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These small businesses use marketing technology to do a lot with a little

These businesses use marketing technology to run more efficient–and effective–marketing plans.

These small businesses use marketing technology to do a lot with a little
A cameo on an episode of “Sex and the City” helped put Magnolia Bakery on the map. Today, it operates 25 locations worldwide.

Magnolia Bakery and Urban Betty, a hair salon, share the same challenge: their teams are short on time. The commonalities don’t end there. Unlike the 41 percent of small businesses that think marketing automation is out of reach, both businesses use marketing technology to run more efficient and effective companies.

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An appearance on HBO’s “Sex and the City” helped Magnolia Bakery start an international cupcake craze, but its real expansion began after 2006, when it was sold to new owners. It has since opened additional locations in New York City, as well as stores in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C, Dubai, Mexico City, Manila, and other locations. Today, it operates 25 locations worldwide–with a marketing team of three people.

Urban Betty founder Chelle Neff has handled marketing herself since opening the Austin-based business in 2005. This got more challenging when she opened a second location. This year, Neff hired her first-ever marketing manager, a move she describes as lifesaving. Now, she and her teammate manage an extensive marketing program that includes social media, blogging, and email.

This level of engagement would not be possible without marketing technology. Both companies use marketing tools and data to save time and improve their ability to make smart marketing decisions.

More than a cameo

Magnolia Bakery’s TV appearance put it on the map, but a cameo doesn’t guarantee business success. Strategy and intelligent marketing parlayed the positive press of being featured on “Sex and the City” into the makings of a global brand.

The baked goods company relies on its website, social media, including influencer outreach, email marketing, and Facebook advertising campaigns to support its expansion, says Vice President of Public Relations Sara Gramling. The small team works together closely and uses a variety of tools to stay organized and facilitate communication, including Dropbox and Google Docs. When creating special promotions and partnerships, the business uses Mailchimp, a multifaceted marketing platform, to create custom landing pages. The platform’s intuitive interface and pre-built design templates allow the team to design and launch sites quickly. Since the marketing team oversees so many stores with such a small headcount, time-savers are essential.

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Gramling created a custom landing page for a recent pop-up store opened as part of Seagram’s New York Hotel in Madrid. The page included information about Magnolia Bakery’s franchising opportunities and helped drive people to the event. Gramling and her team have used similar strategies to promote other global, short-term promotions, such as its recent partnership with pollution solution nonprofit Pure Earth for Earth Day. These Mailchimp-enabled pages help them present detailed information in a user-friendly way while measuring users’ content engagement.

Social never sleeps

Urban Betty’s Neff, also a Mailchimp customer, says digital marketing is essential to her success. Social media is one of her most important tools. On Instagram, she shares photos of her salon stylists’ work, as well as information about events and promotions. She also runs Facebook ads with an integrated matchmaking survey tool called Meet Your Stylist–a quiz that matches respondents to the Urban Betty stylist they are most likely to click with.

While social media allows her to showcase the brand’s voice and build personal connections with customers, it also never sleeps. Consistently sharing content, responding to your audience, and designing and launching social media ad campaigns can be an endless job. To make it manageable, Neff schedules social media posts ahead of time. This makes social media management easier and faster, because she can plan out a month’s worth of posts in advance, and in one sitting. Neff’s other time-saving secret is using the Wunderlist app to make to-do lists. She says it is amazing how much you can get done in a day if you are organized, and you have the right tools.

Truth in numbers

Both businesses use data and insights to inform that marketing decision-making. Marketing analytics improves marketing return on investment (ROI) and, in turn, profit, according to McKinsey research. Yet, many business owners don’t take advantage of analytics tools, often because they don’t know where to start or how to act on their copious amounts of data.

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Businesses can more easily, and quickly, “activate” data when it can be integrated into marketing solutions and presented in user-friendly reports. For example, when Gramling uses Mailchimp to create custom landing pages, she relies on the platform’s analytics capabilities to measure performance. She can access data on numbers of visitors, clicks, and conversions, and track what content is most popular with different audience segments.

Neff monitors website traffic and SEO rankings so she can understand what is working, and what needs to be improved. She also uses Mailchimp analytics to improve marketing performance. Using data to inform your marketing decisions is a big picture time-saver, as you won’t waste time and energy on ineffective channels. Instead, you will use data to optimize your efforts, so you achieve your business goals faster.

With technology and data, two very different businesses tackle a shared challenge in a similar way. Both teams realize that you can’t add working hours to your day. However, you can use technology to run more efficient–and effective–marketing programs.

This article originally appeared on inc.com

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