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The best way to overcome the limitation of time is by automating some of your processes — and marketing is one area ripe for automation. The key for small businesses is finding a tool that can automate many components of marketing at once, and these seven platforms take different approaches to automating marketing processes to make entrepreneurs’ lives easier.

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Marketing automation and customer relationship management systems are two different platforms. But they undeniably work together. CRMs manage customer data. Although you can have a CRM without marketing automation, marketing automation cannot exist without a CRM, according to Davis. The CRM serves as the central database for marketing automation. It’s where all the information is stored for each contact along their customer journey, he added. “It also allows multiple people, across multiple departments within your organization to remain synced up with the current state of the contact to ensure consistency in communicating,” Davis said.
As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).
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While Adobe says that it builds its estimates by tracking transactions at 80 of the biggest retailers online in the U.S., Mastercard tells us that SpendingPulse uses “national retail sales across all payments types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.”
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Adobe said Cyber Monday's growth this year was driven by strong mobile purchasing, which hit record levels at $2.2 billion in sales, and by "buy online, pickup in-store," which it calls BOPIS. Adobe says it tabulates its holiday stats by tracking 80 of the top 100 US online retailers, including analysis of over 1 trillion visits to retail sites and 55 million products.
Adestra is a leading global provider of First-Person Marketing email and lifecycle marketing solutions for global and growing brands alike. The company's industry leading email marketing and automation platform provides marketers with a powerful infrastructure that helps them communicate more effectively with their customers and subscribers by providing hyper-relevant context. This proprietary technology also allows for automated email messaging and incorporates enterprise-class native functionality, which reduces implementations. Along with a superior platform to execute marketing automation, Adestra was founded on the principle that marketing success takes more than technology, which is why customer service is at the heart of our business. Adestra is more than software as a service. Adestra is Software AND a Service®.
My first thought was how easy Ontraport was to get started with compared to another marketing automation company I had just tried. Recurring payments were to set up. There was no initial training cost, and you could sign up as a customer directly from their website. On top of this, everything was split testable without needing a strange workaround.
Not even close. Like the term suggests, marketing automation encompasses marketing campaigns across all channels—from direct mail and phone campaigns to online, social and mobile initiatives. What’s more, it combines robust, insight-focused capabilities from your CRM, lead management system, web analytics platform, and other systems to create something that’s more than the sum of the parts.
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Let’s take a few examples. A global software technology company, for example, has hundreds or thousands of sales reps who need to have visibility to their key accounts and contacts within those key accounts. They manage the contact database and contact strategy with a sales force automation tool, which focuses on improving the productivity of the sales organization. But what about the marketing arm of that company? The job of the marketing department is to generate, nurture, evaluate and follow up on leads, which they then pass off to the sales force automation system when the leads become sales-ready. The system that’s responsible for generating, nurturing, classifying and scoring those leads would be the marketing automation system, and it’s owned and run by the marketing department.
As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).
According to Hendrix, there are two types of "bad" marketing automation: People who use a marketing automation platform ineffectively, and platforms that label themselves as “marketing automation” even when that’s not the case. “True marketing automation allows you to track each touchpoint that a person has with your brand, take that in and adapt your messaging accordingly. It should enable you to not only automate processes, but anticipate your buyers' needs and accelerate their buying journey. Marketers need a solid marketing automation strategy, rather than just automating the same tasks they’ve been doing all along," Hendrix said.
Instead of relying on outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and aggressively pushing audiences into become leads, inbound marketing is the practice of attracting users through quality content that pulls people toward your company and product naturally. By closely aligning your content and marketing materials with your customers’ interest, your brand is in a position to attract, delight, and engage customers over time.
Marketing automation is the process of using software to complete repetitive marketing tasks designed to nurture sales leads, personalize marketing messages and content and in the process, save marketers’ time and effort. By automating many of these tasks, users can more effectively send the right message, to the right user at the right time, according to Chris Davis, director of education at ActiveCampaign, which provides marketing automation software. “Marketing automation is all about understanding your audience so you can adapt the way you communicate to them based on their unique buying journey,” said Karra Hendrix, product marketing manager at Act-On, a provider of marketing automation software. 
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Top Cities by Spend: Denver had the biggest shopping baskets since Thanksgiving with orders averaging $163, followed by $157 in San Francisco, $156 in New York, $156 in Portland and $154 in the Seattle/Tacoma area. The nationwide average is $138, up 6.1 percent YoY as shoppers have gotten more comfortable buying more and bigger ticket items online.
That’s true, Vittal says, but many of the large CRM vendors don’t provide the type of flexibility and capability for efforts like lead management to the marketing organization as they do to the sales organization. The marketing capabilities delivered within CRM applications tend of focus entirely around campaign setup and profiling. They fail to support marketing professionals in creating landing pages, implementing sophisticated nurture campaigns, tracking online visitor behavior, scoring prospects by implicit and explicit actions and automatically transferring prospects to sales staff when they are sales-ready.
Delivra is a platform built on the knowledge that automated email open rates are 95 percent higher than regular email open rates. With that in mind, the company tries to maximize customer engagement by offering help with SMS and email drip campaigns; it also assists with direct mail and uses A/B testing and alerts when engagement or purchase “tendencies” have been spotted.
ClickDimensions is the only marketing automation solution natively built in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Our solution includes essential marketing tools like email marketing, campaign automation, web intelligence, surveys, web forms, social marketing and more to help Dynamics 365 users attract more leads, close more sales and more effectively engage customers.

Your customer list is getting too big to manage manually. Are you lucky enough to have thousands of contacts on your email list? That’s great! But how are you handling all those emails? You need marketing automation software to make sure each contact goes through the right stages of your marketing funnel to nurture them into a good lead for your sales team.
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Among the biggest retail winners, Amazon today said it was the biggest shopping day in its history. Although it didn’t provide sales figures, it said the ‘Turkey 5’ broke records as customers in the U.S. purchased millions more products over the five day period vs. the same period last year, with more than 18 million toys and more than 13 million fashion items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combined.
Workarea Commerce Platform says—across more than 700 e-commerce websites that use its e-commerce platform service—mobile’s share of revenue of consumers shopping via mobile was up 6% year over year on Thanksgiving Day. In addition, mobile’s share of traffic dominated again this Thanksgiving day driving 61% of total traffic, up 5% from our data last year, according to Bill Tarbell, vice president of marketing at Workarea. He also notes that sales from consumers shopping on desktops fell to 49% of total revenue, a drop of nearly 5% compared with Thanksgiving 2017.
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HubSpot heavily relies on list building to help you manage your workflows. The tool lets you shrink (or grow) your lists in the same way you would narrow down products on Amazon or eBay, a feature which is incredibly straightforward and fast. When you add a URL to a contact record, HubSpot will automatically pull in demographic information, such as the contact's company location and number of employees. You can email a contact directly from the Contact Record, and you can make a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) call if you have turned on this paid feature of HubSpot Sales. This integration lets you log and save call information within each contact record so there is a transparent history of which marketers and sales professionals interacted with contacts. You can also schedule interactions with contacts. You won't find these features on the other platforms we reviewed.

The brand’s goal is to scale with businesses as they expand so they can see true growth without the hiccup of finding other tools. And its marketing analytics tool spurs some of that growth by showing business owners the outcomes of their historical efforts and projecting how their future attempts will pan out. These insights, combined with ONTRAPORT’s Campaign Builder — which allows entrepreneurs to set goals and base their automation on achieving those goals — give small businesses the opportunity to customize.
Eventually, your company’s marketing program will get so big that you can’t — possibly — manage everything via Outlook, Word, and Excel spreadsheets. You could always hire a team of marketing specialists, but eventually, you’re going to start wasting cash on redundant tasks like emailing new customers, setting up social media-to-email programs, and emailing your users every time you post blog content.
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