationships across channels is difficult with disparate systems, especially for small businesses with limited resources. However, there are solutions like the headless commerce approach that allow them to combine customer data from CRM and commerce into a single view.

3. Sales and Lead Management

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Since small businesses frequently have limited resources, effective lead and sales management is essential. Luckily, all these things, including sales pipeline management and forecasting opportunities, are much easier to achieve with CRM systems.

You can track prospects, classify them based on where they are in the sales funnel, and distribute them to the right sales reps. This strategy guarantees that no lead is missed and maximizes conversion.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the tools that CRM has to offer. We understand that you may be afraid of the unknown, but this can only benefit you and your businesses. Also, if you are on a budget, there are many affordable CRM systems for startups, like Less Annoying CRM and Nimble. Explore them, experiment, and soon enough, you will achieve that high conversion rate.

4. CRM Onboarding

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Every time you have a new employee on the team, CRM will help you make their onboarding process much easier. New recruits can have easy access to critical customer information, workflows, calendars, account information, teams, and team members, thanks to CRM onboarding.

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This information will help them internalize your procedures. Also, your team staff won’t spend their precious time helping their new colleagues with these easy tasks and can focus on much more important things.

For that reason, it is highly important to include a training manual when onboarding new employees. This way, they can be familiarized with the company’s CRM system and thus help your customers.

Extra Tip: Think about Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an appealing business model for small businesses. It can be very lucrative and help you expand your product offerings without the logistical challenges of holding inventory. Let’s see how.

1. Cost-Efficient Growth

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As we already mentioned, small businesses are often on tight budgets. Thus, traditional inventory management can be capital-intensive. In this case, you might consider optioning for a dropshipping business. Dropshipping minimizes the need for inventory storage and management, significantly reducing operational costs.

Thus, if you opt to have a dropshipping business, you could use Zoho CRM. Zoho CRM offers a free plan for small businesses that you can upgrade once your business grows. It is easy to use, affordable, and will help you get started with a breeze.

This is also a great idea if you want to expand your offer, which means adding more products. You will opt for a dropshipping business instead of investing in additional storage space and inventory. This will allow you to offer your potential clients a diverse product range without the financial burden of purchasing and storing more products.

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2. Scalability

When you start small, your goal is to grow and expand your business over time. However, rapid expansion can be challenging when it involves managing inventory, logistics, and finances. Again, dropshipping saves the day here since it simplifies scalability. You can quickly scale your product offerings without the financial burden of buying or managing inventory.

Moreover, with the right set of online tools, you can manage every aspect of your dropshipping business at your fingertips. With affordable cloud-based solutions, you don’t need a big budget to get started with effective communication with your customers.

For example, a simple task like sending out invoices can be very time-consuming if not automated. With tools readily available, you no longer need to create each invoice from scratch. There are robust online invoice generators available to streamline the process and swiftly generate professional and branded invoices.

And invoice automation is not the only way you can automate your processes. Think about email marketing, design generation, and other areas where you invest your time.

3. Flexible Location

Another money-saving tip for start-ups is that you can work from anywhere when you have a dropshipping business. You can do your business from whatever location you wish. While traveling, on the train, at the dining table. Your dropshipping business can thrive as long as you have access to the Internet, positive working relationships with your suppliers, and effective communication with your clients.

Conclusion

Marketing automation and customer relationship management go hand in hand. Small businesses can streamline their operations, manage their finances effectively, and position themselves for sustainable development by using these tools and methods. Don’t be afraid of new things, experimenting and changing accordingly. With devotion, your sales will go up high before you know it.

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Advertising in local markets: A playbook for success

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Advertising in local markets: A playbook for success

Many brands, such as those in the home services industry or a local grocery chain, market to specific locations, cities or regions. There are also national brands that want to expand in specific local markets. 

Regardless of the company or purpose, advertising on a local scale has different tactics than on a national scale. Brands need to connect their messaging directly with the specific communities they serve and media to their target demo. Here’s a playbook to help your company succeed when marketing on a local scale.  

1. Understand local vs. national campaigns

Local advertising differs from national campaigns in several ways: 

  • Audience specificity: By zooming in on precise geographic areas, brands can tailor messaging to align with local communities’ customs, preferences and nuances. This precision targeting ensures that your message resonates with the right target audience.
  • Budget friendliness: Local advertising is often more accessible for small businesses. Local campaign costs are lower, enabling brands to invest strategically within targeted locales. This budget-friendly nature does not diminish the need for strategic planning; instead, it emphasizes allocating resources wisely to maximize returns. As a result, testing budgets can be allocated across multiple markets to maximize learnings for further market expansion.
  • Channel selection: Selecting the correct channels is vital for effective local advertising. Local newspapers, radio stations, digital platforms and community events each offer advantages. The key lies in understanding where your target audience spends time and focusing efforts to ensure optimal engagement.
  • Flexibility and agility: Local campaigns can be adjusted more swiftly in response to market feedback or changes, allowing brands to stay relevant and responsive. 

Maintaining brand consistency across local touchpoints reinforces brand identity and builds a strong, recognizable brand across markets. 

2. Leverage customized audience segmentation 

Customized audience segmentation is the process of dividing a market into distinct groups based on specific demographic criteria. This marketing segmentation supports the development of targeted messaging and media plans for local markets. 

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For example, a coffee chain might cater to two distinct segments: young professionals and retirees. After identifying these segments, the chain can craft messages, offers and media strategies relating to each group’s preferences and lifestyle.

To reach young professionals in downtown areas, the chain might focus on convenience, quality coffee and a vibrant atmosphere that is conducive to work and socializing. Targeted advertising on Facebook, Instagram or Connected TV, along with digital signage near office complexes, could capture the attention of this demographic, emphasizing quick service and premium blends.

Conversely, for retirees in residential areas, the chain could highlight a cozy ambiance, friendly service and promotions such as senior discounts. Advertisements in local print publications, community newsletters, radio stations and events like senior coffee mornings would foster a sense of community and belonging.

Dig deeper: Niche advertising: 7 actionable tactics for targeted marketing

3. Adapt to local market dynamics

Various factors influence local market dynamics. Brands that navigate changes effectively maintain a strong audience connection and stay ahead in the market. Here’s how consumer sentiment and behavior may evolve within a local market and the corresponding adjustments brands can make. 

  • Cultural shifts, such as changes in demographics or societal norms, can alter consumer preferences within a local community. For example, a neighborhood experiencing gentrification may see demand rise for specific products or services.
    • Respond by updating your messaging to reflect the evolving cultural landscape, ensuring it resonates with the new demographic profile.
  • Economic conditions are crucial. For example, during downturns, consumers often prioritize value and practicality.
    • Highlight affordable options or emphasize the practical benefits of your offerings to ensure messaging aligns with consumers’ financial priorities. The impact is unique to each market and the marketing message must also be dynamic.
  • Seasonal trends impact consumer behavior.
    • Align your promotions and creative content with changing seasons or local events to make your offerings timely and relevant.
  • New competitors. The competitive landscape demands vigilance because new entrants or innovative competitor campaigns can shift consumer preferences.
    • Differentiate by focusing on your unique selling propositions, such as quality, customer service or community involvement, to retain consumer interest and loyalty.

4. Apply data and predictive analytics 

Data and predictive analytics are indispensable tools for successfully reaching local target markets. These technologies provide consumer behavior insights, enabling you to anticipate market trends and adjust strategies proactively. 

  • Price optimization: By analyzing consumer demand, competitor pricing and market conditions, data analytics enables you to set prices that attract customers while ensuring profitability.
  • Competitor analysis: Through analysis, brands can understand their positioning within the local market landscape and identify opportunities and threats. Predictive analytics offer foresight into competitors’ potential moves, allowing you to strategize effectively to maintain a competitive edge.
  • Consumer behavior: Forecasting consumer behavior allows your brand to tailor offerings and marketing messages to meet evolving consumer needs and enhance engagement.
  • Marketing effectiveness: Analytics track the success of advertising campaigns, providing insights into which strategies drive conversions and sales. This feedback loop enables continuous optimization of marketing efforts for maximum impact.
  • Inventory management: In supply chain management, data analytics predict demand fluctuations, ensuring inventory levels align with market needs. This efficiency prevents stockouts or excess inventory, optimizing operational costs and meeting consumer expectations.

Dig deeper: Why you should add predictive modeling to your marketing mix

5. Counter external market influences

Consider a clothing retailer preparing for a spring collection launch. By analyzing historical weather data and using predictive analytics, the brand forecasts an unseasonably cool start to spring. Anticipating this, the retailer adjusts its campaign to highlight transitional pieces suitable for cooler weather, ensuring relevance despite an unexpected chill.

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Simultaneously, predictive models signal an upcoming spike in local media advertising rates due to increased market demand. Retailers respond by reallocating a portion of advertising budgets to digital channels, which offer more flexibility and lower costs than traditional media. This shift enables brands to maintain visibility and engagement without exceeding budget, mitigating the impact of external forces on advertising.

6. Build consumer confidence with messaging

Localized messaging and tailored customer service enhance consumer confidence by demonstrating your brand’s understanding of the community. For instance, a grocery store that curates cooking classes featuring local cuisine or sponsors community events shows commitment to local culture and consumer interests. 

Similarly, a bookstore highlighting local authors or topics relevant to the community resonates with local customers. Additionally, providing service that addresses local needs — such as bilingual service and local event support — reinforces the brand’s values and response to the community. 

Through these localized approaches, brands can build trust and loyalty, bridging the gap between corporate presence and local relevance.

7. Dominate with local advertising 

To dominate local markets, brands must:

  • Harness hyper-targeted segmentation and geo-targeted advertising to reach and engage precise audiences.
  • Create localized content that reflects community values, engage in community events, optimize campaigns for mobile and track results.
  • Fine-tune strategies, outperform competitors and foster lasting relationships with customers.

These strategies will enable your message to resonate with local consumers, differentiate you in competitive markets and ensure you become a major player in your specific area. 



Dig deeper: The 5 critical elements for local marketing success

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

As we march closer to the 2024 U.S. presidential election, CMOs and marketing leaders need to prepare for a significant shift in the digital advertising landscape. Election years have always posed unique challenges for advertisers, but the growing dominance of digital media has made the impact more profound than ever before.

In this article, we’ll explore the key factors that will shape the advertising environment in the coming months and provide actionable insights to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

The Digital Battleground

The rise of cord-cutting and the shift towards digital media consumption have fundamentally altered the advertising landscape in recent years. As traditional TV viewership declines, political campaigns have had to adapt their strategies to reach voters where they are spending their time: on digital platforms.

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According to a recent report by eMarketer, the number of cord-cutters in the U.S. is expected to reach 65.1 million by the end of 2023, representing a 6.9% increase from 2022. This trend is projected to continue, with the number of cord-cutters reaching 72.2 million by 2025.

Moreover, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2023 found that 62% of U.S. adults do not have a cable or satellite TV subscription, up from 61% in 2022 and 50% in 2019. This data further underscores the accelerating shift away from traditional TV and towards streaming and digital media platforms.

As these trends continue, political advertisers will have no choice but to follow their audiences to digital channels. In the 2022 midterm elections, digital ad spending by political campaigns reached $1.2 billion, a 50% increase from the 2018 midterms. With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, this figure is expected to grow exponentially, as campaigns compete for the attention of an increasingly digital-first electorate.

For brands and advertisers, this means that the competition for digital ad space will be fiercer than ever before. As political ad spending continues to migrate to platforms like Meta, YouTube, and connected TV, the cost of advertising will likely surge, making it more challenging for non-political advertisers to reach their target audiences.

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To navigate this complex and constantly evolving landscape, CMOs and their teams will need to be proactive, data-driven, and willing to experiment with new strategies and channels. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the changing media consumption habits of their audiences, brands can position themselves for success in the face of the electoral advertising onslaught.

Rising Costs and Limited Inventory

As political advertisers flood the digital market, the cost of advertising is expected to skyrocket. CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) will likely experience a steady climb throughout the year, with significant spikes anticipated in May, as college students come home from school and become more engaged in political conversations, and around major campaign events like presidential debates.

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For media buyers and their teams, this means that the tried-and-true strategies of years past may no longer be sufficient. Brands will need to be nimble, adaptable, and willing to explore new tactics to stay ahead of the game.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Perfect Storm

The challenges of election year advertising will be particularly acute during the critical holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have historically been goldmines for advertisers, will be more expensive and competitive than ever in 2024, as they coincide with the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

To avoid being drowned out by the political noise, brands will need to start planning their holiday campaigns earlier than usual. Building up audiences and crafting compelling creative assets well in advance will be essential to success, as will a willingness to explore alternative channels and tactics. Relying on cold audiences come Q4 will lead to exceptionally high costs that may be detrimental to many businesses.

Navigating the Chaos

While the challenges of election year advertising can seem daunting, there are steps that media buyers and their teams can take to mitigate the impact and even thrive in this environment. Here are a few key strategies to keep in mind:

Start early and plan for contingencies: Begin planning your Q3 and Q4 campaigns as early as possible, with a focus on building up your target audiences and developing a robust library of creative assets.

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Be sure to build in contingency budgets to account for potential cost increases, and be prepared to pivot your strategy as the landscape evolves.

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Embrace alternative channels: Consider diversifying your media mix to include channels that may be less impacted by political ad spending, such as influencer marketing, podcast advertising, or sponsored content. Investing in owned media channels, like email marketing and mobile apps, can also provide a direct line to your customers without the need to compete for ad space.

Owned channels will be more important than ever. Use cheaper months leading up to the election to build your email lists and existing customer base so that your BF/CM can leverage your owned channels and warm audiences.

Craft compelling, shareable content: In a crowded and noisy advertising environment, creating content that resonates with your target audience will be more important than ever. Focus on developing authentic, engaging content that aligns with your brand values and speaks directly to your customers’ needs and desires.

By tapping into the power of emotional triggers and social proof, you can create content that not only cuts through the clutter but also inspires organic sharing and amplification.

Reflections

The 2024 election year will undoubtedly bring new challenges and complexities to the world of digital advertising. But by staying informed, adaptable, and strategic in your approach, you can navigate this landscape successfully and even find new opportunities for growth and engagement.

As a media buyer or agnecy, your role in steering your brand through these uncharted waters will be critical. By starting your planning early, embracing alternative channels and tactics, and focusing on creating authentic, resonant content, you can not only survive but thrive in the face of election year disruptions.

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So while the road ahead may be uncertain, one thing is clear: the brands that approach this challenge with creativity, agility, and a steadfast commitment to their customers will be the ones that emerge stronger on the other side.


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Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

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Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

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By Tinuiti Team

Rapid Media Mix Modeling and Proprietary Tech Transform Brand Performance

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Tinuiti, the largest independent full-funnel performance marketing agency, has been included in a recent Forrester Research report titled, “The Marketing Analytics Landscape, Q2 2024.” This report comprehensively overviews marketing analytics markets, use cases, and capabilities. B2C marketing leaders can use this research by Principal Analyst Tina Moffett to understand the intersection of marketing analytics capabilities and use cases to determine the vendor or service provider best positioned for their analytics and insights needs. Moffett describes the top marketing analytics markets as advertising agencies, marketing dashboards and business intelligence tools, marketing measurement and optimization platforms and service providers, and media analytics tools.

As an advertising agency, we believe Tinuiti is uniquely positioned to manage advertising campaigns for brands including buying, targeting, and measurement. Our proprietary measurement technology, Bliss Point by Tinuiti, allows us to measure the optimal level of investment to maximize impact and efficiency. According to the Forrester report, “only 30% of B2C marketing decision-makers say their organization uses marketing or media mix modeling (MMM),” so having a partner that knows, embraces, and utilizes MMM is important. As Tina astutely explains, data-driven agencies have amplified their marketing analytics competencies with data science expertise; and proprietary tools; and tailored their marketing analytics techniques based on industry, business, and data challenges. 

Our Rapid Media Mix Modeling sets a new standard in the market with its exceptional speed, precision, and transparency. Our patented tech includes Rapid Media Mix Modeling, Always-on Incrementality, Brand Equity, Creative Insights, and Forecasting – it will get you to your Marketing Bliss Point in each channel, across your entire media mix, and your overall brand performance. 

As a marketing leader you may ask yourself: 

  • How much of our marketing budget should we allocate to driving store traffic versus e-commerce traffic?
  • How should we allocate our budget by channel to generate the most traffic and revenue possible?
  • How many customers did we acquire in a specific region with our media spend?
  • What is the impact of seasonality on our media mix?
  • How should we adjust our budget accordingly?
  • What is the optimal marketing channel mix to maximize brand awareness? 

These are just a few of the questions that Bliss Point by Tinuiti can help you answer.

Learn more about our customer-obsessed, product-enabled, and fully integrated approach and how we’ve helped fuel full-funnel outcomes for the world’s most digital-forward brands like Poppi & Toms.

The Landscape report is available online to Forrester customers or for purchase here

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