6 Marketing Automation Tools for Small Businesses

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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.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.