Marketing Automation for Small Business in 2021

by Jasmin Hukic · Updated 16 Aug 2021

Not so long ago, marketing automation was something that only enterprise companies could pull off. 

Nowadays, there are plenty of affordable solutions for small businesses to use marketing automation and enjoy all the benefits.

We find these solutions particularly useful for automation:

  • Zapier
  • Buffer
  • OptinMonster
  • Mailchimp
  • AWeber
  • Sendinblue
  • Benchmark
  • Constant Contact
  • Drip
  • Omnisend

Apart from Zapier, Buffer, and OptinMonster, all others are email or multichannel marketing platforms. 

By the end of reading this post, you will figure out that some of the platforms may fit better than others. This depends on the type of business and your current stage. 

Before exploring these tools, let’s see what marketing automation is and why small businesses should consider it.

What is marketing automation?

There is no generally accepted definition of marketing automation, but I think that Salesforce wrapped up perfectly: 

Marketing automation is a technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically.

This covers all important parts of marketing automation and includes multiple channels that usually refer to email, SMS, social media, and even offline interaction.

What are the benefits of marketing automation for small business?

Now, automation may look like the solution for time-consuming processes. But that’s just one of the benefits.

There is a lot more to it. Customer retention is probably the most important. Here is why.

With automation and personalized customer engagement, you will increase customer retention. Here are some statistics to point out how important this is.

  • Existing customers are 50% more likely to try your business’s new product. - Semrush
  • A 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by 25% to 95%. - Annex Cloud
  • 33% of customers will leave if the brand lacks personalization. - Annex Cloud
  • 34% of consumers will never buy from a brand after just 1 bad experience. - Oracle

It’s easy to see why customer retention is crucial for businesses. It cuts costs, increases revenue, and boosts profits.

What does personalization mean in marketing?

The ultimate goal of marketing automation should be personalization, or to put it more accurately automated personalized customer engagement. 

Personalization or personalized customer engagement means that you engage customers with messages that are relevant to them. Also, it means delivering messages at a time when it matters most.

Marketing automation allows you to achieve the most personalized customer engagement through different channels.

For example, imagine that you are running a bookstore. With marketing automation, you can set up that your customers are getting special discounts as a gift for their birthdays. 

This way you saved a lot of time and ensured personalized engagement with marketing automation.

Marketing Automation Tools for Small Business

When looking at how to choose marketing automation for you, there are some things you should consider, including implementation, ease of use, support, and pricing. 

Most automation tools and platforms are covering email marketing. That’s because email is still the most engaging channel. 

Therefore most of the tools we will mention here are email marketing automation tools. But before we get there, we will cover automation tools outside email marketing.

Here are the tools that small businesses can use for marketing automation.

Zapier

Zapier

Source: Zapier

It’s impossible to talk about automation for small business, without Zapier. This tool allows you to connect all your apps, automate workflows, and move info between apps automatically.

Zapier handles and automates any workflow that involves more apps. For example, you can automatically tweet your new blog post as you click on the publish button.

There are five plans. With a Free plan, you can have 100 tasks per month. Paid plans start from $29.99 per month, allowing 750 tasks per month.

Buffer

Buffer

Source: Buffer

When you need to automate managing social media campaigns from one place, Buffer is the solution. They claim that 160k small businesses are using Buffer.

It’s intuitive software with useful insights and great scheduling options. You can use social media analytics to measure performance, schedule posts, respond to comments faster, and track everything.

There is a free and paid plan. The free plan allows you to use 3 channels and basic features. Essentials (paid plan) is $6 per month and gives you unlimited channels and upgraded features.

OptinMonster

OptinMonster

Source: OptinMonster

OptinMonster is a lead generation software that converts your website visitors to subscribers and customers. It's an easy-to-use and flexible solution for opt-in campaigns.

You get to use drag and drop builder to set up marketing automation campaigns for generating leads from your website traffic. This includes lightbox popups, floating bars, scroll boxes, gamified wheels, and more.

There are four plans: Basic, Plus, Pro, and Growth. The plans are based on page views and available features. In the Basic plan, you get 2.5k page views for $9 when billed annually,

Mailchimp

Mailchimp

Source: Mailchimp

As your business starts growing, you will have a list of contacts that you can reach out to. In most cases, you will have email contacts. Therefore, you will need a solution for creating email campaigns. 

Most businesses start with Mailchimp. That’s because they have the best free plan where you can have up to 2k contacts and send 20k emails per month. Also, you can create an email with the most intuitive drag and drop editor and use templates.

As your contact list increases and you need more advanced features, Mailchimp can become costly. For example, for 10k contacts, you need to pay $78.99, for their smallest plan. This is the point when you get to consider Mailchimp alternatives.

AWeber

Aweber

Source: Aweber

With AWeber, you get email marketing, landing pages, and web push notifications. All the features you can expect are there, including automation, segmentations, drag and drop builder and more.

They state on the website that they are the solution for small business.You can see that on the pricing that goes up to 25k contacts. 

For more than 25k contacts you need to reach out to get the quote. For 10k contacts you need to pay $66.15 per month.

Sendinblue

Sendinblue

Source: Sendinblue

Sendinblue is the solution that allows you to engage customers with email, SMS, and chat. Also, you get to create landing pages and web forms. 

Sendinblue is among few solutions that offer pricing based on the number of emails you send, regardless of the contact list size. 

You can upload an unlimited number of contacts, but you will pay only for emails you send. You can send 10k emails for $25.

Benchmark

Benchmark

Source: Benchmark

Benchmark stands out in making email marketing more simple. Besides marketing automation, all features are there - email builder, lead generation, landing pages, reporting, and integration.

However, for some advanced features you will need to reach out to get a quote. 

They have Bacis, Premium and Priority plans. Basic is a free plan where you can send 250 emails. For 10k contacts you need to pay $89 per month. 

Constant Contact

Constant Contact

Source: Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a beginner-friendly solution. You can build websites, upload products to online stores, generate awareness on social media and more. 

There are hundreds of pre-built templates, and you can use template builder. These are all features that are extremely useful to small businesses. 

Constant Contact is not the most affordable solution, but considering the features they’re offering, it’s a good value for money. For 10k contacts you need to pay $95.

Drip

Drip

Source: Drip

If you are eCommerce and you want to engage customers through email and SMS, then Drip is the solution to think about. 

This is the place where you can unite data from your marketing tools to make the most of your customer data.

The price of using Drip with all its features can be costly. But, when using right, the benefits will justify the costs. For 10k contacts, the price is $154 per month.

Omnisend

Omnisend

Source: Omnisend

Omnisend is an omnichannel marketing platform for eCommerce. You can engage customers through email, SMS, web push notifications, Google customer match, and Facebook. 

Features include pre-built automation workflows, email templates, pop-ups, forms, and more. They have integration with eCommerce platforms including Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, and WooCommerce. 

Omnisend offers a free plan to send 15k emails per month. The smallest paid plan is Standard. For 10k contacts and 124k emails per month, you need to pay $102 per month. Nex plans are Pro and Enterprise.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you have a better idea about marketing automation. Roughly speaking, it’s a way to automate all repetitive and time-consuming marketing workflows. 

Marketing automation will save you a lot of time and money. On top of that, you will improve customer retention, and consequently business results, through personalized engagement. Such personalization is practically impossible without marketing automation.

Available tools allow you to automate everything, from communication between your apps, over social media campaigns to lead generation and multichannel customer engagement. The best choice of automation software is in email marketing.