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8 Marketing Automation Solutions for Small Businesses

Photo by Joshua Sortino via Unsplash

The role of an entrepreneur often comes with a lot of hats that you might not have expected when you first started out. One of those hats that often takes loads of time is the role of the marketer. From graphic design to social media to emails to web design, marketing will suck you dry and leave little time for anything else. Time savings are out there, but who has the time to look?

We’ve put together some low-cost, introductory marketing automation solutions that can help you save time so you can get back to working on your business again. The 8 solutions that we swear by are marked with an ‘*’ so you can’t miss them and since many of them are FREE, you won’t want to.

Social Media Automation

Social media can be a time suck if you’re logging into the platforms themselves with their eye-catching feeds that lead you down rabbit holes for minutes or hours. You can get lost in there. So, to avoid distractions, try one of these social media automation solutions so you can focus only on the tasks you need to accomplish.

  • *Later: Simplify your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter management with this photo-centric platform. We use Later to schedule all of Haven’s Instagram/Facebook posts and Stories. Loading all of our photography and graphic design images is a breeze and we can easily drag and drop them into the calendar for automatic posting exactly when we want. We love Later so much that we’ve upgraded from the free plan so we can see even more like analytics, DMs + comments, suggested hashtags, and the best times to post for our audience. This is our biggest time-saving suggestion!
    COST: Free Plan Available.

  • *Hootsuite: This platform is less user-friendly than Later, BUT if you focus a lot of your posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter and you add in a lot of links, then Hootsuite is the way to go. We utilize this primarily for LinkedIn but sometimes tap into it for Facebook when the post isn’t a photo. There’s a free plan that allows you to connect 3 social profiles and schedule up to 30 posts per month. This solution has been around the longest and is likely to stick around too.
    COST: Free Plan Available.

  • Honorable mentions: If your audience hangs out on other social platforms, then perhaps one of these solutions can support you: tailwind, Planoly, Buffer, or SproutSocial

Email Automation

Beyond sending pretty emails, the following platforms all have the ability to automate them too! Take advantage of this feature for welcome sequences, abandoned cart reminders, regular newsletters, and more. There are endless opportunities for email automation. We’ve tried to make the selection simple with our one-sentence description of each below:

  • Flodesk: Pretty templates with simple automations for the beginner or budget-conscious creative familiar with Zapier (more info below).
    COST: Free for 30 days then $38/month (unlimited subscribers)

  • Squarespace: Simple templates that match your Squarespace aesthetic for the person already familiar with Squarespace wanting to reduce the number of platforms they log into.
    COST: Automation plans start at $10/month (Must add onto existing Squarespace sites)

  • *Mailchimp: Drag and drop templates full of opportunities for customization and upgrades for the person familiar with coding or wants built-in plugins for other platforms they want to connect to.
    COST: Free Plan Available (up to 2,000 subscribers; 1-step automation)

  • ActiveCampaign: Customizable automations for every stage of your customer journey designed for businesses looking to grow their connections with their audience through email.
    COST: Starts at $9/month (up to 500 subscribers)

  • Convertkit: For those serious about growing their email list through landing pages and forms with integrations built right in.
    COST: Starts at $29/month (up to 1,000 subscribers)

Content Automation

While content is king, it’s important to spend time in this area of marketing. There are a few ways to simplify creating content with the below platforms:

  • *Grammarly is a wonderful way to get some editing help as you write everything from copy on your website to your latest email or blog.
    COST: Free Plan Available (Bonus: free Chrome extension)

  • Audext is helpful for those more comfortable recording their content instead of writing it. Audext transcribes your audio files into the written word so you can use them everywhere from social captions to a podcast transcript. (Definitely signing up for this ASAP!)
    COST: One hour of transcription costs $12 or $5 with the subscription

  • *Canva is perfect for the visual content you need to create regularly. (Because we know content is about way more than the written word) Its long list of templates for social media posts, infographics, signs, blog headers, link pages, and more will help you streamline your creative process in a simple, user-friendly, and beautiful way.
    COST: Free Plan Available


Search engine optimization can be tough to wrap your mind around if you don’t have a background in marketing. Some aspects of SEO fall into the content creation bucket above, but for other aspects, you can try these platforms:

  • *Ahrefs can help you improve your ranking in search through keyword research and backlink analysis. It’s simple to use and will help you optimize your website and conduct competitor research. We recommend this only for major content creators or for those interested in diving in for the 7-day trial then dipping out with all the info they could gather.
    COST: $7 for 7-day trial, then $99/month

  • SEMrush is very similar to Ahrefs but provides more data if you’re running PPC ad campaigns. You’ll also have a better opportunity to try out this platform since there is a free plan available.
    COST: 30 Days Free, then $119.95/month

General Automation

One incredibly useful way to improve your automations is to connect them together. Many of these platforms don’t talk to one another naturally, which can lead to any number of manual tasks to use information from one platform in another one. These two platforms make that simpler by helping you connect the dots between them easily.

  • *Zapier is perfect for business automations and allows to you create complex connections between multiple platforms (called Zaps). We love this for combining lists of people from multiple platforms into one list we can easily access and use elsewhere.
    COST: Free Plan Available

  • IFTTT (If this then that) is perfect for individuals looking to simplify their lives. Because of its simplicity, it only allows you to connect two platforms together. If you have smart products in your life, check this out.
    COST: Free Plan Available

Project Management

Keeping track of all your daily tasks isn’t necessarily something you can completely automate, but it can certainly make you feel less scattered, so we’ve included a suggestion here as well. We love *Trello for all our project management needs, to-do-lists, processes, and more. With Trello, you can create boards that are sharable within and outside your organization for easy collaboration. Set due dates, assign tasks, create checklists, and basically manage your entire life or business within this customizable solution.
COST: Free Plan Available

This list is just the beginning of your automation journey. Once you’ve outgrown these automation basics, you can graduate to much larger, more connected platforms should your budget allow. But, if you’re just starting out, you can start automating with the platforms we use (with the ‘*’) for as little as a 1-time fee of $7. Just think of how much time you could get back by automating these marketing tasks!

Join the Haven community to learn more tips and tricks to streamline your small business here.

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