The Great Acceleration: How Marketing Technology is Transforming SMBs

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The Great Acceleration: How Marketing Technology
is Transforming SMBs

Small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) are the heart of the Australian economy, punching
well above their weight in representing 98% of the total business landscape.

The prevalence of Australian SMBs comes down to what’s in their owners’ DNA; determination, willingness to adapt and a hands-on approach to maintaining and growing their businesses.

The SMB owners I’ve had the privilege of working with are not the type to rest on their laurels – they always strive to reach the next level of growth – and therein lies their superpower.

Being open-minded to new technologies puts SMBs in a unique position to accelerate growth and contend with larger competitors by “working smarter, not harder.” I anticipate this dynamic to dominate over the next few years.

As the MarTech boom of AI, automation and social media tools continues to exponentially grow, so does the opportunity for small-to-medium businesses to harness the power of these solutions and transform their businesses.

So how are SMBs “working smarter not harder” in the face of today’s challenging economic climate?

Autopilot mode

Marketing automation technology (MarTech) is fast becoming a central pillar of SMB marketing. By relying on a web of workflows and triggers that set off automated tasks, SMBs can take a “set it and forget it” approach to email sends, blog post publication, lead capture tools and even the deployment of loyalty rewards.

While the use of customer relationship management systems (CRM) to set your marketing on autopilot mode is not new, what is relatively new is the increased accessibility of these systems in the marketplace.

Marketing automation tools offer exceptional value and businesses are truly spoilt for
choice. With purse strings tightening, there’s no time like the present for SMBs to use
tools that automate their marketing activities, amplify the effectiveness of their campaigns and yield improved ROI in less time than it takes to turn on a coffee machine and make an espresso.

Managing perception

The concept of ‘brand’ and its acute correlation to the longevity of a business in the Australian economy is becoming an important item on the agenda of business owners.

In 2024, there is no higher commodity for a business than earning and keeping the trust
of customers, and SMBs are quickly becoming proactive custodians of their brand perception.

There are three main ways I see small businesses take control of their brand perception
through MarTech:

1. Social media scheduling
While a website was once seen as a digital storefront, business owners are now
realising that the footprint of their storefront extends to various social media channels.

From tradies taking their audience on TikTok video walk-throughs of a job on-site, to small local cafés sharing the fruits of their Saturday morning baking on Instagram, SMBs can add personality to their brand and deepen the connection with their customers – for free.

Thanks to social media scheduling tools, small businesses also quickly discovering this can be achieved with a small amount of planning and a ‘set and forget’ mentality.

2. Online listings
Australians trust online reviews. In fact, a staggering 97% of customers read online
reviews before making a purchase. A positive or negative review online can directly impact on business, leaving SMBs no choice but to stay on top of their online listings.

Given the amount of online listings that are actively used (Google reviews, Trip Advisor,
Product Review and Facebook to name a few), the challenge for businesses is keeping
track of all of the incoming commentary. This is where MarTech saves time, offering
tools that consolidate reviews, manage responses and collect feedback as and when it

3. Community Management
With so many digital touch points between a business and its customers, SMBs are embracing community management.

Once again, MarTech offers small businesses a helping hand, providing social listening tools that pick up on the mention of a brand, centralised inboxes that direct mentions into one easy-to-manage space, and even keep tabs on competitor mentions.

Leaning on AI

The tide is turning when it comes to the perception of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is no longer something to be skeptical of, but a useful tool to take the heavy lifting out of repetitive tasks. Like a mathematician wielding a calculator, SMBs are beginning to normalise the use of AI in their marketing strategies.

I attribute this shift in attitude to the clever integration of AI into digital marketing

In the short span of one year, we’ve seen the MarTech landscape skyrocket with a 27.8% increase in solutions, predominantly driven by the progression of AI and new integrations.

On a macro-level, we’re seeing this trend with tech giants. Just last month Meta released Llama 3, their own integrated AI assistant. Windows has long offered Copilot alongside Google’s Gemini (formerly Bard). That said, we’re also noticing smaller integrations into marketing-specific technology. From email subject line assistants, to grammar and SEO checkers to data analysing tools, AI is now ubiquitous in MarTech.

AI is gifting valuable time back to SMBs. Now, they’re able to quickly gain a stronger understanding of their customers, create engaging content and analyse its effectiveness – benefits once reserved for enterprise-level organisations with ample resources.

What does the great acceleration mean for Australian SMBs?

We are still in the early days of untapping MarTech’s potential to boost the growth of small businesses.

Marketing strategies are increasingly becoming technologically-focussed. This, paired with the shift in mindset towards the adoption of new tools, can only mean great and exciting things for business owners to come.

The less time that SMBs spend manually managing their marketing activity, the more time they are able to spend investing in the parts of their business they are passionate about.

For most small-to-medium business owners I meet, getting that time back is transformational.

About Elise Balsillie

Elise, Chief Revenue Officer and the dynamic force behind Thryv Australia’s success.
With an impressive journey culminating in her role as Head of Thryv Australia, Elise is driven by an innate passion for supporting the lifeblood of our nation: small businesses.

Elise holds revenue responsibility for an extensive portfolio, overseeing all channels in the Thryv Australia and New Zealand’s portfolio.

Her dedication to these brands goes beyond business – it’s about transforming the way small businesses operate in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

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