Best Automated Digital Marketing Tools for Solopreneurs
Did you know? In 2015, only 22% of businesses used marketing automation tools.
In 2020 that number has more than doubled, with 51% of businesses using some form of marketing automation. And that percentage goes even higher when it comes to solo marketers (ahem, solopreneurs and small businesses). In fact, 75% report using at least one marketing automation tool.
What are marketing automation tools, exactly? They’re as simple as they sound. They’re digital tools that help automate your marketing strategy, which in return simplifies often time-consuming tasks (e.g. posting on social media or sending out emails).
The ultimate goal of automated marketing is to make you a better marketer, by allowing you to spend more time on the things that will actually drive revenue for your business.
But as a solopreneur or small business owner, how do you even know which marketing processes to automate?
That’s where we come in, offering you an in-depth overview and step-by-step tutorial of how to automate your own digital marketing processes, without breaking the bank.
Automating Your Meetings
Raise your hand if you like sending out countless emails to find a meeting time that works for everyone involved.
Hmmm, we thought not.
Enter Calendly, the easy-to-use scheduling software that saves you time, boosts sales, and improves your service offering (if you have one).
Calendly does away with all those unnecessary back-and-forth emails and helps you schedule those meetings automatically. How? By sharing a meeting link via email or embedding it within your website. This way, your invitees can pick a time that works for them and as soon as they do, the event is added to your calendar.
The cost? Calendly offers a free trial with prices starting at $8/month.
Automating Your Email Communication
Looking to automate your email lists, newsletters, campaigns, and more?
Then Mailchimp is the software tool for you. Ideal for contacting prospects or customers who could boost your business, Mailchimp gives you the virtual keys to the kingdom by allowing you to control 100% of your email marketing efforts.
Features include but are not limited to: email-marketing automation, email campaign automation, personalized emails, automated welcome emails, email engagement monitoring, and more. By automating your email, you’re able to personalize your business efforts and provide an invaluable interaction between you and your contacts/subscribers.
The cost? Mailchimp is free up to 2,000 contacts/subscribers. Once you hit 2,000+, though, the pricing varies per month. If you’ve tried the app before and it’s not your cup of tea, you can also check out these Mailchimp alternatives.
Automating Your Favorite Apps
Since the average smartphone owner uses 30 apps each month, it’s no big surprise that automation software also applies to linking up your favorite apps/services.
Meet Zapier, which connects you with over 700 of the most popular apps out there.
Whether that’s saving Twitter mentions about your business/service to a Google spreadsheet so you can give them a shout out later or adding Stripe customers to a Mailchimp list to thank them after they’ve paid for your service, Zapier lets you automatically connect two or more of your apps to automate repetitive tasks.
The bonus? You don’t have to rely (ahem, hire) a web developer to do so.
The cost? Providing you with five pricing plans to choose from, Zapier ranges from free to $250/month (billed annually).
Automating Your Flowcharts
Thanks to Gliffy, you don’t have to be a Van Gogh to draw a diagram or flowchart.
This is a drawing automation tool that features templates for organizational charts, high-quality flowcharts, product roadmaps, mind maps, technical drawings, wireframes, and more.
Gliffy works in any web browser as a drag-and-drop interface, helping you perfectly visualize workflows while boosting productivity. If you’re a small business owner, the easy-to-use interface lets you collaborate with anyone on your team to stay aligned and organized.
The cost? Plans start as low as $7.99/month (billed annually).
Automating Your Customer Engagement
Want to turn your website visitors into paying customers? We’ve found a few tools to help you get there.
- Jumplead. A powerful inbound marketing tool that tracks visitors to your website and notifies you if they open an email, Jumplead enables solopreneurs and small businesses to segment, nurture, and obtain leads based on real-time website activity. The platform itself also lets you create conversion forms that drive lead generation through sending automated emails and notifications for following up. This leads to better customer engagement, better retention, and growth. The cost? Jumplead offers a free 14-day trial with monthly plans starting at $49/month.
- Hubspot. This all-in-one inbound marketing software has just what you need to get found (attract visitors), engage new people (nurture leads), and boost sales. In other words, you’ll be able to increase website traffic, convert website visitors into leads, and deliver a measurable ROI (return on investment). The cost? There are four plans, one of which (Hubspot CRM) which is entirely free. Plans start from $50/month and upwards.
- ContactPigeon. This is an omnichannel tool designed for e-commerce owners, which helps maximize your business reach and growth. By identifying past and real-time user behavioral data and transactional history, ContactPigeon works to increase user revenue. How? By simply understanding how to target your customers. The cost? ContactPigeon offers a free 14-day trial for Shopify or BigCommerce users. Monthly plans start at $165.
Automating Your Payment Options
There’s no need to ask the obvious. Of course you want to make money with your website!
Although PayPal is often the preferred e-commerce solution of choice (a PayPal button can be easily integrated into your website and allows customers to transfer their money to you), we’ve also done our research on a couple of other popular payment solutions.
- Stripe. Known for its tech-savvy platform, flexible APIs, and transparent fees, Stripe is a fantastic payment solution for online-based businesses. Any solopreneur or small business owner can sign up for a free account in minutes. When it comes to automation, Stripe tests and runs multiple optimizations for every single transaction, declined transactions get automatically retried while expired and/or renewed customer credit cards get updated automatically. The cost? Rates start at 2.9% + $0.30 per each successful card charge.
- Due. Although it started as an innovative time-tracking and invoicing tool, Due is now one of the easiest ways for business owners to pay and get paid. With its three-step process (Start for Free, Invoice Smarter, and Get Paid Faster), Due does away with complicated accounting and billing software. Rates start at 2.8% per each successful card charge.
P.S. Curious how to get started with e-commerce on your website? Andrew Alleman breaks it down.
Automating Your Social Media Posts
Want to run your social media on autopilot? We don’t blame you. Just maintaining a very active profile on one social network is a full-time job on its own. Here are just a few of the tools out there that’ll put you in the social driver’s seat.
- Hootsuite. Even if you’re fast asleep, Hootsuite makes it look like you’re social 24/7. By automatically scheduling hundreds of posts at once, across all your social media accounts (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), you do away with the mind-numbing task of having to repost the same material on different platforms. Hootsuite also helps you to keep track and manage your many social network channels, letting you monitor what people are saying about your business or service and help you respond instantly. The cost? Plans start at $25/month and upwards.
- Buffer. An easy-to-use software application that’s designed for the web and mobile, Buffer is a little more pared down than Hootsuite. Meaning? It focuses solely on scheduling posts that go out to your social media channels. However, Buffer does give you the opportunity to analyze their results and engage with your community. The cost? Buffer offers a free 14-day trial, with pricing plans starting at $15/month.
- Meet Edgar. Do you dream of having a content manager but don’t have the budget to hire one? Look no further than Meet Edgar, a genius social media management tool that automates content re-sharing and optimizes traffic to your social media channels. In other words, Edgar (as it’s sometimes called) is responsible for producing evergreen content (content that stands the test of time), by curating and repurposing content so that your social media accounts never run out of updates. The cost? Plans start at $19/month.
Step-By-Step Strategy To Automate Your Marketing Processes
As you can see from the aforementioned list of tools, your digital marketing process can (and should) be automated to optimize your time and boost your productivity.
By now, you probably heard us throw around the phrase, “inbound marketing.” This simply means taking a more human approach to how you grow your online business. It’s essentially a method of attracting and engaging people to provide value and build trust in your business.
As a refresher, here’s what we recommend before you start to automate:
- Know Your Audience, Set Your Goals, Adjust Your Content
If you already know who your ideal customer is, it’s so much easier to know how and where to market to them. This is especially the case with social media, which is why I wrote a blog on this very topic.
We recommend using Google Analytics to collect as much information as you can about your audience. Once you’ve reviewed and analyzed the data, now’s the time to set your goals (i.e. informed decisions about what you’d like to accomplish and/or do with your business). Try setting both short-term goals and long-term goals.
Once your goals are set, the next thing to do is examine your existing content marketing strategy to clear your path. It helps you determine what content you’re already producing is working well and what isn’t. (Namecheap’s Cora Quigley does an excellent job of guiding you through.)
This way, you’ll only create content that appeals to your audience’s pain points and problems they need solving.
- Choose the Right Automation Software/Tool
Now comes the tricky part. Which part of your marketing process do you want to automate first?
When making your choice, a word of advice: Don’t attempt to automate everything at once. To start, take your time and consider the software or tool that will be best aligned to support the accomplishment of your short-term goals.
- Let the Software/Tool Do the Work
Keeping up with what you should be measuring or targeting can be exhausting, difficult, and time-consuming — that’s why automated software and tools exist.
Once you let them do what they’re meant to do, you’re able to take a step back and decide how to best move forward with your business. Automated contact center platforms let you help customers regardless of how they contacted you. Your entire team shares a unified customer view rather than unattended Facebook messages or multiple inboxes.
Let’s say you decided to first automate your emails with Mailchimp. Analyzing the data provided by Mailchimp, you realize that it makes the most sense to segment your list of customers into different subgroups, based on certain criteria.
For example, you’ll see how often they opened emails (email open rate) or how often they purchased something from you (purchase frequency). By automating your emails, you’re able to adjust your content and send out targeted emails based on those newfound segments you discovered.
In essence, automating what you don’t have time for immediately frees you up, letting you create and tailor content of real value to your customers.
GDPR and Marketing Automation
Although marketing automation platforms are widely considered to be valuable, helping businesses all around the world track leads and subscribers as well as give them a bird’s-eye view of the customer lifecycle, we’d be remiss not to mention the effect that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has had on the marketing automated process.
Although there are pros and cons, GDPR has given businesses, large and small, the opportunity to become fully transparent and help further strengthen customer data protection. This allows them (business owners) the opportunity to learn more about their customers albeit in a more responsible way.
Some ways GDPR has helped? By providing levels of permission to current and prospective customers, allowing customers to decide how and where information is shared with them, and last but certainly not least, separating “need-to-know” information from “nice-to-know” information.
For further tips on how not to let GDPR come in between you and your automated marketing process, check out Phiture’s Ed Burrows’ thoughts on the subject.
We know that as a solopreneur or small business owner, you’re most likely juggling many balls in the air and have very little time — even for marketing.
Given that marketing is one of the essential aspects to running a successful business, it’s no wonder, then, why marketing automation software and tools are immensely popular. They save you precious time and energy, without breaking the bank.
So tell us, what do you like automating most with your business? Are there tools or software we’re missing out on? We want to hear from you!