Automate Telling Your Brand Story

Your customers are expecting more interaction than you can deliver manually

November 11, 2023

To succeed as a business, you must be able to help your customers when they need it. 

A late-night Google search may land them on your website to answer the many questions they have or to overcome the challenge they are facing. But then they need a few weeks to think about it before deciding to move ahead.

It’s common for customer engagement to be inconsistent and unexpected. It’s complex because it mirrors the complexity of their lives. 

A key challenge you will face is your customers are expecting more interaction than you can deliver manually. 

Not every customer progresses in their customer journey at the same pace.

But what if your marketing system responded to customers' needs at the moment they were looking for help? And what if it did it automatically so you could stay focused on running the business?

That’s the power of automation. And it’s why we love helping small businesses and non-profits set up a responsive marketing OS.

There are a lot of possible paths, and sometimes, the signals a customer needs help or is ready to buy aren’t apparent unless you’re looking really closely. You don’t have the time or capacity to be as responsive as your customers need. 

When businesses are unresponsive, customers go elsewhere.

In this guide, we’ll walk through three common questions about marketing automation. 

  • Why automate your marketing strategy?
  • What are examples of marketing automation?
  • What software should I use for marketing automation?
Download the SMB Marketing Checklist and go through it with your team to see if you have what you need.
Download the SMB Marketing Checklist and go through it with your team to see if you have what you need.

Why automate your marketing strategy?

Your customers are on a journey, and you are the guide helping them navigate. They need your help at critical moments to understand the challenge they’re facing, evaluate the options they have and make the right decision. They then need help working through the plan to deliver the solution they need. 

And you could do all this personally if you had only a small handful of customers. But it doesn’t take long before it becomes overwhelming and chaotic. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are three benefits of automating your marketing strategy.

  1. It runs while you sleep
  2. It works on your customer's schedule
  3. It provides you with valuable data

It runs while you sleep

Only a year after launching my first online business, I was amazed at how global the engagement was. When I looked at the analytics, engagement was happening at all hours of the day and night. 

Your customers are expecting more interaction than you can deliver manually.

The same is true for localized services. If you run a local lawn and landscape business, you probably don’t plan to answer the phone 24 hours a day. But what about the ideal customer who, late on a Friday night, decides he’s done spending all his weekends on yard work? You're not going to answer the phone and talk with him, but what if, from your website, he could see the services you offer and schedule a consultation? Then, a prewritten text message is sent to them, letting them know their appointment is scheduled and sharing a link to a new customer FAQ. 

All this happens while you’re asleep or watching a movie with your family or really anything else you want to be doing. When set up properly, it works without your direct intervention. 

It works on your customer's schedule

Not every customer progresses in their customer journey at the same pace. 

Some move quickly from discovering the problem to buying a solution. Others want to give it time to think through, talk it over with their partner or consider other options. Most customers are a combination of the two: they move quickly, then slow down, and then want to move quickly again. 

Your business will thrive if it can be responsive to the variable pace of your customers.

Automation allows your business’s engagement to dynamically respond to your customers based on their behavior. You can set it up to continue providing valuable content, stories, insights and offers while they are considering options. But then, when they take a specific action that moves them forward in the journey, your marketing system can respond with a contextualized offer to help. 

It provides you with valuable data

I hear all the time from small business owners that marketing feels like a black box. And I get that. It can certainly seem opaque when you can’t see the connection between marketing activities, customer actions and business value. 

As a small business owner, you’re constantly making adjustments to guide your business forward. And when it comes to your marketing efforts, you need to know where you currently are to know how to navigate ahead.

How well do you know the real-time metrics of your current sales process? Do you have a dashboard you can pull up to see the current number of leads and how effectively they’re converting from one stage to another? 

But it’s not just system-wide data that’s valuable. What if, before a sales call, you could see which emails your customer read, what they clicked on and any other ways they have been engaging with your business? This insight allows you to quickly have a personal and informed conversation with your customer.

What are examples of marketing automation?

Marketing automation can come in a variety of forms and really should be designed around the key moments in your customer journey map.

Here are some marketing automation examples to get you thinking about how you could use automation in your business. 

  • Welcome Emails: When a new user signs up for your service or newsletter, an automated welcome email can help start the relationship off on a positive note.
  • VIP and Reward Programs: Automated emails or messages to reward loyal customers or offer exclusive deals to VIPs can enhance customer loyalty.
  • Special Occasion Messages: Automated emails for birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions can make customers feel valued and appreciated.
  • Sales Follow-ups: After a purchase, an automated follow-up email can provide additional product information, ask for feedback, or suggest related products.
  • Win-back Programs: If a customer hasn't interacted with your business in a while, an automated email can encourage them to re-engage.
  • Gated Content: Automation can be used to deliver gated content (content that requires the user to fill out a form or provide contact information) once the user has completed the necessary action.
  • Lead Magnets: These are offers (like a free ebook or webinar registration) that entice potential customers to provide their contact information.
  • Customer Quizzes: Automated quizzes can be a fun and engaging way to learn more about your customers' preferences and needs.
  • Onboarding Emails: These emails guide new users through the process of getting started with a product or service.
  • Lead Scoring: This is an automated process of assigning values to leads based on their behavior and level of engagement.
  • A/B Testing Email Campaigns: Marketing automation tools can automate the process of testing different versions of emails to see which one performs better.
  • Cross-Selling or Up-Selling: Automated recommendations for related or upgraded products can increase sales.

Hopefully, that gets your wheels turning as you think about your specific customer journey map and how to automate it. What will be most helpful to implement really will depend on your particular business and customers. 

If you need help mapping your customer journey or guidance on how to automate it, schedule a story session. We’d love to help.

What software should I use for marketing automation?

I hate to say it, but “it depends.” 

Each small business or nonprofit has unique needs. And there are three problems I most commonly see when it comes to organizations choosing marketing automation solutions. 

  1. Paying too much for functionality they don’t need.
  2. Stringing together 3-4 different solutions to try and work together.
  3. Choosing what seems to be an affordable solution that suddenly 10x the price when they want to add a specific feature. 

So let me walk you through some of the categories of marketing automation, some observations on pricing and guidance on how to make a good decision. 

Whether you're new to marketing automation or already have a solution but aren't sure if it will scale well, we're here to help.

During the Q&A session, you can ask questions about how to best leverage marketing automation in your business or about our Better Story Marketing OS Software.

You get to decide the questions and we want to help you automate telling your brand story so your business or nonprofit can move ahead.

Categories of marketing automation.

Marketing automation solutions really do come in all shapes and sizes. Some offer a comprehensive all-in-one solution. Others offer a very targeted solution. 

It really is a broad field with several categories of tools designed to automate different areas of marketing. Here are some of the main categories:

  • Email Marketing Automation: Tools in this category automate the process of sending emails to subscribers or customers based on triggers, schedules, or customer behavior. Examples include Mailchimp, Klaviyo, ConvertKit and Constant Contact.
  • Social Media Marketing Automation: These tools help businesses schedule posts, track engagement, and manage multiple social media accounts from a single platform. Examples include Hootsuite, Buffer and SocialPilot.
  • Text Message Marketing Automation: This strategy allows businesses to send automated SMS messages to their customers or subscribers. This can be particularly effective as it reaches people directly on their mobile devices, often resulting in higher engagement rates compared to other marketing channels. Examples include Klaviyo, Twilio, ActiveCampaign and Textedly.
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Automation: CRM automation tools streamline the management of customer data, lead tracking, and sales pipeline management. Salesforce and Hubspot are popular examples.
  • Content Marketing Automation: These tools help with scheduling, publishing, and analyzing content across different platforms. Examples include CoSchedule and
  • Advertising Automation: Advertising automation tools help businesses manage and optimize their online ad campaigns across various platforms. Google Ads and Facebook's Ad Manager are examples.
  • Analytics and Reporting Automation: These tools automatically collect data from various marketing activities, analyze it, and provide reports. Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics fall into this category.
  • Landing Page Automation: These tools help businesses create and test landing pages to improve conversion rates. Unbounce and Instapage are examples.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Automation: SEO automation tools help businesses automate tasks such as keyword research, link building, and website audits. SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz are popular examples.
  • Webinar and Event Automation: These tools help with scheduling, promoting, and managing webinars and other events. GoToWebinar and Eventbrite are examples.
  • Chatbots and Conversational Marketing Automation: These tools use AI to automate customer interactions on websites, social media, and messaging apps. Drift and Intercom are examples.

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed? That’s normal. 

There are a lot of options, and it can feel complicated and confusing as you try to decide what you need and differentiate between tools. 

And we haven’t even talked about price yet! 

Observations on marketing automation pricing.

So most every marketing automation software takes a similar approach.

They have a free (or almost free) solution that lets you get started. Then the price scales up based on factors like: 

  • Access to more advanced features
  • Number of customers 
  • Number of users 

The ones that focus on a single function, like email or social media scheduling, are going to be cheaper than the ones that provide a comprehensive set of features. 

But once you start using 3 of them (like email, social media and a CRM) you’re no longer saving much. And you are likely expending a lot of effort trying to keep them all in sync. 

The challenge we see all the time for small business owners and non-profit leaders is their marketing automation costs take a significant step up before they’re ready. And because those costs are tied to the number of customers in their database or the number of people on their team, the costs keep going up. I’ve seen many small businesses get surprised when their marketing software cost went up 10x because they crossed one threshold. 

What we recommend.

Let me share some of my personal experience. 

I’ve been the primary marketing leader at multiple for-profit and non-profit startups. And I’ve tried numerous iterations of stitching together free and low-cost solutions. 

But here’s the deal. As I look back on all of them, I wish I had just found a reasonably priced solution that included all the features we would need. 

Your business will thrive if it can be responsive to the variable pace of your customers.

The closest I could find was Hubspot’s starter pack. It’s pretty good, but its price goes up so quickly when you want anything more than basic features or more than a few people in the system. 

I kept hunting for something that would help myself and other mission-driven entrepreneurs. 

Here were my criteria.

  • Packaging features in the same marketing OS so I could see the big picture in one place. 
  • Pricing that was affordable at the beginning, even at the highest level of features and support. 
  • Pricing that stays the same price as the organization grows.

I thought if I could find something that met these criteria, it would be flexible enough to work for both small businesses and nonprofits. I was hopeful I could find a solution I could recommend to clients. 

Unfortunately, I failed. 

All the solutions I investigated took the same approach and became burdensomely expensive quickly. Many of them were great software with excellent design and helpful features. But they just weren’t ideal for a small business, solopreneur or non-profit.

That’s why I created the Better Story Marketing OS.

It’s a marketing automation platform that gives you all the essentials at an affordable price that never goes up.

Action Plan

Imagine your business responding to customers night and day using the same words and suggestions you would if you were doing it yourself.

When your marketing automation is set up properly, you can more effectively identify and solve bottlenecks in your customer journey.

When those bottlenecks are out of the way, a new path to scaling your small business opens up before you. 

Together, we can take your customer journey implementation to the next level by automating it. Check out the Better Story Marketing OS or schedule a Q&A session to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Marketing Automation

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the use of software to automate repetitive marketing tasks. This includes email marketing, social media posting, and ad campaigns, allowing businesses to nurture prospects wit

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What is marketing automation?

Why should a small business use marketing automation?

Marketing automation can save time and increase efficiency by automating repetitive tasks. It can also provide valuable data on customer behavior, helping to refine marketing strategies and improve c

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Why should a small business use marketing automation?

Can marketing automation help with customer retention?

Yes, by providing personalized content and timely communication, marketing automation can help nurture customer relationships and increase customer loyalty.

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Can marketing automation help with customer retention?

Is marketing automation expensive?

The cost of marketing automation tools varies widely, and many offer scalable pricing based on the size of your business and specific needs. Some tools offer free versions with limited features.

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Is marketing automation expensive?

Does marketing automation make marketing impersonal?

While it does automate certain processes, the goal of marketing automation is to enable more personalized and targeted communication by understanding customer behavior and preferences.

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Does marketing automation make marketing impersonal?

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