Marketing Automation Coming To Small Businesses

With valuable marketing automation insights, businesses can reach customers and prospects with the right message at the right time, driving sales.

Large corporations utilize marketing automation programs to manage the vast data they are accumulating.

As Jonathan Herrick, CSO & CMO at Hatchbuck, “marketing automation is the platform used to capture quality leads, identify their needs, and nurture them based on their unique preferences.”

Adds, Herrick, “while marketing automation is becoming the status quo for large firms, small businesses are just now crossing the chasm to adopt the technology.“

According to marketing automation analyst Dan Freeman, less than one percent of businesses with fewer than 100 employees have implemented marketing automation.

Herrick argues tis presents an awesome opportunity for small businesses.

“If you are a marketing professional in a small or mid-sized firm, this represents a great opportunity for you professionally,” Freeman said. “That’s because, we know from larger firms, that adoption is occurring broadly, and those firms that get in early have an ongoing or systematic advantage that comes with the skills and experience accumulated during the course of implementation,” he says.

As Herrick and others point out, while the reward for adopting marketing automation is high, implementation is not without its obstacles.

In a Focus survey, 50% of marketing executives said they haven't realized the full value of their marketing automation system. In a Forrester survey, 47% said they close fewer than 4% of the leads generated by their marketing automation software.

Herrick also argues small businesses should not let these stats deter them from taking advantage of marketing automation. Instead, small businesses should be encouraged to avoid common pitfalls and cross the marketing automation chasm to gain a competitive advantage.

Here Herrick offers some common mistakes when implementing marketing automation, and how to overcome them:

Inexperience: Marketing automation is still relatively new, and the majority of businesses implementing marketing automation software are installing it for the first time. An obstacle many companies face is a lack of experience not only with the technology, but also with the overall strategies that drive marketing automation success.

Small businesses can combat the experience gap by going beyond vendor research to understand the bigger picture. The “What Type of Marketer are You, Actually?” quiz in the Hatchbuck Hub helps small businesses assess their current knowledge and explore the fundamental concepts surrounding marketing automation.

Lack of process: Companies with a weak process are bound to fail when trying to adopt marketing automation. It simply cannon be built on a foundation that doesn’t exist.

“I have nearly 10 years of experience leading sales and marketing teams,” said Jonathan Herrick, CMO of Hatchbuck. “I’ve also been an executive leader at two software companies in which the onboarding and implementation of our technology was key to success. I know firsthand that successful implementation of any new technology is always built upon an existing process.”

An efficient sales and marketing process should be well intact before going down the path of automation. Businesses can check out “5 Signs of a Broken Sales and Marketing Process” to find out if its sales and marketing process is ready for marketing automation.

Low Usability: Software isn’t a field of dreams. A company can’t just build a system and expect users to play ball. A mistake that businesses often make is choosing a software vendor based on features alone, ending up with a system that is too complex for the workflow and resources at hand.

Ease of use is core to marketing automation success. Even the most robust features are useless if the end user decides it’s easier to find a work-around.  User-friendly systems that a busy marketer can pick up on the fly are adopted much more effectively than overly sophisticated tools with superfluous bells and whistles.

Incompatibility: In the past, most marketing automation systems were developed for enterprises with access to a technical resource to implement complex technology and features. Today, more and more small business marketing automation systems are cropping up. The challenge for small businesses is to avoid vendors that may be here today, and gone tomorrow, or only offer limited support.

While access to the right features is important, access to comprehensive training and support helps small businesses to get the full value out of their investment in marketing automation.

For small businesses, marketing automation is on its way to become as proliferative as email marketing and CRM tools are today. Now is the time for businesses to evaluate their overall strategy, optimize processes, and evaluate systems that fit their core goals and level of technical aptitude. By avoiding a few common pitfalls, any company can leverage marketing automation to grow their business with new, repeat, and referral customers.

Jonathan Herrick is CSO and CMO of at Hatchbuck, a sales and marketing tool for small businesses.