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In today’s digital era, the concept of eCommerce marketing automation can be a bit intimidating — perhaps due to its association with high costs and complex installations.  As small business retailers strive to remain competitive in a growing market, they are faced with the choice to embrace marketing automation or fall by the wayside. The good news is, what was once known as a marketing gold mine available mostly to enterprise levels is now accessible to businesses of all shapes and sizes.

We recently interviewed small business owner Kathleen Plate of Smart Glass Jewelry to see what it was like choosing her first eCommerce shopping platform. Now, we share her experience behind finding an eCommerce marketing automation platform to help scale her business.

What made you decide to explore an eCommerce marketing automation platform?

I started to notice the orders from my retail and wholesale trade shows were dwindling.  It was clear that the industry was evolving and for my business to succeed, I needed to be open to adopting change. I started researching on my own and also reached out to a lot of retailers in my network to get their advice. When I mentioned to a close friend I had decided to redesign my website, she suggested I research eCommerce marketing automation solutions that integrate with my new shopping cart platform, Shopify.

Can you tell us about the evaluation process? Did you look at several eCommerce marketing automation platforms before choosing Springbot?

I’m not a marketer by trade, so the thought of adopting an eCommerce marketing automation platform was intimidating. With so many tools available, I wasn’t sure where to begin or which questions to ask. Luckily, I did receive advice from a few peers who had gone through the evaluation process previously, which helped narrow it down to a few top contenders. Choosing the right platform depends on your unique business needs. I’ve used email automation tools, like Constant Contact, before and knew I needed a platform that offered more. I wanted to find a platform that served as a one-stop shop for all my digital marketing needs — from email and social marketing to online ads, Amazon Marketplace and more.

Given that I’m a one-woman team and I’m on the road a lot for shows and events, having the personal interaction and top-notch customer service was a must-have for me. I’m a digital marketing novice, so having a dedicated point of contact throughout the lifetime of my account was key to ensuring I was utilizing the platform in the right way. After sitting in on several calls and product demonstrations with well-known eCommerce automation companies, like Klaviyo and Bronto, the decision to go with Springbot was clear. The platform is specifically built to fulfill the digital marketing needs of small and medium-sized retailers and serves as a single-point solution for driving top-of-funnel growth and conversions. Aside from its robust core features, Springbot provides customers with onboarding, coaching and data-driven recommendations to improve your marketing strategy. All of these capabilities and features wrapped into one platform and service was extremely attractive to me as a small business owner.

As a small business owner, what were your expectations prior to the installation process with Springbot?

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect as this is the first marketing automation platform I’ve used. I’m not a technology guru, so the thought of integrating with another platform after I had just migrated my online store to Shopify was overwhelming. I was expecting the process to involve me doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but fortunately, that was not the case. I was pleasantly surprised that the installation process took less than a week! It was awesome having the onboarding team at Springbot coach me along the way.

Being nearly a year in the process, what has been the most rewarding benefit of eCommerce marketing automation?

Having the confidence in every marketing decision I make. The ability to have a better understanding of my customer base has given me a sense of empowerment behind our messaging. I’ve always wanted to deliver a more personalized experience to my customers, but figuring out how to do that in today’s digital age was tough. Being able to make profitable decisions backed by data has been incredibly eye-opening.

Have you experienced any particular business hurdles since using an eCommerce marketing automation platform?

It’s taken some time for me to understand and appreciate all of the data-driven insights revealed through marketing automation. I wouldn’t consider these hurdles, they are just part of the learning curve and adjustment to change. If you’re not willing to put in the time to learn the tools or aren’t in the position to hire someone to take this responsibility on for you, an eCommerce marketing automation tool may not be practical for your business.

What are some ways an eCommerce marketing automation has helped make your life easier?

Since launching the platform last August, I saw a 31 percent increase in online sales over the holidays and my recent Valentine’s Day promo in February increased sales by 38 percent compared to last year’s orders. So, there have been perks that come with growing sales. Numbers aside, I appreciate how it’s given me a glimpse into customer profiles I didn’t realize I had. I used to make a bulk of my sales at trade shows. It’s been exciting see new revenue streams grow from online customers.

Be sure to check out Kathleen’s full story through our Customer Journey series featuring Smart Glass Jewelry and stay tuned for more updates on her eCommerce journey.