How CRM & Marketing Automation can help SMBs meet their growth goals in 2023


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Even in a post-pandemic era, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) continue to face new and evolving challenges. Unsteady markets, rising inflation and a looming recession have businesses and consumers alike taking a more frugal approach, making profitability an uphill climb for SMBs in 2023. With approximately 45% of small businesses failing within their first five years, according to the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics, succumbing to the challenges of today isn’t an option for new and existing SMBs trying to find their voice within increasingly saturating markets.

However, business growth in 2023 is achievable for SMBs that implement the right business growth strategy alongside the right tools—notably customer relationship management (CRM) software and marketing automation. First and foremost, SMB owners must determine the business growth opportunities to strategize around, given economic pressures.

Attacking the Right Growth Opportunities

At a 15% growth rate, a business can double in size within a five-year period, and should be the benchmark of every organization, regardless of industry. While big-budget enterprises have the luxury of throwing money at large marketing and sales campaigns and hoping something sticks, SMBs must navigate stringent cashflows—making strategy and precision essential to growth success.

So, what areas of growth opportunity have a proven track record of improving market positioning and business size? Two opportunities come to mind:

  • Increasing your email subscriber base.
  • Improving customer retention.

With reduced budgets that potentially have left SMBs understaffed, CRM and marketing automation are essential to optimizing and achieving growth through each opportunity.

Let’s take a closer look at each and how CRM and marketing automation can drive home a successful growth strategy:

Increasing Your Email Subscriber Base

According to a Statista study, 49% of customers look forward to receiving promotional emails from their favorite and most trusted brands. This is huge for SMBs who continue to leverage email as their primary channel to communicate with customers. And, with an average 41:1 return of investment for every dollar spent on email marketing, SMBs would be missing out to not further explore this opportunity.

With marketing automation tools, SMBs with smaller or even non-existent marketing teams can create large-scale email marketing drip campaigns. The right marketing automation tools come with pre-configured, customizable templates that enable SMBs to quickly generate personalized, brand-facing email campaigns for their clients. Owners can also utilize marketing automation landing page templates and design studies, allowing even the most novice designer to generate awe-inspiring landing page designs and seamlessly insert opt-in forms.

By finding out what your audience’s core needs are and then generating lead magnet email campaigns that provide immediate resolutions to those needs, SMBs can increase subscriber lists, build relationships and drive traffic throughout your website and social channels.

Improving Customer Retention

Often, business leaders want to focus too heavily on attracting new audiences to purchase products. While gaining a net new customer base is important to business success, it should not overshadow the care and attention you provide to your existing customers. A recent Statista survey found that marketing professionals view email marketing as one of the top ROI communications channels to target. SMBs lacking finances will find that creating growth through improved customer retention is an efficient and affordable way to enhance customer satisfaction, market share and even word-of-mouth marketing.

Today, customers want fast, accurate and personalized experiences from a business. With CRM, SMBs can increase customer communication channels by adding chatbot widgets and enhance response times by creating a cohesive, single source of truth along a CRM platform. By integrating CRM with your email, social media and website, employees can quickly pull relevant information and histories from any channel regarding a customer’s inquiry to streamline ticket resolutions.

While CRM provides the connectivity and speed to increase customer satisfaction, marketing automation gives SMBs the power to create personalized experiences for any size audience. Email marketing automation tools enable users to schedule happy birthday or holiday emails for existing customers months in advance and in a fraction of the time and costs.

An Act! 2022 study, titled The Role of CRM in Today’s Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, found that SMBs using CRM and marketing automation technology saw improvements across the board, including marketing reach, customer satisfaction and customer retention—as well as business revenue and growth. With ongoing economic uncertainties and businesses fighting for market relevance, SMBs must take a strategic approach to improve growth opportunities with a high success rate. By leveraging CRM and marketing automation to enhance email subscriber lists and customer retention, SMBs will be on the right path to business growth in 2023.

Ellen Brezniak
As Chief Customer Officer at Act!, Ellen focuses on building, growing, and nurturing relationships with the brand’s customers. With 30+ years of experience in technology, she is responsible for establishing a high-caliber customer experience across the customer journey and exceeding customers’ expectations by driving CX optimization efforts across Act!’s portfolio of products. Prior to Act!, Ellen held roles including SVP of Customer Success at Intralinks and SVP of Customer Success and Operations at Constant Contact, where customer retention and engagement skyrocketed under her leadership.


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