When you’re running a small business, it can be hard to dedicate time to functions like setting brand strategy or implementing marketing automation tactics. You’re understandably focused on operations, keeping everything running smoothly and ensuring your team has everything they need to succeed.

But neglecting to take the time to effectively market your business can reduce your sales pipeline and make it difficult to acquire new business.

For many small- to medium-sized businesses, using an effective marketing automation platform will help remove time-consuming marketing tasks from your plate so you can focus on doing what you do best: running your business. Plus, automated tactics often have a higher return on investment and less margin for error when compared to manual tasks. Automation lets you enhance and optimize your marketing efforts to ensure you’re only getting the highest-quality leads.

Here are four tactics every small business should consider automating:

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a method used to determine which leads are most likely to become customers for your business. Especially with regard to marketing automation for small businesses, it’s essential to make sure that you’re focusing your efforts. By implementing lead scoring, you and your team will have a clear picture of what each lead needs in order to become a loyal customer. Your goals can be more easily reached if you target your hottest leads first followed by those who need a bit more work, and if you don’t invest time and energy in those leads that are least likely to convert.

To get started with lead scoring as a marking automation tactic, you should invest some time to determine the factors that make a lead valuable to your business. Assign values to specific traits, such as age, industry and job title. You should also assign scores to behaviors, such as click-throughs and contact requests. By combining these values, you get your lead “score.” Effective use of a digital customer relationship management (CRM) tool should let you directly implement lead scoring based on user actions on multiple platforms.

Email Drips

An email drip campaign is a series of automated emails sent in a specific sequence based on user actions. Drip emails perform particularly well, with an 80% higher open rate and a 300% higher click-through rate than single-send blasts. If you’ve implemented effective segmentation of your lead database, either through scoring or persona-based segmentation, you can add users to email drips based on their behaviors and characteristics. Email drips are extremely effective to help acquire new customers and nurture loyalty among existing customers.

When designing email drip campaigns, be sure to consider your users and their specific needs. Vary the content based on your specific audience segments and use personalization wherever possible. Your drip should last long enough to take leads through the entire buyer’s journey from awareness to a decision while also building your brand’s reputation.

Social Listening

As a small business, you need to know what’s going on in your industry and with your competitors. Social listening is used often by larger brands to track mentions of their name and products, but it can be equally useful as a marketing automation tactic for small- and medium-sized businesses. Social listening is an automation tool that lets you follow mentions of specific keywords, profiles and locations on social media.

As you try to differentiate your business’s offerings from competitors, you need to know what your target audiences are looking for and the pain points they’re experiencing. Use social listening tools to track keywords related to your business and engage in conversations with potential customers.

The most important thing to keep in mind with social listening is that it’s not enough to just track social media — you also need to use your findings to engage with your audience and develop organic content based on those engagements.

Dynamic Content

One-size-fits-all content simply doesn’t work in the digital age. With dynamic content, you can entice conversion with interactivity and personalization. In simple terms, dynamic content is any digital HTML content that changes based on the specific viewer. As individuals match the dynamic content fields, they’ll see a personalized version of that content. For example, a B2C store could have their “locations” page only provide the closest stores to a viewer’s geotag. A B2B company might dynamically display case studies to highlight the most relevant content for a viewer’s industry.

When you’re just getting started with marketing automation, consider kicking things off with a few simple dynamic content pieces. The most common use of dynamic content is email personalization to include a recipient’s name in the greeting. Dynamic content is a marketing automation tactic small businesses can adopt pretty easily to take their websites, landing pages and targeted ads to the next level.

Implementing Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

If you want to automate specific functions of your marketing and sales pipeline, you’ll need just a few things to get started. First, you need a centralized marketing automation platform that lets you and your team work together to effectively acquire and nurture leads. Your platform should contain all of the capabilities you need in a single, centralized hub with the ability to integrate third-party tools when necessary.

Once you’ve chosen your sales and marketing automation platform, you need buy-in from your team. Especially in small businesses with extremely manual processes, it can be difficult to introduce new technologies and process changes. Discuss with your team which parts of their workload take up the most time and which they find most rewarding.

Ensure that your marketing automation solution is focused on enabling your team to do the things they love to do while reducing the time they spend on more repetitive tasks, and you’re sure to get buy-in from even your most senior team members.

Get greater insight into automation tactics with SharpSpring’s marketing automation system. To find out more about what SharpSpring offers, or to request a demo, visit our website today.

Rebecca Wentworth