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Marketing Software for Small Business: Guide To How It Works, Features & Benefits

Category: B2B News
How does marketing software help small business?

Marketing software allows you to gain better control of the lead pipeline, increase conversion rates, provide better customer journey and, ultimately, generate more revenues to your bottom line. It helps you provide personalized engagement and ensure leads do not fall through the cracks.

Business conglomerates may be more well-equipped and financially capable of executing large-scale marketing strategies, but SMBs can do the same when provided with the right tools. One of the ways your small business can keep up with these industry leaders is by utilizing marketing software.

With this at your disposal, you can create better marketing workflows, engage your leads better, and retain customers more effectively. All you need to do is understand the uses of these software and how their company will benefit from choosing one.

In this article, we will be discussing the following topics so you can get a better perspective on the role of marketing software solutions for your small business. We highly recommend that you consider subscribing to one right away, as there are plenty of vendors that offer a comprehensive free trial.

Based on our experts’ thorough analysis of features, HubSpot Marketing is a good foundation to start your marketing automation. You can easily sign up for a HubSpot Marketing free trial here without the need for commitment or credit card details.

Marketing Software for Small Business

Considering that most SMBs are still trying to find their footing on the industry, they normally encounter budget limitations that prevent them from growing their business. Moreover, brand recognition also has an impact not just on the number of leads received, but also its quality as well. These points are evidently shown on the table provided, as the biggest challenges faced by SMBs is finding great quality leads (21%) and lack of budget to execute marketing campaigns (21%) followed by generating leads (15%) and low manpower (15%).  

Source: www.marketingcharts.com

By incorporating a marketing system into your operations, you can cover all your bases more effortlessly. It lets you stay on top of all your leads and provide a better customer journey. You can also provide more personalized interactions and prevent customers falling through the cracks, thus boosting your customer retention. In fact, the use of marketing automation increases sales productivity by 14.5% and reduces overhead costs by about 12.2%. It also helps marketers get conversion rates as high as 50% because it optimizes the entire process more effectively.

Despite these benefits, however, 1 in 10 SMBs still don’t invest in any kind of marketing. According to eMarketer, this is often because of the cost of marketing platforms (33%), the entrepreneurs’ lack of familiarity with the technology (25%), or the lack of time to study how it works (21%). Luckily, these problems are easily resolved–there are software solutions that offer more affordable pricing plans, vendors often provide customer training, and there are platforms with minimal learning curves. What makes it better is that, making the most out of these platforms doesn’t have to be difficult.

To help you out, we will be providing you with all the information you need on its benefits and uses as well as how to choose a software that will cater to the needs of your operations. Before we get into the nitty gritty of that, however, let us first discuss the types of marketing software that you can choose from.

Types of Marketing Software

Marketing is a multifaceted discipline consisting of numerous processes. This is why plenty of software developers create different types of systems to manage the tasks you have to do. However, not all of them might be essential for small businesses and startups. To help you narrow down the types of marketing software you’ll be needing, here’s a list of some of the most crucial marketing platforms for SMBs by function:

  1. Marketing Automation. Probably the most common type of marketing software that businesses opt for, marketing automation systems are designed to minimize tedious tasks and automate campaigns. They can handle tasks ranging from basic lead generation and content management to advanced CRM and analytics, making it a good option for small businesses who want marketing systems that can perform different functions. This way, you won’t have to allot a budget for multiple platforms.
  2. Customer Relationship Management. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a type of marketing system that lets you streamline the workflow of your marketing and sales teams. It lets you keep tabs on interactions with customers and leads through contact management as well as analytics. With this, you can provide a better experience for your customers and monitor the status each one’s sales journey. This is especially useful for startups and small businesses that have yet to build their customer base.  
  3. Email Marketing. Unlike the above mentioned, email marketing software is a more targeted system. It primarily aims to boost emailing efforts rather than the entire marketing campaign. Equipped with autoresponder options as well as tools for email building, delivery optimization, and email tracking; it helps you make sure that you send the right message to the right people at the right time.
  4. Social Media Management. Similar to email marketing software, social media management platforms have a more specific purpose in your marketing campaign. It essentially serves as a convenient place where you can manage all of your business’ social media accounts. With functions such as post scheduling and social analytics, this helps small businesses in building a strong online presence without taking up too much of their time curating social pages.
  5. Content Marketing. Often used alongside social media and email management tools, content marketing systems let you manage all the content you publish for your business. It helps marketers create, source, and distribute informative text, images, videos, or infographics about their products and services.

HubSpot Marketing is one of the top marketing software solutions, offering top-of-the-line content management options. This photo shows its comprehensive landing page management feature.

Benefits of Marketing Software for Small Business

You might be wondering, why do you even need these software? Won’t you be able to handle these tasks without investing in a platform? Well, at first glance, it may seem like you’re saving money by handling your marketing campaigns manually, but it’s actually much more costly. Not only does it make you work longer hours; it also keeps you from focusing on running your business. To help you get a better idea of what a marketing platform can do for your small business, here are some of the major benefits it has to offer:

  1. It cuts down the time spent on marketing tasks. Marketing software are designed specifically to simplify campaign creation and management efforts. It offers tools that automate any mundane marketing tasks, so you can eliminate the risk of human error and accelerate the entire process. In addition, it optimizes your operations by providing you with useful data during the planning stages of your marketing campaigns. This way, you don’t have to micromanage the different aspects of your small business.
  2. It allows you to nurture leads more effectively. First impressions matter, especially for small businesses. This is why it is crucial for you to build a good reputation through efficient customer service. By using the analytics tools and lead management options of marketing platforms, you can be more proactive and hands-on when nurturing leads and existing clients. These give you access to customer information as well as in-depth insights on your leads, so you can pinpoint which ones you should focus on and determine how to assist them.
  3. It can help you enhance customer experience. What sets a small business apart from its competitors is the kind of experience they can provide for their customers. By using marketing platforms, you can enhance customer experience by personalizing interactions with clients. These software solutions provide you with customer relationship management tools that let you track the status of clients and leads on their sales journey. In turn, you can easily find out what makes them tick, so you can interact with them more effectively.
  4. It reduces the risks associated with campaign creation. Unlike large companies, small businesses don’t have much resources to spare. As a result, every campaign feels like a big financial risk. Marketing systems take the guesswork out of campaign creation by providing you with the data you need for the decision making process. With these pieces of information right at your fingertips, you can build more effective campaigns that your customers will be able to appreciate. Most software solutions even offer A/B testing features and similar tools so that you can test out your campaigns before launching them.
  5. It gives you the data you need to improve your marketing strategies. Startups and small businesses have plenty of room for growth. To help you realize just how much potential your company has, you can use marketing platforms to track your progress. They are equipped with analytics tools that will let you know whether or not your campaigns are working. This way, you can better assess your strategies and find out how you can improve them in the future.

Tracking your KPIs is made easy by marketing software, as shown on this Exponea dashboard.

Sample Uses of Marketing Software for Small Businesses

We can spend lots of time talking about the benefits of marketing software, but how can you really use it to your advantage? Here are some specific use cases of software that small businesses can employ:

  1. Using content marketing to build a stronger company reputation. Some small businesses use marketing software for brand building. They do this by employing social listening tools to understand the status of their company in the eyes of customers. Utilizing keyword research is also a common part of the strategy to find out what buyers are looking for and figure out what kind of content will be most useful for your campaign. After which, they determine their target audience and map out the different phases of their intended customer lifecycle. This way, they can create targeted content such as blog posts, polls, or videos, that prospective customers will surely appreciate. As you implement your content marketing strategies, you may monitor your progress through analytics and real-time reporting.
  2. Boosting lead generation by advertising on social media. Print ads and commercials can be very expensive, so for small businesses, the economical yet effective way to market is through social media networks. By using marketing software, you can analyze data you’ve gathered to find out which channel works best for your advertising campaign. You can create and publish gated content to your followers so you get detailed information about prospects. After gaining enough data on your prospects, you will be able to target a specific audience based on your followers’ location, interests, age, and online behavior. You may then test ad sets to fine-tune the formula that will make your campaign more profitable, and from there, you can launch your ad and generate more leads.
  3. Increase lead conversion through email marketing. Converting leads into paying customers is the most difficult aspects of marketing. To optimize the process, you can use marketing software to make effective emails that are sure to engage your leads. Start by analyzing previous interactions with clients that your CRM has collected. After which, start building a marketing track–a collection of emails delivered to a specific type of buyer over a certain period of time. These will help you determine how to better communicate with your leads. Before crafting your emails and scheduling them, it is also important that you segment your contact list according to their status in your pipeline. This way, you can make sure that the right message is going to the right people at the right time.

Marketing software can also focus on social media marketing, as Zoho Social is designed for.

How to Choose a Marketing Software for Your Small Business

Marketing platforms are undoubtedly one of the most crucial tools to have in your arsenal of business software. However, how do you make sure that you are choosing the right one for your company? To simplify the browsing process for you, here are a few guidelines in choosing a software for your small business:

  1. Determine Your Budget. Small businesses have a finite amount of financial resources–a bulk of which is spent on employee wages, business insurance, inventories, and rent. So, when investing in a marketing platform, it is important that you determine a budget that you can easily maintain. Aside from making sure that you can afford the monthly/yearly fees of a particular software vendor, you should also try to factor in installation fees, licensing fees, and the like.
  2. Find Out Your Operational Needs. Ask yourself what type of marketing strategies will you be using most. If you will be focusing on email and social media marketing, then you should opt for a platform that specializes on these processes. Should you need something that can streamline your marketing and sales tasks, then maybe a CRM software is what you need. The bottom line here is that you need to find out what your business operations require so you can better understand what type of marketing software to invest in.
  3. Assess Your Technical Know-How. Before investing in a marketing platform, you also have to assess whether or not you have the technical expertise to manage it. Some software solutions require users to have some sort of programming knowledge while some might involve a number of technical processes to set up and maintain. If you are adept in programming and are used to these kinds of technology, these shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you think you’ll have a hard time getting used to this or will have to spend extra money by hiring an expert to help you, then, you should opt for a product that is easier to learn.
  4. Define Your Business’ Long-Term Goals. Are you looking to expand your business into a large enterprise in the future? Perhaps you’d prefer to keep your business the way it is? Whatever the case, you need to identify your long-term goals for your company. By doing so, it makes it is easier for you to determine how scalable your platform should be.
  5. Get a Closer Look at Prospective Platforms – Of course, after narrowing down your options using the factors mentioned above, you need to start taking a closer look at your prospective platforms. Not only do you need to browse their site and find out more about the platforms’ specifications; you should also get in touch with the vendor for any concerns that you may have. This way, you get a better understanding of what the product can do before you invest in it. In addition to these, find out if they offer free trials for their products so you can better gauge the features of the software you are interested in.

Some marketing software like Pardot are more comprehensive than others, the question is, do you need a robust or lightweight solution?

Examples of Marketing Software for Small Businesses

Now that you know why you need a marketing platform and how to choose one for your business, it’s time for you to start browsing. To help you out, we have listed some of the top marketing solutions available on the market. Of course, you shouldn’t limit yourself to the products on this list as there are plenty of other options for you to choose from. Take a look at our list of top 15 best marketing software systems for small businesses to broaden your search.

1. HubSpot Marketing

hubspot dashboard example

An advanced marketing system, HubSpot Marketing aims to help your business grow traffic and increase conversions. It is equipped with tools ranging from email management and social media monitoring to conversion analytics and lead management. With these, you can personalize landing pages for campaigns, design marketing workflows, as well as optimize customer engagement through a variety of channels. To make things better, it has a highly scalable interface. Meaning, small businesses don’t have to worry about finding new software as their company grows.

For those who only need basic marketing tools, HubSpot Marketing is completely free to use. Should you want more advanced features, they offer four paid plans: Starter, Basic, Pro, and Enterprise. These are available at $50/month, $200/month, $800/month, and $2400/month. You can use the complete features at no cost when you sign up for a HubSpot Marketing free trial here.

2. Pardot

pardot dashboard example

Pardot is a B2B marketing automation and lead management suite created by Salesforce. It allows users to set up, deploy, and monitor online marketing campaigns in one convenient interface. Equipped with advanced web analytics, CRM options, as well as a slew of marketing tools, this is especially ideal for small businesses who need to streamline their sales and marketing workflow. However, it can be pretty expensive compared to the other products mentioned. Pardot has three pricing plans that are bundled according to certain sets of features as well as the amount of contacts it can accommodate. You may choose from their Standard Plan, Pro Plan, or Ultimate Plan which are available at $1000/month, $2000/month, and $3000/month respectively. You can easily sign up for Pardot free demo here.

3. SharpSpring

sharpspring dashboard example

Primarily an email marketing platform, SharpSpring is a software solution providing a comprehensive set of online marketing tools for small and medium-sized businesses. With its behavioral-based email automation, intuitive lead management, and smart analytics tools, you can streamline marketing operations with ease. For pricing, they have plans depending on the number of contacts you intend to keep in your database. These range from $450/month to $875/month. A quote-based package is also available for large enterprises. It is easy to try its complete features when you sign up for a SharpSpring free demo here.

4. Exponea

exponea dashboard example

Exponea is a cloud-hosted marketing solution that combines the power of artificial intelligence, analytics, and engagement automation to improve customer experience. Offering a multitude of tools for campaign management, CRM, behavior predictions and custom metrics, the platform also allows users to develop their own solutions without the need to hire IT professionals.

Moreover, it has rich API capabilities that can support an extensive number of third-party integrations for a more personalized user experience. Exponea is only available by quote, so be sure to contact the vendor for more information. Take note that their subscription plans are priced according to the combination of features you need and the number of data points you prefer.

5. Zoho Social

zoho social dashboard example

Zoho Social is a smart social media management tool that aims to help businesses of all sizes build their online presence.  With this at your disposal, you can schedule posts, record customer activities, analyze your social media standing, and monitor all of your social media accounts in one convenient interface. What makes this ideal for small businesses is that the vendor offers a free plan as well as affordable paid plans that range from $8.33/month to $125/month. The vendor also allows for a comprehensive test of all the features when you sign up for a Zoho Social free trial here.

6. ActiveCampaign

activecampaign dashboard example

An all-in-one marketing platform, ActiveCampaign is specifically created to help small and medium-sized businesses acquire, retain, and engage customers. It offers a user-friendly interface and a complete suite of tools for site tracking, event tracking, automation builder, split testing, sales CRM, and advanced lead scoring. It also has API functions so you can extend the uses of the platform according to your preferences. ActiveCampaign is available in four subscription plans that are priced according to the number of users you need to enroll in the system. You may choose from their Lite Plan at $15/month, Plus Plan at $70/month, Professional Plan at $159/month, and Enterprise Plan at $279/month. Discounts apply if you choose to have your subscription billed annually.

7. AWeber

aweber dashboard example

Primarily an email marketing platform, AWeber aims to help businesses establish strong relationships with leads and clients. It helps you map out campaigns and automate them using autoresponders, premade templates, and other marketing tools. With it, you can manage your small business’ growing number of contacts while remaining proactive in your interactions with them. What makes it even better is that it blends easily with any software ecosystem and integrates with a number of business tools. For pricing, AWeber offers different packages depending on the number of subscribers your business has. The pre-made plans they offer can cover up to 25,000 subscribers and can cost from $19/month to $149/month. As your business builds its customer base, you can opt for a quote-based plan.

Conclusion

Marketing software levels the playing field for small businesses. By choosing one that falls within your budget and meets your unique requirements, these can allow you to compete against the Goliaths of your industry without having to increase manpower or having a massive amount of financial resources. With these centralized hubs, you can enhance the productivity in the workplace, nurture your pipeline better, and keep up in an increasingly tech-driven market. Hopefully, with our guide to marketing software for small business, you were able to understand how you can use this type of platform to your advantage as well as determine which software solutions will work for you. 

Marketing software can also be complemented by other systems. For example, you can also check our email marketing software guide or our search marketing guide if your need is specific to these types of marketing campaign.

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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