The small businesses of today are faced with three major obstacles: too little time, a perpetual shortage of funds and limited headcounts. Despite the fact that most companies have infinite growth potential, they are rarely able to scale their efforts due to budget & staff limitations. The natural question appears: how can I maximize & sustain my company’s growth efforts? Most B2B marketers will immediately answer ‘through marketing automation’. While this is, indeed, effective, I believe that it should always be correlated with a comprehensive (and partly) outsourced content strategy. Here’s why
Online businesses, big and small, provide services or products with the ultimate goal of converting prospects into customers. This is usually done with the help traditional internet marketing or multi-channel marketing strategies. But there are many facets to digital marketing that most businesses can’t quite understand. Even for those who do understand, the volume of work is so overwhelming that it will ultimately distract them from their true objective. If terms like ‘lead nurturing’ or ‘content management systems’ sound confusing, maybe it’s a good idea to ask experts for help or to start using automated software.
Content outsourcing & marketing automation can significantly boost the growth of small businesses when implemented correctly. However, this depends on the type of business that you’re running. Sometimes it makes sense to outsource the whole content strategy or to put a blog on autopilot. Other times, it’s better to outsource some tasks, automate others, and take care of the rest in-house. This is exactly why I want to take a closer look at how marketing automation & content outsourcing can benefit your business, and how you can do it. These two strategies may seem fundamentally different, but when they are supported by a solid business plan, they can work wonders.
When Should You Consider Outsourcing & Automating Tasks?
I wish I could say that ‘Situation 1’ should always be outsourced, and ‘Situation 2’ should always be automated. But I can’t. Every business is different, and you can only make the right decision once you truly understand your current and future situation.
However, I truly believe that, especially as a small business, you should focus on what you know best. If marketing your products is your strong-suit, maybe it would be a good idea to let an expert take care of your content marketing strategy. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most important criteria that you should consider before outsourcing work, or automating tasks:
Service Availability & Quality: If you’re thinking of outsourcing content or social media marketing strategies, you should make sure that you’re hiring the right person for the job. It should be someone who shares your vision and has a proven track-record of his/her achievements. As far as marketing automation is concerned, I recommend that you stay away from solutions such as IBM, Marketo or Eloqua, as they are extremely expensive.
If you wish to dip your toes in the murky waters of marketing automation, you will be happy to know that there are plenty of low-cost systems with great features. Again, you have to determine what service works best for your business, but I suggest software similar to Sales Autopilot, Leadsius, Spokal, Azuqua, or Nurture.
Budgets & Costs: For a very long time it was believed that marketing automation is too expensive for small businesses. According to a recent study conducted by Gleanster, over 79% of small businesses believe that it is worth the effort, money and time. They also mentioned that they will continue to use marketing automation in the future, as it is critical for their success.
The same rule applies for service outsourcing. Of course, a few hundred dollars aren’t going to get you anywhere. Any so-called SEO or content marketing expert who promises all sorts of business for less than 200 dollars is probably not going to do anything helpful. High-quality services are costly, but they will ensure sustained organic growth and increased retention for your business.
Understand your Business Model: If your entire business rests on the success of your online marketing campaigns, then you should probably combine outsourcing with in-house work. However, if your business model isn’t reliant on this aspect, then it is probably better to focus on your core competencies. What does this mean? Let’s just say I don’t sew my own clothes, not because I can’t do it, but because that time would be better spent on something I’m really good at.
Now that we’ve got this covered, let’s see exactly what type of marketing automation software you should be using, and how it can help.
Marketing Automation Software
If you aren’t completely new to the digital landscape you are probably already familiar with several marketing software solutions, like HubSpot, Moz or RavenTools, which offer all-in-one services. Nevertheless, these type of services might be a tad too expensive for your allocated budget.
The good news is that the marketing automation forest is full of trees that offer splendid functionality for small & medium-sized businesses. I believe that there are 7 vital features that you should look for in marketing automation software:
- Search engine optimization features & tools
- Email marketing solutions (equipped with templates, auto-responders, email blasts, performance monitoring)
- Lead nurturing
- Social media marketing & monitoring
- Landing page optimization tools (lead capture forms & call-to-actions)
- Content management & curation systems
- Productivity trackers & organizational tools