From Startup to Scaleup: Marketing Automation to Fuel Small Business Client Success

Starting a business is only the first hurdle to long-term success. Scaling introduces a new set of challenges for small and medium-sized (SMB) businesses, including additional costs and greater demands on their resources. Offering marketing automation for small businesses positions your agency to meet the ever-growing needs of clients by helping them manage growth profitably and sustainably. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the latest frontier in SMB marketing automation by covering the most value-added automation processes, insights on implementing automation, and an overview of the best tools on the market. 

Learn how automations make you efficient, enhance your productivity, and help you win with local business. Download “Agency Marketing through Automation” today.

Benefits of Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

Today’s small businesses are tasked with a difficult reality: to capture their audience’s attention, they must compete in the digital arena with companies with far deeper pockets. Your average SMB can’t hire a full team of marketing professionals. For them, local business automation is a way to achieve more with less, empowering them to scale sustainably. 

Here are some of the perks of implementing a marketing automation strategy for SMBs: 

  • Increased efficiency: Repetitive tasks are time-consuming, cutting into valuable team time. Marketing automation workflows can take over, boosting efficiency.
  • Cost savings: Automation and AI for small businesses reduce the need for manual labor, keeping operational costs in check.
  • Better customer insights: SMBs can better understand their customers by using AI lead generation and management tools and other analytics automations. 
  • Higher conversions and improved ROI: SMB marketing automation can be used to send personalized, timely communications, capturing more conversions. 
  • Easier scalability: From lead automation to social media management, local businesses can grow comfortably without incurring major additional costs.
  • Enhanced targeting: Instead of guessing, businesses can use marketing automation tools for more precise audience targeting and segmentation, resulting in a better customer experience (and more revenue).

Key Marketing Processes to Automate for Small Businesses

So far, we’ve discussed marketing automation for small businesses in the abstract. Let’s drill down into the specific processes that result in the greatest marketing automation ROI for SMBs. 

1. Email Marketing Automation

If you’re looking for AI startup ideas, one of the most valuable services you can offer is email automation. That’s because email remains a cornerstone of high-ROI digital marketing campaigns, boasting a return of $31 for every dollar spent on average. 

Automated and AI email marketing solutions are used to segment audiences into more targetable categories and send automated drip campaigns to nurture them. For example, you might have separate campaigns for a welcome sequence, a nurture sequence for new leads, a nurture sequence for aged leads, and several promotional campaigns.

AI changes the game by making it easier than ever to create personalized and dynamic email content—that is, content that changes depending on the behavior of the recipient, such as their browsing history on the client’s website. 

Automating email saves precious time for SMBs and helps them forge stronger relationships with clients by sending content that’s more likely to be well received. The result? A faster sales cycle and more conversions.

2. Social Media Marketing Automation

Ask your SMB clients how they feel about social media and they’ll likely express a love/hate relationship: it’s an incredible way to build community and find leads, but it can be dauntingly time-consuming for time-strapped local businesses. 

Social media marketing automation for small businesses helps them enjoy the many benefits of being active on social platforms with far less time and effort.

Tools in this space include platforms for scheduling and automating social media posts and analytics platforms that track engagement and other key performance indicators (KPIs). By consolidating accounts and data into a single dashboard, it becomes far more manageable to stay on top of multi-channel campaigns. 

Tip: Partner with Vendasta to rebrand and resell AI-powered social media management software for your clients that allows them to easily plan, craft, schedule, and publish content across their social channels with one easy-to-use product. Social Media Marketing Automation: Vendasta

2. Lead Nurturing and Scoring 

AI-powered funnels and CRMs help local businesses easily identify their most high-value leads by scoring them according to relevant criteria and behavior. This empowers them to focus their resources and efforts on potential clients that are most likely to convert, boosting overall profits.

Through AI integration services, targeted nurturing campaigns can kick into gear for high-scoring leads without your clients having to lift a finger. For example, they can create specialized email sequences designed to lock in conversions for prospects above a certain score, or automatically send an invitation to a live one-on-one call to better assess their needs. 

4. Analytics and Reporting

Operating a business of any size requires constant decision-making. Local business marketing automation that simplifies analytics and reporting makes it easier for SMBs to feel confident they’re making the best decisions for their businesses.

As an agency or consulting services provider, you can provide value to clients by setting them up with a solution that pulls all campaign tracking and attribution data into a single dashboard. Automatically generated sales reports can interpret this data and help clients see the most important results from their marketing efforts, enabling them to see which activities have the best ROI.

Pitching a client? Consider these beginner-friendly automations that can save local businesses $10,000:

Getting Started with Marketing Automation 

When implementing marketing automation for small business clients, laying the groundwork correctly can help you avoid headaches down the line and enable SMBs to start reaping the rewards faster. 

Keep these tips in mind when onboarding a new client:

  • Start small: Don’t try to automate everything at once. Set up one solution at a time, make sure it works properly, then expand. 
  • Focus on high ROI activities: Work with clients to identify which of their marketing activities will benefit most from automation and focus on those first.
  • Train users: Depending on your AI marketing agency business model, you might manage all SMB marketing automation on their behalf or you might resell solutions for them to use in-house. Make sure client teams have an appropriate level of training for their degree of involvement. Some may just need to know how to interpret data in a dashboard, while others may require more robust training.
  • Set up monitoring systems and protocols: Determine the KPIs that are relevant to your client’s business goals and establish a system and timeframe for monitoring them. This way, you’ll capture relevant, high-quality, and properly segmented data from the beginning of your campaigns. 

For SMBs just getting into the use of automation, some of the best marketing automation for small businesses are fairly straightforward email campaigns. Consider setting up these high-impact campaigns:

  • Welcome series: The series of emails that new subscribers get, introducing them to the brand and setting expectations.
  • Cart abandonment series: Nudge customers who have left items in their cart to return and complete their purchase.
  • Re-engagement campaigns: When leads turn cold, use an email flow to re-engage them with personalized offers or valuable content.

How to Choose the Right Marketing Automation Tool

You may understand the most recent marketing automation best practices, but without the right tools, implementing them is a challenge.  

So, what should agencies wanting to make money with AI and other powerful new automation platforms look for? Let’s dive in.

Essential Features to Look For

Choose a marketing automation platform that includes these high-value features:

  • Email builder and templates: Email is a cornerstone of lead generation and post-conversion relationship nurturing. Save time by using an email builder with out-of-the-box templates. Bonus points for built-in AI content marketing solutions, like copywriting assistance.
  • Landing pages and forms: AI WordPress website builders make it easy to go live with websites and landing pages quickly.
  • Lead management and scoring: Look for a robust CRM with automatic lead scoring.
  • CRM integration: Your CRM should make marketing automation integrations with outer platforms easy.
  • Analytics and reporting: These are essential for decision-making, and if they’re built into your automation tool you can spend less time worrying about APIs and integrations.

Top Marketing Automation Tools for Small Businesses

These are some tried-and-true tools that professionals love for delivering SMB marketing automation solutions.


If you’re looking for a true all-in-one solution for every budget, Vendasta is a great choice. Features include:

  • White-labeled Marketplace where you can sell new products designed for SMBs, integrate your own, and then deliver them all from one place
  • Robust email marketing platform
  • Powerful inbound campaign functionality
  • Easy integrations with third-party platforms and hundreds of digital marketing solutions for website builder, SEO management, social media management, and more
  • Complete CRM with built-in lead-scoring
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Endless configurations for smart automations


  • Starter plan: $89/month billed annually
  • Professional: $619/month billed annually
  • Premium: $1249/month billed annually
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing


HubSpot is a widely used choice with the following features:

  • Email marketing platform with drag-and-drop builder
  • Lead scoring, segmentation, and nurturing capabilities
  • Ability to integrate with HubSpot CRM
  • Ability to create landing pages and forms
  • Analytics dashboard
  • Social media scheduling and monitoring 


Hubspot has pricing for individuals and small teams, but if you’re starting an AI agency and require all the features listed above, business pricing for Marketing Hub is:

  • Professional: Starting at $1034/month billed annually
  • Enterprise: Starting at $4700/month billed annually

Other Options

Other popular options worth exploring in this space include:

  • ActiveCampaign: Known for its powerful email marketing automation, CRM features, and customer experience automation based on segmentation and customization.
  • Pardot: Ideal for B2B marketing automation for businesses with significant budgets, this solution from Salesforce offers feature-rich lead generation, lead scoring, and reporting. 
  • Mailchimp: Offers beginner-friendly but robust email marketing automation, audience segmentation, and basic CRM functionalities for small businesses.
  • Marketo: An Adobe enterprise product providing advanced marketing automation features best suited to larger businesses.

The Future of Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

The rapid clip of change may be disorienting for even the most experienced marketers. But as new AI business ideas and solutions emerge, one thing is becoming clear: the future for small business marketing automation is bright. Local businesses will be empowered to deliver ever more impactful campaigns through AI, hyper-personalization, and time-saving automations.

While there are important challenges to consider, like privacy regulations and security, careful implementation of new technologies will serve business growth and enable SMBs to focus on their core competencies rather than getting bogged down with marketing tasks.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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