You’re a local small business owner, and you know you must sharpen your business’s approach to marketing, especially as the economy becomes tougher to navigate. You constantly hear about different marketing technologies you can use and know that software will be essential to achieving the growth you want for your business. As a small business owner, how do you know where to start?
In this article, we’re going to look at marketing automation for local businesses, including what exactly a marketing technology stack is and how you can discover if your business is ready for marketing automation.
What is a marketing technology stack and why do I need it?
You might have heard this called a marketing stack or marketing tech stack, but they’re all the same thing, just with slightly different descriptions.
What you’re looking at here is a set of technologies that you can use to run your marketing, analyze how it’s going, and continually refine your marketing efforts to get better and better results.
It might sound complicated, but when we give you an idea of the usual components of a marketing stack, you’ll find you’re already familiar with most, if not all, of them.
In a typical marketing technology stack, you’ll find email marketing software, a CRM or customer relationship manager, a content management system, and analytics to look at customer behavior and track results.
You would need to tailor what goes in your own marketing stack as it’s important to add the right software for the way you market your small business. You also need to consider your budget and what you can afford.
Why would you need a marketing technology stack? Here are just some of the reasons why you’d want to put a marketing stack in place for your small business:
- Even just the process of putting a stack together can enhance your marketing by pushing you to examine your own marketing in detail and decide what to keep and what to remove. It also makes you look at what technologies are out there that can make your marketing easier. You will learn a lot and improve your marketing simply from going through the process.
- With your stack in place, it can be a great time saver with marketing automation to stop you needing to do everything manually. You can schedule ahead and plan for staff vacations and ensure consistency with your marketing.
- A marketing tech stack can help you achieve your goals quicker, refine your processes, and manage your marketing better by providing deep analytics and tracking the customer journey. You then have a deeper understanding of your customers, what they want, and where there is any friction in your sales funnels. You can increase your efficiency and your conversion rates.
Here are some steps you can take to assess the readiness of your business for marketing automation:
1. Define your marketing goals
Clearly articulate what you hope to achieve with marketing automation.
You need to know why you want a marketing tech stack for your small business before you go to all the effort of finding the right one. What do you want your marketing automation to do for you? What are the benefits for your own business?
Where will your tech stack save you time, free up people to focus on money-making tasks, and refine your marketing to get better results?
As well as that, you need to know your marketing goals once you have your tech stack and what you expect to achieve at the end of the year.
Look at your current metrics, including lead generation, conversion rates, engagement, and return on investment. Establish where you are right now and then plan out your goals for where you want to be with your new software in place.
2. Identify your target audience
Without understanding your target audience thoroughly, you’ll be little better off with new software than you would be without it. Technology is great, but you get out of it what you put in, to a certain extent. If you don’t know who you are targeting, then no matter how superior your new software is, you still won’t be able to reach the right audience or convert them any better.
Take a look at your buyer personas. Create them if you don’t have them and, if you do have them, give them a thorough update, and ensure they still represent the people you want to reach.
Understand whom you are trying to reach with your marketing efforts, including their demographics, interests, and behaviors.
Be really clear about this before you go buying new software because you need to know that your software can help you reach your target audience.
3. Evaluate your current marketing efforts
It’s time for an honest and thorough look at how you currently market to your audience. Look at every aspect of your current marketing initiatives and think about how marketing automation could help and where you could save time, effort, and resources with the right software.
Look at the channels and tactics you are using and consider how marketing automation could be integrated into your current approach or even where automation might refine and improve it.
This can be one of the toughest steps, especially if you’ve been marketing for a while and are used to doing things in a particular way, but you won’t get the best results from any new software if you don’t know why you are buying it, what features you need, and how it can help.
Be open-minded, willing to learn and embrace change, and willing to be surprised. Your business will benefit from that.
4. Assess your data and infrastructure
Marketing automation requires accurate and up-to-date data and robust infrastructure to support it. Could you determine whether you have the necessary data and infrastructure to support marketing automation?
Ideally, your IT department should be involved in any decisions on choosing a marketing stack. They will already know what software you currently have, what support it needs, and what your current data and infrastructure are like.
However, they should be there more in an advisory role rather than as one of the main decision-makers. The marketing technology stack is there to benefit the whole of your business. While IT can point out any downsides or talk about networking issues and support issues, if any, it needs a knowledgeable marketer to make the final decisions on what to choose, based on what they actually need.
5. Evaluate your resources
Consider whether you have the necessary resources, including a budget, staff, and technical expertise, to implement and manage marketing automation effectively.
With any new software and technology, there is a learning curve and there is a cost.
Do you have a budget in place to buy the software you need? More importantly, almost, can you find the time, and do you have the time and resources to train your staff well in using the new stack?
Is there anyone in your company who will know what to do with your chosen software and how to use it to the best effect? If not, do you have the budget to hire someone to train people, if it’s needed?
Initially, when you implement your new marketing stack, there may be a period when your team is still learning and it might feel like the new software isn’t helping yet. This is something you simply have to battle through until people are used to the new software. Don’t forget to allow time for learning before you decide to dismiss what you’ve bought as ineffective.
Eventually, you will start to see time and resource savings, and you will begin to reap the benefits.
6. Review potential vendors
Research and evaluate potential marketing automation vendors to determine which one is the best fit for your business.
There are so many vendors of marketing software with different offerings and different prices. You have to take your time here and choose the right vendor for you.
This vendor should understand your business and your goals and help you find the right solution for you. Their first priority should be to help you and provide professional, genuinely helpful advice, rather than to push you toward their most expensive software solution.
Small to medium businesses often don’t have the budget to spare and they simply don’t always need the bells and whistles that bigger companies have to have. Your vendor should be aware of that.
Look for the right vendor with your best interests in mind, a company that will answer all your questions honestly, and provide what your small business really needs.
Overall, the key to assessing the readiness of your business for marketing automation is to carefully consider your goals, audience, current marketing efforts, data and infrastructure, and resources, and to determine whether marketing automation is a viable and appropriate solution for your business.
Once you’ve made that decision, the next step is to find the right vendor. You could spend a lot of time looking at different pieces of software and comparing what they do, whether you need them or something simpler, and comparing prices and suppliers. Or you could look at something that’s easier to use, saves time, and allows you to run everything from one simple dashboard.
Surefire Local was built to provide a turn-key local marketing stack with all the tools you need, and real-time data so you know how customers interact with your business.
Instead of looking at multiple pieces of software and attempting to get them to integrate and work together, make life easier for yourself. Choose an all-in-one marketing platform that does everything you need.
Why not attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo and see the difference?
Marketing automation for local businesses can make such a positive difference to your marketing, saving time and freeing people up to do high-value tasks instead of the manual grunt work.
Here’s just a taste of what Surefire’s local marketing platform can do for your small business:
- Plan your social media calendar. Monthly, daily, and weekly calendar views make planning content easy.
- Schedule and publish to all of the top social platforms from one place.
- Publish content to your Google Business Profile, business directories, website, and your blog.
- Manage every aspect of your marketing, including your email marketing, content marketing, paid ads, reviews, directory listings, and more.
- Measure success with Surefire’s local marketing platform by viewing traffic, engagement, and leads generated from your social media activity and your other marketing efforts.
- Get clear reports and detailed analytics to show where your marketing spend is going and what is working for you.
Shorten your learning curve by using just one straightforward piece of software with one login and an easy-to-use dashboard.
Book a demo today and find your new marketing tech stack.