How SMBs can get more leads through marketing automation

marketing automation

By Lilach Bullock, {grow} Community Member

Marketing automation offers numerous advantages, such as saving time as well as helping you with improving your conversion rate and overall sales. It’s one of the biggest trends in digital marketing in 2017, with more and more businesses wanting to invest in it.

In this post, I’ll be talking about the importance of marketing automation and how small and medium businesses can use it to their advantage and get more leads.

What is marketing automation and why is it important?

Marketing automation refers to software that allows you to automate some of the marketing processes, such as social media and email. These tools are designed to help save time with repetitive tasks, however, they can also help you improve the results you get from your marketing, particularly when it comes to email marketing.

In this blog post, we’re going to focus on marketing automation for email marketing, as that is where you can really improve your lead generation and conversion rates.

This should be an essential part of your strategy in 2017, as the need for personalization grows among audiences of all kinds. Marketing automation will allow you to create better emails that are more personalized and that will be sent to the right person, at the right time. What’s best, all of this is done automatically once you’ve set up your campaigns, emails, and segmented your audience, all of which we will get into below.

As a small business in particular, you need all the help you can get to not only help you save time, but also to generate as many leads and conversions as possible, and that is something that marketing automation can help you do.

How to get started with marketing automation for email marketing

The first step in marketing automation is, of course, getting yourself a tool that allows you to set it up properly. There are plenty of great tools that can help with this, such as the popular Hubspot, GetResponse, MailChimp, Aweber, or InfusionSoft, just to name a few of the best on the market (which I’ll get into later in a bit more detail).

Then, it’s time to start segmenting your audience into smaller groups, which will help you later on by allowing you to send out more personalized emails to the right people and therefore increase your chances of getting more leads and conversions and making more sales.

Segmenting your list

How you choose to segment your list is completely up to you and it can depend a lot on what type of business, website, or blog you have. That said, the more you segment your audience, the better your personalization will be.

Segmentation is designed not only to help you organize your audience, but also so that once you set your marketing automation campaigns, you give each segmented group exactly the information they want; and the more targeted your emails are, the better your open rate and conversion rate will be. Studies have found that personalized emails can improve your click-through rates by 14% on average and your conversions by 10%, which can make a huge difference to your bottom line.

Here are some of the ways you can segment your audience:

  • New subscribers: new subscribers should get a different set of emails, than your older subscribers. You can set up a drip campaign where you first welcome them to your list and then send them a couple more emails where you give them useful information, offers and coupons to get them to make their first purchase, freebies and anything else that could benefit them. In your first email to new subscribers you should also tell them why they would benefit from their subscription
  • Interests: marketing automation tools allow you to study your subscribers at length, see their browsing patterns and gain insights into their preferences and interests. Once you have that information, you can send them better, more personalized emails where you make recommendations based on their interests. This is similar to what Amazon do so well – they know what you’re doing on their website, what types of products you usually view and browse, so they send you targeted emails based on that information, which makes it much more compelling to open their emails and, eventually, buy from them.
  • Lead type: another way of segmenting your audience is by what type of lead they are. Whether they are cold, hot or somewhere in between, you will improve your results if you target them differently. You could be able to re-engage cold leads, as well as give that small push needed for hot leads to finally make a purchase.
  • Demographics and location: depending on your type of business, you could get better results if you segment your audience by location, age, sex, etc. Say for example you’re holding an event in London – why would anyone in USA need to know about it? Or if you’re a fashion company and have a sale on women’s dresses that you want your list to know about – it would be better if you only sent it out to the women in your list.
  • Past purchases: just like with interests, you can segment your audience based on their past purchases, if they’ve already bought something from you. Since you know what types of products they’re interested in and prepared to buy, you can make personalized recommendations for other similar products or products that would complement what they’ve already bought.
  • Content: if you have a blog and like to send out emails with your most recent content, it could really improve your open and click rate if you send emails based on their preferred content. Say you have a digital marketing blog; some readers might only be interested in your social media posts, while others only care about content marketing. Now, you can send them only the content that they actually want to read
  • Where they shop: if you have a website and e-store, as well as a brick and mortar shop, you can segment your audience based on their preference for the online or offline store. For example, if they prefer to buy from your bricks and mortar store, then you can send them emails with any in-store events or promotions.
  • Engagement level: how much does a particular subscriber engage with you? Are they active participants on your website or responding to your emails?

As I mentioned earlier, how you segment your audience can depend a lot on what types of business or website you have. For example, in some cases, segmenting your audience by location could be completely irrelevant. Or, if you have a membership-type service, you should also segment your audience based on the stage they are in their free trial or membership subscription, as you should send them emails when their membership or free trial is about to end.

Sending out personalized messaging to your list will not only improve your click through rate, open rate, and conversions, but it will also help with unsubscribers. If your subscribers are only getting information that is relevant to them, they have less of a reason to hit that unsubscribe button. By contrast, if they’re constantly getting email broadcasts from you that brings them no value, they’re going to be tempted to unsubscribe from your list.

How marketing automation can help you get more leads

Now that you know how to segment your audience, it’s time to set up the emails you’re going to send each of the groups in your list.

Automated emails are considerably more successful than regular broadcasts. In fact, they tend to get an average of 70.5% higher open rates and as much as 152% higher click-through rates than your run of the mill marketing email.

A marketing automation tool will allow you to set up so-called triggers that will lead to an automated email being sent. This means that whenever a certain condition is triggered by one of your website visitors and subscribers, you will automatically send out a personalized email designed to help improve your conversion rate. Here is how you can use triggers for marketing automation to improve your lead generation:

  • Abandoned shopping cart: in many cases, users will browse websites and add items they would like to buy to their shopping carts, but never finish the transaction. The average rate of abandoned online shopping carts is actually as high as 68.81%, so it’s more likely to happen than not. Here is where you have a great opportunity to turn a hot lead that could otherwise go to your competitors, into a customer. Try to get their email by having them sign up to add items to their shopping carts and in the eventuality that they abandon them, you can send them an email soon after informing them that their items are still in their cart. You can also create a sense of urgency to get them to return and buy as soon as possible, by saying that their cart is about to expire, or the product they had added to the cart is selling out.
  • Abandoned form: this is something that works great for those who have a digital product or software where users need to sign up by completing the form. In many cases, people will start completing your form but then get distracted or simply give up on it and then completely forget. Just like with shopping carts, you should make sure to ask for their email as soon as possible as part of the form, so that when they abandon it, you can send them an email to remind them to finish completing their form. This way, you’re recovering some hot leads that could otherwise be completely lost.
  • Lead nurturing: another way of using marketing automation is for lead nurturing, something that works great with email marketing. You can use certain triggers, such as link clicks, certain downloads from your website, visits to particular pages from your website, to effectively nurture potential leads and turn them into buyers. For lead nurturing, it would be useful to set up a drip campaign – i.e. one where you roll out a few emails one after the other, with the purpose of building up interest in your business.
  • Scoring: one of the best parts of using marketing automation software is that you can score your subscribers in order to better define them. With scoring, you can prioritize your leads more easily; basically, the better the score, the hotter the lead. Once you’ve established their score, you can send them automated emails based on their results, so that you can turn hot leads into buyers, cold leads into potential leads and so on.
  • Interests and browsing patters: I mentioned earlier how it’s useful to segment your audience based on their interests and browsing patterns on your website. Now, it’s time to send them an email with personalized recommendations based on what they seemed to like and view the most on your website.
  • Get back engaged users: do you have any highly engaged users in your list that have stopped engaging with you after a while? It might not be anything you did specifically, but whatever the case is, you need to act quickly to hopefully get them back on board. Send these users an email asking them to come back, or even offer them a coupon or promotion to give them a good incentive to re-join your list of engaged users. Or, you can offer them the opportunity to download premium content from you for free, which can present another good reason for re-engagement.
  • New users: I talked earlier how you should segment your audience based on their subscription date, so that you can send new users welcome emails and other useful information they might need as your subscribers. You could also try to gently push them into making a purchase from your website, by offering special discounts for new users.

Marketing automation is all about sending the right personalized message at the right time (i.e. after a user has triggered a specific event). Both factors, personalization and the time you send the email, are very important aspects in turning your leads into happy customers.

Top marketing automation tools

There are many great marketing automation tools on the market, but here are some of the top ones:


get response marketing automation

GetResponse started out as an email marketing tool and evolved into an all-in-one marketing tool for SMBs. With GetResponse, you can easily create marketing automation campaigns, as well as landing pages and webinars, among other features.


infusionsoft marketing automation

InfusionSoft is a marketing automation tool with many features designed to make the life of small business owners easier. They offer sales automation, a good CRM tool, as well as marketing automation features, with an easy to use campaign builder.


marketo marketing automation

Marketo offer all kinds of useful features for businesses, such as email marketing, marketing automation, lead management and mobile marketing tools. Their marketing automation tools allow you to track behavior, send personalized emails and create automated campaigns for engagement and lead nurturing.


hubspot marketing automation

Hubspot is another top marketing automation tool for email as well as other smaller tasks. You can create your own workflows and drip marketing campaigns, as well as one of dozens of different triggers for personalized email automation.


aweber marketing automation

Aweber is where “email automation began” and it remains one of the top automation tools. They offer a drag and drop campaign builder that is very easy to use, numerous templates to choose from, and much more – the only downside is that some templates are a bit outdated, but still, it’s a very good tool.


mailchimp marketing automation

MailChimp is a great option for small and medium businesses, with all the features you need for effective email marketing campaigns and robust marketing automation. There are all kinds of templates that you can choose from for different types of businesses, such as e-commerce websites, non-profits, and music websites, among many others.

Constant Contact

constant contact marketing automation

Constant Contact is an email marketing tool that lets you create personalized emails for different types of triggers, as well as automated campaigns that will be sent to the contacts from your list. They also offer so-called “plus features”, which include event marketing tools, surveys, and coupons.


pardot marketing automation

Pardot is marketing automation software designed for B2B companies. They provide you with all of the tools you need to market to other businesses and generate more leads. Their campaign builder is quite easy to use and it allows you to create the full customer experience and you can also set up automated emails based on specific triggers.


Marketing automation is more than just a way for marketers to save time, but also an amazing tool for lead generation, lead nurturing, and for improving your sales. With marketing automation, you will be able to send out better, more personalized emails to your list, which leads to a win-win situation for both you and your audience.

Are you using marketing automation for your business? How have your results changed after starting to use it?


Lilach Bullock has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street with her presence! Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers. A recipient of a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business.  

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