Everyone knows that marketing automation is the new advertising. The problem is, how do you implement it without breaking the bank — and, if you’re a small business, without breaking your virtual back?
“There are three legs of marketing automation: presence, customer information, and remarketing. Most small businesses fail at all three steps,” Stuart Wall, CEO of automated marketing startup Signpost, told me yesterday.
The problem is not lack of will, nor lack of intelligence. It’s been difficult and challenging to implement an alphabet soup worth of new tools and new processes for small businesses, many of which are run by sole proprietors or a single-person marketing “team.” Wall thinks Signpost is the solution that will make it easy for small business to get sophisticated — and more profitable.
That’s important, because often your profiles on those sites get more traffic than your own website. Then, the service will help you take people from unknown visitors to known customers, right on those sites. Finally, it will help you remarket to both existing customers and new ones you capture online, to establish an ongoing digital relationship with them that results in offline cash flow.
“Millions of small businesses see that more and more of their revenue is influenced by Facebook and Yelp,” Wall says. “But they don’t have the ability to manage their presence there … or capture customer information on those sites.”
Signpost says it does. It creates what it calls “conversion events,” specials or offers such as 10 percent off teeth whitening from a dentist. The offer goes on your Facebook profile or Foursquare page, visitors get the special by entering their email addresses and perhaps more, and you get the beginning of a customer relationship — which Signpost helps you manage and nurture.
It appears to be working.
Though young, Signpost is growing subscriptions at 20 percent month-over-month and has been doing so for an astonishing 20 straight months. The company says it has a 97 percent retention rate. Both of those numbers are extremely impressive.
“Step one is building customer lists and building visits,” Wall says. “Step two is remarketing them every 30 days or so, depending on your industry.”
While the average small business doesn’t have any data on its customers, if you do, Signpost will pull in your existing data as well.
Signpost has backing from Spark Capital and Google Ventures, which invested in both the company’s initial seed round and its series A and has raised a total of around $5 million so far. The company has 100 employees in its head office in New York and satellite offices in Denver, Austin, and Santa Barbara.