6 Marketing Automation Tools for Small Businesses

calendar-imageSmall business owners have enough on their plates, without having to manually manage repetitive marketing tasks like keeping their websites and social media pages updated and sending out email newsletters on a regular basis.

According to a survey by Constant Contact, SMBs spend an average of 33 hours per week on marketing activities, including SEO, online banner ads, website updates, and e-newsletters. This is a number that merchants would love to lower, but only if they were able to do so without decreasing the return they see from existing local campaigns. It’s also one of the reasons why marketing automation platforms are gaining traction within the small business community.

Here are six marketing automation systems that local merchants can use to build smarter local marketing campaigns.

1. Azuqua: Setup marketing workflows with triggering events.
Azuqua automates business processes that involve two or more SaaS apps. Merchants set up “triggering events,” like when someone mentions their businesses by name on Facebook, when an email is received, or when a financial transaction goes through. Then, they set up “rules” to tell Azuqua what should happen each time a triggering event occurs. (For example, each time a business gets mentioned negatively on Twitter, Azuqua should reply to the customer with an incident number or a service manager should be notified.) Azuqua integrates with a variety of apps, including Salesforce, Twilio, Trello, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Pricing for Azuqua ranges from free to $250 per month.

2. SnapRetail: Access libraries of ready-to-use online campaigns.
Merchants who want to use social media and email marketing, but don’t want to spend the time developing their own campaign strategies from scratch, can utilize SnapRetail’s library of ready-to-use campaigns and pre-written social media posts. Business owners find the promotion ideas they like within SnapRetail, then drag-and-drop those promotions onto a calendar to schedule when they will run. At that pre-determined date and time, SnapRetail will run the business’ promotion on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Businesses can also use SnapRetail’s pre-written email templates to quickly create targeted promotions and bar-coded email coupons. SnapRetail’s pricing starts at $2.75 per day or $999 per year.

3. Active Campaigns: Set autoresponders based on subscription data.
Active Campaigns gives local merchants a way to create their own automated sales forces, and connects email marketing campaigns to social media accounts and websites. Combining email marketing with marketing automation and behavioral analysis, Active Campaigns helps users send automated emails based on their subscriber’s data (such as anniversaries and birthdays). Merchants can set up drip campaigns to automatically follow up with subscribers at pre-determined intervals. They can also set up web content (like blog posts and product announcements) that is triggered by new email campaigns. Pricing for Active Campaigns starts at free for users with up to 2,500 contacts.

4. Spokal: Manage inbound marketing without worrying about the technical details.
Designed specifically for small business owners, Spokal is an inbound marketing automation system that helps its users boost traffic and improve their “social authority.” When merchants use Spokal’s editor to create online marketing content, the platform automatically handles technical considerations like image attribution, adding Open Graph tags, and Twitter cards. Spokal then shares this content across multiple social media platforms based on the custom schedules that merchants have set up. Using “conditional flows,” businesses are able to segment the leads they generate based on any rules they create. They can also get help building an engaged following on Twitter. A Spokal Starter plan costs $49 per month.

5. GetResponse: Automatically respond to customer needs with action-based offers.
An email marketing platform for businesses, GetResponse offers campaign automation tools that help merchants keep their campaigns and subscriber lists organized. Businesses can set up their own unique campaign automation rules. For example, they can have certain subscribers moved to different campaign lists once they make purchases, or they can automatically remove subscribers from multiple campaigns at once. Businesses can also set up automatic time-based and action-based offers based on their subscribers’ interests and actions (like signing up for newsletters, having birthdays, or completing transactions). GetResponse’s pricing starts at $15 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers.

6. Infusionsoft: Use automatic follow-ups to turn leads into customers.
Used by more than 20,000 small businesses, Infusionsoft provides its users with a way to automate their marketing campaigns. Using templates and Infusionsoft’s campaign builder, merchants can quickly set up campaigns that involve emails, direct mail, voice broadcasts, and social media posts. Autoresponders send personalized emails to leads based on triggering events. Meanwhile, Infusionsoft will automatically follow up with leads captured through the web forms that businesses embed on their landing pages. Infusionsoft also offers “social lead generation,” which involves using Facebook contests and promotions to capture more leads. Infusionsoft pricing starts at $199 per month.

Know of other systems that small businesses can use to automate their marketing campaigns? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

  • Shibani Roy

    I think LeadSquared (http://bit.ly/1noVIAM) could make the list.

  • Ryan Cook

    Another great platform is SimplyCast 360, by SimplyCast that provides multi-channel messaging, automation and advanced tracking, as well as built in Contact management and integration with most 3rd party CRMs!

  • Rick Kawamura

    Locbox provides an all – in – one marketing solution for local businesses to run marketing campaigns on a variety of channels – facebook, google, email, mobile, websites, etc, through an automated SaaS platform. Real ROI delivered.

  • http://www.AndrewSzatan.com/ Andrew Szatan

    Also check out OutboundEngine (http://outboundengine.com). It’s an automated email and social media marketing platform designed for small businesses. We’re unique because we don’t just build great software, we create beautiful, engaging content and then use software to customize it for your business and distribute it for you.

    Unlike advertising or SEO, OutboundEngine helps you stay top of mind with your existing leads and customers, so it’s ideal for businesses that rely on repeat business and referrals.

    Disclosure: I work at OutboundEngine.

  • intouchcrm

    I would also add InTouch (http://www.intouchcrm.com/) to this list. It is a web based sales and marketing software specifically designed to meet the needs of SMEs. We help businesses achieve maximum results and ROI at a minimal cost for a minimum amount of time.

    • Katie S

      I have used Intouch for a while now and would recommend it highly!

      • intouchcrm

        Thank you for the kind comment and recommendation Katie!

  • Chris Mack

    Hi Stephanie – thanks for including Spokal!

  • Mark Broda

    In my opinion SALESmanago Marketing Automation (www.salesmanago.com) will do the job, especially for SMB.

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  • http://www.sahilparikh.com/ Sahil Parikh

    Have you checked out Brightpod? It is a project management software for marketing teams – http://www.brightpod.com.


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  • Suzy Teele

    Thanks for including SnapRetail Stephanie! We work hard to make marketing easy for the smallest retailers who do everything in their stores.

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  • http://hiandrewgale.com Andrew Gale

    Would like to add http://referralrock.com for consideration – It’s an easy way to get customer referrals

  • Heather Servaty-Seib (sota70)

    Another great tool for small business owners is SendTree (www.sendtree.com)–offers the ability to send mass text messages to customers (e.g., special offers) and employees (e.g., weather, change in schedules). Not free–but reasonably priced, professional, and reliable. You can also schedule text messages far in advance–saving time!